Travel Weekly hotel editor Linda Humphrey traveled to
Acapulco for a firsthand assessment of the resort city's tourism
infrastructure in the wake of Hurricane Pauline, which slammed the
region in early October and left 142 people dead. Her report
ACAPULCO, Mexico -- I checked into the beachfront Elcano hotel
here with a suitcase full of bottled water. But I found four
bottles of water in my room, the taps running and the pool ready
The scene was a far cry from the first news reports to emerge
after the storm, which indicated serious water shortages and
mud-filled hotel pools. Venturing out onto Acapulco's glitzy
boulevard, I inspected most of the resort city's major hotels and
found them in top form.
Storm waters had inundated a scattering of hotel rooms --
including 24 at the 364-room Mayan Palace and 20 at the 220-room
Sheraton, where one drained pool was strewn with rocks. Beyond
those traces of the tragedy, however, both hotels were operating
normally and planned to reopen the damaged rooms by next month.
Outside, dozens of blue-and-white VW Bug taxis zoomed along the
main strips, the Costera Miguel Aleman and the Cuauhtemoc, where
mud previously had buried cars up to their roofs.
The water rationing is over. My hotel did shut off the water for
one night, from midnight to 5 a.m., for pipe repairs, but the water
was always hot, the shower pressure strong.
Traces of the Oct. 9 storm could be found in the still-muddy
residential streets behind the Acapulco convention center. And a
few beachfront restaurants had been swept into the bay.
Representatives from Royal Caribbean, which books pre- and
post-cruise stays at the Fiesta Americana, Hyatt and Princess,
inspected the hotels and announced the line would not accept
cancellations without penalty prompted by the hurricane.
I found just a few American vacationers here except for a group
of 120 passengers who had disembarked from Holland America's
Noordam for a stay at the Acapulco Hyatt. (Americans still are
leery of visiting here. See below.)
"Acapulco has cleaned up 100%," said HAL passenger Martin Lake,
of Pittsburgh, who strolled by the Hyatt's pool on a breezy
Other Americans I ran into included a couple from Missoula,
Mont. "Everything is back to normal," said Steve Sann, who was
lounging by the Elcano pool at sunset with his girlfriend, Terry
Lane. They basked on a boat all day with another couple, rented
with a driver for $120. "This place is so romantic," Lane said.
"It's not like Cancun, which is all partying high school kids."
"We're having a great time," Sann said. "The weather is perfect.
The water is fine. What I like is that no one's here but us. Just
the locals and us."
Even as Acapulco sweeps away the traces of Hurricane Pauline,
the city faces a second disaster: Americans are canceling their
"We're losing our Thanksgiving and Christmas season," said Jason
Lavender, who rents luxury villas for Grupo Se Renta S.A. When 25
of his American clients called to cancel, Lavender offered to fly
them down to view the city's comeback. But they would not even take
a free ticket.
"They think there's a cholera epidemic here. They think there's
no clean water. They think there are thousands of homeless people
dying on the streets," he said. "The news reports have done more
damage to us than the hurricane did. Many more people will suffer
from this bad image."
The city reported 20 cases of cholera among the local
The Princess hotel, which was not hit by the storm, lost four
U.S. groups. "We have [the news media] to thank for that," said
sales executive Andres Olmos Quevedo.
To lure tourists back, Aeromexico and Mexicana will offer
international travelers free tickets from Mexico City to
The city typically draws 65% of its winter tourists from the
U.S., said Lillian Lobato of the convention and visitors bureau.
Groups from other countries plan to arrive, she said, with 400
people scheduled to attend a French film festival Nov. 20 to