There’s far more to Mexico’s Baja Peninsula than the glitzy, famed
resorts on its southernmost point, Los Cabos. The two states that
make up Mexico’s Baja are cut by the massive Sierras de la Gigante,
hiding oases, centuries-old missions, cave paintings, vast deserts
and beautiful untouched beaches. The time is long gone when the
only options for overnight stays were either very rustic or RV
parks. These days Baja offers a variety of destinations from
life-changing adventures to luxurious accommodations in boutique
hotels and B&Bs.
The most interesting development in northern Baja is the wine
region in the Valle de Guadalupe, an east-west valley with
Mediterranean climate cooled by ocean breezes flowing in from
Ensenada, 84 miles south of San Diego on the Pacific Coast. For the
true wine enthusiast, book clients in one of six rooms at the Adobe
Guadalupe Inn, a B&B set amid 60 acres of vineyards, where the
American owner and his Dutch wife produce their own wines.
Adventure-minded guests can even rent horses and ride over to the
neighboring Monte Xanic winery (partially owned by the Rothschilds)
for a tasting.
Although the building is relatively new, the rooms at Adobe
Guadalupe Inn have traditional saltillo floors, and French doors
open onto a courtyard with a central fountain. Given fair warning,
the inn can provide dinner, and there’s an excellent restaurant,
the Restaurante Laja, nearby. The region’s biggest yearly events
are the Fiestas de la Vendimia, which take place over a couple of
weeks in late summer to early fall, celebrating the harvest.
Ensenada itself has been playing host to cruise ships for quite
some time, yet it remains a peaceful seaside town with just enough
shopping and nightlife to satisfy clients.
Just off the coast of nearby Isla de Todos Santos is one of the
world’s most famed big-wave surfing spots. There are resorts to the
north and south of town where clients can lose themselves in the
sand, blessedly free from the building boom marching south along
the coast from Tijuana. Outside of town sits the 48-room beachfront
Hotel Las Rosas where many rooms have fireplaces, and a spa offers
a full range of services.
Old and New
Rancho La Puerta is hardly new. At 66 years old, it’s the mother
of destination spas in the Americas. But this oasis, just outside
the border town of Tecate, continues to add features to its homey
casita rooms, gourmet spa cuisine, spa treatments and long menu of
activities. The latest addition is a cooking school La Cocina Que
Canta teaches clients how to create spa cuisine at home. Most
clients will want to book a weeklong, Saturday-to-Saturday stay,
but agents can create variations.
Midway down the Baja Peninsula are the whale-watching lagoons of
Guerero Negro, San Ignacio and Magdalena Bay. During the winter
seasons gray whales calve in these warm, calm waters, and tour
companies run small boats out to the lagoon, allowing awed humans
an opportunity to stroke these majestic mammals and their young.
Highly recommended is the ecotour operator Baja Discovery, which
will take your clients to San Ignacio. Accommodations here are cots
in tents with hot-water showers and bathroom facilities.
Loreto, the original capital of Spanish colonial California,
began with the construction of a mission in the 17th century. And
its most beautiful hotel downtown is the Posada de las Flores,
where each of the 15 rooms is different, decorated in Mexican art,
antiques, tiles and massive wood doors.
Just 25 miles south of the Loreto airport is a nine-suite
ecolodge called Danzante Destination Resort, an all-inclusive
property built onto a 10-acre hillside. The rooms have ceilings
made of dried pithaya cactus strips, and French doors open onto
terraces with gorgeous views of either the Sea of Cortez or the
towering Sierras de la Gigante.
Loreto is also a great place from which to make the trip to
Magdalena Bay for whale-watching.
La Paz, the capital of Baja Sur, is exploding in popularity.
Here again, one of the best spots is the Posada de las Flores,
simple but elegant with vivid colors, tiles and Mexican artwork.
The hotel is right on the Malecon (the waterside promenade).
Outside of town, the Marina Costa Baja has a new 120-room Fiesta
Inn with all the comforts of full-service resorts. La Paz is also a
great jumping-off point for exploring Los Barriles to the south
Baja’s wind-surfing capital.
From La Paz clients can also drive over the tail end of the
Sierras de la Gigante to Todos Santos (about an hour and a half)
where the shopping is great thanks, in part, to ex-pats who have
set up boutiques selling Mexican arts and crafts from all over the
Rancho La Puerta
Weeklong packages from $2,535.
Commission: 10 percent
Hotel Las Rosas
Starting at $132
Adobe Guadalupe Inn
$168 for double
The Posada de las Flores Hotels
On average starting at $150.