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Where to Stay in Mazatlan
Sprawling Mazatlan runs right up against the Pacific Coast, and most of the area’s hotels are built on the shore either in town or to the north. The closest hotel district to the north of Mazatlan is called Zona Dorado, or the Golden Zone, and just north of that is Nuevo Mazatlan, or New Mazatlan.
Incredibly cheap hotel deals in Mazatlan can be found downtown, with the most affordable options located up to two miles inland. But with such inexpensive hotels right on the scenic malecon that follows the shore, few tourists opt to stay that far into town. These hotels are smaller, older and have fewer amenities, but they’re the closest to Centro Historico, Mazatlan’s beautiful historic district.
Zona Dorado is the main tourist area, and has the greatest abundance of resorts, restaurants, shops and nightlife destinations. If you’re planning to splurge on a luxury suite, chances are you’ll end up staying there.
Nuevo Mazatlan may feel a little out of the way, but it’s still within a half hour’s drive of the city center. A large marina and lagoon separates it from Zona Dorado, helping to keep this small resort area more calm and peaceful.
Mazatlan Hotel Tips
Mazatlan’s cheapest hotels often go overlooked, so you may find them to be more than a little out of date. A modest upgrade to one of the older beachfront resorts, which were the popular places to book in the 50s and 60s, can make a big difference in the comfort of your stay.
Most mid-range hotels have swimming pools, on-site dining and perhaps a few extras like fitness centers, and they’re more likely to be recently remodeled than bargain hotels. Most of these properties can be found in Zona Dorado.
Luxury resorts are the largest and most popular category, and if you’re willing to consider their most basic rooms, you can enjoy their exquisite amenities at a steal. Spas, golf courses and tennis courts are common features at this level, and many resorts have a range of posh private villas.
Mazatlan Hotel Recommendations
It’s hard to go wrong when staying in Zona Dorada, but one resort that is definitely worth a close look is Pueblo Bonito, a famous property with whimsical tropical landscaping that adds a sense of tranquility to every night’s stay. Each of the all-suite accommodations has an ocean view, a fully equipped kitchenette and modern electronics. The largest suites top 700 square feet, but when you’re not stretching out in the huge rooms, you can indulge in the swim-up bar, sport fishing excursions or guided nature tours.
Guests of Pueblo Bonito also get access to the amenities at the sister resort of Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay, located a few miles north in Nuevo Mazatlan. This resort is even more elegant and luxurious, with much bigger suites that include full kitchens. The huge living and sleeping quarters are ideal for groups or families staying together. Emerald Bay’s multi-level infinity pool is more than a sight to behold – it’s an engineering feat. You may find yourself spending more time there than on the beach.
The Hotel Playa Mazatlan, the oldest hotel in Zona Dorada, has maintained its property well through periodic remodels. With more than 400 rooms, it’s also one of the largest resorts in the neighborhood, and its most interesting features include a thrilling zip line, a rock climbing wall and a temazcal, a traditional Hispanic sweat lodge.
Golfers may want to look into the Estrella Del Mar Golf & Beach Resort, which offers hotel rooms, condos and private villas. Its 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., is widely considered to be one of the best in the region.
Mazatlan is filled with scenic streets, most notably the waterfront malecon that connects the city and its hotel districts to the north. If you can reserve a fun and sporty rental, a leisurely drive around the area is time well spent. Several car rental agencies serve General Rafael Buelna International Airport, so you can pick up your car immediately after your flight to Mazatlan touches down.
If you don’t feel the need to sit behind the wheel, you can still take your share of scenic rides via Mazatlan’s numerous taxis. Drivers don’t use meters, so you should expect to negotiate the fare before you depart for your destination. Fares are generally cheaper than in U.S. cities and most Mexican resort towns, but knowing a little Spanish will be helpful in the negotiation process.
Several bus lines wind through the city and nearby hotel districts at much lower rates than the taxis charge. The best way to plan your travel by bus is to check with your hotel’s front desk staff, explain where you want to go, and write down the route names and bus stop locations.
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