Thursday 31 March 2016

Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa

A resort hotel of ultimate pleasure and fabulous fun  

Review by Nancy Snipper

 When booking your vacation to Ixtapa, most of us go for the all-inclusive package, but let’s face it, wearing that silly colored wrist band makes you feel more like an inmate than cherished guest. Then there’s that inevitable line-up to get a beach towel and be given a number (don’t lose the number or you pay for the towel), and finally, the frenzy and fighting over lounge chairs at the beach. As for eating, you have to reserve a table hours in advance at the hotel’s restaurant and then line-up as the person checks your name while your stomach is growling. Sound familiar? Indeed, all these annoying glitches can turn what is supposed to be your care-free marvelous vacation into a mini nightmare.

So, here’s the great news. Sunscape Dorado Pacifico, a unique and remarkable hotel in Ixtapa, is operated by AM Resorts (they know all about bringing excellence to large hotels), so this slickly run innovative hotel has done away with all that childish nonsense.  Most importantly, the place is brimming with genuine hospitality, oodles of supremely fun activities, entertainment and innovative events. As one guest at the pool told me: “It’s impossible to get bored here.”
I was about to find this out.

Variety is the spice of Sunscape’s life
I spent an entire day enjoying the“Sunscape experience”, and it was sensational!
First of all, I was struck by the immense and airy spectacular white interior. The regally spacious lobbies make you feel sublimely special. It seems that no matter where you turn, you enter a world of sensual and stimulating vitality; it’s yours for the taking.
The hotel’s 285 rooms – all renovated four years ago face the ocean. 

They seem to float overead above the lobby area,as long green vines descend from floor to floor like a verdant cascade of nature. There are 11 floors, and one is devoted to four conference rooms. Marble floors add to the beauty of it all.

Time to relax, play and rejuvenate

Taking two towels, I was then escorted to the beach by charming employee Fernando who moved a lounge chair under one of the wonderful Brazilian wood covered aberca shelters that feature white drapes on each side for privacy and further shade. 

        My view was Palmar Bay beach with the   powerful waves of the Pacific Ocean

I also met Ramiro, the activity and entertainment Director who introduced me to the day’s events. They’re written up every day on the Sundial activity and entertainment page. For starters, there was morning yoga and a bicycle tour at 9:30; there were Spanish lessons and beach volleyball. I was still pondering my prize view. And then it got real hot.

At 12:00 I jumped into the pools (two sections to the swimming areas) to take an aqua gym class run by Himer. It was so much fun. Sure,  the kids were having fun in the other pool at the two water slides, but I was having just as much fun. What a wonderful way to get in shape. The water was a perfect temperature too. I then witnessed poolside a mini cooking class of tiritas – sliver thin raw pieces of dorado, onions coriander and lime. It was delicious. I put a bit of bottled spicy Buffalo sauce on my savory sample to make me feel like a real Mexican who knows her food. It was then I realized I was hungry.

Feasting on more fabulous fish at Bluewater Restaurant
If you fancy fish, step inside Sunscape’s Bluewater Restaurant. That’s what I did. The enormous palapa keeps you perfectly shaded in this wonderful open-air lunch area, and the stunning view to the sea is second to none. It sets the free-feeling atmosphere in this spacious restaurant.
The lunch menu features an impressive choice of fish creations along with eight remarkable appetizers: Peruvian Ceviche, ceviche toasts and tiritas (slices of fish, onion and avocado in a tasty marination of lemon and other herbs).  I opted for the Peruvian Ceviche that hit my palette like a piece of heavenly magic. It was spiced perfectly, and the green chili, parsley and orange enhanced the taste. I also took the chicken salad mixture that arrived at my table looking like a piece of culinary art. The presentation was as exceptional as the delicate taste: two big purple grape halves encircled the savoury chicken salad mound along with two placements of sliver-thin shredded carrots.The chicken sat on a soft swirl of pink tomato. Looking much like a moat, this notable number was layered; at its pinnacle and perched on a toothpick was an olive. 
I went for more fish for the main course. The tuna was terrifically tender, and I have never tasted such impeccably prepared rice. It was butter flavoured, and tiny flecks of mushroom and carrots added colour. A big green broiled zucchini, chayote and carrots accompanied the two tender, yet thick pieces of tuna.

My dessert included coconut ice cream – made right on the premises. It sat beside a demure fruit tart encapsulated with soft yellow custard. The pastry crust was also home-made. Sweet and satisfying, it had that subtle buttery flavour of French pastry. Sublime!

Chef Antelmo Limón: master of the culinary arts
When AM Resorts took over Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa, they wisely installed one of their stellar chefs: Antelmo Limón.  He was head chef at two of their other hotels – Dreams Puerto Vallarta and Dreams Villa Magna, and Secrets Capri Riviera and Dreams Tulum in Riviera Maya.  With over 14 years of experience, Chef Antelmo oversees Sunscape’s four other sizeable restaurants. 


    Eating with seaside view

They are: Windows – for breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets (I had a wonderful Italian pasta dinner here where you choose from the five types of pasta, the fillers and the sauce you want, and then watch as it is cooked in front of you);Tamarindo – for Mexican food; Da Mario – an adults-only, formal-dress attire Italian restaurant; Bluewater International – an a la carte Restaurant open for lunch & Dinner, and Barefoot – a poolside yummy snack place for grilled hamburgers, hotdogs and more. 

By the way, the various outdoor bars offer tropical drinks, including the day’s special. I imbibed sweet ones made by Clemente who’s been mixing drinks at Sunscape for 32 years here! You’ll flip over the 15 names of these bebidas: Sex on the Beach, Bahama Mama, Dirty Banana, Miami Vice, and the list continues. 

For coffees, croissants and sweeter goodies, 24-hour Coco Café greets you as soon as you step inside the lobby. Everything is free. Buen provecho!

Tennis anyone?
I had made arrangements to play tennis at the entertainment and sports poolside kiosk, but I was not only without my racket, I also had no partner. First, Rodrigo, one of the young chaps at the kiosk was elected to play with me. After he missed returning my first ball, he admitted had never played tennis. But I thought him an awfully good sport to even try. So along came another guy from the entertainment kiosk, and he was better, but he told me I should be playing with the pro, Alexandro, who after 20 minutes happened to pass the tennis court area on his way to his English class (given free by the hotel). I insisted he play just a bit with me; that was the deal in the first place. I should have known better, for as soon as he got on the court, he began slicing the ball; I could barely return it. He certainly had a great strategy for cutting my game short.  What a hoot!
Kids Explorers Club
A gamut of activities keeps children busy from morning to night. There’s painting, theatre, all kinds of games, competitions, a climbing wall by the tennis courts and even a release event of turtles at the beach.  No adults allowed!

Pure Spa Pleasure
One of the most coveted features of Sunscape Dorado Pacifico is their luxurious spa. I found it a perfect way to end my day. As soon as you enter the Zen interior, all the exuberance from the day’s activities melts into body bliss. Attached to the premises is a full-scale hair and beauty salon – a much needed facility after spending endless hours in the sun. Of course, manicure and pedicures are offered.

I had a wonderful relaxing neck and back massage here. Itzel, my masseuse, applied special wine oil on my aging body. Her hands were remarkably strong and skilful. I felt a release of age-old knots and aching tension. 

The spa offers more than 30 different types of massage therapies and anti-aging treatments, including facials, wraps, cellulite, and exfoliations. Water lily, seaweed and aromatic salts are used here for body treatment, and there are products that smooth, tone and diminish sun damage. The line they use is by Pevonia. An array of products is also on sale to take home.

Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa is extraordinary.
It is a world unto its own, and it’s one I did not want to leave. I shall return.

For information and reservations, visit:
Call 1-866-sunscape.

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Café Pueblo Mágico

Filling and Authentic

Reviewed by Nancy Snipper

I had Maria cook me chilaquiles and my plate overfloweth with everything, including a fried egg, frijoles and my main dish and cheese, chicken and cream. Because it was chilaquiles divorciados, I got to have red and green sauce on either side of my main dish. I loved my nut, strawberry and yogurt/milk drink. The cappuccino was great.

Fabulous Juices - no sugar – no fattening frills
The juices are second to none – 11 different kinds – all natural and sugar-free. I had a juice of lime, pineapple orange and spinach. It was called The Vitamin. It was
 excellent – as was the cheese and ham omelet served with thin grilled oatmeal toast with home-made guava and marmalade jam, frijoles, warmed cherry tomatoes and potatoes (pass on the potats).There is a choice of 6 types of chilaquiles, 9 omelets and so many hearty dishes. This little outdoor café with its two indoor tables is a winner. But there is so much on your plate that all sauces tend to run into one another. Just under 5 feet, sweet Maria is Mágica in her own way. No sooner do you order, and Maria has it for you within seconds. What a homey place!

The address is Salida a Celaya #23 in San Miguel.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Composer, violinist and improviser Malcolm Goldstein Celebrates 80th with launch of “Soweto Stomp” CD – a collaboration with Nicolas Caloia’s Ratchet Orchestra

La célébration du 80e anniversaire de Malcolm Goldstein (Compositeur, violoniste et improvisateur) et lancement de disque « Soweto Stomp » – une collaboration avec l’Orchestre Ratchet de Nicolas Caloia

March 27 2016 @ 4pm - concert / launch / 27
Mars 2016 @ 16h00 - concert / lancement
@ Casa del Popolo (4848 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montréal, Québec)
with / avec :
Jean Derome – bass flute / flûte basse
Lori Freedman – clarinet / clarinette
Rainer Wiens – guitar / guitare
Malcolm Goldstein – violin / violon
Joshua Zubot – violin / violon
Jean René – viola / alto
Nicolas Caloia – double bass / contrebasse

Back cover of 2014 LP "Full Circle Sounding"
Based in New York City, Malcolm Goldstein – composer, violinist, improviser and sound explorer – has been active in the presentation of contemporary music and dance since the early 60s. He began improvising during his years with the Judson Dance Theatre. His works often consist of violin extensions improvised in the context of recorded electronics and sound collages. He has toured extensively in North America and Europe, presenting both solo violin concerts and performing with renowned ensembles. He’s  ‘re-invented’ the art of violin playing by extending the instrument’s range of tonality and sound structures bringing it into new dimensions of expression. He has received international acclaim, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and others, and commissions from various ensembles for numerous compositions.  
Basée à New York City, Malcolm Goldstein – compositeur, violoniste, improvisateur et explorateur sonore – a été actif dans la présentation de la musique et de la danse contemporaine depuis le début des années 60. Il a commencé à improviser pendant ses années avec le Judson Dance Theatre. Ses œuvres se composent souvent d'extensions de violon improvisés dans le contexte de sons électronique et des collages sonores enregistrés. Il a effectué de nombreuses tournées en Amérique du Nord et en Europe, présentant à la fois des concerts de violon solo et des performances avec des ensembles renommés. Il a «réinventé» l'art du violon en étendant la gamme de la tonalité et les structures sonores de l’instrument, l’apportant dans des nouvelles dimensions d'expressions. Il a reçu une reconnaissance internationale, des subventions de la National Endowment for the Arts et d'autres, et les commissions de divers ensembles pour de nombreuses compositions.

The following pieces were performed / Les pièces suivantes ont été interprétées:
A)     An improvised variation of an East European traditional folk song.
Une variation improvisée d'une chanson folklorique traditionnelle d'Europe orientale.
B) ‘Two silences’ – a pleasantly drone-like sound throughout
                            – un son agréable ressemblant a un drone tout au long.
C) A improvisation based on a haiku /
Une improvisation basée sur un haïku.
D) An excerpt from ‘Seasons’ – structured improvised sounds against a backdrop of a recorded collage of seasonal sights and sounds from Vermont.
Un extrait de «Seasons» - sons improvisés et structurés dans un contexte d'un collage enregistre des sites et sons saisonniers du Vermont.