In Acapulco, hotels are the perfect places to track the stars


Ever since it was established as Mexico's first jet-set destination, Acapulco has been associated with Hollywood glamour. Celebrities have come here to rest and relax -- and to honeymoon, in the case of Bill and Hillary Clinton, John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy, and Donald and Ivana Trump.

They've also come to make movies, including "Fun in Acapulco," with Elvis Presley; various installments of Sylvester Stallone's "Rambo" series; and "Blow," with Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz.

If following in the steps of the stars is of interest to your clients, probably no other place in Mexico offers as many possibilities as Acapulco. Here, travelers can stay in hotels where celebrities have gotten married, honeymooned, made movies or just slept. 

Some hotels trumpet their roster of famous guests, making it easy for travelers to add a bit of celebrity excitement, however far removed, to their vacations. The hotels with the longest histories of famous guests are generally those farthest from the beach, as the early trend was to build secluded villas in the hills above the bay.

Clients looking to track the stars, and perhaps even stay in the rooms they did, should consider the following properties:

" Fairmont Pierre Marques. In 1958, oil magnate J. Paul Getty followed up on a tip about a beautiful stretch of beach located just outside of Acapulco, snapping up the property and building his own private hideaway, inviting friends such as JFK, Aristotle Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor to visit.

Today, the 480-acre site, now known as the Fairmont Pierre Marques, is a AAA Four Diamond resort, with three swimming pools, five tennis courts and a Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed golf course.

" Fairmont Acapulco Princess. In 1976, billionaire Howard Hughes moved from the Bahamas to what was then one of Acapulco's newest and most glamorous resorts. But the seriously ill tycoon probably didn't get to admire the hotel's beautiful scenery or extensive amenities. Tucked away in a penthouse suite, with windows covered so that no light could enter, Hughes spent the last days of his life here before he died on an emergency flight to a hospital in Houston.

Clients visiting this 1,017-room resort today, of course, have a much better chance of enjoying themselves than Hughes did. The property has an 18-hole, Ted Robinson-designed golf course, five swimming pools, 10 tennis courts and a 14,000-square-foot spa. This year, the property introduced what it calls the "world's largest inflatable slide," a 36-foot attraction for kids and adults.

" Las Brisas Acapulco. In the lobby of this hilltop hot spot, built in 1954, visitors can check out the still-growing collection of handprints left by famous guests -- including Brad Pitt, Art Buchwald, Liza Minnelli and Ricardo Montalban. Frank Borman, the former Apollo 8 astronaut and later CEO of Eastern Air Lines, left his mark here, as well, and Henry Kissinger honeymooned at the property. At Las Brisas, guests can rent pink-and-white Jeeps, some of which bear the signatures of famous guests.

A member of Leading Hotels of the World, Las Brisas recently completed a $20 million renovation. Each of the 40-acre property's 263 casitas are graced with private or shared pools and stunning views of the bay. Flat-screen TVs and CD players are among the amenities in the lovely rooms.

" Villa Vera Acapulco Hotel Spa & Racquet Club. This attractive property, which features 15 acres of gardens, was built in the 1950s as a private getaway for an executive from Nebraska. Later, he added five smaller villas to entertain clients and friends.

When the property was opened to an exclusive array of guests, the name-dropping really started. President Dwight Eisenhower vacationed here, and Elvis Presley used it as a location for his film "Fun in Acapulco." Elizabeth Taylor married Mike Todd in the original family home, with Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher as witnesses. Richard and Pat Nixon celebrated their 25th anniversary here. Lana Turner liked Villa Vera so much that she lived here for three years.

Facilities today include multiple swimming pools (some private), a restaurant, spa and tennis courts. The property is now marketed mostly through Raintree Resorts International's Club Regina timeshare program but also is open to non-members.

" Hotel Los Flamingos. This classic, simple property is the best choice for budget-minded travelers who still want to walk in the footsteps of the stars. Built in the 1930s, the property was bought in 1954 by a group called the Hollywood Gang, which included actors John Wayne, Johnny Weissmuller, Cary Grant, Fred MacMurray, Errol Flynn and Red Skelton. Photos of the men still line the reception area. The hotel has a restaurant, bar and kidney-shaped swimming pool plus basic, comfortable rooms with sweeping views. Rates start at $60.

The top-of-the-line room is the Casa Redonda, a round, freestanding villa with its own private terrace and lookout point. The property was most recently on the big screen in 2004 as a setting for the John Sayles film "Casa de los Babys," which starred Rita Moreno, Daryl Hannah, Lili Taylor, Mary Steenburgen, Marcia Gay Harden and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

To contact reporter Mark Chesnut, send e-mail [email protected].

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI