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.

capella-Ixtapa-zihuatanejo

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!

Eating Well: Healthy Tips For Summer Travel

Steven Fowler - Director of Food & Beverage DC

Longer days, children buzzing about outdoors, and warmer weather can only mean one thing – summer has finally arrived!  My family summer vacations always included fun road-trips, action-packed plans, and a ton of laughter while creating memories that I continue to cherish until today.

Often a key component of our traveling was the dining.  My parents always attempted to find a balance between summer indulgence and making sure we stayed healthy and well nourished.  Today, this is still a priority for me, as I love to take part in local flavors, but not at the expense of taking care of my body.  Taking this into consideration, I thought it the perfect opportunity to sit down with the Capella Washington, D.C., Georgetown culinary team to find out what they recommend for maintaining a healthy, but enjoyable, lifestyle during summer travel.

Healthy Tips For Summer Travel:

Chef Frank Ruta - DC

“Always ask the locals and those around you, even your waiters while dining out what the healthiest options are on the menu or local spots to try.  Insider tips are always helpful and they know what they’re talking about!”   ~Executive Chef, Frank Ruta

Chef Aggie - Pastry Chef DC

“Remember it’s a vacation!  It’s a time to enjoy everything that’s going on with the activities and with your family and friends surrounding you. Enjoy the food and desserts and have a great time.” ~Pastry Chef, Aggie Chin

Steven Fowler - Director of Food & Beverage DC

 “Sitting in a cramped position for long periods, whether in an airplane, car, or bus, can lead to an increased risk of potentially health related issues.  To minimize risk, drink plenty of water and stay active to allow the blood to flow.  Always carry around with you bottles of water and try to drink plenty of fluids to prevent from becoming dehydrated.” ~Food & Beverage Director, Steve Fowler

Kelly S - Catering Sales Manager DC

“The first thing I do when I travel is to search for the local markets and grocery stores to stock up on fresh veggies, fruits, and snacks.  Sourcing our breakfast meals from fresh local markets was a great way to save some extra cash and getting in touch with how the community in that particular destination lived.  You can ask for a complimentary mini-fridge to be sent to your hotel room to store these items as well.” ~Catering Sales Manager, Kelly Schneider

I hope these tips will come in handy for healthy and delicious summer of traveling!  Please tag @CapellaDC on social media and share your own healthy/delicious summer traveling tips so that I can share them with our community.  Have a great summer!

The Rye Bar’s Romantic Cocktail Tips

Valentines Day Cocktail

What are the secrets to creating a great cocktail?  This question came up during my chat with one of the Rye Bar’s signature & most well-known D.C. bartenders, Angel Cervantes.  “The liquor must stand out and the herbs and liqueurs must always come secondary.”   I wanted to get a deeper look into how our bartenders at Capella Washington, D.C., Georgetown create these unique, flavor punched cocktails, and what the basics are to create my own at home.  With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I asked Angel for his best romantic cocktail tips:

Valentines Day Cocktail

One of my favorite words of recommendation from Angel is, “It doesn’t matter what you’re making, it matters who you’re making it with.”  Creating cocktails involves letting loose and being creative.  To make it romantic, try tasting new flavors with your significant other to experience what you both like.  “Play with flavors of liqueurs, juices, sweetness, and acidity and decide what you are in the mood for.”  First, you must choose your liquor that will be the main focus of the drink.  Then think about what to add to your cocktail- herbs like lavender, rosemary, basil (infused in simple syrup), and citruses like lemons, limes, and oranges.  Once you both develop your favorite ingredients, fixings, and liquors, you will have an easier and more pleasurable time crafting cocktails.

Some of Angel’s suggested staple bar ingredients are:

  1. Lime or Lemon
  2. Sugar infused with an assortment of herbs or fruits
  3. Bitters, a liquid, often an alcoholic liquor, in which bitter herbs or roots have steeped, used as a flavoring

Will this Valentine’s Day be bitter or sweet for you? Regardless, here’s a great cocktail recipe that you can try out for yourself at home in case you’re not able to be here with us this year!

My Bitter Valentine

1.5 oz. Boyd & Blair Vodka
Dash of Hum Herbal Liqueur
.75 oz. St-Germaine
1 oz. Luxardo
Top with 3 dashes Boston Bitters
.25 oz. Lime juice

Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a dried rose petal.

For a more hands on learning experience, The Rye Bar is hosting a Couple’s Cocktail Class on Valentine’s Day weekend, which is all about enjoying quality time with your significant other while developing romantic craft cocktails and learning essential bar techniques.  Guests will also delight in canapés and small bites, followed by a 3-course meal with cocktail pairings.  At the end, each couple will receive a signature take home gift from The Rye Bar!  For reservations, contact Elisabeth Thomas at (202) 617-2429 or email elisabeth.thomas@capellahotels.com.

A Spa Detox at Capella Ixtapa

Spa Detox

In my last post I introduced a detoxing tip from Executive Chef, Alex Branch.  But, if you are like me, there is still more detoxing in order!  So I reached out to Capella Ixtapa’s Spa Manager, Valentina Velazco for some additional detoxing tips.  She was happy to oblige and shared her favorite post-holiday treatments.

Valentina recommends a visit to the sauna.  Specifically she suggests combining Finn and Turkish Sauna (Ice Room and hydrotherapy), as it is a very efficient way of ridding the body of toxins.

Spa Detox

After that she recommends a 3-step treatment:

1) Body Exfoliation.  Look for options with anti-inflammatory and purifying elements like papaya or mango.
2) Body Wraps.  This is opportunity to add nourishments into the skin.  At Capella Ixtapa we often include the local Melissa plant in these sort of treatments.
3) A Massage.  Whether you like something deep or lighter, a therapeutic massage is a great way to free the tension in one’s muscles.

Also, don’t forget about your face!  A purifying facial treatment will help you remove all impurities and remedy the saturation of make up usage during the holidays.

After a spa day like that and Alex’s fantastic Cocoa Tea, it will be easy to continue with the good habits in the rest of the year.  I am implementing this plan and am already seeing results!

Do you have a special detox recipe or treatment plan that works for you?  Please share it with me in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter! Here’s to continued good habits in 2013!

Desintoxicación de Spa en Capella Ixtapa

Spa Detox

En mi último post les presenté un tip de desintoxicación del Chef Ejecutivo, Alex Branch. Pero, si son como yo, aún se necesita más desintoxicación por realizar! Así que me acerqué a Valentina Velazco la gerente de nuestro Spa para que me diera más tips de desintoxicación. Ella felizmente accedió y nos comparte sus tratamientos post-celebraciones navideñas favoritos.

Valentina me recomendó una visita al sauna. Específicamente ella recomienda combinar el Baño Turco con el Sauna Finlandés (Hidroterapia y el cuarto de hielo), ya que es una manera muy eficiente de deshacerse de las toxinas del cuerpo.

Spa Detox

Después de esto, recomienda un tratamiento de 3 pasos:

1) Exfoliación Corporal: Busca las opciones que incluyan anti-inflamatorios y elementos purificadores como la papaya o el mango.
2) Envoltorios Corporales: Esta es una oportunidad para añadir nutrientes a la piel. En Capella Ixtapa es común que incluyamos “Melissa” una planta local nutriente en estos tratamientos.
3) Masaje: Ya sea que prefieras un masaje profundo o suave, un masaje terapéutico es una gran manera de liberar tensión de los músculos.

Así también, ¡no te olvides de tu cara! Un tratamiento facial purificador te ayudará a remover todas las impurezas y remediar la saturación de maquillaje utilizado durante la temporada de celebraciones navideñas.

Después de un día de Spa como ese y el fabuloso té de cacao de Alex, me será más fácil continuar con los buenos hábitos el resto del año. Estoy implementando este plan ¡y estoy ya viendo resultados!

¿Y tu, tienes una receta o tratamiento especial para la desintoxicación? Por favor compárteme tus comentarios en este post, o en facebook o twitter! ¡Y que sigan los buenos hábitos en el 2013!

Secrets To A Christmas Goose

The Christmas season has officially arrived!  Now, last year at this time I told you about our Christmas Markets.  This year I want to fill you in on a very special dish that is served during the holiday season: roasted goose with dumplings, glazed chestnuts and red cabbage.

Do you know the feeling when certain scents are attached to memories?  Well, when I smell roasted goose and those side dishes, many childhood memories come to mind— Christmas with my grandparents, wintery evenings at home with the family and vacations in the countryside.

Also at Breidenbacher Hof’s Brasserie “1806” the season for roasted goose has begun.  And our chefs are not just preparing the traditional roast— they also created an entire three-course menu to go along with it!  In addition to the goose, the menu includes truffle and liver pate for starters and chocolate and quince dessert.  Yummy!

I have always wanted to prepare the goose for Christmas Eve with my family, but have been too intimidated.  This year I plan to conquer my fears and have asked our chefs for tips on preparing the perfect roast goose at home.

Christmas Goose

Here is what I learned:

–  The weight: A goose with a weight of 4 kilos should be enough for 6 people.

–  The ingredients: You should add water, oranges, apples, some lemon and herbs (e.g. Mugwort) to the goose in the roasting tray. Use the resulting stock to moisten the goose throughout the roasting period.

–  You can calculate 45 minutes in the convection oven (180°C) for every kilo of goose.

–  The perfect side dish: We add traditionally red cabbage to the goose. Some of you may ask, why we always eat that much cabbage in Germany.  Well, like potatoes or corn in the US, this is one of the most prevalent crops in Germany.   One secret to good red cabbage: Add some cassis liqueur and goose fat to it.  Believe me it makes a huge difference!

Hopefully I have taken some of the mystery out of roasting the ideal Christmas goose!  Let me know if you tackle this dish for your holiday meal.