Guaycura Boutique Hotel & Spa dates back to the 1880s. // © 2011 Patricia Alisau
A couple of Baja California towns are gathering momentum with luxury brands entering the region and the opening of its first upscale hotels, offering more options to agents whose clients are looking of a warm-weather escape to the peninsula.
Bordered by the dramatic Sierra Mountain range, cobalt blue seas and lush vegetation, Todos Santos, for example, is redefining itself with the inauguration of the Guaycura Boutique Hotel & Spa, a charming 14-room inn dating back to the 1880s. A traditional weekend haunt for people from neighboring La Paz and Los Cabos, Todos Santos now has a property that is attractive to visitors from across the border.
"We want it to be a getaway for the U.S. and Canada," said Angel Salinas, director manager of the property. "The location, near the main square, art galleries and studios, can't be beat. Over the years, the town of around 5,000 inhabitants has become a retreat for a community of artists, which is a good part of its appeal."
A former rooming house, police station and school, the Guaycura has preserved its 13-foot-high ceilings, tiled floors and arched doorways, which nicely blends history and modern conveniences. The hotel's restaurant is in an open-air courtyard surrounded by wrought-iron balconies, bougainvilleas and lots of atmosphere while the hotel's rooftop is home to a heated swimming pool, a bar and a spacious lounge with comfortable sofas for watching the sunset. A beach club sits on two miles of uncrowded sand and the hotel also has the only elevator in town.
Your clients can choose from three different room categories beginning with the Classic junior suites outfitted with a desk, a 36-inch, flat-screen television, a DVD player, iPod speakers, Internet and Wi-Fi capability. The Deluxe units have, in addition, an oversize bathroom with a handmade copper sink, and the top-of-the-line Oasis suites come with a king-size canopy bed and a unique claw-foot copper bath tub.
While in town, clients might enjoy a visit to the Hotel California, originally rumored to be the inspiration for the Eagles song by the same name. The myth has been debunked, but the bar is a town hot spot with a retro 1950ís decor that takes visitors back to the days of Jack Kerouac and the beat poet generation. La Paz
An hour north of Todos Santos is La Paz, the capital of Baja Sur. The new Costa Baja Resort & Spa, sitting on a bluff overlooking the sea, carries the Grand Heritage International flag, which is making its debut in Mexico. The resort, a former Fiesta Inn that underwent extensive restructuring and upgrading, finally resurfaced as La Paz's first five-star property, with a 250-slip marina and a Gary Player par 72 golf course with a signature Green Monster hole.
The 115 rooms and suites have ocean, golf or marina views and free Wi-Fi. Dining outlets include a seafood specialty restaurant called Mosaico plus Steinbeck's, a more casual eatery named after the author John Steinbeck, who wrote a novella about La Paz, and serving mesquite-grilled meats. The property also offers a full-service spa with holistic treatments, a free-form pool for adults, a kid's pool and a seashell museum, among other facilities.
According to Gabriel Miranda, director of sales, La Paz can now better compete with other five-star destinations.
"Where else can you find a resort where you can swim on the beach and save 20 percent on rooms and 40 percent on meals?" said Miranda. "La Paz is unique as a destination. It's Old Mexico, with warmth and good service as well as sport-fishing, kayaking, horseback riding and sea lion colonies."
The Costa Baja is marketing to meeting groups, weddings and couples in the U.S. in tandem with La Paz's $1 million promotion budget.Loreto
Much farther north by about 300 miles is the seaside town of Loreto, a tranquil fishing village slowly building up its luxury lodging. Among its newer properties is the 70-room La Mision near the main plaza, which offers hacienda-style architecture and balconies overlooking the waterfront. The dream of a developer from Washington state, the Mision has attractive handcarved wooden furniture in all rooms, Wi-Fi throughout the property and a pizza kitchen near the pool. A terrace is under construction for groups booking receptions and will have a capacity for 300 persons.