Hacienda to Rent

Zihua with style

By their own account, Yvonne and Jacques Baldassari's El Murmullo, the magnificent cliff-hugging villa recently added to La Casa Que Canta in Mexico, may never be completely finished. "We are always changing things in order to stay current," Baldassari says. Still, the four-suite palacio on Zihuatanejo Bay, on the Pacific Coast, looks awfully good as it is. The couple (he's French, she's Mexican) have unfailing good taste; they directed the renovation of El Murmullo themselves, adding plunge pools to every suite, an infinity pool steps away from the new palapa-roofed dining promontory, and a collection of joyful Mexican folk art. The rooms, each with terraces, are done in white adobe with wood beams, stone floors, and hand-painted furniture (it's best to take all four rooms at once, since the house is a bit too intimate to share with strangers). There isn't much to do here: An activity-packed resort it's not; nor is it an isolated paradise with its own undisturbed sand. But being at El Murmullo, as at Que Canta, just 25 yards away, you're seduced into the slow and easy Mexican way of life. In fact, there's nothing inauthentic here, from the thatched rooftops to the views of colorful little Zihuatanejo up the coast. The food and drink are some of the best traditional Mexican we've had (citrusy whitefish ceviche and a Michelada, lime juice and beer on the rocks, are perfect poolside), and the all-local Murmullo staff (including chef) are enthusiastic but never fussy. This is one thing that can't be improved. Rates, $575; $2,750 for all four suites; 888-523-5050; www.elmurmullodelacasaquecanta.com.

Hotel prices show high-season rates from the least expensive double to the most expensive suite.