The secret’s out. Mazatlán has been booming the last few years as tourists have been re-discovering the magical city known as ‘The Pearl of the Pacific’.
Since I relocated to Mazatlán from Canada, I’ve had tons of people asking me for advice and recommendations on where to stay, what to do, and where to eat. Like any good travel journalist, I decided to do some research on the best hotels and accommodation Mazatlán has to offer.
Especially which hotel is the best all-inclusive hotel in Mazatlan?
In terms of having a relaxing vacation in an all-inclusive resort, hands down your best choice is going to be the Hotel Playa Mazatlan.
Let me tell you something candidly – normally I dislike all-inclusive hotels. Most of the time they are massive sky scrapers that my husband likes to call “Burn and churn establishments” that load in guests, offer sub-par food and services, and really get away with doing the bare minimum.
In Mexico, you’ll usually find the all-inclusive giants in places like Cancun or Puerto Vallarta, but yes, there are some of those in Mazatlán too.
In order to make real recommendations from the heart on where to stay while visiting Mazatlán, I knew there was no way I could suggest some of the huge all-inclusive resorts here with a straight face. I started crossing them off the list.
Then I ran into an option that was in fact all-inclusive, but that DIDN’T seem to fit into the normal all-inclusive mold.
It was a low-rise building, had a wide beachfront lot (the biggest in town actually) and had been family owned since the 1950’s!
The hotel is called the ‘Hotel Playa Mazatlán’ and immediately I knew I had to dig a little deeper to see why it was so different from the other options in town.
This blog is an honest review of our stay at the Hotel Playa Mazatlan, with the good, the bad and everything you need to know about staying here.
We recommend the Hotel Playa Mazatlan to:
- Families on vacation, especially with kids
- People who want an authentic stay and FEEL like they are in Mexico
- Travelers who like to be in the heart of town
- Visitors who like all the details taken care of, so they can focus of relaxing
The History of Hotel Playa Mazatlan
Back in 1952 Ulysses Solomon George came to Mazatlán on a fishing and hunting trip. He was a recently retired builder who wanted to slow things down and enjoy life a bit. Back in those days, the only place to stay was a sort of camping lodge on the coast without much else around it.
Well as the story goes (and what happens with most of us in Mazatlán) he fell in love at first sight. He met some locals that invited him to invest in an empty property right beside the hunting camp and decided on a whim to take them up on their offer.
He paired his knowledge of building together with his vision for a beach-side motel, and dove head first into his new adventure.
This earned George with the nickname “Gringo Loco” or the ‘Crazy Gringo” because locals couldn’t understand why anyone would want to build a hotel in the middle of nowhere, so far from the historical center.
Plus, there wasn’t even running water, proper sewers, electricity or even paved roads the time. It seemed like an impossible dream.
Despite all odds, the hotel opened 3 years later in 1955 as a quiet and simple 2-story building, complete with a salt water pool and 80 ocean view rooms. Word started catching on about a tranquil getaway spot not too far from the southern states.
In the 60’s, Hollywood movie stars started flocking to the hotel, most notably John Wayne who was filming Western movies in nearby Durango. Since Mazatlán and the Hotel Playa was still relatively unknown, the celebrities could let loose without being recognized and chased down.
Throughout the 70’s to the 90’s the hotel grew from 80 rooms to 400 rooms with amenities and features continually being added. Since great-grandpa Ulysses Solomon George (the Gringo Loco) the hotels operations have been passed down 3 more generations.
The Hotel Playa Mazatlan is truly a family affair and it shows with how much heart and soul has been poured into the property the last 65 years.
Our Review of the Hotel Playa Mazatlan
Check in was a breeze, done in the front lobby area. My favorite part about check in was getting the welcome drink. My husband and I don’t drink alcohol, so they made a virgin version of their mango margarita and it is phenomenal! It’s an orange and green slushy mixed drink and I’m telling you, you will be addicted!
Room We Stayed In
“The Deluxe Room”
We stayed in the deluxe room of the hotel, which is 2 tiers up from the base room, which costs about $70 more than the standard room.
We chose this room because it has a HUGE sweeping view of the ocean on a massive wrap around balcony. You can also see the restaurant, the pool, the beach and all of the beautiful palm trees on the property. The views are second to NONE!
Plus, you can see and hear the waves from bed, which is so relaxing and luxurious.
The room itself is actually bigger than it even looked in the photos and had us wondering why they didn’t put a little sofa in, because there is definitely room for it! There is a desk, wardrobe and dresser for clothes, a dining table, queen sized bed, 2 bed-side tables on each side, plugs for charging phones on each side, a soft reading chair in the corner, and a table/chair set out on the balcony.
I really like the floors, as they are a wood-looking tile that adds a lot of warmth and coziness instead of the cold look of white tiles.
The room is so wonderfully situated to watch both the sunrise in the morning AND the world-famous sunsets in the evening.
What we didn’t like about the room:
So, this room WINS on view and amazing corner balcony, but because it’s located on the very southern tip of the hotel, it does get some noise from a nearby club. Look- if you are going to be out celebrating late into the night, you won’t care. But if you are an early and light sleeper, you might want to grab a room in a different area of the hotel. They have many rooms that don’t get the night-time noise from the club, you’ll just have to request it at booking.
After we checked into our room we decided to learn where everything was located in the hotel. We toured around the grounds so we could see all the pools, the restaurants, and cool areas. Even though I assumed the property wouldn’t be that big because it’s in the middle of the city, the grounds are actually surprisingly vast.
There are 9 pools located across the property, some heated, some cool, some huge and some small. There is even an adult only jacuzzi perched on top of a cave with an ocean-veiw.
The main pool is heated and has a team there most of the day hosting activities and music.
There are many paths that open up into courtyards, exposing yet another area of the grounds you didn't know existed. One path led us to a sand volleyball court, another led us to a cave, and yet another to a hidden pool.
I recommend walking around aimlessly for half an hour so you can discover a few of these cool areas yourself.
By the way, the whole property seems to transform by night. After the sun goes down, you can see all the city lights around the bay and it's actually quite beautiful! This is from the 2nd level of La Terraza after dining at the on-site Italian restaurant.
What We LOVED About The Hotel Playa Mazatlan:
It's a LOW-RISE Hotel
You never realize how good an intimate building is until you stay somewhere that takes 20 minutes to get from your room to the beach. Since the hotel is only 4 stories high, it takes seconds to get from your room to the sand. The low-rise style also makes it easy to get to other places in the hotel without waiting for busy elevators. You can get to the restaurants and lobby easily and quickly.
It actually feels like a small boutique hotel, but it’s got over 400 rooms!
REAL Ocean Front
What I mean by this, is the rooms are really just steps away from the ocean. At a lot of resorts, especially the mega-chains, the entire building is set so far back from the ocean you can’t even hear the waves. You can here!
It Has HEART
We were lucky enough to get a tour from Lance Vient, the hotels operational manager, and great-grandson of the hotels founder. He showed us so many things that gave the hotel a soul, like wooden pillars whittled by his grandfather, to art that reveals hidden secrets about the area in the past.
Learning all of the rich history and getting to meet the family behind the hotel gave it a priceless quality you can’t get anywhere else. Most of the hotels worldwide have been gobbled up by massive corporations that leave the place feeling sterile and cold. I can tell you straight from my heart that this hotel is the exact opposite.
Four generations of the same family have been working there and running it since its opening day.
Hidden Caves and Cenote
You would never know from the outside, but there is a whole system of hidden caves, waterfalls and even a cenote on the grounds.
Since the hotel is smack-dab in the middle of a CITY, you would never imagine it could feel like a jungle.
Quality of the Food Included in the Rate
My husband and I are both major foodies. In fact, I write a weekly column for a newspaper called ‘Foodie Fridays’, so you could say my level of foodie has reached new heights.
I am pretty picky when it comes to hotel food, especially if it’s being offered on an all-inclusive plan. Trust me, I have been at enough resorts where the slop they served wasn’t truly edible, and that can ruin a good vacation.
All of the on-site restaurants are completely foodie approved.
Here are some dishes we especially liked:
The pasta in Georgini’s
This PASTA DI MONTESCO was recommended by the operations manager and now I understand why. Full of flavour, just perfect. Penne pasta prepared in a pesto sauce and parmesan cheese, shrimp, fresh mozzarella cheese, toasted walnuts and sun dried tomatoes.
The shrimp tacos at La Terraza
On rotating days there is a seafood restaurant open on the 2nd floor of La Terraza with AMAZING shrimp tacos.
Really any of the Mexican food at Casa Robertos
They have quesadillas, tostadas, guacamole.. any authentic Mexican food that you're craving!
The coffee de olla at the breakfast buffet
Yes, thats my empty cup because I couldn't keep it full long enough to post. At the breakfast buffet, ask for ‘cafe de olla'. It's coffee brewed with cinnamon, brown sugar and orange peel. Delectable.
Any Food We Didn't Like?
While their Italian restaurant is SO good, the desserts there for some reason were lackluster. We had desserts in other places, like at the Mexican buffet for the Noche Mexicana show that were awesome…but the ones at Georgini’s didn’t make us swoon.
Also their pool-side snack bar is super convenient, but the burgers, fries and chicken nuggets weren’t the best I’ve had. My advice: save the calories for the buffets and the sit down restaurants.
They treat ALL their water with a 4-step purifying process
Have you ever been to Mexico before and had the unfortunate event of drinking the tap water?? If so, I don’t even need to explain the details to you. Let’s just say some unfortunate things can happen that might keep you in the bathroom all day. Usually you even have to brush your teeth with bottled water.
However, the hotel actually purifies ALL of the water on site, even what comes out of the shower head or your bathroom sink’s tap. This means all the water is totally safe for consumption, from the tap, right up to the ice in your drinks! They use boiling, reverse osmosis, carbon filtering and UV treatments to make every drop of water potable.
Having purified water on demand also means less plastic waste! (and fyi- the hotel still provides you with bottled water for anyone that is ultra-cautious.)
The extensive food health standards in place
Lance gave us a tour of their entire property, including all of the kitchens and prep spaces. Best of all, he didn’t tell anyone we were coming, so we got to see how they really function on a daily basis.
My husband Trevor was in restaurant management in Canada for 10 years, which has some of the strictest policies around, and he was blown away by the standards at the hotel.
They have a no cardboard policy in the pantries (as it can hide dust, dirt and bugs), no stock ever rests on the floor (even if it’s packaged), all fresh food is prepped in chilled rooms, foods are cut using a color coded cutting board system and gloves, all vegetables and fruits are inspected, washed, disinfected, etc. It goes on and on.
Not related to the food, but something else that we are blown away by, is what they do with their mattresses! Every 2-3 weeks they remove the mattress from the room, take it to a facility across the street, and have it professionally cleaned. They then do an inspection and if it’s not up to snuff, they donate it and put a new mattress in. I couldn’t BELIEVE that! As a frequent traveler who has spent over 1000+ nights in hotels, I was just super impressed to learn this.
It's Not Under Construction
Mazatlán is growing at a rapid pace, which means that a LOT of the hotels have major construction either going on inside them, or right next to them. Thankfully, the Hotel Playa Mazatlan doesn’t have any massive construction projects happening right beside them. It’s one of the view in the city that still has some peace and quiet.
The Nightly Shows Come WITH Dinner
Okay – at SO many resorts usually you have to eat dinner, then go to a different area of the hotel to watch the show afterwards, right?
Not here! They have a theatre set up with full buffet and dining tables, so you can enjoy your meal with a show.
We got to the theatre for ‘Mexican Night' with traditional dances and singers, but just before the show started, we loaded up plates of food and desserts and sat at our table. They also had servers bringing around drinks all show long. I have NEVER seen a set up like this at an all-inclusive before and I love it! It's so easy and entertaining!
They Have Romantic Options
Yes, the hotel IS a super family focused hotel, but we loved that they still had romantic options.
We had a romance package that gave us things like:
- breakfast in bed
- a private breakfast gazebo on the beach
- romantic turn-down with rose petals, candles, chocolate covered strawberries and champagne
You Get a Tour with the All-Inclusive Package
Another really cool perk, and again… not usually offered by other all-inclusive hotels, is your choice of day tour!
If you book a stay with an all-inclusive plan you can choose from either a Stone Island Tour, or a City Tour!
Which one is better?
That will depend on what you like to do on vacation. If you are a beach bum and like nature, go on the Stone Island tour. If you love architecture, history and want a guided tour through the historical center of town, go on the City Tour.
We personally did the CITY TOUR
A trolly picked us up in the lobby of the hotel and took us on a city tour from 9am to 2pm.
We stopped Sea Shell City, a few galleries and boutiques, drove down the malecon, and then made our way to Centro. In the old historic centre of town our guide showed us Plaza Machado, the cathedral, the Pino Suarez market and other notable places.
Everything You Need To Know About The Hotel Playa Mazatlan
- 1200 ft of beach front
- The first beach front property in all of Mazatlán
- 400 rooms
- 9 restaurants and snack bars
- Located in the middle of the Golden Zone
What part of town is the hotel located in?
The Hotel Playa Mazatlan is located smack dab in the middle of the Golden Zone, right on the beach. Like I mentioned before, it’s so nice to stay at a resort that you can easily walk off of. Many all-inclusive resorts are secluded in the middle of nowhere and you require a taxi to leave the grounds. Not this one! You can walk off in seconds and be surrounded by great restaurants, shops, and more.
If you want to head down to centro, it’s about a 15 minute drive in a taxi or pulmonia. You can also catch the bus that is 400m from the hotel.
How Does The All-Inclusive Work?
The All-Inclusive at the Hotel Playa Mazatlan is actually not mandatory like it is at some other resorts. You can choose if you want to take it or not. Personally, I would!
The all-inclusive is only an extra $53 a night, which includes all food and beverages for TWO people.
If you break that down to $26 per person and think about breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and all drinks… it’s a great deal!
What Are The Rooms Like?
The hotel has a LOT of selection! They have over 400 rooms that cater to anyone from a large family travelling together, or just a couple looking for a romantic stay.
You can get a basic garden view room, a larger ocean view room, or splurge on a boutique suite.
Most of their rooms are under 6 categories:
They also have a small wing with 8 boutique type rooms, all completely unique from one another:
and the Pacifica Penthouse (with its own private rooftop pool!)
How Much Are The Room Rates?
You can either stay on the room-only (aka the ‘European Plan’) or go All-Inclusive. Here are the starting room rates in USD and with taxes included. These rates can fluctuate by season and demand, but this is an average of what you will find.
|Room||Room Only Rate||All-Inclusive Rate for 2|
|Cielito Lindo Penthouse||297||350|
What Kinds of Restaurants are on-site?
There are a lot of different places to eat on site depending what you are craving. Like I mentioned above, I think the food is fantastic at the hotel, and I like knowing how it’s all been properly washed, prepped and cooked! (It’s the little piece of mind details that can make a difference.)
Georgini’s – The Italian Restaurant
Open: every other evening for dinner 7-10pm
Georgini's is a classy sit down Italian restaurant with a dress code and reservations needed. Inside you'll find a cold self serve salad and anti-pasti bar, as well as delicious a la carte Italian food. At the end of your meal, ask for a Spanish coffee!
Casa Roberto – The Mexican Restaurant
Open: every day for lunch and dinner 1-10pm
Casa Roberto serves all of the classic Mexican dishes, with a big focus on local ingredients and local recipes. Take a moment to appreciate the wood-work on the doorway, the reception desk, and other places inside. They were all hand carved!
While you eat, sip on a local Sinaloan soda called ‘Tonicol”.
La Terraza – The Ocean Front Buffet
Open: all day for breakfast, lunch and dinner 6am-11pm
The first floor of La Terraza is a wonderful ocean-front buffet style restaurant. No matter what meal you're eating there, they have every option imaginable!
Brazilian Swords Restaurant – 2nd level of La Terazza
Open: Select nights during the week for dinner. 2 seatings.
On some select nights of the week, the upstairs of La Terraza transforms into a Brazilian Swords restaurant. Here is how it works: All diners arrive at the same time. You grab a plate and head to the small buffet to load up on your ‘accompaniments' like rice, sweet potato, lentil stew, salad and vegetables. Once everyone is seated, the swords come out! There is chicken, pork, beef, fish, even grilled pineapple swords. Very fun! Highly recommended!
Seafood Restaurant – 2nd level of La Terazza
Open: Select days for lunch and dinner
Some afternoons the 2nd level of La Terraza will feature a seafood restaurant. They have everything from ceviches, to fish tostadas, to drool-worthy shrimp tacos. If you want to try a local favorite, ask for the “ceviche de sierra”.
Tejabanes – Poolside Snacks
Open: everyday from 10am – 6pm
Ajoining the main pool is Tejabanes snack bar serving up deep fried treats like fries, burgers, chicken nuggets and soda. It's not fancy, but hey… it doesn't need to be.
US George Sports bar – Drinks and popcorn
Open: every day from 6pm – 2am
Wow, sports lovers will appreciate this man-cave like bar. Huge TV's, ice cold drinks, and even popcorn when there's a game on.
There are also little snack bars and drink bars located throughout the grounds, serving everything from fresh ceviche to blended margaritas.
In the case that you just want to sit by the pool or on the beach and not move a muscle, servers will come around to take your order.
Is there a Day Pass for Cruisers or Residents Available?
Yes! They have 2 day-pass options available and they are good for cruisers, tourists staying at other hotels, or even residents who want to use the facilities. In fact, getting a Day-Pass at the Hotel Playa is one of the “Top 30 things do to on a cruise stop in Mazatlan”!
This pass is the basic pass that gives you access to the pools, palapas and beach area.
All Inclusive Day-Pass
This pass gets you everything the basic pass does (pools, beach, palapas, etc) but also gives you access to all food and drink! You can eat, snack, and drink all day long, including alcoholic beverages.
Note: They do sell out of these, so it’s best to call/email/FB page message ahead of time to reserve your pass. They also don’t sell them over holidays like Christmas, Carnival and Semana Santa, as the hotel is at 100% capacity.
What is the BEACH Like?
The beach in front of the hotel has lots of sand and water you can swim in. Of course at different times of the year and different weather will make the waves quite large at times, so be aware when you're in the water.
There are many lounge beds, chairs, and straw palapas you can hang out underneath on the beach area.
What About a GYM?
If you need to work off the tacos, no worries! There is actually a very nicely equipped gym on-site, but the best part is the personal trainer Alejandro.
Trevor and I had a personal session with him on day 2 of our stay and he really knows his stuff! He has been running the gym for the last 30 years without so much as missing a day. He will make you a custom workout depending on your goals, or just help you with the equipment. If you usually get sore the day after working out, ask Alejandro to help you stretch – he is a magician!
Does the Wi-Fi Work Well?
Yes, and thankfully it works well. I am a high data user and I was able to upload videos and ‘stories’ to Facebook and Instagram during my stay. When you check in they will give you the Wi-Fi password for 2 devices.
How Kid Friendly is the Hotel?
Extremely kid friendly, but all the same time, still couples friendly!
Some of the 9 pools on site are dedicated to kids, with water slides and fountains. There are also many play areas and jungle-gym type structures to play and climb on.
The on-site kids club is free for guests and has an entire list of activities scheduled each and every day, ranging from piñata parties, to sand sculptures, to treasure hunts.
They even have family rooms that are big enough to host parents along with up to 4 kids comfortably.
Out of all the guests that stay at the hotel, you will notice that families make up a large portion.
What is the SPA Like?
The spa is very small but does the trick. We booked a 90-minute couple’s massage and went for a steam first. The entire spa is literally just the steam room and a massage room with 2 massage tables, so really only a couple at a time can book.
However, WOW… the massage was fantastic. I believe the woman I had was called Paloma and she gives one heck of a relaxing massage. Living in Asia for the past 2 years, I guess you could call me a massage connoisseur, and I gave this one a 9/10. The only reason I docked off 1-point was because the spa is next to a pool that can get noisy when the hotel is full.
Massage Prices at the Spa:
- 500 pesos for 60 minutes
- 700 pesos for 90 minutes
Hey, if you're coming to Mazatlán, you should probably choose a place that is:
- Authentically Mexico
- ON the beach
- Safe to eat and drink at
You could stay in a chain in any other city in the world, so take the opportunity to stay in a family owned resort while you still can!
I truly believe that Hotel Playa Mazatlan is the best All Inclusive hotel in Mazatlan, and totally a place where you will have a great vacation.
I know you will enjoy staying at the Playa Mazatlan! By all means, if you have any questions for me about the hotel, send me a message. I don't work there, but I stayed there as a guest and I'm happy to help if I can