Published on April 30th, 2010 | by Mark Chesnut
The Hotel Boca Chica in Acapulco is a classic property infused with boutique chic.
HOTEL REVIEW: Relaxed Retro Chic at Boca Chica, Acapulco
Yesterday afternoon, I checked into a hotel where several decades earlier a Hollywood starlet named Rita Hayworth slept.
That was back when Acapulco was becoming Mexico’s first jet-set resort destination, and celebrities were flocking to small, independently owned hotels in the hills by the bay. Today, Hotel Boca Chica — which opened in March 2010 — represents the most prominent renovation of one of those properties in Acapulco Tradicional, the neighborhood where the city’s tourism industry first took root.
The reborn Boca Chica, the result of major renovations over several months, is the work of Grupo Habita, Mexico’s leading boutique hotelier (which won Wallpaper Magazine’s best new hotel design for 2010 for its new property in Monterrey). I’ve visited two of the company’s Mexico City properties — Condesa DF (one of my favorite hotels in the world) and Hotel Habita — so I had pretty high expectations about how Grupo Habita’s creative eye would work on Boca Chica.
I’m definitely pleased. This small property, tucked into one end of the bustling Caletilla Beach, makes it clear that you’re not in a run-of-the-meal Acapulco resort from the time you enter.
In the small lobby, a vintage radio and an old rotary telephone sit, unplugged, on two side tables. A boomerang-shaped coffee table holds a couple of photography magazines, and a chrome-laden mid-century bicycle is parked near the reception desk, waiting for some unidentified rider from years past.
The hotel “doesn’t take itself too seriously,” one admirer told me before my visit. “It has style, but a sense of humor.” I agree. And it’s fun to look for the whimsical design elements. The sign over the elevator, for example, reads “Get Higher.”
I was shown to a Sunset Suite, an attractive corner room with wrap-around balcony on the second floor (there are only three floors at this wonderfully low-slung hotel). Shuttered doors open on two sides for maximum enjoyment of the scenery. Like every guestroom here, the balcony has a water view and an inviting hammock.
Inside, rooms have been updated with modern conveniences including flatscreen televisions, air conditioning, iPod docks and complimentary wireless Internet access. But this is the kind of place where I didn’t even feel an urge to turn on the television; during the day, there is so much life in the waters surrounding us; boats bobbing, people swimming, men paddling canoes laden with shells for sale, music floating over from the nearby water park. It’s live entertainment.
The bathroom consists of a water closet and a fun in-room shower, surrounded by a retro-style, circular shower curtain, just steps from the king-size bed. Next to the bed, a giant seashell with a light bulb inside provides mood lighting after dark.
After touring the small spa (which is marked by an old-fashioned barber chair), my partner Angel and I enjoyed some down time at the orb-shaped swimming pool and wandered the multiple levels of outdoor lounge areas. We had dinner while gazing out at the water from the open-air restaurant/bar, which is topped by a large palapa (thatched roof).
There isn’t much to do in the neighborhood after dark, so we took a taxi to the main tourist zone for a bit of nightlife. On the way home, we bought tacos al pastor and sat on our balcony to eat them. The moon glowed overhead as I looked across the water at the larger Hotel Caleta. It hasn’t benefited from a rebirth like the Boca Chica, but around the same time that Boca Chica hosted Rita Hayworth, actor Gregory Peck stayed at the Hotel Caleta. I wonder if he had binoculars.
$95 and up.
BEST FOR: Bohemian chic travelers who appreciate style and design in a relaxed environment, along with a bit of the flavor of “Acapulco Tradicional.”