Las Brisas Ixtapa

The word “boutique” is usually reserved for small properties, conveying as it does a sense of exclusivity, distinctive accommodations, excellent service and exquisite dining. When a property can boast 416 rooms and suites and still evoke every one of those qualities, it is a unique property indeed. Enter the AAA four-diamond Las Brisas Ixtapa, part of the Mexican-owned and -operated Brisas Hotels and Resorts.

Located in the FONATUR-created half of the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo dual destination, Las Brisas Ixtapa is a stunning hillside monument created by architect Ricardo Legorreta. The hotel itself is a paean to contemporary Mexican design. A disciple of Luis Barragan, Legorreta utilized the bright colors, the play of light and shadow and the solid, geometrical shapes inspired by his mentor to full effect. Though the design is some 30 years old, it has a brilliant timelessness about it.

Hidden as you wind up the private road toward the hotel, you get a hint of what’s to come as the car comes to a stop beside the dramatic fountain. Porters welcome guests with warm smiles, whisking away the bags and offering a cool drink. The open-air reception area with its soaring ceilings and wide stone-paved hallways open up to unexpected windows that perfectly frame the lush jungle that surrounds the building. The entire structure, in fact, serves as a series of frames for nature, whether emerald green or cerulean blue. “It’s part of the attraction of Legorreta’s designs,” says general manager Higinio de Leon. “He felt nature’s ever-changing canvas was much more interesting than any painting we could hang on the walls. What could be more extravagant than a Pacific sunset viewed from the comfort of the lobby bar? Especially when you have a freshly prepared mango margarita in hand.”

It doesn’t hurt, though, that the past couple of years have seen a mighty infusion of over $20 million into the property. That’s dollars, not pesos. “The architectural re-do was amazing: our oceanview rooms are bigger and were completely remodeled on the inside. And they still have the fabulous terrace—with hammock, of course—that our guests love. In fact, we have a very high percentage of repeat customers, and the renovation has been a hit both with those who know us and those that are discovering Brisas Ixtapa for the very first time.” The new and improved Grand Deluxe rooms boast a new interior sitting area with a daybed and table for two, completely refurbished bathrooms with contemporary fixtures and amenities and flat-screen TVs. The mini-bars aren’t so mini, with good-sized editions of top-shelf drinks, the kind that invite sipping while gently swinging in the hammock-with-a-view. The decor is a modern twist on Mexican traditional, with brightly colored, hand-embroidered cushions lounging against crisp white sheets on pillow-top mattresses and teakwood furnishings set alongside clay pots overflowing with fuchsia bougainvillea. It should be noted that, after the renovation, every one of the terraces is perfectly private, and three floors are reserved for non-smokers.

A standout among the guestrooms and suites is the extraordinary 6,000-sq.-ft. Presidential Suite. Continuing with the mix of new and traditional, this expansive 3-bedroom suite (the main bedroom has its own dining and living area) blends white leather sofas, Casablanca-style ceiling fans and remarkable pieces of Mexican artwork with sleek, avant-garde dark-wood furniture, marble floors, flat-screen TVs and floor-to-ceiling windows. A broad terrace overlooking the ocean runs the length of the suite, and the master bedroom has its own private terrace, partly covered with a glass-doored jacuzzi in its interior. The hotel offers other spectacular suites for visiting A-listers, including the 2,800-sq.-ft., 2-bedroom Emperor Suite; the slightly smaller 2-bedroom Viceroy Suite; the 1,300-sq.-ft., 1-bedroom Fiesta Suite; and the smaller 1-bedroom Junior Suite. The level of royal monikers might be descending, but the amenities are still in keeping with nobility.

This was money well spent—and well spread out. The lobby bar is a vision in purple (all done in very, very good taste), the meeting rooms were all updated (they can handle groups from 10 to 1,500 with cutting-edge AV accoutrements), the restaurants received their share (more on the restaurants in a bit) and the exercise room got updated machinery with a view of the jungle. But with that gorgeous stretch of beach just below the hotel, there’s really no excuse for staying in to work up a sweat. The pool area—actually comprised of four connected pools—is no slouch, either. Plus, there’s a separate children’s pool to keep the boisterous youngsters from spilling anybody’s fine aged tequila, as well as a “Little Angels” club to keep them busy in paradise. The facilities also include four lighted tennis courts and, if golf is your poison of choice, the nearby Robert Trent Jones-designed Palma Real Golf Course and the Marina Ixtapa Golf Club (named one of the best in Mexico by Golf Digest magazine) await your best swing.