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Kick Up Your Heels at the Karmina Palace

By Linda-Marie Singer

Manzanillo, Mexico: What a bodacious idea to call a hotel a palace.  You won't see this description connected with the Waldorf-Astoria or even the Ritz, and yet Dallas entrepreneur Robert Woolley had the imagination and tenacity to fashion a Mexican extravaganza called the Karmina Palace.

One of eight interconnecting pools
One of eight interconnecting pools

Situated in the unassuming small town of Manzanillo along Mexico's Pacific Coast (a four hour drive south of Puerto Vallarta), Manzanillo may be known as the "Sailfish Capital of the World," but movie-goers recognize it as the setting of "10" filmed at the exclusive Las Hadas.  Yet it wasn't until decades later that the sleepy city would make another splash when noted hotelier Robert Woolley (founder of Crown Sterling Suites, the forerunner of Embassy Suites) built a nine acre exotic Mayan-style resort overlooking the Bay of Mexico. 

Sweeping views from The Karmina Palace
Sweeping views from The Karmina Palace

Opening in 1999 and already a winner of the Five Star Diamond Award, the Karmina Palace is an all-inclusive property featuring a staggering variety of choices to all guests.  There are 324 spacious suites (890-square feet to 3, 390-square feet), three restaurants and a disco, five bars, and eight interconnected swimming pools (One for adults only).  You'll have privacy along a 425-foot sandy beach cove, but if you choose to walk alone, there's a Kids' Club with game room and theatre.  Other comforts include a spa and fitness arena, golf and tennis, motorized sports, amphitheater featuring theme-night dinners and live shows, business center, plus 24-hour room service.

Having stayed at both Las Hadas and Club Maeva in Manzanillo, I couldn't believe the glamour of this palace property.  For unlike the pristine and staid Las Hadas, the Karmina Palace jingles with excitement and yet radiates elegance.   While the design features a Mayan temple-themed lobby, I had to look again to convince myself that I wasn't in Egypt or Asia, or perhaps had wandered into a set from Indiana Jones.   With such a unique location, you might think it would be hard on your wallet, but once you've paid the nightly rate, there are no hidden charges, and that means no limits on food or drink.  All taxes and tips are included.  If you choose not to leave your room, you can always order complimentary 24-hour room service. 

Book online ( or by telephone (1-877-KARMINA), and come up with surprising deals.  Catch them before January, 2004, and you might come across a WWW rate for a Garden View suite costing $138 per person.  A two-bedroom can run $180 per person.  For my stay, I chose an Ocean View Suite that guaranteed 890-square feet of comfort.  Each accommodation comes with a private balcony or terrace with a scenic view, separate living area with a pullout couch, mini refrigerator already stocked with sodas and water, two televisions, and an oversized marble bathroom.  With all the amenities, it may be tempting to stay indoors, but then it's Mexico and here's one region loaded with sun sprinkles averaging a temperature of 80 degrees all year long.

Carioca restaurant overlooking the Mexican Pacific
Carioca restaurant overlooking the Mexican Pacific

The only hang-up was to arrive in the hotel lobby precisely by 4:30 every afternoon in order to book a dinner at the much requested  Carioca restaurant perched on a rocky cliff with a sweeping view of the Mexican Pacific and the Port of Manzanillo.  Since it doubles as a disco after hours, here's one place where you can kick up your heels.  Singles are always welcome, and you'll find the staff in a dancing mood as well. 

Usually all high class resorts have spas, and I always have a treatment indigenous to that area.  The Black Mud Therapeutic Facial ($61) is recommended for people with oily skin or acne, and has a high concentration of Vitamin-B, copper, zinc, magnesium and selenium.  Cool off with The Cooling Aloe Spritzer ($37) if you're a real sun worshipper.  This treatment soothes burning and itching skin leaving it hydrated and refreshed.  And that's really what the Karmina Palace is all about. 

All Photos by Linda-Mario Singer

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Karmina Palace
Avenida Vista Hermosa No. 13
Colonel Peninsula de Santiago, Manzanillo
28200 Manzanillo Colima, Mexico

Phone: 011-52-314-1313     1-877-KARMINA


El Patio de Leda Artesanias has terrific deals on that appealing and vibrant looking Mexican furniture.  Call for more information while in Manzanillo:

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