La Mision’s pool area overlooks the Sea of Cortez.// © 2011 LA MISION
Rates start at $150 per night. Agents can visit the hotel for 50 percent off the published rack rates. Commission is 10 percent.
Nestled between the Sierra de la Giganta mountain range and the Sea of Cortez, Loreto, Mexico, has a certain kind of magnetism. In 1697, Jesuit missionaries chose the sleepy seaside town to establish its first mission, Nuestra Senora de Loreto. The mission, which was restored after a hurricane in 1829 damaged its bell tower and ceiling, still watches over Loreto to this day. Mornings are marked by the sound of resonating bells, the local priest tugging on their adjoining ropes, calling residents to the first mass of the day.
In recent years, this charming Baja California town has become more accessible to U.S. travelers who want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, thanks to daily nonstop service from Los Angeles via Alaska Airlines and a new range of accommodations, including guestrooms and suites that would please the most discerning of travelers. A case in point is boutique hotel La Mision, which set the bar for luxury in early 2009, offering 66 spacious guestrooms and suites.
"La Mision is the first five-star hotel in Loreto and a big statement of confidence in the area because of the quality of the property, food and the service," said developer and owner Scott Serven, who has lived in Loreto for six years. "Our hotel provides travelers with a level of comfort that Loreto didnít offer before."
Guestrooms feature hardwood furnishings, marble bathrooms with Bath & Body Works products, flat-screen televisions, Wi-Fi access and full-size terraces with views of the sea, mountains or the city's famous mission bell. The plush queen-size bed and ultra-soft feather pillows in my standard guestroom were, perhaps, the features I appreciated the most after a long day of sightseeing and site inspections. And for fans of a leisurely breakfast in bed or late-night bites, room service is available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The hotel's fine-dining restaurant, Don Diego, impressed me with its fresh local seafood presentations, internationally inspired dishes and a spun sugar dessert that was almost too exquisite to ruin by the touch of my fork. Executive chef Cesar Gonzalez, who studied at the Aspic Culinary Institute of Mexico City, has cultivated an international culinary perspective, employing French cooking techniques and drawing upon his background in Mexican and Mediterranean cuisine.
While Don Diego's menu is ever-changing due to a preference for seasonal produce and a rotating list of suppliers, inventive dishes can run the gamut from beef tenderloin in a Peruvian mushroom stew served alongside sundried tomato polenta to a breaded California chili drizzled with curry oil and stuffed with shrimp escabeche. Desserts, which at times feature twists on classic recipes, are not to be missed. An order of tiramisu might incorporate an espresso creme brulee with a strawberry black pepper coulis; a fruit plate could also prove very surprising indeed, with cabernet sauvignon poached pears and seasonal fruit ceviche gelatin.
Fine dining and well-appointed accommodations typically come at a high price, but it doesn't have to -- with prospective guests in mind, La Mision is offering a number of value-added packages this year. The Friends & Family package, for example, includes a three-night stay in a Luxury Ocean View Suite, daily continental breakfast, roundtrip hotel transfers and a $35 gift certificate for use at Don Diego. Good for two adults and two children under the age of 12, the package is priced from $141 per night, based on double occupancy.
Anglers and duffers, who account for a large number of the region's visitors, might take interest in La Mision's Fishing & Golf Party package. The offer includes accommodations for four nights in a Luxury Ocean View Suite, a day of fishing in a fully equipped super panga boat, a round of golf at Loreto Bay, roundtrip hotel and golf course transfers and daily American breakfast. The package starts at $141 per night, based on double occupancy.
There is even an all-inclusive option that gives clients the option to order room service or dine off property. Other choices for dining include breakfast and dinner at Los Olivos Restaurant, lunch a la carte at The Mezquite Grill and snacks at Agave Cantina. Suite accommodations, select premium wines, concierge services and all taxes and tips are also included in the price. A three-night minimum stay is required, and the package begins at $267 per night, based on double occupancy.