The It List 2009

by Ondine Cohane

Acapulco, Mexico

It suffered a sad, slow descent from 1950s glamour getaway to tacky package-tour destination, but this jewel city on the Pacific is looking to get its groove back. Out with massive all-inclusives and in with new luxury and boutique hotels. Grupo Habita, Mexico's hippest hotel group, is opening two new properties here in 2009: the modernist Hotel Hotel in the Brisas Marques neighborhood, and the 36-room Boca Chica on Caleta Beach. The latter, a 1950s icon, is getting a whole new dose of cool from designer Fernando Romero, a Rem Koolhaas protégé. High above the tourist fray, a Banyan Tree resort opening in summer 2009 will lend the city grown-up refinement with an upscale enclave in the cliffs. Even the grandes dames are freshening up: The Fairmont Pierre Marques underwent a multimillion revamp, as did the casitas at Las Brisas, prepping them for the next generation of Hollywood. Meanwhile, the gold-sand beaches—with the gorgeous Sierra Madre mountains as their backdrop—are being cleaned up after decades of unchecked development, thanks to a $70 million government program. (We only wish some of the monstrous buildings could be razed in the process.) After hours, join the city's beautiful people, who congregate for margaritas and dinner at Becco al Mare (pictured), and then go party hopping with the locals. You'll soon see why Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, and the Kennedys once made Acapulco their Mexican playground—and be happy to join its second act.

NEXT: Belle of the Baltic >

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