I start to wonder. I’m talking with my dentist in Newport Beach. She’s a hard-core surfer, and she knows Troncones. She goes there with her surfing group but says the accommodations have always been pretty rough. And she knows that I like to be pampered when I travel.
“There’s a new hotel there I want to see,” I explain. I show her a picture of Lo Sereno on my phone, something I’ve had bookmarked the better part of a year. It’s a small hotel on the beach with a minimalist cement-and-palm-trees vibe.
Troncones is an off-the-grid fishing village on a remote stretch of the Guerrero coast, about 25 miles north of Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa. Fewer than 600 people live here. One- and two-star B&Bs line the potholed dirt road that runs perpendicular to the beach. No-frills oceanfront Airbnb’s rent for $20 a night. I notice a hand-scribbled sign nailed to a palm tree on the side of the road advertising the local “best steakhouse in town,” a curious claim at best.
You get to Troncones from Zihuatanejo by turning off the smooth Carretera Pacífico highway onto a bumpy, seemingly unmarked road that snakes through the tropical jungle over a narrow mountain pass toward the ocean. My taxi driver knows exactly where to exit, but once we get to “town” he has no idea where to find Lo Sereno even though I’ve handed him the detailed address. He stops the car several times to ask other drivers if they know of it. They all shrug and shake their heads and point in opposite directions.
I try ringing the hotel, but my iPhone can’t find a signal. The taxi driver’s flip phone won’t connect, either. After a couple of u-turns and backtracks, we find a street-food vendor who knows Lo Sereno, he thinks. He hops on his motorbike and we follow him for a quarter mile until he slows to a crawl and points to a gate that looks like the entrance to a private home, completely shrouded in low-rise palms. Sure enough, there’s a tiny sign announcing the hotel, but it’s completely hidden in the shade. When the taxi pulls into the graveled driveway, a large wooden gate opens and out comes a bellhop, smiling, dressed in a stylish gray-linen tunic. He’s barefoot.
A few minutes later, he’s also the bartender.
Lo Sereno has only 10 rooms, so everyone on staff must multitask. Architect Jorge Gonzalez Parcero of Mexico City designed what are essentially rectangular cement boxes, left unpainted and mostly unadorned. Ocean-facing doors are fitted with heavy wooden shutters but no glass, so even when the doors are closed there’s always a subtle 90-degree draft creeping ominously through the slats. Thankfully the wall-mounted A/C works. Most of the time. It dies twice, killed by the brute-force heat of Guerrero in summertime, but the bartender/bellhop is also the maintenance guy who knows how to reset the breaker.
Rooms are equipped with only the bare essentials. However I’m happy to inform my dentist that while minimalist and sparse, Lo Sereno is very comfortable. There are no TVs and no telephones, but the wifi signal is strong. The pillows are thin but soft, and the bed, the linens and towels are all superb. Each unit has an outdoor shower, which keeps the rooms from steaming up and further straining the A/C. The vanities don’t include hair dryers, so I improvise a new look after finding a vintage bandana in the souvenir shop in the lobby.
An open-air restaurant and bar (dubbed Terraza) serves breakfast, lunch and dinner under a driftwood pergola adjacent to the pool with direct access to the beach. They make great huevos rancheros, fish tacos, shrimp aguachile and even a solid burger and fries, but the dinner menu (a handful of Italian-esque pastas) needs work. Fortunately the tacos from the lunch menu are also available at dinner upon request.
You can sit for hours and not see a single soul on the beach, then out of nowhere a pickup filled with surfboards speeds across the sand. Or a lone cowboy rides past on his horse.
The owner is a handsome, laid-back dude named Rafael who looks like Ralph Lauren in a Panama hat and no shoes. He passes the hours most days by reading thick, esoteric books in the shade and taking hours-long walks on the beach. Or at least that’s his routine during my three days at the hotel. Meanwhile, I find myself sitting in the pool for hours at a time, the perfect margarita always within reach.
Bottom line: Is it luxury? Well, yes, sort of. There’s nothing else this professional for miles. Lo Sereno is a truly special hideaway in a blissful location far removed from everything — yet merely 30 minutes from Zihuatanejo. The minimalist design is undeniably sexy. And, most importantly, the service throughout is stellar.
Getting back to Zihuatanejo from Troncones, the hotel works with a couple of local taxi drivers who they trust and use often. The ride to Zihuatanejo costs about $40.
If you do drive and your car breaks down, be on the lookout for the Los Angeles Verdes (The Green Angels), which are a fleet of green mechanics trucks with bilingual crews who patrol the highways daily helping stranded motorists. They don’t charge for their labor. They are paid by the government and won’t accept money except for the cost of parts, if necessary. They can also dispatch a vehicle if you call 55-5250-8221, 4637, or 4644.
U.S. Embassy in Mexico
Paseo de la Reforma 305
06500 Mexico City, Mexico.
Calling from Mexico:
Tel : (55) 5080-2000
Fax: (55) 5080-2005
Calling from the U.S.:
For after-hour emergencies, please call the Embassy at 011-52-55-5080-2000, press “0”, and ask the switchboard operator to connect you to the duty officer.