By Christopher A. Pape
In the age of the internet and instantaneous access to information, there are few places and things that remain ‘undiscovered’. Todos Santos, on the tip of Baja Sur and along the Pacific Ocean, feels like it’s one of those rare places that not many know about, but are sure to fall in love with once they do. The town has all the properties of a beloved jewel of Baja similar in quality and taste to a southern Spanish town or one found on the island of Sicily.
The pace of life there is leagues apart in speed from that of New York. This ‘la dolce vida’ is reflected in their hotel accommodations. The best of the town, Guaycura Hotel, sits in the less commercialized section and is a true representation of the care and pride that Mexicans take in quality buildings and superior furnishings.
The town itself is a picturesque village, located an hour away from Los Cabos and was recognized as a “Pueblo Mágico” (magic town) in 2006 because of its well preserved historical buildings, its buoyant fishermen and artist community, its diversity of landscapes and artisanal food that they produce. Its location in the middle of an oasis and in between the mountainous Sierra de la Laguna and the Pacific Ocean, conjures up fascinating and awe-inspiring weather, as well as a long list of places to visit and endogenous species to see.
The Guaycura Hotel resides in a well-preserved historic building, which dates back to the mid-nineteenth century, initially belonging to the Domínguez family. Later on, it was transformed into a school, a post office and even an art academy for young ladies, where art, embroidery and music classes were offered. It became a police station in the thirties, and more recently, a boarding house for students from all over the state of Baja California Sur, until the current owners, led by the Salas family, acquired it. The hotel has been in service since spring 2010.
As mentioned in last month’s article, The Last Word, where I remarked that I was on my way to Baja – I am very happy to report that I had a most memorable time at the Guaycura Hotel. With only fourteen rooms and a staff to guest ration that any hotel would be envious of, the hotel sits at the forefront of my thoughts. I loved the Mexican details, from furniture to tile. Mention should also be made of their food. Their restaurant offers the best quality in food with excellent and courteous service. With its travertine marble floor, a Mediterranean style patio and its charming Mexican style fountain, Guaycura restaurant is perfect for any meal.
Their cuisine is a delicious combination of traditional Mediterranean dishes with a touch of unique Mexican flavors. Throughout the seasons, the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean generously provide the hotel with fresh fish. Light desserts are filled with the vibrant colors and aromas of the fruits from Todos Santos´ orchards. Most of the vegetables and herbs are organic and grown locally with special care.
The name of the hotel, “Guaycura” (pronounced Y-KOO-RA) originated with the indigenous tribe that first inhabited and preserved this oasis. Their number dwindled over time due to the outbreak of epidemic illnesses and clashes with colonial troops during the Spanish domination, although a few of them may have gradually left their tribal lifestyle to join the new towns. They disappeared as a distinctive ethnic group around the turn of the eighteenth century.
What makes the hotel distinct from other Mexican properties is the attention to detail. The hotel combines a totally personalized quality service with an astonishing architectural design, exquisite décor, and unique art work. And add this to the view that can be seen from their third floor roof deck (the best in town and perfect for watching a sunset) and you have a true gem of a hotel. For example, I especially loved how my window overlooked the town and I could watch the locals go to and fro on their daily business. In New York, that’s depressing but in Mexico it was magical.
In addition, the hotel has a stunning swimming pool and a spa at the sky deck level, as well as a fine art gallery, but what really makes guests feel at home are their staff members, who are willing to make an extra effort to satisfy all guests´ wishes with an open, good natured smile.
But what can I say; and what power of the pen do I have that will entice you to go? How can I compel you? For a guy that’s traveled the world – take it from me that Guaycura is special. From the moment we entered the town and rounded a corner to come upon a quaint piazza to the moment we walked through the hotel’s doors – I knew the trip would be a great one.
The weather was divine, the food excellent, the views spectacular and the people friendly. Talking about people, one of the owners, Guillermo, was both generous in his time and his spirit. He is there often and he is one of the reasons that you should go.
In the final analysis, Guaycura Hotel is a property that must be experienced. The town, Todos Santos, is the perfect backdrop for a relaxing and charming getaway. Great for a family vacation or even better for a romantic escape, the hotel has it all. I urge and plead with you to go. From one with wanderlust to travel to those readers that have the same feeling – put Guaycura and Todos Santos on your list, it will be well worth it.
The Guaycura Hotel
Legaspi esquina Topete
Todos Santos 23300
Baja California Sur
1 (800) 468-6039