Julian, it is always helpful to hear different points of view. Everyone has their own tastes and expectations for the money they invest for their vacations and traveling. Myself, I am a retired US ex-patriot who has been living in Guatemala for several years. I also lived in Mexico for 2 years. I'll take Guatemala, hands down, over any other place I've been for one simple reason -- the people. My materialistic standards have been lowered to experience a much more laid back lifestyle, and be surrounded by non-judgmental people who simply live without stress and don't care about keeping up with the Jones.
The beauty of Monterrico is that it has not been gringoized. There are plenty of places in Mexico that are close to the US and for all intents and purposes might just as well be part of California. Monterrico does not promote itself for gringos to buy time share condos, drink expensive margaritas, have high priced and impersonal high rise hotels, or for that matter, to even go there at all. What it does offer is quiet living by the sea, or for travelers who would like to sample the Guatemala coast. I have been there many times and thoroughly enjoy having the big empty beaches all to myself. It is one of the most perfect places on the planet to just kick back comfortably as the Pacific does its thing. I prefer my beaches to be lined with coconut trees vs. expensive hotels for the more elite who demand more. But clearly, it is not a place to go to for those who just want to be pampered in a resort area with marketable trappings around them. Places like the Yukatan Peninsula and Playa del Carmen are better suited for people with those kinds of tastes. But for those with more adventurous tastes, don't mind having lesser conveniences, and enjoy paradise in its natural form, Monterrico is a great place to experience. Forget time and just soak in personal insignificance in the grand scheme of life on Earth.
Clearly, the Guatemalan coast is not a place for everyone. What place on the planet is? If you don't like having to deal with poor street vendors just doing their best to make a few cents to buy food, then you are clearly better off to stay out of the poorer countries. Or, just confine yourself to the gringo luxurious hotel compounds that are imposed in the faces of the poor people who live there. If it is difficult for you to not have things the way you have them in your normal daily life, then just stay home and confine your adventures and money to your local mall. You'll be doing a great service to those of us who do openly interact with the natives by minimizing their experiences with The Ugly American cliche.
I love Monterrico. I usually stay at Dos Mundos because I do appreciate air conditioning and their excellent menu. But I also spend time in the town and at establishments like Johnny's Place for the fun of it, and socializing with many different classes of international personalities.
Discriminating gringos with attitudes -- please don't go to Monterrico.
-- (November 4, 2008) on Monterrico