Editor’s note: New Mexican owners purchased this hotel in late 2015 and kicked out the Fairmont management. Check what current customers are saying to see if maintenance and the level of service previously experienced are still intact.
Back in the glam travel days when Acapulco received the largest number of visitors to Mexico, the sprawling Fairmont Acapulco Princess (Now Mundo Imperial Princess) rose up next to a gorgeous wide beach 10 minutes away from the famous bay. It was the pioneer in the area, built in 1971, so it sits on 480 acres of what’s now prime real estate, complete with two golf courses. There are big Pacific waves rolling in, thrilling surfers and boogie boarders. Even on a high floor with the door shut, you can hear the ocean at night if you’re facing that direction.
Acapulco’s fortunes have declined considerably since it was a Hollywood hotspot in the ’50s and a Love Boat fixture in the ’70s. Now most of its tourists are domestic ones from the capital unless there’s a convention in town encouraging foreigners to come despite years of bad press for the city and the state of Guerrero. The local government and business leaders are obviously feeling optimistic about the future though: the Mundo Imperial massive convention center with 22,500 square meters of exhibition space opened recently and the attached hotel has 800 suites. (The developer of that complex now owns this hotel too.)
The Fairmont is a grand hotel, with parts of it built to resemble an Aztec pyramid, then a tower rising up beside it that was added later. In between are multiple swimming pools—so many that even when the hotel is full of people the pools are not. They’re well-designed and fun, with waterfalls and grottos. The swim-up bar that looks so tantalizing was never staffed during my stay, but there are other spots around to get a drink, including one facing the ocean. There are also shaded lounge chairs on the wide beach, where you could walk for miles or take a ride in an ATV or on a horse.
A whole range of restaurants and bars offer choices for meal time, with two serving breakfast and options for other meals including an Italian spot and a nice steak and seafood option. The breakfast buffet at Chula Vista goes beyond the norm with an omelete station and another serving crepes or tamales. There’s a wide variety of fruit and juice, including some extra healthy options. Some have a view of the ocean and others are indoors if the heat is wearing you out. There’s also a cafe serving Starbucks coffee if you’re missing home.
The gym is impressive, with a large variety of cardio machines, weight machines, and free weights in a spacious area. Sign up for the Preident’s Club beforehand though or you’ll have to pay a fee to use the facilities. You’ll also get your basic Wi-Fi gratis as well. A full spa is on site here, with a wide range of treatments, steam and sauna, and several pools. The two golf courses have lots of water features, mountain views, and some challenging terrain where the palm trees get in the way.
Rooms come in several classes and vary in size by which building they are in. The ones in the newer tower are quite large and were recently renovated, with marble floors, gorgeouls double-vanity bathrooms with glass tile accents, and a welk-in closet. The Ocean View ones also have a balcony affording that view you see at the very top. Safes, refrigerators, ironing boards, and robes are in place in these. The only real complaint I kept hearing was that the Wi-Fi was awful, the system easily getting overloaded if other people on the same floor were using it.
Rooms in the older section are a tad smaller and more casual, but they have similar amenities, balconies, and a combo shower/tub. It’s best to be in the main building if you have mobility issues as it can be a long haul to the Pearl wing. The living large option is a Penthouse Suite, which has around 2,500 square feet and will cost you a grand a night in high season.
This resort is quite close to the airport, which saves you the traffic-choked route into Acapulco proper, plus this area of the city is much more affluent, so if you’re worried about safety, this is a whole different story.
With Fairmont in place for a very long time at this property, the level of service and training is much higher than at some domestic chains. Despite most of the guests these days being Mexican, plenty of staffers here speak English. The preponderance of domestic guests and 1,000+ rooms to fill means that rates at the Fairmont Princess are quite reasonable, generally $100 to $250 unless it’s a holiday weekend. Book direct with the hotel or check at Expedia and Hotels.com.
Review and photos by editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted at the Princess Hotel while by Mexico Tourism while attending the annual Tianguis Turistico tourism conference in Acapulco.