The "Crazy Gringo"
The birth of the Golden Zone
In the winter of 1952, California contractor Ulysses Solomon George came by jeep down the old, steep Durango Road to spend a few days in Mazatlan. He immediately fell in love with Mazatlan and soon controlled the choicest beach front, facing Isla de Venados, on a sandy track three miles from the town. U.S. George's modest 40-room lodge eventually became one of Mexico's favorite exotic destinations, the Hotel Playa Mazatlan.
Long before the popular "Golden Zone" of Mazatlán existed, before the lavish resorts and restaurants, even before a basic road was laid—there was Hotel Playa Mazatlán. The year was 1954.In 1955 the Hotel Playa Mazatlan opened its doors for the first time; local workers and customers were trucked in over a dusty unpaved road that lead up to a secluded lagoon.Between the lagoon and the ocean was a thin strip of sand on which the Playa was constructed facing the nearby off-shore islands. Deserted beaches spanned for miles.
The land was dotted with salty lagoons and flocked with abundant waterfowl and deer. Mazatlán had a mere 40,000 inhabitants. When the news broke of a "Crazy Gringo" building a hotel beside the ocean, the local townspeople were skeptical. Why on earth would he build so far from downtown? Who would dare come? There wasn't a drop of running water for miles, much less electricity, a paved road or sewage system.The city was served by a tiny airport, but incoming roads lay in disrepair, and bridges were still a novelty. Soon, the "Crazy Gringo" had grown quite a reputation for himself and his oceanside enterprise. Yet despite primitive conditions, his dreams for a seaside hotel were not far from being realized.