The Waterski paradise is the most famous and prestigious waterski vacation destination in the world. This reputation has been earned by long and consistent work. It took Gordon 20 years to achieve this standard. After visiting numerous waterski destinations around the globe, it was amazing to me to see that Gordon has everything waterskiers need. You can tell that the club is run by an active waterskier which really pays off. It’s the little things like the concrete step for your „lean“ exercise in the palapa, that make the difference.

tadd with palapa in background
serge in action
ball 6 with palm trees
tadd on 2 ball
The most prominent difference to other waterski school concepts is that the waterski lagoon is separated by the villa by a 30 minute drive. In the morning at about 7 am there is an early morning team of skiers who leave the villa with a large suburban town car. The other guests leave the villa about one hour later at 8 am with the second car. The advantage of being in the late morning crew is that you can enjoy a superb breakfast with a breathtaking view while the first crew has a brief ‘to go’ breakfast and has to wait for the second team to arrive with bread and fruits and the main course.
The drive down the hill from the villa to the lagoon site is comfortable but boring after some days. What you can see on the ride has little to do with Mexican reality. You pass Walmart, Starbucks and a large nice mall before the landscape becomes more rural. The lagoon is close to the main road but blocked by vegetation. Surrounded by mangrooves and palmtrees it is very calm and well protected from the wind. A beautiful place and perfect for waterskiing. When you get out of the car and walk towards the Palapa, the view is every waterskier’s dream come true. The spacious palapa gives you a full view of the tropical scenery because it consists of little more than the supporting columns and the roof. Situated at the end of the brakish water lagoon you have a full view of the slalom course surrounded by coconut trees. The location and view could not be better. The three, always up to date Nautique waterski towboats are situated next to the palapa on a jetty. From there, the skiers start either directly with the first slalom course or depart for free skiing parallel to the first slalom course. The lagoon is long enough for the second slalom course situated behind the first.
 There is enough room for the two boats to operate simultaneously and the drivers know their business. The skiers spend the day skiing and resting in the palapa. For those of you who have never spent a week in a slalom school or camp, be advised that you  need to know your limits and not “over- estimate” your body . Especially when you visit a winter destination like Acapulco. Most of the guests haven’t skied for a long time. But even those who have worked out in the gym weeks before their arrival have a hard time the first few days. The nasty thing is that you do not realize the impact on your body the first day. I myself had to learn this the hard way when I spent my first ski week in Florida a couple of years ago. Together with five other clueless Germans we thought we could profit from the “ski as much as you want” offer and skied the lake back and forth all day long. I think I must have made 8 or nine sets with 6 slalom passes that first day. Day two was hard but nothing compared with the notorious day three. I remember waking up early in the morning with such muscle pain that I was convinced that I must have been poisoned. It took me ages to roll out of my bed and get to the kitchen on hands and knees. Never mind the “all inclusive skiing”, nobody skied that day. Those who have learned their lesson the hard way know that they have to back off in the beginning. Two sets are wise, three feasible for some and four sheer impossible. But even if you know that, it is hard to resist. After all you have traveled a long way just to ski and then you spend your day sitting around.

My skiing colleages in my week in Acapulco were all experienced and wise enough not to exaggerate. Since you spend a lot of time in the palapa, it is great that Gordon has equipped the place with everything you need to make the stay comfortable. Three large sofas, restrooms, deckchairs, hammocks, a coffee maker and a large dining table make the papala a pleasant place to spend the day. Especially the view of the waterski action is really motivating. There is also a permanent TV in the palapa where you can watch slalom DVDs or have your last filmed ski set analyzed by the pros. Besides the Palapa, there is not a lot you can do around the spot. The ocean is only a three minute walk away from the Palapa. There is a turtle farm just across the street you can visit or have a swim or walk in the ocean. While it is ok for skiers to spend the day at the palapa, it is probably boring for non skiing partners or kids – especially, when you listen to the usual conversations between waterskiers ranging from ski shape design to fin settings. In the end it is more a question of personal taste. The majority of the guests liked life at the palapa. Those who want more action can rent a car and visit the country club tres vidas (10 minutes) or the beautiful new outside mall La Isla (15 minutes).

The country club “Tres Vidas”:

beach tres vidas
pool tres vidas
tres vidas countryclub
The one week program: Unlike a regular ski school, where you simply ski and go away, Gordon offers a complete one week program. In all these years of operation, Gordon has filtered what his waterski guests like to do and offers a selection of excursions. This ranges from an ocean swim in an excellent country club to famous Acapulco divers to swimming with dolphins in a waterpark. The whole ski week is more an all inclusive Waterski holiday than a hardcore waterski boot camp. This is important to note because some skiers I know and talked to about the site were kind of intimidated to go there. They had heard of the big names and pro skiers and were afraid of make a fool of themselves. From what I have experienced and heard, it is just the opposite. The level ranged from top skiers to skiers who had problems with the mono start and nobody felt ashamed. I think that one of the reasons is that you spend your time closely together. Another very pleasant detail is that professional massages are offered directly at the palapa. You choose your desired time on a billboard when you arrive at the palapa. The coaching: Gordon’s coaching concept consists of his own coaching and guest coaches. Each one or two weeks another guest coach arrives and supports Gordon in coaching the guests. The advantage of this is that you can plan your trip according to the coach you would like to have. And you have the opportunity to meet the biggest names in the sport like Andy Mapple, Marcus Brown and Thomas Degasperi.

The Villa:



The Waterski Villa really is a villa. Situated on top of a mountain in the popular “La Cima” community in an altitude of 450m meters, it offers a stunning view of the ocean. The lower floor gives way to the 5 spacious, luxurious guestrooms, gardens and water falls. The upper floor has a swimming pool, a jacuzzi, a bar and a dining room with a huge table big enough for all the guests, and two guest rooms. Again, I give credit to Gordon who has cleverly designed the floor to give room for people to gather.   Each evening, Gordon and his wife offer a superb meal. They are both enthusiastic cooks and have a talented mexican cooking team at the villa. I am not really interested in cooking and eating and do not remember ever writing about food in a club report but the dinners at Gordons are so good, that I have to give credit and give full points. Besides, they are part of the “all inclusive” concept. To summarize, Gordon Rathbun’s Ski Paradise in Acapulco deserves the reputation it has earned throughout the years – best possible skiing conditions, world class coaches and an all inclusive holiday approach make it one of the top waterski locations in the world.


dining room

TN_welcome-package (1)

welcome package

Facts & Links:
Capacity: Up to 14 skiers per week
Boats: Three up to date Correct Craft Ski Nautiques
Equipment: Two slalom courses, D3 and HO skis
Contact name: Gordon Rathbun
Tres vidas country club:
Open: November through May.