On the sandy white shores of Playa la Ropa, unanimously agreed on by locals and visitors alike as one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, lies the newly renovated Thompson Zihuatanejo. Once a busy harbor where where Spanish conquistadors and British admirals docked their ships, Zihua has since been an enclave for artists, writers and creatives who, once there, return regularly, or become so charmed they stay. Previously a series of Spanish- style casitas named Villa del Sol, the property has been stylishly renovated in collaboration with local firm Andres Saavedra Design, merging the Thompson’s sleek mid-century modern elegance with Zihuatanejo’s laid back lifestyle while incorporating traditional Mexican architecture and indigenous materials.
Upon arrival, the lobby evokes a casually sophisticated ambience with its dark tones and artful layout, enveloping you in a elevated beachside paradise. With black plaster accents on the walls, three blackened steel drum pendants hovering over a striking Mexican wood sculpture, and custom mid-century inspired furniture by Mexico City concept store Casa Studio, there are plenty of reasons to linger…but the rooms are calling.
Walking along the curved paths that lead to the resort’s 56 suites, the black and white accents visible on the doors, Spanish-style stairwells, and decorative arches give the grounds a modern, unifying aesthetic..a refined visual contrast to the natural aqua and emerald hues of the surrounding lagoons. Artist collaborations infuse the spaces with the vibrant sense of creativity that make Zihuatanejo such a draw. Accents in the rooms include skulls and vases created using the barro negro aka “black clay” pottery technique practiced by artisans in Oaxaca. Contemporary art by New York-based Exhibition A adds a playful modern element to the spaces. A lively mural by San Diego artist Celeste Byers, who draws inspiration from the mystical nature of everyday life, adorns the wall of HAO, the hotel’s all day restaurant.
Set facing Playa la Ropa, HAO serves up inventive smoothie bowls and seafood chilaquiles in the morning and crafted tacos and ceviches in the afternoon and evening. Award- winning chef Miguel Baltazar has infused Zihua’s rich fishing heritage into most of the menu by way of Sal de Zihua, a locally farmed sea salt with a distinctive ocean flavor. A must-try are the Zihua Tiritas, a style of ceviche unique to Zihuatanejo made with fresh strips of sailfish, red onion, serrano, and avocado.
After an day on the full-service beachfront loungers, dinner beckons by way of the smoky aromas emanating from Chef’s signature fire roasting cage set up next to Ceniza, a coast-to- table dining concept inspired by indigenous fire cooking techniques. Translated as “ash” in Spanish, Ceniza ties together the dark visual accents throughout the property. The fire-roasted meats, seafood, and produce from the open cage are then finished in the kitchen and served on sleek charcoal plateware, bringing the concept full circle. While its impossible to go wrong on the thoughtfully designed menu, standouts include the short rib with aged cotija gnocchi, ancho chili, and caramelized onion, and the grilled octopus with burnt cilantro pesto, peanuts, young coconut, jicama, and garlic chips.
While the Thompson has everything needed for an immersive getaway, a visit to LOOT, a gathering space just around the corner by way of a coffee shop, restaurant, and art gallery, provides a glimpse into the region’s creative energy. For the nature-inclined, surfing at Troncones Beach or horseback riding on Playa Larga offers infinite beachscapes and a smooth tranquility. Or indulge your inner culinary artist with a visit to the town’s bustling market, Mercado Municipal, with Chef Miguel Baltazar, where you’ll purchase fresh catch and spices from local vendors, and learn to prepare a Mexican meal on a charcoal grill beachside.
Is it safe to say that I’ll meet you in Zihuatanejo?