First things first, this review should not reflect upon the staff at this property. All the front desk, restaurant, and house keeping employees were phenomenal. So kind, professional and so much fun to be around. Because of the length of our stay, and how often we were at the resort, a few of them became our friends for our time there, and the goodbyes were hard. Any criticisms or improvements mentioned in this review, should be reflected back to the management of this property.
Now that that is out of the picture, lets get started.
Estrella del Mar is a vacation and real estate property resort. It holds a boutique hotel, Las Villas (which was where we stayed), three condo buildings, a handful of privately owned houses, a PGA golf course, two restaurants, and a turtle sanctuary.
The beginning of my stay was interesting.
We were picked up promptly by our pre arranged airport shuttle driver at the airport, and after a quick ten minute drive, we pulled up to the security gate of the property. Knowing we were staying on a secured premises was a nice feeling. After that, we took a short tour around the whole property as we dropped off others in our shuttle, to their condos or houses. Finally, we made it to Las Villas and were greeted by a lovely fountain, Christmas Tree, and open reception area.
Check in was fairly smooth and standard, or so I thought. My parents got their room keys, and I politely asked for mine. It was then (after I had signed the form, had my credit card pre authorized etc) I was told that I would be taken by a driver to a condo property somewhere on the property. Wait, what? I was confused. I had paid for a room at the hotel. It was then that the front desk agent explained to me that the hotel was fully booked so I was being given a condo to stay in for my stay.
I was tired. I was hungry. I was disorientated. I may have over reacted to this declaration. I was given this short explanation, not exactly impressed and not really understanding where I was going, but without further ado, I was being whisked away by a driver, my bags put in a golf cart shuttle, and being driven about five minutes from the hotel, to a condo building on the property. The driver was kind enough to take my bags for me, take me to another gentleman who gave me my keys, where at this point, I burst into tears. I still really had no idea what was going on, why was I being moved to a condo, I wanted to be at the hotel with my family, this was a family vacation, I booked a room at the hotel, etc. All sense of reason had left the window at this moment. But I trudged along, the driver brought me to my room and helped me as I struggled with the key. Then I opened the door.
OH. I was being upgraded to a condo, condo. With like a bedroom, laundry, kitchen and everything. OH. It all clicked in and I calmed down. I took a few breaths, refreshed and then made my way back to the hotel to let my parents know what was going on. Meanwhile, while I was on this journey, the front desk agent who had checked us in, sought out my parents and explained that the hotel did not realize I was staying with family and so they made arrangements to have me moved back to the hotel the next morning in an upgraded room.
It was as I realized, they upgraded me originally thinking I was travelling alone. If I had been, this would have been wonderful. Under different circumstances, this would have been great. I probably should have felt more gratified with this, but the truth was, I just wanted to stay at the hotel. My family was there and all the amenities were there. I didn’t want to travel on a shuttle every time I wanted one or the other. So I was very glad for the offer to move back to the hotel, and noted the kindness the front desk agent showed as soon as he realized I was with family.
So that is a little anecdote about my arrival. The rest of the stay went on a normal path, and I will break the review down for you now.
The Overall Property – The entire grounds of Estrella del Mar was beautiful and incredibly well kept. Not a plant out of place, or anything un clean to be found.
The Overall Hotel – Every section of the hotel from the front desk to my room to the pool area was also immaculate. The hotel was all very open, with limited roofs and doors, and so it was full of fresh air and lovely fauna all the time. Interesting to see what it is like during the rainy season…
The Rooms – Well I got my ocean view room! I did not get the king sized bed, but I knew that was a possibility just from working in the industry, matching bed types does not always work out. The rooms were GORGEOUS and so spacious. I loved having my own mini wet bar, desk, balcony, and beautiful beautiful bathroom. The bathtub alone was enough to keep me there. Again, always very clean and well kept.
The Restaurants – The hotel had one restaurant/bar directly inside. We ate here most of the nights. It served breakfast in the courtyard area, lunch in the bar or in the pool area, and dinner in the bar or dining room. The menu was extensive and featured many delicious dishes for a great price. The other dining option was the golf course clubhouse, a short shuttle ride away. This featured outdoor seating right on the beach, and also had an extensive menu.
The Amenities – During our stay, I spent ALOT of time in the pool area. It was well organized and spacious and again clean, all the time. The pool area held a medium sized infinity pool, large hot tub, two smaller pools and plenty of seating area. Mom and I went to the spa for a pedicure on our second day, best pedicure I have ever had! There was only one person working, so I am not sure what they do when there is multiple bookings going on, but it worked out fine for us as we had nothing but time. The turtle sanctuary was fun to visit. Everyday, they release baby sea turtles into the ocean and let the tourists join in. This was an AMAZING experience. There was a shuttle service offered at the hotel that would take you into Mazatlan, the airport or any special destination if pre-booked. You just had to sign up on a sheet with your time, and destination and then it would be charged to your room. When it worked, it worked well.
Room for Improvements – So while the hotel was beautiful, well serviced and all around an enjoyable stay, there is always room for improvement:
- The beds – I personally, did not like the beds. They were much too firm for my taste and the sheets were always scratchy.
- Inconsistency in the food – The serving portions changed throughout our stay and the quality would depend on the night.
- Frequency of being served – In the pool area or breakfast area sometimes we had to hunt down a server. I think that it would be beneficial to have someone assigned to those particular areas so that they can be on alert if food or drinks are needed. I did not particularly like having to track down a server in my bathing suite.
- Supervision of turtles – For a place that placed a lot of emphasis on turtle conservation, they left us tourists alone to release the turtles at night. The night that we chose to partake, a group of little boys were left un-supervised by their parents, jumping around the beach, throwing the turtles and overall being a hazard. The adults that were around did their best to control this, but I think someone from the sanctuary should have been there to supervise this and explain why that was not appropriate behavior.
- Shuttle Communication – This is the biggest improvement that NEEDS to be amended as soon as possible. How the shuttle worked was that you booked it with the front desk, they wrote the time and destination on a schedule, and then you came to the lobby at the time you selected to be on your way. What we did not realize was that the shuttle could only drop you off in specific locations, due to some crazy rule with the taxis and not taking away their business – I am still not clear on this. So for example, on our first trip into the city of Mazatlan, we were dropped off in this (random to us) street corner, with a pink building. Our driver said, be here at this corner at 8pm for pick up. Okie dokie. 7:50 rolls around, we are the corner, no driver. 8:15 – still no driver. 8:30 – ok what is going on. So we headed into a very swanky restaurant to call the hotel to find out where our driver was. Well it turns out, the driver from the morning told the evening driver the WRONG pick up location. Luckily, the evening driver spent the time driving around the city to look for us, and so he came to get us right away when he heard. Now unfortunately, this situation happened twice during our stay. The third time we used the shuttle, there was clear communication finally. But I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for this to be improved upon. The drivers and the front desk have to figure out a system of clear communication so that tourists are not left waiting on a street corner in the city!
So there you have it. A rather lengthy review of my stay. I believe that the items that I think need improving can be done with better management in place. There just has to be a set of standards for consistency and training on the importance of communication. Overall it was great and I would recommend this hotel to others to stay at, if they want seclusion, peace and relaxation while in Mexico.
– xoxo Veronica