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Reviewed 13 February 2013

I've put off writing this review for a while, mostly in deference to Zina herself, who is a nice person, but since I picked Zina's based on the previous, glowing reviews here on Tripadvisor, I thought maybe a more balanced picture was due. I'll preface this by saying that I have traveled to various parts of Mexico, including Isla, many times with my Mexican husband. We are NOT travel snobs by any means and have stayed in all sorts of accomodations in our lives, from India to Puebla. We've done mission work in jungly, bug-infested places. My husband grew up sleeping on a matate on a dirt floor inside a bamboo hut! In other words, this isn't being written from the perspective of people used to the Hilton (or whathaveyou). With that out of the way, I have to say that Zina's was a disappointment for us. We were scheduled to stay a little over a week but cut our stay at three nights, at which time we moved to the stunning (and reasonable) Hotel La Joya. I can't put my finger on any one thing, but Zina's is run-down in general and not as clean as it should be (and that's being generous). I also had trouble sleeping here (and I never have this issue). We stayed in the upstairs apartment, and there's a very bright streelight that shines right in the window by the bed that Zina's sheer curtains don't do a thing to block. Maybe if I was in my early 20s and backpacking, I wouldn't care about these sorts of things in exchange for an "authentic" experience in a colonia, but now that I am in my 30s and was traveling with my four year-old son and 70 year-old father (whose apartment downstairs smelled ATROCIOUS- we're guessing it was the leftover smell from bug fumigation as the apartments were full of ants... and a giant cockroach or two), my standards are slightly higher. I can also see how if one wasn't used to Mexico or didn't speak Spanish that staying with Zina would be helpful in that she is a willing guide, but for us, it was just a bit too much and a little overbearing. So our trip started out poorly but ended wonderfully after the move. This just wasn't for us. The best parts? It's cheap. And there's a great lady across the street who cuts hair. Both my husband and my son got excellent haircuts for around $5 each.

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled with family
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5  Thank lacolibri
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Viajera002, Owner at Zina's Guest House, responded to this reviewResponded 18 February 2013

I am more than disappointed with this review. It is written more than nine months after the stay. During this time, black out curtains arrived by courier from the US and were installed, the bedroom was rearranged to place the main bed further from the window, beds were replaced and most importantly of all for sleep, I worked with the municipal authorities to look at laws on the books to deal with the rooster issue.
It turned out to be an illegal cock-fighting breeding operation that was disbanded without issue - much to the chagrin of authorities who though rooster frighting had been eradicated. This operation was finally out of business the first of the year.
On the issue of cleanliness, I also take exception. Ants were mentioned. The family stayed here as a storm as brewing and ants native to this area are used by residents to forecast rains. The women at the Mexican Navy Officers Wives' Club had quite a discussion about that ant problem that week! The rains came as they forecast and they disappeared without issue.
The property is located on an island offshore to the jungles surrounding Cancun. We used as little insecticide as possible for the health of residents since cock roaches will always be here and there was a young child involved and another on the way in this family. So whatever odor they thought they smelled in the widowed father's suite wasn't insecticide, but perhaps a strong pine cleaner that I also find offensive and don't permit to be used any longer.
The entire family spent their arrival afternoon in the rooftop dipping pool and announced two days later that their 4 year old deserved to be on the beach. That is something I suggest they should have thought about before booking into a neighborhood. Since the husband lived in Mexico until he was 16, those memories the wife wasn't party to might have been the reason they fled to a remote seaside location just as much as the now irrelevant roosters, etc..

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Reviewed 13 June 2012

I have been to Isla before, always staying on the North Beach. This time I was looking for a bit of a change and decided to head South Colonial de la Gloria; a quaint and very authentic Mexican community on the Island. I rented one of Zina's Bikes and was a 20 minute bike ride from the North Beach and 10 minutes from the South tip of the Island. The apartment was huge, very clean with a kitchenette and the best part... it comes with rooftop deck, which I had to myself as the downstairs suite was not rented. Zina knows the Island and the goings on by the back of her hand. Zina is very sociable and connected with life on the Island; she is a great resource to anyone wanting to get familiar with all parts of the Island. There is great food in the area, with many smaller Mexican "eateries". I had an excellent skewer of Prawns at one of the eateries on my first night on the Island. There is a Supermarket 3 blocks away, and another huge Super 5 minutes bike ride away. In the Mercado Municipal, you will find an artisan that will sell you handmade leather sandals (Chanclas) for about $13. Great quality, tiny price! As far as the apartment deal goes, it is a fantastic value to have the deck and a kitchen for $50. Zina's dog, Punta, is adorable. You will love her!!! I would highly recommend Zina's as a great value and a great place to stay. I would recommend renting one of the bikes and getting to know the Island by bike. Thanks for everything Zina!

Room Tip: Take the upstairs suite off the Deck if available.
  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled solo
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3  Thank Copado
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 June 2012

This is our third time to stay at Zinas Guest House in the past twelve months and we would not even think about staying anywhere else.

Zina and her sidekick Punta (the house dog) are knowlegable and welcoming hosts and her guest houses are perfectly located right in the middle of the bustling neighborhood of La Gloria. Everything you need is within walking distance -fresh squeezed juice, fresh fruit from the Mayan vendors, the best chicken tacos from the neighborhood "greasy spoon" and less traveled beaches. If any essentials are forgotten, there's a supermarket two blocks away that will most likely have what's in need.

My advice to anyone staying at Zinas is to not sleep late because when you hear the faint chant of "tamales tamales" in the morning sounds, that's the cue to grab your pesos. This local guy has some of the best tamales that have ever been made.

If the daily schedule involves going into downtown, taxis swing by the front corner every few minutes and for a easy fee it's the best way to get around the rock.

We can't wait until the next trip to isla not only to immerse ourselves in the culture of the island but to also stay at Zinas, where we are treated like family.

  • Stayed: May 2012
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1  Thank texusrhed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 February 2012

Zina’s Guest house is the place to go to if you want to experience a real Mexican neighborhood on Isla Mujeres. I stayed in the upstairs apartment, and frequently made use of the rooftop sitting areas to enjoy a full view of the street life below. While there, I experienced all the regular sights and sounds of the neighborhood , from the annoying rooster to the late night music, and the various food vendors calling and ringing their bells as they passed by.

The apartments have all the basic necessities including a kitchenette with refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot, and hot plates. You can cook your own meals with fresh food bought locally, or go to the many neighborhood restaurants which Zina will introduce you to. And Zina welcomes guests with some initial food and supplies including fresh juice and coffee.

The apartments are nice and clean, and come with all the necessities for a great vacation. However, the best part of Zina’s is Zina herself. She sizes up each guest and figures out what will make their visit special for them. And then she does everything she can to see that their needs are met. While I was there, Zina not only showed me around and introduced me to lots of folks, but she made sure I had the full cultural experience. This included everything from stops at the juice stand, to an early Sunday morning (7 AM) trip to a pig palace and then to a tortilla factory to get pulled pork and fresh tortillas for our lunch tacos; an island tour, and a visit to the local women’s beading coop. Zina knows the island, the people, and the best places to get fresh juices, fresh pastry, and whatever else you might want.

Although it is away from the hustle and bustle of downtown and North Beach, the local bus passes right in front of Zina’s and all you have to do is wave it down and you can be at the beach for 4 pesos.

  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled solo
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3  Thank ptwanderer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 January 2012

Zina's Guesthouse is a great choice for budget conscious travelers who preffer to stay out of the hotel areas and the regular crowd of American tourists. It is clean and affordable. Zina is a lovely intelligent lady and a great source of advice on how to get around and who is who on the Isla. Stay at her guesthouse is more like a visit to your auntie Zina, than a stay at some place anonymous.
I have to agree with other reviewers, that the best part of the house is its rooftop. You can sit there and enjoy the weather and the sounds of neighborhood, and savor the simple pleasure of the life of the street. We took full advantage of it and spent most of our time up there.
La Gloria neighborhood is where local people live. So you get good authentic food and nice friendly, and laid back, unpretentious atmosphere there.
The downstairs apartment is clean and has basic things you expect in such place - a double bed, a little fridge (with some food and cold beer for your arrival!!!), a microwave, a tabletop stove and a sink. The only thing what took us by surprise upon arriving was that the third person had to sleep on the inflatable bed by the shower/bathroom (no door, curtains only).
So, if you are unassuming, openminded and/or have a backpackers mentality you will be perfectly happy at Zinas.

Room Tip: The upstairs apartment should be your choice.
  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with friends
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1  Thank 0A_K_90
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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