Published on May 2nd, 2010 | by Mark Chesnut
Beach Day in Acapulco, Mexico
A Bali-style day bed at Playita Santa Lucía, the new beach club.
It’s Saturday afternoon, and a group of five Djs, most from Mexico City, are huddled over their shared table on the beach, as well-oiled vacationers sip micheladas on white-curtained Bali day beds. I’m in the adjacent open-air restaurant, slicing up a fresh whitefish filet prepared with garlic sauce. It’s the beginning of a peak weekend for Playita Santa Lucia, a beach club that opened in December 2009 in the middle of Acapulco’s biggest beach.
Live Djs, electronica vibes and indulgent day beds with billowing white curtains are something of a new concept for Acapulco’s main beach — and it took the owners of Ahma, which runs nightclubs in Mexico City and Aguascalientes, to do it.
Even with the downturn in tourism, it’s a busy weekend on Acapulco Bay, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy the sun. After a stint at the beachfront Crowne Plaza Acapulco (where the angular architecture is the most striking design element) and the cool retro-chic Boca Chica, my partner Angel and I are now staying at Calinda Beach, a high-rise, budget-friendly hotel with a circular building that hints at its past as a 1970s-era Holiday Inn. The décor is forgettable but clean, and the views from the oceanfront balconies are impressive, especially for the room price (we’re paying about $89; we turned down the all-inclusive option, which is about $50 extra per day). We skipped the Calinda’s crowded beach area and walked a few yards away for the more chic, more adult Playita Santa Lucia beach club. After lunch and a chat with some of the owners and Djs, we headed to the more traditional Condesa beach, where we took a table beneath one of the many thatch-roofed palapas. Strolling vendors here offer a surprising array of goods and services, from food (fresh fruit, donuts, shrimp, quesadillas) to clothing (sarongs, T-shirts, jewelry) to souvenirs (ridiculously large wood ship models, temporary henna tattoos). Live musicians of various genres wander among the sunseekers, offering their services. We order refreshments from a waiter and a vendor approaches me from behind, pressing firmly on my shoulders with both hands. “Massage?” he asks. I can’t resist, and before I know it, I’m stretched out on a nearby table, indulging in a 45-minute treatment for about U.S.$30. I wish I’d thought of doing this earlier in the week.
DJs in the mix at Playita Santa Lucía.
The view from my room at the Calinda Beach hotel.
A pair of bongo players bring the beat live to Condesa Beach.
Shady palapa huts on Condesa Beach.
Well-deserved relaxation (and a very non-existent tan).