Old Reviews – Barcelo Huatulco Resort

  Barcelo Huatulco Resort   Kathy ~ Manitoba

February 2009

Arrival: Jan 23 – 30
Friendly greating but upon checking in they had no reservation for two of us. We had booked 25 people for my daughters wedding which was taking place at the resort. After a long delay found a room for us only to find someone was in it when we got there. Taken to an upgrade for 1 night which I was to have had in the first place.

Rooms:
My daughter who was there for her wedding, was to have an upgrad, only to have a room with two double beddings and not sea side? All rooms were to be blocked together for 25 of us and that did not happen either, some phones did not work and clock radios and one had broken tapes.

Restaurants and Bars:
Breakfast was always cold. Some of the restaurant hours were not long enough or open early enough. Buffets were the same pretty much every night. The al a carts were good

Beach/Pools/Grounds:
The grounds were very nice and clean

Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
Went on the waterfall/coffee tour. To long of travel and really showed you nothing about the coffee. Waterfall was beautiful. Went on a snorkeling tour and it was great

Other Comments: Walk calls never came and with clock radios not working in some rooms some excursions were missed due to that. Could not get american money at the resort and they did not always have pesos to exchange either. The Wedding planner did a fantastic job.

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  Barcelo Huatulco Resort   Tomas ~ Edmonton

January 2009

Arrival: Jan 16, 2009

Rooms:
We have a beautiful suite overlooking Tangolunda Bay. Lovely bedroom, living room, 2 well appointed bathrooms and fabulous balconies. Unfortunately, the showers don’t have mixers, so you get nice water, mixed with scorching hot and then cold water. Yeow!

Other Comments: We like to tip for good service: at meals, for drinks, and for the housekeepers etc. As there are 2 of us, we like to tip 20 pesos ($2.00) several times a day. Fortunately we can get 50 peso notes for the housekeepers. We can’t seem to find change anywhere in this hotel. We have tried the front desk, the bars, staff, etc. As it is our 2nd day at this hotel, we are quite concerned. Don’t they care about their staff?

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  Barcelo Huatulco Resort   Betty Ann B. ~ Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

August 2008

After reading some of the reviews, I have to say we had a wonderful 2 weeks at the Barcelo. I thought the hotel and staff were very nice, the food was good and the entertainment was great, especially the evening shows! Our room had a beautiful view and the bed was comfortable – many in Mexico are very firm! We went by taxi to La Crucesita where we found the Mexican people quiet and polite, and not ‘pushy’ like Cancun and some other areas. We had a great time there and would not hesitate to go back, however, the travel time is very long and tiresome.

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  Barcelo Huatulco Resort   Roxanne

March 2008

As everyone else in your blog mentioned… the hotel has some issues.. The breakfast food was good so we ate early and had breakfast for lunch as well. We tried the steak for lunch just once. We couldn’t chew it and it was not grilled long enough even though we stated our preference and returned to get it grilled again!. One evening for dinner there was a baby pig lying there by the chef, he had carved part of it and I didn’t know just what it was??? My husband pointed to the head, well I couldn’t eat much that night and I could not get the image out of my head. Why a baby pig??? The credits they give you for the other restaurants was okay but we were told strict dress code… well. we were dressed properly and other people were not, not fair! Guys in tees and open toed sandals no socks, women in shorts and tank tops etc etc.

Our room was another thing… the toilet would never flush properly and the dresser drawer was broken. The noise from the hallway seemed amplifed and we were facing the garden but the hotel Gala next door would have some entertainment in the evening and it was very loud and our balcony would get very smoky so 2 /7 nights we didn’t get to sit outside. You could still hear the loud music until about 10:40 p.m. or so.

We spent most of our days on the beach under an umbrella, it was so hot. We cooled off in the Pacific because the pool was full of children. There was no deep end and no adult side not even by the swim up bar. So children were running the pool area with their games and large floating toys. The ocean had a huge drop off just a few feet in and it would be over my head. 5′ deep! and the waves would just take you on a death roll if you got caught up in one. My husband doesn’t feel safe in that kind of situation so we had to search the beach for an area that was not quite so rough Well guess what?? The only place near the hotel that has the least amount of drop off is right where the seadoos come in. And when I say come in they just run them from about 50′ in the ocean and go full blast till they are 20 to 30′ up on the beach. This seems dangerous to me! and they are running morning till late afternoon.

We stayed at Barcelo’s in Manzanillo last year and it was the best vacation ever! There were no flights there direct from Winnipeg so we thought Barceo’s would be the best. Not even close to what we had for quite room, adult only pools, the food and service were great, you could golf, go for walks along the beach, snorkle right there in the cove it was a beautiful time. The town wasn’t much for shopping but we’re tired of the same old tee shirts etc anyway. I’m praying the airlines fly direct there again!

3 stars is all I will give this hotel and that’s a stretch. I was spoiled in Manzanillo and I expected more for the same money.

If I hadn’t booked in Oct. 2007 and just took a last minute deal this is what I would have expected. I like Huatulco it is very beautiful and the Pacific is the perfect temperature for swimming and cooling off. Maybe I’ll try Las Brisas next time I had the option I think I made a mistake. Thanks good luck to all those who venture there, all I can say is wait for the deals just before you leave home.

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  Barcelo Huatulco Resort   Tom and Carol ~ Manitoba

February 2008

We arrived home to Wpg.on Feb.8/08 to be greeted by our usual -25c weather.It was sure a treat to spend two weeks in such a warm and lovely place.

The staff and management did everything possible to make our stay fantastic.The food was the very best that we have ever had at any all inclusive resorts .It was the first place we’ve been that you could have NewYork or Ribeye steak every afternoon between 2 and 5p.m.It’s too bad that it took me 7 days to find the restaurant(my fault)

We spent every day on the beach,and had no problem finding umbrellas.The weather was very hot,as it was 30 to 35 every morning by 8.30 a.m.In the two weeks that we were there,we had fog for part of two days,and the rest was sun sun sun.

We hope to return there next winter,and would recommend this place to anyone wanting a relaxing Hot getaway.

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Barcelo Huatulco Resort Kathy

April 2007

There are mostly bad reviews posted on your web site about the Barcelo so I felt I should take a moment to say we just returned from the Barcelo in Huatulco and had a very good time. The weather was wonderful. It was hot, no rain. Hot is what we were looking for coming from WI. Food and Drinks were good and were was lots of it. The activities staff always had something going on if you wanted to participate. Resort was about 75% full. We did not have trouble finding a chair.

The fishing is great and we enjoyed the sunset cruise. The staff put a lot of work into setting up the Mexican festival on Tuesday night and the Apple welcome diner on Friday night. Both had great food. We met a lot of great people from the Midwest and had a wonderful time.

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Barcelo Huatulco Resort Brenda

March 2007

We stayed at the Barcelo Feb 2- 16 2007 – the resort is very nice the food is good the rooms are clean – the scenery is beautiful the swimming in the ocean was great – do have to watch the undertow as some days it is pretty fierce. Book your alacartes early as you don’t get to go if not. The staff was very friendly and we felt very safe here as well as in Santa Cruz and La cruscassita. Taxi’s to these 2 places were 2.50 one way and the golf course looked really nice (right next door but we heard that they book all of their tee times for 7 as it’s so hot and then people are backed up on the first tee) This part of Mexico seems cleaner than many we have been too and they say no crime…

It was very hot in this time frame 95 – 102 every day and not a lot of breeze.

We found that it was too hot to do many tours but the beach weather is awesome – it does not cool down at night either – I never wore anything with sleeves or legs for 2 weeks.

The only issue I found was because of the heat everyone is looking for palapas and they do not have enough shade places – we were up at 6 trying to get a spot with shade. I understand the hotel was cracking down on that after we left but then people are mad at each other so they need shade places as you cannot possibly sit out in that sun for long – it’s hot by 8:30. We hired a local Tony Lopez to take us snorkeling and tour the bays and he also took us to see dolphins in the wild as many turtles. He was really good and the price was $50 each American. So basically $50 an hour or a little less. he spoke very good English and was very kind.

Take lots of sunscreen and maybe your own umbrella and you will love this place.

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Barcelo Huatulco Resort Marc

February 2006

Huatulco – B+
Barcelo – F

I am writing this not to complain but to warn you not to book you trip to the Barcelo if you go to Hualtuco, because I can promise you it will be something you will sorely regret. I hope that everyone who goes to this resort will read this as it may sway your opinion, and will be very informative.

I will start with the good news if you have already booked your trip. You can get boogie boards, sailboats, kayaks, and snorkeling gear all for free. The downside is that sometimes we caught those in charge lying that they didn’t have any snorkels right after they had searched through about 50 of them for us, and the next person was lied to, which is very wrong, and did not make sense to us. The gym and the tennis courts are very nice, and the miniature golf sucks.

Another good thing about the resort was the a la carte restaurants, but they only let us eat at each 1 once, which was a total of 2 times at a decent restaurant. The food was good at these though, the one had good pork chops, and the other had good rib eye steak. When I have gone to all-inclusive places before, you can eat all you want at the a la cartes for breakfast, lunch, and supper.

The buffet was not edible. The food was prepared very poorly, the meat tasted like it was bad or from poorly raised animals, and everything tasted funny. I felt sick after many of the meals. They even had mystery meat a few times entitled “meat”. Even though we tipped our waiters, god knows why, they were still rude, and hardly served us. There were times that we just didn’t have a server come to our table for the 30 – 45 minutes it takes to eat. When we handed them tips they didn’t even say thank you, and I know for a fact that my husband and I were a few of the only tippers at that resort, since many people don’t tip at all-inclusive hotels. I had many of the male waiters be nice to me, but for some reason the females were very rude to me, and I was polite to them.

There were very many occasions that we had to take the food from the buffet restaurants up to our rooms because we waited a long time, and there was no where to sit, even on the outside tables. On top of this there is nowhere to eat during the main times people eat from 11 – 12 and 5:30 – 7, they close all of the restaurants. And usually the restaurants didn’t open at least until 15 minutes after 12 and 7 if you were lucky.

You have to pay for your room service, a 4.00 fee, plus if you order drinks on room service, even water, you have to pay for their regular prices. We ordered room service and they said 20 minutes, and it took an hour and a bit.

Very often they brought the wrong drinks, or got your order, and didn’t even bring your order. Keep in mind that we weren’t stiffing anyone. Every time I ordered a strawberry daiquiri, it was a completely different drink, and one time it was even made of tequila and grenadine and ice.

However, Huatulco is a very beautiful place, with beautiful mountain scenery. The people are not even ½ as friendly as the people in places like Cancuun.

Oh yes, and this location is for old people, the average age was about 65, and that was during spring break. It is a very quiet destination in general.

And for honeymooners, don’t expect a room upgrade, there are only 8 suites in the whole hotel, and if its full you aren’t going to get a better room.

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Barcelo Huatulco Resort David & Michelle ~ Canada

April 2005

We stayed at the Barcelo Huatulco Resort from March 14 – 21, 2005. We chose this resort as Sunquest Vacations rated this as a 4-½ star resort. However, it really is a 3 or a 3-½ star resort, at best. We got a very good deal through The Last Minute Club so I cannot complain as I got more than what I paid for.

Flight:
The flight down was with Skyservice, which is as good (or as bad) as Air Transat. The only difference is Air Transat offers an upgrade, Club Air Transat, which has wider and more comfortable seats with more legroom, better meals and free booze. It would have been much more comfortable to have the option of an upgrade for the 5 hour flight. We were delayed an hour leaving Toronto so we actually were sitting in the plane for 6 hours.

The return flight was much better. We left Huatulco about 20 minutes early and the flight was only 4 ½ hours.

Resort:
Check-in was smooth for the 200+ guests who arrived that day. We were given a television remote; a lock & key for the safety deposit box in the room and 2 beach towel cards. If lost, you would have to pay US$150 for the key, US$45 for the remote and US$20 each for the beach towels.

The resort was opened in November 1988 and as such, looks its age. Although everything and everywhere were clean, it just looked old. We were just at the TRYP Peninsular Varadero in December 2004. This resort was under 2 years old and maybe it was still fresh in our memory but we found the rooms and corridors in the Barcelo to be dark and gloomy. The rooms are in two towers; rooms with even number are in one tower and rooms with odd numbers in the other. Our initial room was in the “even room number tower” but the a/c was not working up to par and we were switched to another without a problem. The rooms are a bit small but do have lots of closet and drawer space. You may upgrade to a suite for a charge.

The gardens around the resort were well maintained and neat. However, after dinner there was nowhere to go for a walk as the two other resorts, the Gala and Crown Pacific were practically attached to the Barceló.

Staff/Services:
Generally, the staff was very friendly and tried their best to make you comfortable. The rooms were cleaned very well and the mini-bar stocked daily. However, we found that very few spoke or understood English.

Bars/Restaurants:
There are two bars. One in the main lobby and another in the even room tower called ‘Don Jorongo’. There were three restaurants; the main buffet restaurant, ‘Dona Rosa’, the pool restaurant, ‘La Tortuga’ and the ‘Don Quixote’, opposite the ‘Don Jorongo’ bar in the even room tower.

Generally, the food was good. You had a choice of western food such as burgers, fries, roast beef, bar-b-que ribs, mashed potato, etc as well as Mexican food. The Barcelo Resort hosted a dinner for the Signature Vacation guests, which made us feel very special. On the grill you were offered steak (NY & rib eye), chicken, pork chops and lobster. In addition to this, you had about 12 side orders (baked potato, potato salad, cole slaw, deviled eggs, green salad, etc). There was a delay in getting your food as you chose your meat (steak, chicken, pork or lobster) and then they would grill it for you. Unfortunately, I was behind a couple from Montreal where the man wanted 4 steaks and told his wife to get two steaks as well. Guess he does not get steak in Quebec!

Beach/Pool:
There is a large free form pool with two sections, for adults and for kids. At its deeps point, it would be about 4 feet. There is also a small swim up bar and volleyball net.

The beach has golden brown sand, not the white stuff you would get at Punta Cana or Varadero beaches. It is also course, which is good, as it does not stick to you like the fine powdery sands of some other beaches.

The beach chairs are in a roped off section and like the pool chairs, you would have to be up at daybreak to reserve a shady spot.

The water was cool which made a swim very refreshing, as the days were very HOT!

We bought three trips from the “sharks” on the beach and found them to be better value than what the reps were selling in the resort.

ATM (Bank machine):
There is a HSBC ATM machine on the road, between the Gala and the Barceló, which provides pesos from our Canadian bankcards. This was very convenient, as we did not take US money or traveler’s cheques.

Mosquitoes:
There were no mosquitoes around when we were there.

La Crucesita/Santa Cruz:
These are the two towns near the resort. The cab ride is US$2.50 and is approximately 15-20 minutes away. We both felt quite safe in both towns and were never approached in an aggressive manner. We stayed for dinner in one of the many restaurants in La Crucesita and returned to the resort at about 8:00PM.

Shopping was fun and we bartered only because it was expected. Stuff was reasonably priced and everyone sold tee shirts. We even bought a taco from the trunk of a car.

Shows/Entertainment:
There was a show every night, which was quite good. Usually started at about 10:00PM for an hour.

Pros/Cons: The only thing I don’t like about Mexico is the 5-hour flight. Add the 3 hours you have to be at the airport before the flight and the hour to get your bags and go through customs/immigration, just feels like a day was spent traveling just to get to Mexico. I rather the 3-hour flight to Cuba … breakfast in Toronto, lunch in Varadero. Anyway, this has nothing to do with the resort. I would not return only because there are lots more places to visit but would recommend it.

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Barcelo Huatulco Resort Kevin & Gayle ~ Calgary

April 2005

My wife and I just returned from a one week vacation at the Barceló, Huatulco. We were there from April 8th to the 15th. Having been at many resorts in Mexico, this is one tough area and resort to figure out. That being said though, we did have a very good time.

The area itself is beautiful, although it is still very much in the development stage. The ocean is very clean, unlike many of it’s Pacific counterparts, but the week we were there, it was very rough. The towns of La Crucicita and Santa Cruz were great with lots of friendly shops, great restaurants and bars,and both towns were once again, very clean.

Our weather was hot all week, mid 30’s, although the locals try to play it down. One day on the way back to the hotel, it seemed like it was probably 35 degrees out at least. Our cabbie was saying how it was quite nice today, at least 28 or 29. I replied that it was closer to 40 and he said "well yes maybe".

The part that’s hard to figure,is that everything in the area is very inconsistent. The service varies from terrific to non-existent. Stores seem to close just for the heck of it, at any given time, on any given day. Some locals embrace tourists, others look at you like they wish you were dead. On arrival at the airport, we were about 250 strong and lined up out the door onto the tarmac. There were 2 immigration staff at the first checkpoint….. for about 15 minutes. Then, imagine our surprise, as with about 175 of us to go, one of them decides "that’s it" for the day. He closes up his station and leaves. Not just a break of 15 min. or so, nope he never came back in the further 1 hour or so that it took us to get through. I guess these concerns have a lot to do with growing pains, and, hopefully will get ironed out in time.

The Barceló is oddly enough, very much the same. Our room was with out a doubt, one of the nicest ones we have had at any 3,4 or 5 star resort we have stayed in. No odor, no bugs, cleaned promptly every morning before noon. Nice bed, and great view of the pool and ocean. The staff though seem very inconsistent. The bartenders, the chambermaids, and animation staff were terrific. The problem was that most of the wait staff in the restaurants weren’t just bad, they were brutal. I don’t know if I have ever sat down in any restaurant, and just been ignored, not just once, but at almost every visit. It wasn’t just us either, no drinks, no clearing of dishes etc. It looks like their training is way off, and in talking to some staff, who told us they were not very happy, management seems overbearing and way overboard. We saw more managers walking around with clipboards, than tourists. Also, I need to know why they limit your A-LA-Cartes to 1 per week. We checked them out every night they were open, and they were near empty. The food selection wasn’t great but it was better than the buffet.

The food in the dining area’s was again, inconsistent. Breakfast was almost always, very good. Lunch was much the same, but dinner, including the A-LA-Cartes was no where near where it should be in a 4 star resort. The one weird exception to this was on the final night, they had a special farewell thank-you dinner for Sunquest guests that was a steak and lobster bar-b-que feast and was terrific….. go figure. Overall, the food items were very repeticious and made phantom appearances many times throughout the week, in more than 1 eatery, and at more than 1 time of day.

The shows were also a problem. I have now been to 12 resorts in the last 10 years and I think they are all identical. It’s time for a big overhaul in this department for most resorts as they must realize they are going to have repeat visitors who are tired of the same old-same old. Enough lip-synching already. The nightly Mexican cantina bar wasn’t bad, but as I have noted in previous cases, please start catering to your guests. If most of us are in the 35-50 year old bracket, please play us some real music. You can slip in some of the Latin techno-babble, just don’t play it most of the night. We don’t need to dance all night, but more than 3 songs in 2 hours would be nice.

One great thing we experienced was a day trip along the coast to Puerto Escondido and back including the Turtle museum and crocodile farm. As 3 couples, we got together and rented a van and guide through the travel agency at the hotel. Our guide "Sa-ule" was terrific, one of the best we have ever had anywhere. He took us where we wanted to go, where he thought we should go, and was a bundle of information, as well as laughs, for a full 11 hours. We stopped at lots of places along the way, and never felt like he was on the payroll at any of them. The day flew by and we were all sorry to see it end. Needless to say, we tipped him fairly heavily, and he was genuinely grateful.

I think the true measure of any area or resort is weather you would return. I think we will return to Huatulco, but weather we return to the Barceló remains to be seen. As always, we will continue to monitor this site and look for improvements, some drastic.

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Barcelo Huatulco Resort Paul and Sue

March 2005

We just came back from the Barcelo Resort in Huatulco Mexico March 14-21/05 It was fabulous…. This resort is super clean. I have never seen such attention paid to detail when cleaning. They were cleaning the sidewalks with soap and water everyday.

The hotel is very spacious, rooms were nice and clean and each had a view of the ocean and a nice balcony. This resort is right on the ocean and the waves are fun to "play in". There is, however , quite a strong undertow so little ones must be careful.

The daily activities were plentiful and the activity staff went out of their way to make our trip great. About 4 nights durning the week, they had shows with Dancers. These shows were unbelievably good, with professional costumes.They had Carribean Night, International night, Broadway tribute and Salute to the Stars. It was fantastic.

The food was good but not great. The breakfasts were the best. There was always lots of fruit. The buffet meals consisted of some Mexican traditional foods and we weren’t sure what they were. The service was very good. There were two restaurants which were not particularly good. It was almost better at the buffets.

They have a games room which was good and internet access for guests but the games room closed too early, by 7:00pm. We did ask that they consider keeping it open until at least 10:00pm to accomodate teens etc. There were lots of families and we got to know alot of people.

It is Extremely hot in Huatulco… it was 35 (95) each day we were there. Drink LOTS of water and put on 30+ sunscreen. The pools are nice but water is warm…. must be hard to keep the pools from boiling with the heat. There were no problems with the water and I only heard of one person sick… (could have been something other than food or water). We would return to this resort, my family had a great time.

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Barcelo Huatulco Resort Ken and Marian ~ Canada

March 2005

My wife and I experienced two weeks of excellent hospitality at the Barcelo Huatulco Resort in Feb/2005. We were joined by two other couples and their twenty-year old children. I can say that all of us had the time of our lives. We were able to change rooms to address our specific needs without any issues and with great service. The restaurants were excellent, we enjoyed the Spanish on Valentines day as they made a special meal for all of us.

The weather was outstanding, in the low 30’s every day and not too humid in this drier climate.

Staff were excellent, we especially loved the servers on the beach and pools during the day, as they were always very happy and pleasant. Thanks Maria! The beach was excellent for swimming. Red flags were out every day but we never saw or heard of any issues about undertows. In fact the waves were fun to play in, especially since the water was as warm as the pools.

At the beach and pool, shade is at a premium. We needed shade for 10 people and got up around 6 am every morning to get shade, by putting our towels on our beach chairs. Everyone does it, no real issues. Highly recommend that the resort construct additional shade structures to accommodate guests that sleep in. Entertainment staff were excellent–always organizing some event around the pool but left you alone on the beach.

We all purchased gifts and silver on the beach. Vendors wander throughout the guests but are very nice. If you didn’t want anything you just needed to say "No Gracious" and they would move along.

We were advised at our orientation that there were "sharks" in Huatulco– they were referring to the young guys that were selling bay tours and fishing trips on the beach in front of the hotel. They went as far as to say that they will get you out on the water and try to sell you timeshares. We never heard of anyone with a complaint that bought these tours or fishing trips.

We found a fellow named "TEKO" (pronounced Teeko) on the beach. His prices were below those of the oraganized tours at the hotel and we had an unbelievable snokeling tour on his boat. He can accommodate up to 6 and he is your guide for 6 hours. He took us to all of the beaches a few hours before the organized 250 person boat tour so we had the snokelling areas to ourselves. We went to three seperate bays for different snokeling and it was unbelievable. He always kept the boat near us and monitoried our needs–we felt very safe. Teko speaks excellent English and told us all the history of the various bays of Huatulco.

Teko and his brother Jesus took 6 of us out in two boats for 7 hours of fishing. In total we caught over 30 bonitios ( 8 to 10 pounds of pure power) and 48 yellow fin tuna ( 15 to 20 pounds of explosive fun). We also had three large sailfish or mia mia bites. You can imagine the excitement on the beach when we unloaded all of the fish. Teko gave us advice on how to get the restaurant to cook up one of fish for our evenings meal–it was outstanding and a highlight of our trip. We also saw a number of large turtles, a very large mantaray, and 10 dolphins right at the boat. Teko was an excellent guide and became our friend during our stay. We highly recommend you contact him if you are wanting a tour of any kind–just ask for him on the beach as he’s usually there each day at some point..

We also played golf at the Tongolunda Golf Course It was excellent but recommend that you get out early as it gets very hot by 9:30. The course is excellent and challenging. It cost us approx. $65 Canadian for golf and cart per person using the 30% discount certificates from the hotel. Caddies were available but not required. They recommend tee times but will accomodate you. We even saw an aligator on the 17th fairway–and he was not little!

Taxis are 25 pesos into town or the golf course and there are many available, never any issues. Trips to the two towns were fun as we enjoyed some shopping and good eating places–Huatulco is a very clean and safe community. One day 6 of us rented motor bikes and toured the area and towns for 3 hours. Great way to see the culture and Mexican back roads.

We would give the resort and area 5 Stars. The resort was very clean and the meals always had lots of variety and always good. We’ve been to a number of great resorts in different places (Mexico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Florida, California) and this was our favorite trip by far. We plan to go back next year for another 2 weeks stay.

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Barcelo Huatulco Resort Ivona and Bob ~ Ottawa, Ont

February 2005

Country: Mexico
Area: Huatulco
Hotel: Barcelo Huatulco
Rating: 4.5 – 5 Stars
Meal Plan: All Inclusive
Wholesaler: Signature Vacations
Airline: Skyservice
Date of Visit: Jan 2005

The Area:
Huatulco, in the state of Oaxaca, is the name given to the coastal area at the end of the Sierra Nevada mountain range that encompasses the nine bays, the port town of Santa Cruz and the neighbouring town of La Crucesita. Due to its superb sunny, dry climate and its rugged beauty, the Mexican government, through its agency FONATUR started developing this area for tourism back in the year 1989. Thankfully, development has been slow and as such, the area has retained much of its Mexican charm and laid-back attitude and unspoilt natural beauty.

The Resort and Clientele: The Barcelo Huatulco is located on one of the bigger of the nine bays, Tangolunda. The other resorts that share this bay are the Gala next door, the sumptuous Quinta Real resort and over the rocks on its own beach, the visually stunning Camino Real Zaashila. Other real estate on this bay include parts of the golf course, a campground, and the beach club belonging to the Crown Pacific resort; the resort itself being an approximate 5-10 minute walk along the road. The newly acquired Las Brisas (formerly Club Med) sits across the bay on its own peninsula. The Barcelo, a 6 storey structure of roughly 350 rooms was built in 1988. Due to its ‘U’ shape, most rooms have some form of an ‘ocean view’.

During our two week stay, the clientele was largely North American and Mexican.

The Room:
We were given a room on the 5 floor on the side of the ‘U’. We later discovered that non-smoking rooms are available at this hotel; unfortunately we were not given this choice at check-in. (And may I add that neither did we get a choice of the bed configuration). Luckily, the smoke from the other rooms was not terribly bothersome, only at certain times and mostly confined to the bathroom. The air conditioned room was spacious with plenty of storage space for the two of us. I normally pack extra hangers, but this was not necessary. Other amenities in the room were: a safe (at no extra charge), bar fridge filled with water, beer and soft drinks replenished daily, a hair dryer (which worked amazingly well!), a makeup mirror, shower and tub, a large 3 section mirror in the bathroom, lots and lots of lamps and lighting, a coffee maker (coffee replenished daily, but very weak flavoured coffee!) a table and chairs and a balcony with wooden (not plastic) chairs and coffee table, and a hanger thingy attached to the balcony wall for your wet things (this on top of the clothesline in the shower stall). Due to the low humidity, wet towels and clothing actually do dry overnight here! Shampoo, and body wash from dispensers, as well as bar soap were provided. We always had fresh towels and plenty of them, but washcloths for some reason were a hit and miss affair. The maids did an outstanding job cleaning the room, including wet mopping every day and as a result, the room was always spotless.

Beach(es) and Water: The hotel is situated on a large bay, and you can walk the length of the bay. The sand is a golden color and quite coarse in spots; largely made up of crushed shells. For those who enjoy ‘shelling’, this is a good beach for that activity. There are many other beaches in and around the nine bays; some you can take a cab to, others are accessible only by boat. The ocean in Tangolunda Bay is very deep and at first, seemed very chilly. Not the soupy temperatures of the Caribbean during the summer months to be sure! The drop off is very sudden, and few steps into the water brings it over one’s head. There is a definite undertow at this drop-off point, nothing serious if one is a decent swimmer, but I would be very careful with young children. Some parts of the bay are calmer than others. For example, the calmest water for swimming seemed to be in front of the Gala resort by the rocks (during low tide you can climb over these rocks and visit the beachfront of the Camino Real Zaashila Hotel). The surf seemed to be the roughest in front of the Crown Pacific beach club. We had one week of red flag and one week of yellow. Jellyfish are of course, an ongoing problem here, so caution is advised at all times. Luckily the jellies here are the really small ones and their sting, while somewhat painful, doesn’t last very long. The red bumps go away within a day or two, for most people.

HINT: meat tenderizer, alcohol or lime juice applied directly to the sting will help flush the venom.

The Barcelo’s beach area is grossly undersized during full occupancy. Just try finding a shady spot past 7:00 a.m.!!! Expect to sit butt-to-butt (cigarette as well as the anatomical kind!) with countless others.

Pools:
The hotel has one fairly large free-form pool in two sections, the deeper of the two having a swim-up bar. The pool water temperature seemed to vary on a daily basis; this probably had to do with how recently the water had been changed. Even during the cooler water days however, the water was still much warmer than pools on the Caribbean side during this time of year. Finding a shady spot around the pool must be done by the crack of dawn, or you are out of luck.

Food/Drinks: Oaxaca has the reputation as having one of the most intricate and complex cuisines in all of Mexico. It has been dubbed the ‘land of the seven moles’.

Of course, you’d never guess that eating at an all-inclusive, especially the Barcelo. If you truly want to experience the marvellous bounty of this fertile region, do go to town and try the local restaurants; you won’t regret it! We had the pleasure of having some exquisite, and reasonably priced dinners and lunches in both La Crucesita and Santa Cruz.

The Barcelo has 3 restaurants. The main buffet restaurant, called the ‘Dona Rosa Cafeteria’; aptly named, since the food served therein reminded me of a hospital or high school cafeteria. The al fresco ‘La Tortuga’ restaurant, where breakfast and lunch were served turns into an a la carte grill restaurant for supper. Its location is lovely (albeit a tad breezy) as it is oceanside. The food was acceptable, and was about the only place on premises where one could get grilled meat, fish or chicken, but the service was very spotty. On our first visit, they completely forgot my order; so unfortunately, we did not get to experience eating ensemble. The portions were quite small, and I noticed many patrons visiting the ‘cafeteria’ afterwards.

The third restaurant, the a la carte Don Quixote, is located inside and is air conditioned. The Spanish inspired décor is attractive, and the piano player is quite likely that restaurant’s best feature. The menu was quite limited and one’s choices even more so, considering they regularly ran out of items early on in the evenings. This was particularly puzzling since reservations were de rigeur . Still, even if the food was not ‘gourmet’, it was an improvement over the ‘cafeteria’ offerings. The maitre’d was a real character and watching him buzz around with his seemingly endless energy provided the necessary distraction from the poor service. HINT: Don’t skip breakfast if you enjoy Mexican food. You can actually get more Mexican dishes at breakfast than during the other two meals, (except for Mexican night).

If your favourite bebida happens to be beer, you will be imbibing Coronas from the room fridge and Sol from the bars. During lunch, you are able to serve yourself from the beer/soft drinks stations in the La Tortuga. Unfortunately, wine drinkers do not fare as well. No self-serve at lunchtime. This may or may not be a bad thing considering the wine is Carlo Rossi jug wine! And to add insult to injury, during some evenings, the white wine was watered down. Oh my!

I found most mixed drinks that I tried unpalatable, including my usual favourite margarita. (Margaritas outside the hotel were excellent, however!)

If you would like to try the many wonderfully flavoured mescals, you will have to do that outside this hotel. Even though this is a local specialty, you will only find the regular (unflavoured) mescal here. On a positive note, neither Bob nor I experienced health problems with the food or drinks.

The Staff:
Lovely, kind, people, but extremely over-worked due to the fact that this hotel was quite obviously under-staffed during our stay. Frankly, I felt very sorry for them and we tipped whenever possible.

Activities/Entertainment at Hotel: The hotel’s animation staff will keep you occupied during the day with the usual resort activities such as pool aerobics, bingo, beach volleyball, etc. The same group also puts on nightly shows (which are advertised in the lobby) and repeat on a weekly basis. We only made it to a couple of the evening shows. We found the teatro where the shows were being held much too smoky for our liking. The theatre is closed in and since this hotel does not segregate the smokers from non-smokers in any of the common areas, by halfway through the show, I found it nearly impossible to breathe. There was some form of live entertainment in the lobby bar most evenings. On Mexican night, the Huatulco Mariachis were featured, which we enjoyed. The hotel has tennis courts and a golf course is nearby (two of the holes are located right next to the hotel).

Don’t expect too much by way of water sports from this hotel. The included water sports boiled down to a half dozen kayaks which you had to reserve ahead of time, some snorkel equipment, and one Laser-style sailboat which probably dates back to when the hotel first opened. No Hobies, no sailboards, no boogie-boards. We spoke to some patrons who specifically booked this hotel for its supposed water sports equipment. When they brought up the issue with management, they were told that the Hobies were on order, and if they really wanted to, they could visit the Las Brisas and pay to use their equipment.

Outside the Hotel:
There is plenty to do outside the resort, whether you venture out on your own or partake in more organized activities. Both towns are approximately a 10 minute, 25 peso cab drive, and are worth the visit. HINT: find out beforehand when the cruise ships are in town, and avoid those days like the plague! Cabs are numerous and inexpensive. You can hire a cab to take you to Puerto Escondido, a lively surfing town; approximately two hours away. Or you can cab to the turtle sanctuary, or to one of the many beaches in the area.

If birding is your thing, you can take a walk down along the beach towards the river (next to the Quinta Real resort). You will be amazed at what birds you can spot. We were lucky enough to spot several egrets, herons, eagles, white-throated magpie jays, orioles, yellow-winged caciques, turquoise-browed motmots, and even green parrots. This is in addition to the many pelicans, seagulls and cormorants in the area. HINT: bring binoculars!

You can book a 7 bay tour or fishing tour, either from the guys on the beach, through your tour operator, or other travel agencies in town. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a guaranteed fish catch from a fishing trip! And these guys don’t seem to be exaggerating; we saw boats hauling in large fish on a daily basis.

We went on two organized trips during our stay. We did the 7 bay/coast tour and the coffee plantation/Magic falls tour. The coast tour takes you past 7 of the nine bays with supposed stops for swimming and/or snorkelling. Unfortunately, due to the vast amounts of jellyfish in most of the bays, we only stopped at one (St. Augustin) and then the stop at Maguey beach for lunch. It is a lovely trip and gives one the opportunity to see the rugged, beautiful coastline, and if you’re lucky, you might spot a pod of playful porpoise or a turtle.

The coffee plantation and waterfalls trip takes you high on a mountain via a narrow, winding dirt road. The views are mesmerizing, so bring a camera! The tour guide explains how the Pluma shade-grown coffee is planted, picked, sorted and roasted using old-fashioned, organic methods. This is followed by a short hike to the pristine, cool waters of the Copalitilla falls. Here you can swim in its crystal clear waters, jump into the falls or just sit and let the falls massage your back. A lunch of typical, simple, but flavourful Oaxacan fare finishes the visit. Of course you have the opportunity of purchasing some coffee to take home. Both trips are slightly longer than a half day, and very reasonably priced.

Shopping:
Oaxaca is best known for its mescal; regular and flavoured (e.g.: mocha, mango, strawberry, chocolate, etc.) moles, Pluma coffee, chocolate, pasilla (a native, smoky flavoured chile), black clay ceramics and the lovely white cotton clothing, much of which is hand made. You can purchase these and other items (such as silver from Taxco, tequila from Jalisco, T-shirts, mouth blown glass, etc.) in the two towns, either La Crucesita or Santa Cruz, as well as the few shops across from the hotel. We found the prices very reasonable, especially when compared with other more ‘touristy’ areas of Mexico such as Puerto Vallarta or Cancun. ATM machines are available both in town as well as next door to the hotel and we had no problems getting pesos with our Canadian bank card.

Climate:
One of the main reasons this area has been chosen for development is its idyllic climate. Throughout the dry season (approx. Nov-May) you will likely never see clouds, let alone rain. During our two week stay; the days were all exactly alike; cool mornings followed by hot, dry and sunny days, topped by very comfortable evenings. I imagine that meteorologists are not in big demand here!

HINT: bring lots of body lotion and hair conditioner, the low humidity coupled with strong sun can dry out the skin and hair! Even though I packed sweaters, they never made it out of the closet, the exception being for the air conditioned a la carte restaurant.

Insects:
The hotel does a top-notch job in this area. I did not see a single cockroach or other bug the entire stay. We had mosquitoes one night (I prefer sleeping with the windows open) and of course they immediately found Bob, the mosquito magnet. I, however, passed the two weeks with nary a bite. Wasps were ever-present around food and drink preparation areas during the day so it’s important to look before you swat! Again, Bob learned that the hard way.

In Conclusion: We both loved the Huatulco area and look forward to future visits to further explore this lovely region of Mexico. Would I stay at the Barcelo Huatulco again? No. As a frequent traveller, I don’t think it measures up to its purported 4.5 or 5 star status. If I am to stay at a 2 or 3 star resort, I much prefer to pay accordingly. This hotel has far too many negatives to make it a true 4 or 5 star property. The noise at night, the substandard drinks and food, the overcrowded beach and pool areas, the lack of water sports equipment, the disregard for non-smoking clientele, and the insufficient number of staff, just do not add up to good value.

There are many other resorts and lovely boutique hotels in the Huatulco area to choose from, so why bother? If you still have questions, email me at: Ivona_Lancaster@hotmail.com

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Barcelo Huatulco Resort Karen ~ Canada

January 2005

We have just returned from a one week vacation in Huatulco and it was a great holiday, lovely weather, lovely people and nice hotel, what more could you ask for. This is a great family resort for young and older children with many activities and a nice varied food menu. My husband and I have travelled to many tropical destinations and try diffferent star classes of hotels for comparison, this hotel definitely rates its four star marking. It has many different services, four restaurants, three bars, a large pool area, many activities, nice beach and above all good service and cleanliness. If you want more luxury, go to a five star and pay more, don’t come here and nit pick.

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Barcelo Huatulco Resort Jim & Lourdes

July 2004

Dear Debbie
My wife and I just returned from a wonderful two week vacation in Huatulco, Mexico. We stayed at the Barceló Hotel where we were treated very well. The staff and especially the activity staff were friendly, courteous and helpful. The hotel has many positives and of course some negatives. I will try to cover a few of both, noting that "we had a wonderful stay".

Positives: There are pool activities for young and adult with several of the Activity Staff participating making and effort to insure all are enjoying themselves. Our room had an excellent view and I believe nearly all rooms have similar views because of the way the hotel is designed. The food selection and quality was great at every meal—every meal. The room was comfortable and easy to use—closet space, room safe, hair drier, tub/shower, mirrors, mini bar, tv/w video ports (we were able to review the tapes on our camcorder) Every evening they had some type of entertainment from 9:30 to about 11:00 When towels or any other service was requested they gave us prompt service My wife speaks Spanish, but I do not. Most of the staff spoke enough English to make it comfortable for me.

The chief chef prepared a wonderful meal for us and some of the Activity staff with one of the sailfish we caught. (even the Assistant Mgr of the Hotel joined us)

Some items that could be improved: The capacity of the air conditioning system, the elevators doors close a little fast and need a little TLC. I would suggest that if the hotel ever decides to replace the room tiles that they choose a style that will be easier for the staff to clean. (The rooms are clean, but we could see how difficult it was for the floors to be cleaned). It would be nice if there were more areas in the hotel where the flies and mosquitoes can be controlled better.

Tours and Activities:
We enjoyed four days fishing on the Capricho. Captain Efrain Lavariega gave us the fishing experience of a life time. We caught sailfish every time we went out. Catch and release is what we practiced. Only fish that could not be released were kept. On our third day out we caught 7 sailfish. Fishing in Huatulco starts just off shore, so that nearly no time is wasted getting to and from the fishing area. We were in sight of land at all times. Our captain stopped the boat on one occasion when we spotted a yellow float in the water. He recognized it as an illegal fish line. When he pulled it aboard he found that a large sea turtle had been caught with it and that one flipper was entangled in the heavy line. Captain Efrain reached over the side of the boat and cut the turtle free. It felt great to be a part of that rescue.

We only took two tours: One was the ecological tour and the other was to the Magic Cascades. Do not take the Magic Cascades trip if you do not enjoy long trips on unpaved narrow roads with steep cliffs at the edge of your vehicle wheels.

jimsenh@prodigy.net

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Barcelo Huatulco Resort John

February 2004

My wife, myself and another couple traveled to Huatulco for the first time for the week of Feb. 1 – 8. We are in our mid thirties and have traveled fairly extensively and chose Huatulco based on information from this site and others that this was a relaxing, quiet, out of the way location. We chose the all-inclusive package at the Barcelo. Traveling from Canada, the all-inclusives are really the best deal to Huatulco. The flight down was nothing spectacular, however, I do recommend that you bring along some snacks and drinks as it is a long flight and you have to pay for all drinks and the food provided leaves a bit to be desired. When we arrived (8:30 at night), we made it through the airport, on to the buses and to the hotel about an hour, pretty good considering our past traveling experiences. The hotel check in was quick, and efficient. They provided us with room keys, TV converter, wristbands and the lock & key to the in-room safe. They even had the Super Bowl playing at the lobby bar and we got to see the last quarter, bonus.

Hotel
The hotel was great, wasn’t too big, clean, lots of plants/flowers, well laid out and easy to get around/find everything. The rooms were a good size, clean, had lots of storage space and all had some sort of a view of the ocean. The bathroom was big with lots of towels, face cloths, soaps and shampoos. The rooms had a small fridge that was stocked daily with water, pop and beer. Every room had a balcony with a table and chairs big enough to hold 4 people.

Weather
5 words…. Hot and Sunny Every Day!

Beach/Pool
The beach was fantastic, about 70 yards wide and probably ¾ of a mile long in total. It was always clean; no rocks but had a decent undertow so I wouldn’t recommend it for small kids (no problem for adults). There are vendors walking the beach, but they are all very friendly, enjoy talking with you and move along with a quick “no gracias”. This is where we picked up most of our souvenirs from. They have a great selection of silver, black pottery, blankets, coffee and about anything else you could think of. They will barter, but remember, it doesn’t matter what you pay for it as long as you’re happy with it. The pool was very large and clean with several different sections and a swim up bar. We were able to find a spot on the beach every day that had some shade without getting up at the crack of dawn. You will need some shade, as it was easily over 100 everyday without a cloud in the sky.

Fishing
We went out with Jesus Vasquez in his boat “White Shark”, along with Juan his driver, for a ½ day fishing/sight seeing. We saw dolphins, turtles and 2 whales about 50 feet from the boat, quite an experience. We had a great time, we fished for about 3 hours and then Jesus took us for lunch and some snorkeling. Jesus looked after us extremely well and I would highly recommend his services to anyone looking to go out. He can be reached at sharkv74@yahoo.com or on his cell at 044 958 58 94161 or look for him on the beach wearing his yellow “White Shark” ball cap.

People
Everybody that we met was extremely friendly, from the resort staff, the vendors, the cab drivers to the locals staying at the Barcelo and in town. Can’t say enough about the people.

Food & Drinks
Excellent food and drinks at the hotel and even better in town. The buffets and a-la-carte restaurants at the Barcelo were very good with enough selection and Mexican flair to keep everyone interested for the week. The gigantic paella they made for lunch one day was a favorite. Booze is high quality and there is plenty of it. Sol is their beer on tap. They had something going on every night, typical resort shows that were very well done and after that, live bands, karaoke or something else at one of the bars. We did go into La Crucecita a couple of times ($2.50 cab ride each way) and ate at Los Portales. The food and service were great and La Crucecita is a must see.

Trips
We didn’t book anything through the tour rep, but people who did said they had a great time. Jesus looked after all of our needs and had contacts for anything else like the coffee plantation tour, waterfall tour, atv etc.

Note: February 5th is a national holiday in Mexico and the resorts (especially the Barcelo) were busier for the remainder of the weekend. Even though the resort was close to being full, there was still plenty of room for everyone and the staff handled the crowds very well and we never had to wait for any kind of service.

Huatulco is definitely high in our list of places we have visited and would highly recommend it as well as the Barcelo for anyone looking for a great vacation.

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Barcelo Huatulco Resort Malcolm

January 2004

My wife and I are just back from a glorious week at the Barcelo (Jan 8 to 15) in Huatulco, Mexico. We arrived late on Thursday night (around 10 PM) but after a very speedy check in, the hotel was thoughtful enough to keep the restaurant open to 11 so that their newly arrived guests could have a quick dinner before it closed. We spent the first evening by the pool and then to the piano bar for a nightcap.

We woke up on Friday morning to a beautiful sunrise (visible from our balcony). The weather that day and for the rest of the week could not have been better. It was sunny and warm with a gentle breeze coming in off the ocean. We spent our daytime for the next 7 days between the pool (water temperature was perfect) and the ocean. The ocean view from any part of the property was nothing short of breathtaking.

The Barcelo Hotel itself deserved all of its stars. Our room was large, well decorated and had all of the usual conveniences including lots of storage for cloths (my wife was happy for this). The room was impeccably cleaned each day and clean towels were even left in the room while we were out for dinner to replace those used during the afternoons. The food was excellent and there was lots of variety. One day at lunch the staff prepared a payella on the grill that was the best I’ve ever had at any Mexican restaurant. They must have put in 20 pounds each of shrimp, crab, pork, chicken as well as clams and mussels not to mention rice peppers etc. It took 4 staff members to lift the pan off the grill to the serving table. We left the hotel late on Thursday for our trip home and the hotel made arrangements so that we could have a later check out time and also made arrangements with their Spa so that anyone wanting to take a late shower before leaving for the airport could do so.

I also booked a bay and snorkling tour with Jesus Vasquez [sharkv74@yahoo.com] on his panga. The day we were scheduled to go out he made a special trip to the hotel to let me know the ocean was too rough and that it would be better for snorkling if we went on another day. He picked us up at 9:00 AM sharp and we had a beautiful day on the ocean returning back to the hotel around 3:00. We visited 5 bays and several beaches capped off with a late lunch on Maguay beach. I strongly recommend Jesus to anyone wanting to either go snorking, fishing or just site seeing. He and his captain made sure our day was great and that we got to see everything we wanted to see. The day following our trip he took a group out fishing. His group came back with smiling faces and 2 doral, one of about 25 pounds and another of about 50. Jesus’ English is very good and his knowledge of the area is great.

The dive center at the Barcelo, run by Charlie (Carlos Ramos) does an excellent job.

Although it’s only been a few days since we’ve been back we’re already talking of going back next year.

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