Thursday, April 28, 2016

Our Lifestyle Adventures: Finding Part of Our Home in Mexico!

at the end of the resort, by the Bay of Mazatlan
After five years of RVing and two winters in Viewpoint, we were inching into a decision to settle down in what could be our final home. We told ourselves that, if we liked it in Mesa, Arizona, where the sunshine reigns all year round, we would buy a property in a 55+ gated community such as Leisure World. But the small vacation we took in Mazatlan last November 2015 would alter that decision just a tiny wee bit!

From our three days at Jonathan Hotel at the Zona Turistica, we were booked at Pueblo Bonito for a week as part of our timeshare membership at Diamond Resorts International. On the second week, we were supposed to stay at El Cid Granada Resort as part of Club Wyndham, another timeshare membership we owned. The aggressive salespeople of El Cid signed us up at the airport, brought us to Jonathan Hotel, picked us up a few days later, whisked us to a presentation at the El Cid Marina, gave us a two-week stay there, and asked us to cancel our other reservation.  They even made it all-inclusive (lunches and dinners) minus drinks!

EL CID VACATION CLUB
El Cid Marina: our studio, the Marina, one of the private beaches, and one of the pool complexes

El Cid Marina is a Meditteranean-style resort of five residential buildings. There was also a Concessionaires’ Building, which houses a small grocery store, a beachwear outlet, a laundromat, and the Harbormaster's office. The main office, sales office, VIP room, the restaurant and bar, the computer room and library, and the reception/lobby were in the Main Building, 
The five residential buildings, each five stories tall, were all in a row, fronting the Marina, the pools, and the Bay of Mazatlan at the end. We were on the top floor of the third residential building, with a balcony looking out to the whole resort. Our unit was a spacious studio with two Queen-size beds, a living room, a small dining table for two, a full kitchen and a bath suite with His and Hers sinks. 

Other properties in Mazatlan: La Castilla and El Moro from the Country Club, El Moro by night,
the tennis court at El Moro's penthouse, La Castilla at night, and sunset at the El Moro Beach
The Resort is part of the El Cid Vacation Club, which has four other properties in Mazatlan: El Moro, La Castilla, Granada and the Country Club. We took the shuttle to the Country Club every morning for an hour at the fitness center.  There were several tennis courts, including a clay court, and an 18-hole golf course. Too bad we didn’t bring our gear! This grouping of hotels was at the end of the Zona Dorada, and we could take the shuttle there and just walk to favorite places in the Golden Zone.  Other destinations could easily be reached via the pulmoniya or the ten-cent bus.

We inspected the three other hotels in Mazatlan. At El Moro, we surveyed the three bedroom penthouse unit for a possible family reunion venue. Would you believe it had an adjoining outdoor tennis court that had 360-degree views of the city and the Bay? The other 3-bedroom penthouse unit of La Castilla was equally adorable, although there was no adjoining tennis court! I was just glad we were rescued from a stay at Granada, the oldest property! El Cid Vacation Club owns two other properties in Mexico, one in Cancun and the other in Cozumel. Three European vacation destinations complete the Club: one in England, one in Spain, and the last in Portugal. 

DINING, SWIMMING, FISHING AND OTHER ACTIVITIES

Activities at El Cid Marina: Boat fishing, dining with new friends,
romantic dinner for two at the private beach, drinks at the swim-up bar and lounging under the palapas
There were two restaurants at El Cid Marina, the Calypso Bar at the ground floor and La Marina, the formal dining area on the second floor, of the main building fronting the marina where all the boats of various sizes and makes were docked.  At the La Marina, there was a buffet every evening and Wednesdays were extra special because that is crabs’ night! At El Moro, their main dining area looked out to the beach which became more spectacular at sundown. There were nine restaurants we could choose from, including the steak house at the Country Club, at all the El Cid hotels.

the friendly iguanas of El Cid Marina
We alternated between two pool complexes. At the far end near the Bay was a large heated whirlpool bath beside an unheated pool sculpted amongst rocks with a man-made waterfall at one end. There is a large bar/restaurant with plenty of gazebos and lounging chairs around. About four or five iguanas kept mingling with us. It even meandered under the end building! While this pool was Bill’s favorite, I liked the other one: bigger, shallower, and heated. It had a swim-up bar which we loved and where we met our first couple-friend. Both pools had lots of goings-on, including an ongoing casino table, noon-time bingo, afternoon volleyball, all-day table tennis, night movies on the greens, and kids’ and adults’ games all day.

water taxi to go to and fro
Every day, however, we did not fail to take the water taxi to the private beach across the waterway which the boats use to sail or motor to the Bay. There was a smaller beach at the end of the fifth residential building, but it usually disappears at high tide. At the bigger beach, the palapas were low, so low that your whole body gets a full shade. And the Resort wifi was reliable! As Bill spent his time body-surfing amongst the high waves, I laid down on the familiar blue and white lounge chairs, felt the cool breeze caress my toes, and did my type of surfing on my laptop. I had never felt that relaxed before! What was most special was the private beach romantic dinner for two which the Office arranged for us when they found out it was my 67th birthday on November 25. C’est la bonne vie!

We were even given substantial discounts to all tours, fishing and boating trips, and other special packages. I never thought I would enjoy fishing, but it became one of the memorable highlights of our vacation. I loved every minute from the moment we motored off to the Bay, made a first stop where I caught two good-sized fish, made the second stop where I hooked another pair of two good-sized fish, motored back into the marina at noon, watched the pelicans gather around waiting for their share while the Captain cleaned the fish we had just caught, and devoured the sumptuous feast the chef cooked using the fish. One day I hope to bring my kids and grandkids to this paradise!

at the end of the resort, before the Bay of Mazatlan
At the end of our stay, we were convinced that this was how we wanted to spend part of our final retirement, in a plush resort beside the water, with a variety of cuisines included plus all the drinks in the world, being pampered as VIP members, in Bill’s dream city. We signed up for a 12-week annual timeshare that would comprise a fourth of our year for the next twenty years (up to my 87th birthday)! We will use some weeks to travel elsewhere around the world, as part of Wyndham and Resorts Club International, chipping away at the remaining destinations on our bucket list. Another fourth will be spent visiting our family around the world! And we will still buy an Arizona home for half of the year, which does not have to be a big home!