Costalegre: Manzanillo’s Las Hadas – Turrets and Fairies

A paceline of birds commutes home.

A paceline of birds commutes home.

Three little musketeers alight on our lifelines.

Three little musketeers alight on our lifelines.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Las Hadas Resort.

Las Hadas Anchorage, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

A picture perfect anchorage.

Las Hadas Marina, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Moorish style whitewashed buildings give the area a

Mediterranean feeling.

Las Hadas Resort Anchorage, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Beach chairs lined up at the resort.

Las Hadas Resort Beach, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

The resort's pools are all royal blue.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico, site of Dudley Moore's movie

Mark plays Dudley Moore...

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico, site of Dudley Moore's movie

...and Brian Keith.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico, site of Bo Derek's movie

A newspaper article featuring nude

shots of Bo Derek is discreetly placed

behind a wide column.

Bo Derek's room in the movie

Bo's room --

should we knock?

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico, site of Dudley Moore's movie

The resort is a castle worthy of

any princess.

Las Hadas Resort and Barcelo Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico Barcelo Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico, site of Dudley Moore's movie

There was a band playing in this thatch roofed,

open air dance hall 24/7.

Las Hadas Anchorage, Manzanillo, Mexico

Groovy sits among flowers.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

Cobblestone streets and paths run all

through the resort.

Las Hadas Anchorage, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

The anchorage off Las Hadas Resort.

Las Hadas Resort golf course, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

The resort features a world class golf course.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

A banyan tree spreads its roots wide.

Christmas trees for sale at Comercial Mexicana in Manzanillo, Mexico

Live Christmas trees for sale at the

supermarket bring memories of the north.

Guadalajara's Chivas Soccer Team's car

The Chivas team car.

Soccer star from the Guadalajara soccer team

This soccer star has

the cutest smile, but

he got dead serious

as soon as the

camera came out.

Las Hadas Resort, Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico

A snowy egret with impossibly

bright yellow feet.

Leaping rays in the Las Hadas Resort Anchorage, Manzanillo, Mexico Leaping rays in the Las Hadas Resort Anchorage, Manzanillo, Mexico Leaping rays in the Las Hadas Resort Anchorage, Manzanillo, Mexico Leaping rays in the Las Hadas Resort Anchorage, Manzanillo, Mexico Leaping rays in the Las Hadas Resort Anchorage, Manzanillo, Mexico

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 they 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

waited patiently.

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

magnificent course.

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

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