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Barcelo Comments

Huatulco, Oaxaca

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First of all, thanks Tom for establishing and maintaining such an informative website. Based on our experiences (a family of four with two children ages 15 and 17) we would rate your site excellent in terms of what it covers and the reality check it provides to glossy travel brochures. If you think the information below would be useful, please include it on your site.

Our time in Huatulco was spent primarily at the Barcelo (on the all inclusive plan- which for us was most satisfactory) although we all ventured out on the 7-bays tour (departure from Santa Cruz), and to La Crucesita, three of us went scuba diving and one of us went to the La Gloria coffee plantation. We went primarily for rest, relaxation and for watersports. Except for the watersports (which need improvement) we were not disappointed. With minor exceptions in other areas, all of the type that can be experienced anywhere, we were very pleased with the hotel and its facilities. Also, we did not find too many teenagers at the Barcelo while we were there (mid March), there may have been more at the Gala but we do not know.

While the Gala and the Barcelo share the same watersport facility they do not share the same boats. The Barcelo has some kayaks, only 2 rather beaten up sailboats and no windsurfers. We did not use the kayaks but found the sailboats not really satisfactory. There are catamarans but they are exclusively for use of guests of the Gala and are not available for rent.

We were absolutely entranced by the beauty of the beaches of Huatulco. From our hotel every view was as beautiful, if not more so, than the brochures had led us to believe.

What did we learn?

1. Huatulco is hot, humid and contradictorily (at least during the time we were there) a desert climate where cactus flourish. Everything that is not watered is brown - if you venture beyond the hotel strip this becomes very quickly apparent although many trees are in bloom. 2. Every day we were there was beautifully sunny but if you don't like heat and humidity (which at least one of us doesn't) is difficult to take except in the early morning (before 9:30 a.m.) and in the evening (after 5:00 p.m.). (The sun is very hot so be sure to remember lots of sun screen and gradual introduction to the sun). The beach in front of the hotel is much steeper than comes across in the brochures and the sand in many spots is quite coarse. the waves are a thing of beauty and of power.

3. The 7-bays tour (as arranged through the travel agents at the hotel) is a "booze cruise" past some of the most naturally beautiful spots imaginable. The beauty is not to be missed - the booze and dancing part could be fun and viewed as a cultural experience but some of the alternatives suggested by others in your website might be worth investigating. The snorkeling from the boat was quite good with interesting reef formations and lots of fish to look at.

4. Drink plenty of bottled water - the hotel had it in great quantity. The hotel water is purified but nevertheless we did not drink it. While we tried to stay away from ice we found it impossible to avoid - its in all sorts of drinks at the hotel. We have not suffered adverse consequences.

5. The scuba diving was undertaken with Carlos from the hotel watersport centre who was most accommodating. It was most enjoyable.

6. The coffee plantation/waterfall tour was not for everyone. I loved it. Don't expect a highly developed plantation, any flat land or too many creature comforts. Bring plenty of water with you since it is not provided on the tour and it gets hot. The drive is long, bumpy and on steep, winding unimproved dirt roads and many find this part of the trip very difficult. You quickly leave behind the hotel development and find yourself in the jungle not the lush verdant jungle which I had been anticipating but different - a dry brown occasionally green jungle. The birds, trees and other vegetation are so different to what we are used to and I quickly became entranced with the whole experience.

7. We didn't spend much time in La Crucesita and just drove through Santa Cruz so can't provide much in the way of insight. La Crucesita was small but quite bustling. The market area had quite a lot of variety but did not seem to offer much in the way of bargains.

8. Some knowledge of Spanish would be helpful. It is by no means essential but would certainly make the whole experience more enjoyable - since it is nice to be able to at least say hello, goodbye and thank you. (The hotel Spanish lessons do not really help but are a very basic introduction and do at least provide some starting points.)

Once again, thank you so much for all your work on the website.

Morrie Macquie

March 2002

Tom adds his remarks:

Thank you for your review. I will certainly include it on the web site. I would like to make some comments:

Brown vegetation: Seasons are dry and wet, with only about 5° change in average seasonal temperatures. Dry season runs about December to July and is felt most strongly at the lower elevations. The resorts do irrigate, so the difference between the watered and natural areas is dramatic during the dry season. In the wet season it is not so apparent. Those leafless plants aren't dead; they are just waiting for the first rains to come--plants and trees we would be buying at the nursery are growing like weeds here.

I like the wet season. Often it becomes cloudy in the afternoon, offering some relief from the sun. You can hear the thunder in the mountains where most of the rain occurs--something we like to hear here in Texas.

I'm not sure where you would find other teenagers these days since the Club Med has closed.

Watersports: Don't know much about this but know the hotels have difficulty due to the highly seasonal nature of the tourist business-lots of demand (and rapid deterioration) of equipment in the busy winter months and insufficient revenue in the remainder of the year.

Steep beach: I've noticed that many developed beaches take this form. I don't know if it's the construction of buildings blocking the wind, the fact that the beach cannot be permitted to shrink and grow as it naturally would, or what. Fortunately, Huatulco has a supply of undeveloped beaches for you to explore.

Carlos Ramos at Action Sports: Carlos has a strong appreciation of the underwater world of Huatulco and will go out his way to make your introduction to it a pleasant and enjoyable one. Three fourths of our world is underwater and is arguably more beautiful and varied that the one fourth we know. Everyone likes Carlos.

Water: The tap water and ice are safe in Huatulco, which has modern water treatment facilities. This is not the case anywhere else in the region though.

Coffee Plantation Tour: Only 2 or 3 highways in the area are paved; everything else is dirt and takes a beating every year when the rainy season comes. If you are a curious, adventurous spirit, then these excursions offer the opportunity to see the real Mexico.


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