Just a brief recap since it's been a while. The Bureau went to Acapulco, Mexico to trace the steps of one of our favorite photographers, Slim Aarons. What we learned before traveling is that we were headed into the "murder capital of Mexico." Were these DEFCOM 1 levels of danger justified? Did we take our lives in our hands? Find out in this concluding chapter to The Bureau Chases the Artist and the JetSet Life, Learns Life Lessons.
Acapulco Intenrnational Airport
Our connection from Houston to Acapulco was full of pleasant vacationing American and Canadian tourists, not drug pushers or mules like I had imagined. Many owned vacation homes there. Others have traveled there for 30+ years, and told me that it is the most beautiful place on earth and the golf is the best and most affordable on our shared continent. It plays hosts to one of travel and tourism largest conventions of the year not to mention an ATP and WTA Tennis Tournament event at The Acapulco Princess, where Howard Hughes reportedly "retired" in one of the rooms.
The Acapulco Princess — Now Called the Acapulco Princess Mundo Imperial — it was absolutely empty while we visited.
The Mexican ATP and WTA Tennis event held at the Acapulco Princess Mundo Imperial
So did anything horrible happen while we were on our trip? The short answer is no. I probably paid a little too much for a piece of silver for my mother. That's about it.
If you want to know who really is in Acapulco these days, the Sunset Bar at Las Brisas (really the sunset is amazing and I'm not really into sunsets) is a good place to look. It is there that we met a lovely couple from Houston, both of whom worked for United. They had taken the only flight south of the border that had seats left on it, a perk which airline folks are still afforded. They wondered why all of their Facebook friends commented on their trip as if they were insane for going (they are not and they were awesome). They were middle class, bright and inquisitive Americans--and there were few of them in the city during our visit.
Sunset Bar at Las Brisas. Visit when Leonardo is working.
The view from the Sunset Bar
Others at the Sunset Bar were the new faces of Acapulco. Professionals from Mexico City there in Acapulco for a brief getaway. They were kind and friendly, every one. Especially the two couples who insisted on buying us a glass of wine while peppering us with “why us?” questions about the current occupant of the White House.
The pool and beach access as La Concha Beach Club, Acapulco. Don't worry if you dislike sharing. You have your own private pool at your villa.
The hospitality workers were first rate and friendly. They all claimed to be mystified by Acapulco's bad reputation. And by workers, I mean some great folks like our cab driver, Rigo, who I love to this day and the Sunset Bar Tender, Leonardo, who tells tales of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell at the bar while mixing killer drinks. We also met the kindest waiter at Las Brisas' first-class restaurant, BellaVista, who told us the most prophetic thing in broken English: “Maybe the fact that your president hates us will bring our people closer together to realize we are one.” Amen.
Fingerprints of famous actors, actresses, politicians and even astronauts appoint the walls.
The Sunset Bar. Mid-Century Modern Seating.
That said, we stayed clear of the areas known to be home to the Cartel, which incidentally are very far from the tourist areas. We declined on the Cartel tour of Acapulco (kidding—there isn't one). We were smart in Acapulco and avoided some areas, just as we refuse to frequent the gang and drug infested areas of our hometown. And to be frank, the Cartel is as prevalent on the Yucatan too — the media is more hushed about it. Perhaps because the Mexican government owns the tourist areas, they have a vested interest in keeping the bad news under wraps.
Las Brisas Acapulco
The question remains why the media just turns on places like Acapulco. Why it becomes fashionable to make a town so loved by Frank Sinatra that he wrote Come Fly with Me, unfashionable and uncool in such a hyperbolized fashion?
The reality is Acapulco is safe. Just like we were once warned that we would be scalped in Belize or kidnapped in Argentina, so much of what you hear is exaggerated. Sure, you have to be careful and an intelligent traveler, and in so doing you can have the Slim Aarons jet-set holiday you were hoping for. And you can heave it with a much lower price tag than St. Barts or the Amalfi Coast. And we promise not to put you on the cartel tour.
For god's sake, Justin Bieber was recently spotted visiting Acapulco and stayed at the BanyanTree Cabo Marqueswhile we were there. I imagine he would be the first to avoid anything danger-related contrary to his public persona— and his latest tattoo.
Justin Bieber visited the Banyan Tree Cabo Marques. Get excited!
It is time to make such an incredible city fashionable again. Contact us; we promise you will have the time of your life, and fall in love with the "Greek Isle" of Mexico. And seriously, if it's good enough for the Bieber, it should be good enough for us.
Typical Las Brisas, Acapulco Home with a view
Private pool and room at your very own villa. Simple by today's standards yet still elegant.