By David Simmonds
Zihautanejo, although no longer the unknown, perfect fishing village that I stumbled upon as I jumped off a bus with my backpack in 1974, is still one of Mexico’s best beach towns to get away from the Cancun, Cabo, Acapulco fandango. In Zihua you can find inexpensive digs, quiet days and magical nights with a well-worn hammock, right where the Tim Robbins character in the Shawshank Redemption landed after his prison escape in the great film from 1994. Besides the “on the lam”-type traveler that Zihua draws, there has long been the incomparable Villa del Sol resort, always rated as one of Mexico’s finest. It has catered to the “romantics” and adventurous for many years, providing a level of service that is hard to find anywhere, at any price. It is unique and singular in every sense…a bohemian luxury.
But don’t look for the hotel now, at least not by that perfect lyrical name. The Los Angeles-based Kor Hotel Group has purchased the property, slapped their brand on it’s hindquarters, and renamedit Tides Zihuatanejo. Clever, huh? See, it’s on the beach, so…
I get that the chain hotels have this brand fetish, and I guess some people feel comfortable with the implied guaranty of a high number sheet- thread count. But I think they’re making a huge error. It has become one of the Tides, joining the Tides South Beach in Miami and the Tides Riviera Maya. More are sure to follow. They have taken something special, standing proudly alone, and jammed it into a group. And although I’m sure it is a fine, five-star resort (they have beach butlers!), it has lost it’s one-of-a-kind mystique, and the old town will never be quite the same.