A paceline of birds commutes home.
Three little musketeers alight on our lifelines.
Las Hadas Resort.
A picture perfect anchorage.
Moorish style whitewashed buildings give the area a
Beach chairs lined up at the resort.
The resort's pools are all royal blue.
Mark plays Dudley Moore...
...and Brian Keith.
A newspaper article featuring nude
shots of Bo Derek is discreetly placed
behind a wide column.
Bo's room --
should we knock?
The resort is a castle worthy of
There was a band playing in this thatch roofed,
open air dance hall 24/7.
Groovy sits among flowers.
Cobblestone streets and paths run all
through the resort.
The anchorage off Las Hadas Resort.
The resort features a world class golf course.
A banyan tree spreads its roots wide.
Live Christmas trees for sale at the
supermarket bring memories of the north.
The Chivas team car.
This soccer star has
the cutest smile, but
he got dead serious
as soon as the
camera came out.
A snowy egret with impossibly
bright yellow feet.
Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Mexico (1)
Early December, 2010 - We left Bahía Chamela for an
easy daysail south. There was no wind, so we motored
all 55 miles. As we took our final turn towards our
anchorage in Manzanillo, throngs of birds flew past in
small lines, like cyclists in pacelines, evenly spaced as
they coasted on the wind currents. They seemed to be
commuting home to a large outlying rock island after a
day of foraging on the mainland.
Once we dropped our anchor, another trio of little birds landed
on our lifelines to greet us and check us in.
Our charming hosts were the perfect introduction to the
delights in store for us in Manzanillo. We were anchored in a
small cove next to the stunning Las Hadas Resort.
Plying these same waters in the 1500's, Spanish sailors thought
they saw fairies dancing in the flat calm water by the light of the
harvest full moon in autumn. Four hundred years later, the
Bolivian billionaire tin baron Don Antenor Patiño was searching
the world for the perfect locale for his personal hideaway, and he
found just the right spot overlooking a cove at the northern end
of the industrial port of Manzanillo.
He hired the famous Spanish architect José Luis Ezquerra to design
a unique, fairytale castle-like resort, complete with turrets and
towers worthy of Rapunzel. What emerged from the drawing board
onto the hills surrounding this small cove is a fanciful collection of
Moorish style buildings that cascade in a tumble of whitewashed
spires, arches and balconies down to the water's edge.
Patiño named the resort "Las Hadas" or "The Fairies." Under
construction for ten years, in March 1974, he finally flung the
doors open wide to the wealthiest of the world, throwing a huge
party for 300 jet-setting guests.
Since the days of the Spanish explorers, scientists have thought It's
possible that the optical illusion of fairies dancing on the water by
moonlight was actually the bright blue sparkles of bioluminescence.
These miniscule firefly-like creatures of the sea emit light when
disturbed, for instance by an oar or by waves slapping the hull. We
have found that hey are so bright here they linger near our boat
until well after dawn, looking very much like quarter-inch sized royal blue glitter.
As we took in the picturesque views around us with eager eyes, we
found ourselves shedding the last of our layers. Finally we were
going to start living in bathing suits, which is what we had intended
when we first bought Groovy eleven months ago. "THIS is why we
went cruising," we said to each other happily.
The movie "10" was filmed at this resort in 1979. The area hadn't
been known to many besides Mexican vacationers until that point,
but Bo Derek and her beaded hair quickly put this place on the
international map. Now Las Hadas and other resorts on the bay
attract visitors from all over the world.
Cruisers anchored off the resort are allowed to enjoy all the resort's
amenities. We launched the kayak as fast as we could, our fingers
fumbling the lines in our excitement to get going. The royal blue
swimming pools beckoned, and it wasn't long before we dove in.
Our first night in the anchorage we found "10" in our DVD collection
and watched it once again. What a hoot to see shots filmed in
places we had just been that day. A very drunken Dudley Moore
struggles to get across the rope bridge that spans the pool, and the
next day Mark goofed around swinging from side to side on it, doing
Dudley Moore impressions.
"Another double, Don," Dudley slurs to Brian Keith, the bartender,
joking that it will be hard to say that phrase later in the evening.
Mark snuck behind the bar (which is not quite the same as it was in
the movie) to offer up double brandies.
Bo Derek was the big star, of
course, rating an "11" from Dudley's character when he was asked what he thought of
her on a scale of one to ten. Mark hunted all over the resort to find her. Apparently she
had visited a few years back during the 30th anniversary of the film, and she was still
very lovely, even at 50-something. We found a local newspaper article about her in a
one-room museum about the resort's history. Who knew that she posed nude? Of
course, the framed clipping is hung behind a large column, so it is tricky to get an up-
close look at it -- or perhaps it is concealed behind the column so you can take your
time to read the whole article (in Spanish) without anyone noticing just how long you've
been standing there.
The concierge told us the suite where Bo and Dudley
tried to make sparks fly (to the strains of Ravel's Bolero,
restarted several times so she could get her timing just
right), was #420. We hunted up and down the steep
cobbled pathways and finally found her door.
The movie is just a tiny hat-trick in this resort's
sweeping aura of magic, however. Perched at crazy
angles and on many levels up the sharp sides of a hill,
each room, doorway, patio and turret enjoys
spectacular views of the beach and bay below.
We took a bus into town and returned on
foot, traversing the crazy vertical streets
through this resort and others twice. The
whole area is a photographer's dream,
and as we walked back I stopped
repeatedly to take photos while Mark
The cobblestone streets crawl straight up and plunge straight
down, twisting around impossible corners. Bouncing along in
a half-length schoolbus, we felt like we were in the Caribbean
again. The windows brushed the thick tree growth on the
sides of the roads and the vast blue views of the bay teased
us between tree limbs and cobblestone walls.
Once on foot and looking down at the road, we
noticed the streets have smooth stones spaced for
car tires and rougher stones in between, giving
them a striped appearance.
Las Hadas Resort has been rated one of the top 100 golf courses
in the world, and as you descend the backside of the hill towards
town, the vivid green, palm tree studded course comes into view.
We don't play, but if we did this looks like it would be a
Manzanillo is at a latitude similar to Hawaii's (a little south,
actually) and enjoys tropical vegetation. How strange to see
30 foot rubber trees, ficus trees and other houseplants that
we have struggled at times to grow in pots. What a surprise
to find what looked like a banyan tree, with exposed roots
sprawled twenty feet wide and hanging straight down from the tree limbs.
In town we discovered trees of another sort. Christmas just isn't
complete without a live spruce tree, I guess, whether you live in a
snowbound climate or not. And sure enough, the supermarket
had a large display of live Christmas trees for sale. We buried our
noses in them for a moment, letting their scent take us two
thousand miles north.
As the days passed, we discovered we were sharing the resort
with the members of a professional sports team. At a distance,
we had seen groups of young men jogging, walking and relaxing
in matching red sports shirts. Then we came across the team car.
The words "cycling team" on the side got us all excited, but when we cornered a team member we
discovered that the team owners have teams in many sports, not just cycling. The team in residence
at the resort was Guadalajara's Chivas Soccer Team. They were staying for a month of pre-season
training. In subsequent days we got a big kick out of watching them doing sit-ups on the beach,
running the steep roads around the resort, and filling a long line of lounge chairs at the pool.
There were others in residence in the bay as well. An egret hung
out every day on the rocks, walking along the shore with sure-
footed bright yellow feet.
More dramatic was the school of rays that came in for a while. We
had seen these rays from a long way off between Bahia Santa
Maria and Magdalena Bay as we sailed down the south end of the
Baja coast. We had been mesmerized by their repeated leaps out
of the water in seeming frenzied ebullience.
This school came in pretty close to the Las Hadas anchorage day after day, swimming
freely between the boats. First a patch of churning water would appear, with a hundred
pointed fins stirring the surface from below. Then all of a sudden the water would erupt
with jumping rays. They would fling themselves into the air, executing front flips, back flips
and belly smacks. Apparently not all that much is known about why the rays do this,
however we sure had fun watching their antics.
Their almost daily show, the tranquil,
picturesque anchorage, and the beautiful resort
just a quick dinghy ride away kept us in
Manzanillo for well over a week.
Find Manzanillo on Mexico Maps