Hotel Irma, Zihuatanejo

The view from the street. (Photo by Roberto!)

As I drew near to deciding on the Hotel Irma this year, I couldn't find much about it on the web. It was quite frustrating really, so I decided to do a report on the hotel upon my return. Our stay was from January 1, 2003 to January 8. This report is not the final word on the subject of course, but hopefully, it will be of value to someone.


Part of the sunrise view, compiled from two shots, from our 3rd floor balcony.

The short story is that I like the Irma very much. The people are very friendly, the maid service is excellent, it always had hot water for a shower, the restaurant is very good, the pools are nice, and it has a great view of the bay and surrounding area.

There were a couple of distractions, so I might as well get them out of the way:

The placement of the A/C units: They are right atop the patio, associated with each room and are noisy as all get-out. Even if you turn yours off, if someone in the room next to you has theirs on, it's loud. Unfortunate, as the patio is a great place to hang out. The A/C units are situated so that there are two, right next to each other, as each room is the mirror of the one next to it. As a result, it is possible to get a room with no A/C unit above your head, when out on the patio. We and the kids had our own rooms, so it was OK. We could just request that the kids turn their air conditioner off, and they would usually honor that request. But if you had a room next to someone you didn't know, and they liked it cool inside, there would be no way to avoid the noise.


The room patios, and placement of the A/C units.

We originally stayed on the 6th floor, then asked to be moved to the 3rd floor to utilize the deck that is out front. On the 6th floor, the rooms had no bathroom doors, on the 3rd, they did. I've heard that they are installing them in all rooms. It wouldn't have been so bad if it was just Suzie (my wife) and I, but the kids were along this year and our room was, as my son put it, "The hip, hop, happnin' place."


After walking up from the beach, these stairs to the 6th floor can be a horrific sight

The third floor bathroom had some sewer smell occasionally, until I made little covers for the shower and floor drains by folding up some toilet paper, moistening it, and placing it over the drains. It would appear that the floor drains don't have traps, thus creating a straight opening to the main pipes. Not a big problem, and I only mention it, in case someone may not be as cognizant of what the problem is, and not know how to overcome it. Once the drains were covered, the situation was resolved. It didn't present itself when showering, even with the covers removed. I suppose that you could pack a couple of those big, flat drain stoppers and they would do the trick too.


Note the lack of a door, on the 6th floor bathroom.

That's it for any down side. Everything is up from here on out!

The Irma is in a great location, for several reasons; It's right between Playa La Ropa, and downtown, making it easy to get to both (the climb back from La Ropa is killer though). La Madera beach is very nice, and we had several great days just hanging out at M.J.& Ritchie's, a place that I can't say enough about. Again, I didn't see many mentions of the restaurant/bar on the Internet, and that is a shame, as it is a great place to hang (something needed when you aren't staying right on the beach at a hotel with its own palapas). A half-day at MJ&R's, including breakfast for 4, numerous Coronas, lounge chairs, palapas, etc., usually came to about $25 US, including tip. (Side note: Our first day there, we used Elvira's lounge area on Playa Ropa, as we had just eaten breakfast there… I had one Corona and it cost me 60 pesos… SIX FREAKIN' AMERICANO DOLLARS!!!) I liked MJ&R's a lot, they were always very accommodating, even when we asked them to bring out a couple more lounge chairs. If you're staying at the Irma, make sure you give them a try.


A view of M.J.& Ritchie's from the Irma's stairway down to the beach.

The walk down to the beach, from the Irma, is a pleasant one. Roberto! counted the steps for me, when he was down in November, and said that there were 95, from the beach to the pool. I can't count that high, so I took his word for it. It is an easy climb, and well maintained. There are several good "view areas" where one simply must stop and look around for a bit, on the way up (read... catch your breath). I never walked up during dark, but I don't think it is lighted so bring your flashlight.


The stairs to the beach are easy and picturesque.

The walk into town from La Madera is absolutely wonderful. The city has made a walkway all the way from the beach to the canal crossing, downtown. It's a great walk; level, smooth, scenic, well lit. If you go at dusk or later, you will find may young Zihuatanejo lovers passing the time in warm embraces. Never did we take a taxi into town, we always took advantage of the walkway.


The walkway starts at the end of La Madera beach and continues all the way into town.

The restaurant (food and service) at the Irma was very good. We ate dinner there the night we arrived, and all the family found the food more than satisfactory. We ate breakfast there twice, and I must say; I've only spent 2 weeks in Zihua, but that makes for 14 breakfasts, and 14 servings of chilaquiles… The Irma has the best I've found so far. Give them a shot, even if you're not staying there. I swore by Elvira's before, but the Irma's were a bit more moist and mighty tasty. The drinks at the bar were well poured too, and prices very reasonable. The eating area is great, with a beautiful view of the bay, and a breeze to cool everything down. Try to time it so that you can get a table right on the edge of the deck. I don't know why I didn't get a picture from that vantage point. On a scale of one to ten, I'd give the restaurant at the Irma a seven and change.


The restaurant/bar is a very nice place to hang.

All of the staff at the Irma was as helpful as can be. From the front desk, to the ladies who did our rooms, everyone always had a smile for us, and seemed very concerned about our happiness. The only other place that we've stayed in Zihua is the Villa Mexicana, and it was that way there too. From what I understand, they are owned by the same people. Knowing this freindly community, it's probably that way all over town anyway.


The front desk.

Once again this year, we brought down trinkets to leave for the maids each day. Nothing expensive, in fact most of it didn't cost us a dime. My wife gets lots of samples when she buys cosmetics, stuff she never uses, it's not to her tastes, but it's too good to throw away. We now have a use for it. We leave a tube of lipstick, a bottle of nail polish, or some sort of trinket each day, along with a 10 peso coin on the bed, with a note letting the maid know that it is for them (they won't take it otherwise). In return, we always get a nice towel animal, with flowers t'boot. The gifts may mean nothing to them at all, but if they do, then mission accomplished.


Oopsie, looks like someone took a siesta!

Walt from Minnesota told me to bring a doorstop, but I forgot. The afternoon breeze is wonderful, when you open both the slider door on your patio, and the front door to your room, but if you don't somehow hold that front door open, it's going to slam with a vengeance. We ultimately used a cooler that we bought downtown, and had filled with ice, cervezas and pops. (Side Note: I left that cooler at the front desk with Walt's name on it, as he was arriving the afternoon we were leaving. I bumped into him in the restaurant, and told him about it. He made sure he got it). Anyway, do yourself a favor and throw a cheap rubber doorstop in your bag, you'll be glad you did. That breeze was FANTASTIC! The noise of the slamming doors will scare you awake though, as you try to siesta.


The entry way to the Hotel Irma

Be forewarned, the televisions in the rooms are on an antenna, and as such, only get Spanish speaking stations. That is fine for me, as the last thing I want to do is watch TV, but it might make a difference to someone, so I include it here. My kids found it quite amusing to watch Dawson's Creek (I think that was it) with Spanish over-dubs. My daughter is semi-fluent in Spanish, so I think she could probably follow along. It may be entertainment, or education from that standpoint, but personally, I'd rather sit on the deck, with a cold cerveza and a good crossword puzzle, and lose myself in the warmth of the sun and the view of the bay.

As I said, we stayed on both the 6th floor, and the 3rd floor. The rooms were identical, except for that bathroom door thing, and the view. The view from the 6th floor is moe-beddah. Of course you have to walk another 3 fights of stairs to get to it. Just be aware that the rooms themselves, are the same. I didn't look into any of the other type rooms, but there are some that are in the courtyard, above the restaurant, and beside the pool. I'm guessing that the ones above the restaurant are similar to what we were staying in, as far as floorplan goes. I don't think you would want to stay on the second or first floor, as you lose the ability to take in that afternoon breeze and the view. There are 4 rooms by the pool that look pretty interesting, but as I say, I didn't look inside them. I don't think they would have much of a view either. I'm going to suggest that the best rooms are found on floors 3 through 6. Your mileage may vary. Keep in mind that we asked to be moved, and there was no problem with doing so. So if you see someplace that looks better, you can probably move there during the week. They certainly wouldn't displace someone to move you in, but are willing to move you, once the room becomes open.


A sunset from the 6th floor deck.

Some Random Thoughts:

When we stayed at the Villa Mexicana, in 2001, one of the things I liked best about it, and Playa La Ropa, was that you can just walk out of your room, onto the beach, and turn right or left, when deciding where to play, eat or drink. That is a beautiful thing, and worth extra money. For the two rooms I needed this year, there would have been roughly a $400 (US) difference to stay at the Villa Mexicana. To me, that's a bit-o-cheese. If it were just Suzie and I, I'm sure that $200 would not have made enough of an impact to make me stay at the Irma. But when you add the extra airfare for the kids, the extra money spent in food, drink, trips, trinkets, etc., it all starts to add up. I did miss being on the beach, but certainly enjoyed the view from the Irma, which isn't available when staying at the VM. The Catalina, which I would like to try next, offers the best of both worlds. At the Irma, or the Catalina, it is much more important to make sure that you are ready for the day before leaving the room.

I also think that I'll try to keep to the "off season" from now on. In 2001, we went in November. This trip there was a huge difference in people. Now I realize that January 1st is the very height of the season, but I liked the more laid back attitude of November.

There are some whacky remains of buildings at the foot of the Irma. I walked out onto them at one point, and I have no idea what they used to be. It was kinda fun to try to figure it out, although I'm sure that I wouldn't have known if I did guess at what was there. The beach area just below the Irma suffers from this though. It is not a nice place to be, at all. It's not a big deal, as the other end of the beach is wonderful, and very close. But don't go to the Irma thinking that you will be hanging down at the foot of the stairs. I just don't think that anyone would want to be there.


Pools and third floor deck, as viewed from the sixth floor balcony.

There are two pools at the Irma, and although I didn't use either of them, they looked inviting, and I watched as my wife and son swam around a time or two. It can get a bit noisy, when there are a bunch of kids swimming during the day, but what's better than the sound of youthful, innocent laughter? There are not too many lounge chairs around the pool, but it never looked like it was a problem, there always seemed to be enough. We even nabbed one brought up to the large deck, out in front of our room on floor 3, and the girls took turns using it there sometimes. Giving credit where credit is due, I watched some other guy bring it up from the pool, for his wife, and after they left, we drug it down to our end.


Once we dragged a lounge chair over, the ladies liked it here.

Our stay at the Irma was a very pleasant experience, and I would definitely consider staying there again if the situation called for it. Being off the beach has its disadvantages, but also comes with some pluses, primarily, the view. There is also the considerable price advantage to the Irma. It had a better restaurant than the Villa Mexicana, which is a good thing, considering the walk to get to someplace else.

All in all, I think that I got good advice from Judy (from Minnesota... you can trust her, believe me) and from others on Rob's message board. The consensus was to give the Hotel Irma a go, and I'm glad we did. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a nice place to stay, overlooking the beach, with a more than reasonable rate (we paid $65 US per day, per room, plus the 17% tax).

I hope that this report will be of value to those looking for some information on the Hotel Irma. As I said in the beginning, I was frustrated in my endeavor to find web type info on the Hotel. If nothing else, the pictures may help.

Take care, and God bless you.


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