Hotel Casa Grande, Melaque, Mexico

“Travel is still the most intense mode of learning.”  Kevin Kelly

Melaque’s only luxury all-inclusive hotel is no more. In 1965, a Mexican developer with backing from various other sources made a dream reality built the then Hotel Melaque. It sprawled over a city block and could accommodate up to 1,000 guests. During the 80’s, it was renamed Coco Club and later still renamed to its current name Hotel Casa Grande. During its prime, the hotel boasted beautiful guest rooms, stage shows, gardens and swimming pools.

Unfortunately, in 1995, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit that area causing a great deal of local devastation. The hotel was destroyed. It was a miracle that no one was killed.

On the left, you can see the L-shaped part of the hotel and on the right, you can see how large the hotel was.

Today, the hotel sits as a sad reminder of what may have been. The remaining ruins have never been dismantled as there is an ongoing dispute as to who owns the land. A chain link fence surrounds the property, and an Indigenous family is living in the gatehouse. I believe they are “squatting” to claim the land for their people. After searching the internet, I can’t find any information to indicate as to who is the present owner.

Every time there is an earthquake, I keep expecting the hotel to collapse finally. Other than the ongoing dispute, I would imagine that it would cost a small fortune to dismantle the hotel. Nature will eventually take its course.


Melaque and area are starting to boom. There is new construction all around town and hotels are doing some major renovating, so who knows what the future will hold for this landmark.

Vern Gazvoda, who is an excellent photographer, has done a video of the hotel. The video will give you an excellent idea of the size of the hotel as well as the destruction


Art and Culture Centre, Melaque, Mexico

“At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.  Denzel Washington

Melaque Mexico is a quiet fishing and tourist town with a population of approximately 12,000. Although there was a lot of interest in arts and culture, there wasn’t a centre to house all the programs. The schools have lost all their art and culture classes, and as a result, the children don’t learn about their heritage.

Nancy Lennie, a vibrant 83-year-old, who owns La Paloma Oceanfront Retreat generously donated the money to put up the first floor and is leasing the land to the Centre on a yearly basis forever. She is the driving force behind the whole thing. Another local person donated enough to provide one door, and one window.

The committee, which is made up of volunteers, is trying to raise money to complete the next two floors. They are looking for grants, in-kind donations, and of course donations of any size. They will be hosting several events which will enable them to pay for electricity, security, cleaning and maintenance etc. They offer memberships which will go towards the operational account, except if someone specifically wants it to go towards the building of a classroom, elevator etc.

The Centre has a lot of projects planned.  Classes in the arts, crafts and culture, both in Spanish and English. They hope that Mexicans and expats will take the classes together in both languages. At this point, the classes will cost something, but the committee will be starting a scholarship fund to help local kids and adults be able to afford a class. The local people are very excited about the Center.

This poster was done by local children and then adults added to it. Amazing piece of art.

At the “soft” opening a few artists came with their creations. A lot of very talented people.

This man makes these musical instruments out of bamboo and seashells. They sound amazing. He also teaches a class on how to make

Listen to a short recording of his work.

A cafeteria is being added.

The Centre will also have theatre, dance and movies for the enjoyment of the community. There is a murder mystery play being planned and another play about the 16 virtues based on a painting commisioned by the Queen of Spain.

They are looking for a Director to help run the many different committees such as volunteers, fundraisers, movies, theatre and gallery.

The Art and Culture centre will bring new life into this community.


Canals, taxi drivers and transvestites

“Why do you go away?  So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”  Terry Pratchett


Once a year or more, in the Melaque, Mexico and surrounding towns receive a massive amount of rain. When a hurricane goes through it is even worse. As a result, the canals and streets overflow causing a lot of damage and months of clean up.

This year, the government decided to fix this problem by building up the canals with rocks. This massive project is labor-intensive. The workers are probably paid minimum wage which I believe is 84 pesos a day, approximately 5.75 Canadian. Many of them do not wear protective shoes. Most wear flipflops. Those working in the murky canal water are given white rubber boots. Many workers do not wear gloves or any other type of protective gear. Rock-filled trucks dump their loads at the designated locations, and the men manually move them into place into the “cages.” If smaller rocks are needed, one man will use a sledgehammer to break up the rocks.

The canal system section that they are currently working on is approximately three km long. I am not sure about the completion date, but I would imagine they would want it finished before the rainy season in the fall. I am constantly amazed at the amount of manual labor that is done in Mexico. What better way to provide jobs by not using machinery.



I love the Mexican taxi drivers. Some are not talkative, perhaps because of the language barrier, while others provide free Spanish lessons or history and information about the area. One taxi driver, in particular, quoted scenes from Star Trek and other shows. He was hilarious. I almost hired him to drive us to Melaque from Manzanillo, a one hour drive so that I could listen to more of his stories.

One of my favorites is Miguel. I had hired him to pick me up and take me to the airport. I needed to meet my daughter and her husband who were flying in for a visit. Miguel was to wait for us until they had cleared customs. On the way, I mentioned the rows of bananas and jokingly suggested that we stop and pick some. He then informed me that if we picked green ones, we would be arrested but if we picked ripe ones, then it was okay. The ripe ones were already past the maturity date and would be considered waste. Hence no jail time. The same goes for other fruits. Good to know!

His English is excellent. He said that he learned English from watching Sesame Street and then later one of the daytime shows like General Hospital or As The World Turns.

We discussed politics, both local and worldwide. We talked about family. We talked about the economy in Mexico. We talked about the purchase of the bananas in which the U.S.  did not want to pay the amount asked so Canada agreed to buy them for more. I learned so much.



In Melaque, there is a local establishment, Sibony’s,  that caters to, well, different types of people. On Fridays and Saturdays, the club has a show for Gringos or Westerners. It is very well done and provides a unique type of entertainment.


The bathrooms leave a lot to be desired, especially the women’s. There is a curtain for the door, and from what I understand it is not the cleanest or the most fragrant. I make sure that a walk to “Las Damas (the ladies)”  is not necessary for me.

When drinks are ordered, free food is provided.  Daniella, who owns the club and does a lot of the entertaining, does a very poignant number at the end in which she slowly starts to remove her costume and makeup to the song of “This is my Life.” It is very moving as she slowly transcends back to her everyday persona.

Daniella before

Daniella after

The music is very loud so wear your earplugs.




Food at your door

Trucks of every description amble slowly down the streets of Melaque, blaring out their wares from the loudspeakers on the top of their trucks. Tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, watermelon, almost your whole produce department is in the back of these trucks. Some just watermelons, others oranges.

I was fortunate enough to be home for the one that sells oranges.  I bought a 5 kg. (11 lbs) bag for 20 peso or approximately$1.85 Canadian.  Our neighbour Sal kindly juiced all the oranges for us.

Of course this purchase required that the next day we make a trip to Cihuatlan, 18 km. away to buy a juicer. At the Bodega, which apparently means son of Walmart, we found a small one for $15.00 Canadian.

Here’s to good juicing!


Melaque is located approximately 135 miles south of Puerto Vallarta and is part of the Pacific coastline that is known as “Costa Alegre”, the “Happy Coast”.

Melaque is joined by two other villages, San Patricio and Villa Obregon to form a town of approximately 12,000 residents.  That number increases substantially with snowbirds from Canada and the U.S.  Melaque is also a popular beach destination for visitors from Guadalajara, Mexico City and other inland towns.

Melaque shares a beach with its neighbour Barra de Navidad.  November through to April, there is little or no rain and the temperatures during that time range from an average of 18 Celsius at night to 30 during the day.

Melaque beach close to where we stay