Ixtapa Zihuatanejo Travel Tips

© iStock / YingYang via Forbes.
DestinationImage_ZihuantenejoIxtapa_PlayaLaRopa_CreditiStock_YingYang

© iStock / YingYang via Forbes.

While traveling is an adventure, it is always important to have a plan on how to manage certain tasks.  I asked one of the Capella Ixtapa Personal Assistants how they recommend dealing with everyday tasks visitors often must deal with.  Of course, they not only had an answer but a plethora of information on how to eliminate these little stressors!  When staying at Capella Ixtapa your Personal Assistant and the entire team will make sure to help you with any request and information, but I thought these tips may help put your mind at ease before you even set foot in Ixtapa.

Medical Services in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo
At Capella Ixtapa we have medical assistance available 24/7.  In case of emergency when you’re out and about, you can call us and we’ll immediately organize help for you.  There are several hospitals and private clinics that can provide you with necessary treatment.  And if you ever need an ambulance with urgency, dial 065 from any fixed phone or 114 from a cell phone. See the list of Clinics and Hospitals in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo here.

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Tips about Water in Mexico
The running water at Capella Ixtapa is purified and safe to drink.  Most restaurants in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo have purified water (but we recommend that you double check with your waiter), but we advise caution when eating on the street.  According to the saying “better safe than sorry,” we suggest that you drink bottled water when strolling around town and pay attention how your street food or drinks are prepared.  If the water for the dish needs to be boiled, you have nothing to worry about.

Electricity in Mexico
Mexico’s electricity system is the same as that of the USA and Canada with 120 V.  Any devices that you use at home you will be able to use in Mexico with no problem.

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Photo via: ixtapa-zihuatanejo.triangulodelsol.travel

Money & Currency Exchange Tips in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo
The official currency used in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo is the Mexican Peso ($), but most businesses and service providers will probably accept American Dollars as well (check the exchange rate with the provider before you decide to pay in your currency).  VISA and Master Card are the most widely accepted credit cards.  American Express is also accepted, but sometimes with added fixed fee.  To ensure a more favorable exchange rate and to ease getting change back from a vendor, we recommend exchanging your money into pesos.  Banks are open on weekdays, closed on national holidays and a few are open on Saturdays.  Hours are (normally) from 9:00am to 4:00pm.  You will need a photo ID to complete transactions. In many cases, a driver’s license is not accepted; you will need to show your passport. ATMs are very common in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and are the easiest source for cash.

Tips about tipping in Mexico
Tipping guidelines for Mexico are nearly the same as  tipping guidelines used in the United States or Canada, with some exceptions.  In restaurants the tips range between 10% – 15%, depending on your satisfaction of the service received.  If you feel that the waiter did an exceptional job in welcoming you and creating an amazing experience, you can leave 20% or a tip of your preference.  See more tipping & etiquette tips on Trip Advisor here.

Swimming in the Pacific Ocean
Ixtapa Zihuatanejo has many beautiful beaches (see some of my favorite beaches in Ixtapa here, and Zihuatanejo here).  Travelers should understand that hotel managers, lifeguards and other interested parties operate a flag warning system for the beaches.  Red flags mean you should not enter the water, not even to wade.  This could be because of a strong undertow or that a school of stinging jellyfish is making its way through Ixtapa.

Language
People working in the hotel industry normally speak English, and the majority of locals speak enough English so your every day communications should not be a problem.  If you master some basic words in Spanish like Thank you (gracias), Please (por favor), Where is it? (donde está?), locals will appreciate your trying.  In fact, most of people will help you learn some more words as well!

Tips on Rental Cars in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo
To rent a car, you must have a valid drivers license, be 18 years or older and leave a deposit with a credit card.  Your Capella Ixtapa Personal Assistant will be happy to arrange a car rental for you if you desire, but can also arrange alternate services to drive you.  Try to limit driving to daylight hours as some of the highways have free-roaming livestock; keep your eyes on the road and drive defensively.  There are Pemex gas stations all throughout the area.  Mexico has a government-funded highway patrol, the Ángeles Verdes or “Green Angels”; these are green trucks that patrol the major highways twice a day and provide emergency service.  The service is free, but you will be charged if supplies are needed.

Tips About Public Transportation & Taxis in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo
Taxis are available 24 hours a day.  They are located at all major hotels, downtown and at the airport.  Negotiate the fare before accepting the ride and keep in mind that the cost is per cab, not per person.  To call a taxi, call your Personal Assistant.  There are also public buses that run between towns.  We recommend renting a car or a taxi, or hiring a driver to explore the downtown, marina, remote beaches and enjoying other experiences in the area.

Ixtapa Zihuatanejo Time Zone
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is in the Central Time Zone and observes daylight savings time.

US Consular Agency (an extension of the Embassy in Mexico City)
The closest US Consular Agency to Ixtapa Zihuatanejo is located in Acapulco.  Phone: +52(744)481-0100, Phone/Fax:(52)(744)484-0300, E-Mail: ConAgencyAcapulco@state.gov.

For more information on Ixtapa Zihuatanejo travel tips, please send us an email to pa.ixtapa@capellahotels.com, or call us at: USA Toll Free: 1 (877) 296-8889, Canada Toll Free:1 (855) 842-3399, Mexico Toll Free: 01-800-838-6501, Mexico: +52 755 5551100

Have more questions?  Please leave them in the comments below!

Sabor y Vino Culinary Festival 2015 At Capella Ixtapa

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Sabor-Vino-capella-ixtapa-2015

Book your calendars for an exquisite culinary experience!  I would like to invite you to join us at our 2nd annual gastronomic festival Sabor y Vino at Capella Ixtapahappening from May 21st to May 24th 2015.  Among the events and activities at this year’s festival you will find a tantalizing opening cocktail, cooking and chocolate demos, a tequila tasting and an exquisite six course tasting dinner with beer, wine and tequila pairings all exclusively designed by our guest chefs and Executive Chef Miguel Baltazar.

This year we’re excited to have these renowned chefs and companies join our very own Chef Miguel Baltazar: Chef Emiliano Ayala, from Restaurant Tzirio in Querétaro,  Chef Alfonso Huerta, from Restaurant Allium in Guadalajara, chocolatier Chef Mauricio Montiel, from Dolcenero in Mexico city, and Chef Felipe Meneses, from Restaurant Bar La Katrina Mezcalería right here in Zihuatanejo.  Local producers of coffee, beer, coconuts, fishermen and others will participate as well– including the producer of artisan beer from Morelia, Cerveceria Malora, and Café Zihuatanejo, just to name a few. There will be an opening event after party at La Katrina Mezcaleria, and a closing after party at the Loot gallery, and so much more.

As we continue to put the final touches together, please be sure to follow me on my Facebook page, for some behind-the-scenes details!

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Everyone is looking forward to celebrating some of the finest Mexico’s cuisine at Capella Ixtapa and I am sure you will love it!

If you are interested in joining me for the event please email  fbsupervision.ixtapa@capellahotels.com to reserve your spot! But hurry, the event, which takes place over two day, has a maximum capacity of 34 guests.  Hope to see you at Sabor y Vino Culinary Festival 2015 at Capella Ixtapa!

Festival Culinario Sabor y Vino 2015 en Capella Ixtapa

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Sabor-Vino-capella-ixtapa-2015

Marca tu calendario para vivir ¡una experiencia culinaria exquisita! Tengo el gusto de invitarlos a que nos acompañen en nuestro 2o Festival Gastronómico Sabor y Vino de Capella Ixtapa, el cual tendrá lugar del 21 al 24 de Mayo del 2015.  Entre los eventos y actividades de esta edición del festival podemos encontrar un tentador coctel inaugural, demostraciones y cocina con chocolate, catas de tequila y una exquisita cena de degustación de seis tiempos sabiamente maridada con vino, tequila y cervezas artesanales, todo exclusiva y cuidadosamente diseñado por nuestro Chef Ejecutivo Miguel Baltazar junto con nuestros Chefs invitados. Capella-Ixtapa-sabor-vino-festival-2014-a

Este año contamos con la emocionante participación de grandes nombres que acompañan a nuestro Chef Miguel Baltazar, entre ellos:  El Chef Emiliano Ayala, del Restaurante Tzirio en Querétaro,  el Chef Alfonso Huerta, del Restaurante Allium en Guadalajara, el chocolatier Chef Mauricio Montiel, de Dolcenero en la Ciudad de México y al Chef Felipe Meneses, del Restaurante Bar La Katrina Mezcalería aquí mismo en Zihuatanejo.  También contaremos con la participación de pescadores y productores locales de café, cerveza, cocos, y muchos productos más, entre ellos los productores de cerveza artesanal, Cervecería Malora, desde Morelia, y el Café Zihuatanejo sólo por mencionar un par.  También tendremos una fiesta después del coctel de inauguración del festival en La Katrina Mezcalería, y otra fiesta después de la clausura del evento en la Galería Loot, así como muchos eventos paralelos más!

Mientras seguimos afinando los últimos detalles de este gran evento, por favor asegúrate de seguirnos en nuestra página de Facebook, para que veas algunos de los detalles “detrás de escena”.

Estamos esperando con ansia poder celebrar las delicias de la cocina contemporánea mexicana en Capella Ixtapa, y estoy segura que ¡les encantará a ustedes también!

Si estás interesado/a en acompañarnos en este maravilloso evento, por favor contáctanos via correo electrónico a: fbsupervision.ixtapa@capellahotels.com para reservar tu lugar!  Pero apresúrate, el evento, que tiene duración de dos días tiene un exclusivo cupo limitado a solamente 34 invitados.  ¡Esperamos verte pronto en el Festival Culinario Sabor y Vino 2015 en Capella Ixtapa!

Cinco De Mayo con Margaritas de Mango

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En México somos bien conocidos por nuestra naturaleza festiva y alegre, y sinceramente no podemos decir que no a ninguna excusa para celebrar la vida y a las personas cercanas a nosotros.  Como se aproxima el Cinco de Mayo, y hay muchas festividades planeadas principalmente con nuestros vecinos del norte, me gustaría tomar esta oportunidad para compartirles algunos de los planes que tenemos para celebrar esta fecha aquí en Capella Ixtapa.  Yo estoy principalmente emocionada con el cocktail creado específicamente para la ocasión por nuestro mixólogo Miguel, ¡Y no puedo esperar más para compartirlo con ustedes!

Hay mucho más que guacamole, nachos y tequila durante las celebraciones del Cinco de Mayo, que contrario a los que muchos creen no es el Día de la Independencia de México, el cual es en Septiembre 16.  En Mayo 5 se celebra a batalla de Puebla, la cual conmemora la victoria del ejército mexicano sobre el ejército francés.  En Mayo de 1862, un poderoso ejército francés avanzaba hacia la Ciudad de México.  Los franceses se encontraban bien armados, disciplinados y eficientemente habían destruido cualquier resistencia en su avanzar a la capital mexicana.  Sin embargo, al llegar a las afueras de Puebla, sucedió algo que nadie esperaba:  Soldados mexicanos, la mayoría de ellos sin ningún entrenamiento formal y con un armamento bastante deficiente, derrotaron a los franceses.

La verdad es, que el Cinco de Mayo es mayormente una fiesta regional celebrada en la ciudad y el Estado de Puebla, con un modesto reconocimiento a nivel nacional en México.  Sin embargo, aquí en Capella Ixtapa ¡no podemos decirle que no a ninguna celebración!  Nuestro mixólogo Miguel amablemente nos comparte su receta para uno de sus cocteles más populares, la Margarita de Mango:

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Margarita de Mango

Ingredientes:

• 1.5 oz.  Tequila Maestro Tequilero reposado
• 1.5 oz.  Jugo de naranja
• 1 oz.   Cointreau
• Néctar de agave
• Jarabe o concentrado de mango
• Sal para escarchar

Preparación:

• Escarchar el vaso con sal y llenarlo de hielo.
• Añadir tequila, jugo, Cointreau, jarabe de agave y de mango en una coctelera shaker y agitar vigorosamente.
• Sirve el contenido sobre hielo (cubos o frappe).
• Decora con una fruta estrella o con una flor de bougainvillea.

Salud y feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Chocolate: Food Of The Gods

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September is probably the most important the month in the year for Mexicans, because it’s the month when we celebrate our independence.  This year we are celebrating 204 years of independence from Spain, and at Capella Ixtapa we have prepared several activities throughout the resort to celebrate this special day.  I decided to visit Chef Miguel and talk with him about Mexican sweet gold, chocolate.

cocoa-bean

Cocoa bean

“Chocolate, perhaps the most popular of sweet foods, has a long history in Mesoamerica and was an important part of Mayan and Aztec culture,” explained Chef Miguel, “at which time it was neither sweet nor a food, but a beverage, and a sour one at that.  Today’s word chocolate derives from the Aztec language Nahuatl, from word xocolalt, meaning bitter water (there are several explanations about the origin of the word chocolate; this one is one of the most cited).  The Aztecs made a variety of chocolate drinks, combined with honey, nuts, seeds, spices, flowers, and hot chili pepper among others.  The thick and cold drink was believed to be a health elixir with aphrodisiac qualities, bringing wisdom and power to anyone who enjoyed it.”

Aztecs valued cocoa beans so much, that they used is as a currency as well.  For example, fur cocoa beans could get you a pumpkin and ten would but a rabbit.

Chocolate tamal, a dessert at Capella Ixtapa

Chocolate tamal, a dessert at Capella Ixtapa

The Aztecs attributed the creation of the cocoa plant to their god Quetzalcoatl, who descended from heaven on a beam of a morning star carrying a cocoa tree from paradise.  The scientific name of cocoa tree Theobroma is very suitable to its heavenly attributes, as it means “Food of the Goods.”  The Aztec emperor Montezuma drank thick chocolate dyed red.  The drink was so prestigious that it was served in golden goblets that were thrown away after only one use.  He liked it so much that he was purported to drink 50 goblets every day!  In Aztec times, the chocolate drink was used in important religious and social rituals, primarily by priests, emperors, soldiers, wealthy and honored merchants.

Montezuma was the one who introduced cocoa beans and chocolate to young Spaniard Hernán Cortés, who conquered México in 1519 and in 1528 returned to Spain with some cocoa beans.  The Spaniards were the ones first starting to add sugar to the drink, and it became quite the delicacy.  The formula for this highly demanded and noble potion was kept a secret, which Spain managed to keep from the rest of the world for almost 100 years!

Slowly, the secret was revealed, and chocolate was introduced to royal courts in France in 1615 and Austria in 1711.  A Frenchman opened the first chocolate house in London in 1657, and Italians began serving chocolate in Florence and Venice in 1720.  The chocolate was first introduced to United States in 1764. Industrial Revolution in 18th century helped make chocolate available to masses.

We got first eatable solid chocolate in 1847 by an Englishman Joseph Fry, and… you know the rest.

Today, chocolate in Mexico is still widely used.  Not just as a drink or sweet food, but also as an ingredient in the popular savory mole sauce.  The most traditional use for chocolate is for hot beverages such as Atole, Champurrado and Mexican Hot Chocolate.

Chef Miguel was kind enough to share his recipe form Mexican Hot Chocolate, one I am sure will become a favorite at your home!

HOT MEXICAN CHOCOLATE

Although Montezuma drank his frothy chocolate cold, you can enjoy a delicious whipped version of hot Mexican chocolate.
In a bowl, put 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, and mix with enough water to make a thin paste.
In a large pan, bring to a boil 4 cups milk.
Break 2-4 cinnamon sticks into the milk.
Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
Carefully stir in the cocoa mix.
Turn off heat and whip to a froth just before serving.

It tastes godly, doesn’t it?

For activities at Capella Ixtapa during our Patriotic month celebrations, please email the Capella Ixtapa team at pa.ixtapa@capellahotels.com, or visit the Capella Ixtapa Facebook page for the latest updates.

Kayaking in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo

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kayaking-in-ixtapa-zihuatanejo

Every time summer comes to town, I start humming that popular Ella Fitzgerald song “Summertime and the living is easy…”  Even though in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo we have a fantastic warm weather all year long, and every day looks like a vacations, summer is still summer…  It’s the time of vacations when I go to visit my friends and family, and when they come to visiting me in Ixtapa, and the time everything just feels a little bit more relaxed.

July temperatures in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo average around 90 F, which make it a perfect excuse to spend most of my free time in the ocean or at the pool.  During my days off work I love visiting our local beaches, and I have recently discovered my new favorite summer activity – kayaking.  I love kayaking solo, but kayaking in tandem is so much fun as well!

And while you can kayak in many of our Ixtapa Zihuatanejo beaches, my favorite spot for kayaking is at the lagoon at Barra de Potosí, a large salt water lagoon located about half an hour south of Zihuatanejo.  Here you can hire a guided tour, or kayak on your own.  The flora and fauna at the lagoon is amazing, you can admire unique aquatic birds, and paddle gently among beautiful tropical mangroves.  Don’t forget your waterproof camera, binoculars, sunscreen and a hat.

After the kayaking tour we love to enjoy fresh seafood at some of the beachfront restaurants at Barra de Potosí, and sip cold cocktails while relaxing in the hammock.  Barra de Potosí is a small fishing village with around 150 families, who all live work in the fishing industry- therefore you can be certain that the fish you will be enjoying is as fresh as it gets.  I love listening to the stories of fishermen, and it is probably just one reason more that makes me come for a kayaking tour to this pristine little village so often.

My second favorite kayaking spot is at Ixtapa Island.  I visit it when I don’t have a lot of time for my kayaking excursion.  It is a perfect place for kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, or just enjoying a relaxing beach day.

For more information about kayaking in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo and for organized tours, please contact your Capella Ixtapa Personal Assistant here.

Photo via Flickr user Loxy.