All Inclusive Vacation at the Manzanillo Karmina Palace

Stan R. September 9, 2010 No Comments

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Karmina Palace Hotel Manzanillo MexicoLooking for an all inclusive family vacation in Mexico that’s off the beaten path?  How about the exotic all inclusive Karmina Palace Resort in Manzanillo, between Puerto Vallarta and Zihuatanejo?  This Pacific Ocean gem is where our family of 12 spent a 5 day vacation in late September of 2004.  I was there with my fiancé, my parents, my aunt and uncle Amy and Joe and their two kids, my other aunt and uncle Miranda and Mason, and my sister, her husband Todd and their two children.  Now that is a serious family excursion!  

Karmina Palace Presidential Suite Plunge Pool

Evelyn at the Karmina Palace presidential suite plunge pool

It was September 25th, and we had just checked in to our Presidential Suite on the 7th floor.  The lively sound of Frank Sinatra was already flowing from our mp3 player outside on our wrap-around terrace.  My 3 year old niece Evelyn was swimming around in our private corner plunge pool with her baby brother Justin who was only about 11 months old.  The weather was balmy, humid and deliciously warm.  We had just arrived and were expecting thunder showers on our first evening which we welcomed with open arms.  It would be a wonderful way to end our first day, with the tropical sound of rain drops lulling us gently to sleep.  All our cares and concerns from the daily grind that was our lives were slowly melting away.  

Karmina Palace Presidential Suite Plunge Pool

Plunge pool and terrace view of the Pacific Ocean

Our Presidential suite was 3,500 square feet with 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a large living room and dining area and a full size kitchen.  My sister, Todd and their two youngsters got the spacious master bedroom.  It was gigantic and had direct access through its sliding glass doors into the center of the wrap-around terrace. My parents, and my fiancé and I, occupied the remaining two rooms, which were also not too shabby. It was a thrill to be all together and have access to our own private family plunge pool and sun deck overlooking the most sought after view in the hotel.  It’s no wonder we spent a big portion of the vacation in our suite!     

The rest of our family also spent many of their early afternoons with us in our Presidential suite.  This was an all inclusive resort, which meant even room service was free.  Although the food was excellent, we learned the first day to expect slower than usual service after it took them over an hour to deliver our food.  After all, we were on Mexican time, which meant we had to shed the big city hustle and downshift into our new laid-back roles as carefree tourists.  It’s much easier than you would think, especially when lounging with an ice cold Corona on our private terrace while enjoying our 270 degree view encompassing the resort and Pacific Ocean.  

Karmina Palace Presidential Suite Resort View

Resort View from our presidential suite terrace

The 324 room Karmina Palace was about 25 minutes from the Manzanillo International Airport.  When we first arrived I was struck by the beauty of the hotel architecture.  It looked like a modernized version of an ancient Mayan palace down to its intricate wall carvings and decorations.  The high rising hotel walls branched out like a protective barrier surrounding the resort in a half square-like shape.  The oasis within its walls was made up of 6 cascading pools, hot tubs, and a meticulously manicured display of palm trees, flowers, grass, and other indigenous plants.  There were paved stone walkways and bridges meandering over and around the various pools, connecting every corner of the resort.  And, beyond everything, was the magnificent Pacific Ocean beckoning us to become one with it’s warm and inviting waters.  

Pacific Ocean Presidential Suite Karmina Palace Manzanillo

Pacific Ocean view from our terrace presidential suite

One of the great things about the Karmina Palace is how it caters so well to families and children.  Most of the pools are shallow, making it perfect for children.  Even better are the kiddy pools where toddlers can waddle around in their floaties without assistance (with adult supervision of course).  The water is very nice and refreshing, and with the warm and humid temperature outside it’s easy to spend the whole day soaking.  

The beach also has some very attractive features.  There is a protected lagoon-like inlet into the Pacific Ocean where families with young children can swim without any fear of ocean currents or waves.  The sand slopes down very slowly and is shallow enough to touch even several yards in.  The water is also very warm and various members of our family spent many hours here, swimming and playing Frisbee.  Just a bit further south, past one of the protective barriers, is a regular sandy beach that stretches for quite a ways.  I love the surf, and this is where I spent most of my time whenever we hit the beach. There really is something for everyone!  

Karmina Palace Manzanillo Lagoon Beach Mexico

Lagoon like calm water beach Karmina Palace

There are no golf or tennis courts on the premises.  However, if you have the desire to play and can handle the heat and humidity, there are tennis courts and a first class golf course walking distance from the hotel.  They are in fact right next door!  My dad, two uncles and I brought our tennis rackets from Los Angeles, so we were committed to playing a competitive game of tennis.  The courts were in excellent condition.  They were not part of the Karmina Palace, so we had to fork over a modest fee of $15 to reserve a court for as long as we could play.  

Karmina Palace Sandy Beach Manzanillo Mexico

Sandy beach south of Karmina Palace Manzanillo

I’m the only avid golfer in our group, so on one occasion I ventured over to the Mantarraya golf course next door to play a round by myself.  It was a pristine golf course with well kept fairways and greens.  Everywhere you looked there were palm trees with coconuts.  I even saw several banana trees lining the sides of the fairways. That’s something you don’t see every day!  My only complaint was the intense heat and humidity that made it impossible to complete the course.  My first clue should have been that there was absolutely no one else on the course except me and all the gardeners trimming trees and mowing lawns.  I felt the energy drain from my body as I progressed from hole to hole.  I think one of the gardeners felt sorry for me because about half way through he approached and offered me a coconut to drink.  I still remember how sweet and delicious the juice tasted.  Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to keep me going past the 11th hole where I packed up my clubs and gave up.   

Beach view outside the Karmina Palace Mexico

Beach view outside the Karmina Palace Mexico

The Karmina Palace is now known as the Barceló Karmina Palace Deluxe Hotel.  I did some research and Barcelo appears to be a big Mexican Hotel/Resort chain and may have acquired the Karmina Palace since our stay in 2004. I’m sure lots had changed, including the Internet connectivity.  We were told there would be wireless Internet access throughout most of the hotel, and although I was able to connect with my laptop from time to time, I had to be in the lobby in order to get any serious work done.  The WIFI signal was just too week from our hotel room.  This was 6 years ago, and from what I have read there is now wireless access from any part of the hotel including the rooms.      

Fishing expedition Manzanillo Mexico

Manzanillo Fishing expedition booked by several of our family members

July and August is considered high season in Manzanillo, so we deliberately chose to go in September to avoid the big crowds, but also to save some money because of the lower prices.  Our all-inclusive Presidential suite was $1,344 per/night, which really isn’t bad when you divide it by 3 couples (my sister paid a slightly higher percentage since they had the master bedroom with their two kids).  This also includes meals, drinks, tax, gratuities, maid service, 24 hour room service, drinks, activities such as Kayaking, snorkeling (gear included), boogie boards, water basketball and volleyball, drinks, etc,.  Oh, and did I mention drinks were included?  I’m not sure what the pricing is today, but looking back this was a great deal.  

The recreation room is also a great place for children to hang out.  There were arcade games, pool tables and even a ping-pong table where I taught my younger cousin some manners (I don’t believe in letting people win).  It’s Ok, he’s a good sport and would easily run circles around me in most any other activity, so I’ll take what I can get!   

Live Mayan Entertainment Karmina Palace Manzanillo Mexico

Live Mayan entertainment at the Karmina Palace

The all-inclusive children’s club is another wonderful convenience for families with children between the ages of 4 and 12 years old.  Parents can indulge in some alone time or go to the Spa while the kids spend a fun afternoon participating in various supervised activities. There is also live entertainment for the whole family on most evenings, with dazzling costumes and native dancing skits.  We were also fortunate enough to have a great view of the show from our private Presidential suite terrace!  

Overall we were very happy with the quality of the food and choices of restaurants.  Most evenings were spent at the Agave Mexican restaurant because of its choice location out by the sea.  We never had any trouble finding a table for all 12 of us, and with the surrounding view of the ocean and hotel in the distance, the slow service was quite tolerable.  Every evening at about 11pm the Agave restaurant was converted into a night club with pumping music and dancing.  There were other good restaurants to choose from as well, one in particular was the Kyoto Japanese cuisine.  I’m a big sushi fan so this was one of my favorites.  

Karmina Palace Manzanillo Presidential Suite Living Room

Family meeting at our presidential suite living room before heading out to dinner

As always our vacation was too short and it was very difficult to leave this magnificent paradise.  One consolation was that we gained two hours on the flight back to Los Angeles which gave us some extra time to unpack and re-acclimate to our old lives.  It was also a Wednesday when we returned, making it a short week with the weekend looming near.

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Stan is the proud father of three young children. He and his wife love to travel frequently to places near and far with their extended family.

Tags: , Reviews, Travel Excursions

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