Sunday, November 04, 2012

Turotel, Morelia

(A version of this review originally appeared on

Unassuming looking entrance belies comforts inside

We needed a modern and convenient hotel in which to stay in Morelia following surgery. After staying at Turotel, we are not surprised that it has won TripAdvisers' reviewers' First Place in the Hotel category for Morelia.

Among the attractions for us were its location, on the eastern outskirts of the city; not in the beloved, charming but traffic clogged central part of the city. Other attractions were the breakfast buffet and room service. We made use of both and were pleased by the freshness of the food and the speed of room service. (Albeit that all we ordered was juice and mineral water, but even though it was at 1 o'clock in the morning, it took only 5 minutes for room service to deliver the drinks.)

Most important of all, our room was spacious, with two double beds, an ample desk, a comfortable easy chair, a large dresser with huge drawers and a small but adequate lavatory-bathroom combination. More on that in a moment.

Image from Turotel website
Seldom have we used AC in a Mexican hotel, but here it was useful due to the strong Autumnal sun. But most of the time, we just set the AC to "Fan". Although our most recent room faced a busy peripheral road, the room was quiet enough, unless ambulances were passing.

The beds were very comfortable, the bed linens sleek and soothing and the pillows soft.

I was a little nervous at first parking outside, in front of the lobby, and not in some locked compound. But apparently Security is vigilant and we passed 5 nights in all without incident.

Housekeeping was spotless and detail oriented.

There is a small but pleasant pool on a first floor terrace and a lounging area with tables and deck chairs. It's pleasant, but a very minor attraction for us, as is the small adjacent gym room.

Internet access is very important to us, and here there was some faltering, as our connection would at times fade unexpectedly. However, several wifi routers were detectable and if necessary, I could go to the lobby, where there was always a strong signal.

Now to the lavatory-bathroom: the lavatory was of a high standard, with all the amenities and these of high quality. The door to the toilet and shower is positioned in such away that it is impossible for two persons to enter if one is seated. (Please, don't laugh.) Once inside, the toilet is fine. The shower stall is fully tiled and the supply of hot water quick to arrive and above all, abundant. It's a joy to use the shower. Towels were plentiful, although a bit rough.

We opted for the SuperAhorros plan in which breafast, either buffet or cooked to order, or both, is included. Our rate was $944 pesos per night, breakfast and taxes included. For the most part, the food does not aspire to a gourmet standard, but it's tasty, fresh and satisfying.

We couldn't ask for more under the circumstances, and at the price. We were fortunate to get this promotional rate, because as the holiday of Day of the Dead approaches, the rates increase to over $1000 pesos a night.

Wal Mart, 5 minutes, and Soriana, 10 minutes, are within walking distance. The former is about 2 blocks away. The immediate area is a bit thin on other restaurants. La Cenaduría Lupita II is close. It's a buffet, and not to my taste.

Taxis are cheap and put you in easy range of better and more interesting restaurants. We went out to eat but once, to Sanborn's Plaza Américas. More on that later.


Room: *****
apart from the minor nuisance of the bathroom door, and the annoyingly non detachable coat hangers, all very good.

Price: see rates on hotel website, or call.

Turotel promotional sign

Amenities: *****
Excellent. If you lack anything, like a razor or tooth brush, go to or call the desk. We were supplied with a toothbrush and tooth paste without charge.

Service and friendliness of staff: *****!!!
Great folks.

Personal bien padre

¡Vivan a las cocineras!
Internet: ***—****
Wifi in rooms varied greatly according to location and time of day. Sometimes the connection failed entirely. The signal in the lobby and restaurant areas was always strong.

There is a PC and printer in the lobby for the use of guests, without charge. That worked fine (Spanish keyboard.)

Breakfast buffet: **** 
Besides the cold fruits, juices, yogurts and cereals  there were at least two hot main dishes, and if that wasn't enough, you could order breakfast foods al gusto from the obligingly friendly kitchen. Sra. Cuevas asked for poached eggs, and after a moment of hesitation on the part of the server, she got her wish. They were perfectly cooked. Another morning, I had a good machaca con huevo.

The only slightly off note were the inferior breads. Most are sliced  Bimbo type, but even the rolls were poorly made. As an alternative, decent tortillas were available on request. Your choice of maíz o de trigo. We simply didn't eat much bread.

Evening Buffet (extra charge of $93 pesos) ***
Nice, convenient. Somewhat redundant at times in use of ingredients, such as rajas de chiles Poblanos in two different dishes the same evening. But there was enough from which to choose.

Crema de Frijol: an outstanding soup
Ensalada Mulata. Attractive but very spicy.

Pool: small and adequate for a dip.

Gym: Ha ha, you're kidding, right? I didn't even step inside. It's small and basic.

Bottom Line: Over all, we couldn't be more pleased with Turotel Morelia, Mexico. We would recommend it to visitors wanting  a comfortable stay in a modern hotel. We would stay there again if we had the need.

Location and Contact:
Av. Acueducto No. 3805
Col. Fray Antonio de Lisboa

Tel. and Fax
Tel. +52 (443) 333 13 00
Fax +52 (443) 333 13 05
01 800 00 46835


Saturday, November 03, 2012

Hit or Myth?

Someone recently called me a skeptic. I can accept that name without hurt feelings, but I think it more accurate to designate me a realist. At least, sometimes.

A example at hand is the claim that the Plaza Grande of Pátzcuaro is "the second largest plaza in Latin América". The very audacity of the claim is ridiculous, but my reaction was "What does it matter?" The Plaza Grande is beautiful and gracefully proportioned. Does tourist bureau type hyperbolic comparisons make it better than it really is?

Plaza Grande: Big, bigger, biggest?

Another example comes to mind. The Great Pyramid of Cholula, near Puebla, México. Visitors may traverse the base of the pyramid via some man made tunnels, of which the most remarkable aspect is their uniform dullness. The visitors are told that there are some 17 kilometers of tunnels. I have to ask, "So what?". Whether it is true or false is irrelevant to me. The tunnels accessible to the tourists are maybe a half a kilometer in extent. More than enough to bore one in the first 5 minutes.

Pyramid of Cholula as it may have been.
Pyramid of Cholula now. (Use your imagination!).
I'm not sure this is related to the subject, but it's irresistible.
I am bursting to share this item I found in the book, Mexico Health and Safety Travel Guide, by Doctor Robert and Doctor Curtis Page. (Fortunately, I got this used book at a Pátzcuaro Biblioteca Book Sale, and didn't shell out any serious money for it.)
Here's the quote:
" A great ecotourist attraction just a few miles from Tuxtla Gutíerrez is the 2,625 ft. deep Cañon del Sumidero, created by the Río Grijalva following the completion of the hydroelectric dam in 1981"
underlined emphasis mine.
Cause and effect turned upside down.

Cañon del Sumidero, Chiapas. Worth a visit, despite the above nonsense.

We now move into the more recondite realm of caves . An acquaintance recently posted a query on our local Internet bulletin board. He had some circumstantial "evidence" that a cave opening on the brow of Cerro Blanco in Pátzcuaro was said to have wended its way to Tzintzuntzan. Furthermore, it may have been the route that the Purhépecha took to transport gold without being attacked by robbers along surface trails.

A-HEM. Naturally, my skepticism arose. I stated that it was geologically impossible for a cave, if it existed, to pass the lengthy gauntlet of valley and especially of the low lying Lake Pátzcuaro. He countered that maybe an earthquake cut it off.

View Larger Map

I later considered the question why the putative ladrones didn't lie in wait within the mysterious tunnel. It would have been easier to do their dastardly deeds in the dark of the caves. How is it that it's always only  the good guys who know where the secret entrances are to these limitless caves?

Of course, there's the question of practicality. How much more difficult would it be to traverse a cave passage of some 12 to 15 miles in length, as compared to a surface route? (I know that you are agreeing with me that the whole thing is ridiculous.)

After the third or so email exchange, he told me that he enjoyed thinking about such things such as transport by rays of light beams, and with that, he had me. I also enjoy such fantasies, except I take them with a costal de sal.

This is my own imagining. In the valley where we live, close to Buena Vista and the autopista to Morelia is a peculiar hill. It's neither the biggest nor the highest of the hills. Its salient feature is that it has a sloping summit, inclined upward from south to north. This gives it the look of artifice, somewhat resembling a huge, grass covered tank. But for what purpose?

When the hill is shrouded in mist, an overripe imagination may spin fantasies of alien bases, methane gas collectors, refueling stations, last redoubt of the Purhépecha kings, blah blah.

The low, central mesa may hide secrets.
Looks pretty mysterious, doesn't it?

The Hill: lower left in this image. Why the frequent vapor in this area?

Unidentified Flying Vapor
Aura of light hovering over The Hill

This, just in: Gas leak explodes and burns as an incandescent cloud.
Excesses of the Holiday Season resulted in this mole gas leak, which spontaneously combusted in the presence of a chile catalyst.
Who can say what is real and what is mythical? Believe what you will. Most of all, have fun. Here are a few of my own imagining.

Dragon fossil beds
Dragon Gizzard Stones
DANGER! Carnivorous plant

We'll close our program me this afternoon with this internet phenomenon of years past.