Our friend Phyllis Stoller files this report:
One of the best travel deals this summer is the “Other Mexico”: Not the one in exaggerated headlines, nor the one with huge hotels on hot beaches, but the Mexico of colonial villages. Americans tend not to know that the charming towns of Taxco, Cuernavaca and Ixtapan de la Sal are high in cool mountain air in safe, Spanish-style colonial towns. Women tourists wandering these towns will find friendly people, silver bargains and fabulous roses. Sunday visitors might see couples dancing around the central squares (zocalos) or organic food markets along the side streets. These areas are known for fine cuisine, some dishes dating to ancient tribes (avocado, corn, beans , rich soured cream and cheeses, fresh fruit and vegetable drinks, edible flowers, berries, etc. ).
One of the most affordable spas in the world here is Ixtapan Spa Hotel and Golf Resort, which just announced new fitness packages. Discounts are posted on their site: www.spamexico.com. The hotel has long catered to budge- minded spa-goers as its packages include all meals, many fitness classes, and daily organic treatments for skin, hair and body. A typical meal reflects the local cuisine: Veracruz fish with fresh vegetables, taco chicken salad, vegetable and low-fat cheese-stuffed poblano peppers, hibiscus drinks. The chef has been known to surprise non-dieting guests with a platter of hot mixed tamales filled with cheese, meat, chocolate or custard.
Nearby Taxco, the silver capital of the world, is a must. Andres Fine Arts is the premiere shop where vintage Frida-style jewelry is sold along with copies of designer silver at a fraction of Fifth Avenue prices. Emilio Castillo’s gallery sells fine quality silver embedded with malachite, lapis, amber etc. And Cuernavaca is the Garden capital where Cortes once lived and is also known for cuisine.
So the other Mexico is the one to visit this summer. If you are stressed or want to increase fitness and lose weight, go to Ixtapan Spa. If you need more bling, make it Taxco and if you love history, Cueranvaca. Note the Ixtapan Spa offers excursions to both Taxco and Cuernavaca.
New discounted flights from Houston, Oakland, LAX and Chicago and others to Toluca (TLC) are available from www.Volaris.mx, a code sharing airline with Southwest Air.