Monday, January 21, 2013

Ixtapa Mexico land of sea and sun

Ixtapa Mexico
by Larry Berle
On the Pacific coast- of Mexico- somewhere between Aculpuco and Puerta Vallarta, lie the two towns of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo, so closely associated you might call them twin cities.  
Zihuatanejo was a sleepy picturesque fishing village  with a few hundred inhabitants until 1972 when the Mexican Govt undertook an initiative to build tourism in Mexico.  Several resort towns were born from this initiative, including Ixtapa, which now has approx 15  hotel/ resorts along the coast in what they call “The hotel zone”.  Ixtapa is nestled  between the lush green Sierra Madre Mountains and the deep blue Pacific Ocean.
If you love life in the sunshine, this is the place for you, with over 330 sunny days a year, thats almost every day.  If you are an avid bird watcher or love snorkeling this is the place for you. It is an ecological wonderland and there are just too many things to do to name here.

I took the combo tour of the area and we went to a Coconut farm, the gold and silver markets in Petatlan, and its historic church. Then we visited a clay quarry where they make bricks and roof tiles by hand. This was followed by lunch on the beach on the Lagoon, which floods it way to the ocean during the rainy season.

If you saw the film Shawshank Redemption, then you remember the character Andy Dufrense, played by Tim Robbins.  He escapes from prison and goes to Zihuatanejo to live out his life and leaves a note for his prison buddy, Red, played by Morgan Freeman, to join him there when he gets out, which he does.  It turns out that this part of the story is based on truth and that character lived in Zihuatanejo for the rest of his life and even built a hotel here.  I am at a different hotel, however!!

I am staying at the Sunscape Dorado Pacifico hotel and I can not only see the ocean from my balcony but I am lulled to sleep each night by the surf pounding on the beach.
This hotel has 285 rooms and approx 3/4 of the guests that visit here are families.  This is an all inclusive resort and by all inclusive I mean almost everything.  The exceptions are: spa services, in room movies and telephone calls.  Everything else in included.  All meals, in 7 different restaurants including 24 hour room service, four bars, Wi-Fi, etc. its a long list.

 There is plenty to do right here in the resort: Karoke, movies, Sunscape Idol (their version of American Idol) climbing wall, swimming pools, craft area yoga, bike rides an elegant spa etc etc.
There is an Explorers Club open 12 hours a day for 3-12 year olds with a wonderful supervisor and plenty of activities for the toddlers.  They give Mom and Dad a beeper in case they need the parents to return to the Explorers club. 
They are open late and you can drop them off for dinner so Mom and Dad can have a romantic dinner alone.
 They even have a place where turtles can come and safely lay eggs and when the baby turtles are born they have a “baby turtle release” on the beach for guests to experience.  It seems that most turtle eggs, if unprotected, never see the light of day due to many predators that will eat them.
There is also The Core Zone for Teens (13-17) with fussball, pingpong air hockey, x-box and numerous other table games, movies and other activities


Swim with the Dolphins
Just a coupe blocks from the hotel there is the Delfiniti, where the kids, and adults alike can swim with the dolphins.  It is a truly fun experience and the trainers have quite a skill at communicating with these dolphins.  Wave hello, Oscar the trainer, , says and I turn around and the dolphin is on his side waving his flipper at me.  Then Oscar said, “Larry turn around and look over your shoulder.”  Suddenly this dolphin from the  bottom of this18 foot deep pool  leaps 16 feet into the air.   “Do you want to see a forward sumersault, Larry?  and he is out of the water doing a summersault.  A  double back flip was next.  I don’t know how these dolphins get trained to do these tricks, but its quite impressive.  They live 40-50 years in captivity and the rapport they have with the trainers is a wonder.   Bring the family, everyone will love it.

for complete packages 


Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo  certainly would not qualify as a destination, but if you want to have a resort trip include golf, this should be on your list.  There are two golf courses here and today I played Marina Ixtapa, located right by, you guessed it, the Marina.  It was designed by Robert Von Hagge in 1993.  There is water in play on over half of the holes. but these are streams and lagoons, not the ocean.   Large burms protect you from the constant wind of the ocean, but the light breezes I encountered were pleasant. Many of the holes are framed by water on one side and mounds and burms on the other-- so its easy to see how the hole lays out in front of you.
The fairways and rough are all bermuda grass-- so your ball sits up and creates very nice lies.  The greens are smooth and undulating and quite fast.  They were much better to putt on than I had anticipated.  There are four sets of tees from 6774 yards down to  5228  so all levels can enjoy it.
I played today with Tim Sullivan, the General Manager of the club and we had a wonderful time
 Be careful if your ball  goes in or near the water..  There are crocodiles that make Marina Ixtapa their home, but we only saw one today and he was swimming along and minding his own business.

If you go:
Walking $82
with a cart $97
They have caddies for $25-$30

Larry Berle is a travel writer who writes on many travel topics but specializes in golf travel.  He is author of A GOLFERS DREAM: HOW A REGULAR GUY CONQUERED THE GOLF DIGEST LIST OF AMERICAS TOP 100 GOLF COURSES.   Learn more about his book at and from there you can also access his travel blog.

Sky Caddie Breeze

Sky Caddie Breeze

by Larry Berle
In Fall of 2012 Sky Caddie introduced a new model called the Sky Caddie Breeze.  It is set apart from previous Sky Caddies, in that its more affordable and simpler to use.  It also has more limited features.
Unlike former Sky Caddies it comes pre-loaded so there is no need to load courses from your home computer before you leave the house. 

When I arrived at the course and turned it on, a couple minutes of searching and it knew right where I was and showed me the yardage to the first green.   It knows the course and automatically advances to each hole.  Now, that is as simple as it gets. One nice thing, for those of us with weakening eyes is the numbers to the front, middle and back of the green are very large and update quickly.

The breeze retails for $229.00 substantially less than their more sophisticated models but the information you get from it is also much more basic.  It does require a $19.95 annual membership, thus you have to sync it to your computer and register on line when you first get it.   I had trouble syncing it at first but a phone call to customer service fixed that.  In fact, it turned out the problem was with my computer and they had a technician call me who actually logged onto my computer remotely and fixed the problem.  That is better customer service than I am used to getting these days.

It has a “mark ball” button so you can measure any shot you take to confirm just how far you hit each club.

It comes equipped with “intelligent automation,”  with the simple turn of you wrist it  switches to a  scorecard screen where you can not only keep score but keep track of fairways hit, greens in regulation, putts etc.

The Breeze is also upgradable with three feature packs, depending on the extent of information you want.  Number one is a target list of distances to hazards and carry distances as well as displaying the green shape with major contours and the capability to move cross hairs so you can know the precise distance for short game shots.

The second feature pack gives you a birds eye view of the hole so you can clearly see and know how far each hazard is. There is a third feature pack as well.  Each of these upgrades can be purchased at for $34.95 each and if you end up getting all three, you would have been better off buying their more expensive model of Sky Caddie. You can learn more details of the upgrade packs at 

More information at 

Larry Berle is a travel writer who writes on many travel topics but specializes in golf travel.  He is author of A GOLFERS DREAM: HOW A REGULAR GUY CONQUERED THE GOLF DIGEST LIST OF AMERICAS TOP 100 GOLF COURSES.   Learn more about his book at and from there you can also access his travel blog.