On our recent trip to the wine country of Mexico we stayed at Hotel Encuentro Guadalupe. It’s the kind of place where you wake up to views of the whole valley, spend the afternoon sampling the wines produced right there on the property, then retreat to your room for a little siesta. You can fill the evening with dinner followed by some of the best stargazing you’ll ever encounter. You may not be accomplishing much, but at least you’re not accomplishing much in style.
It’s early in the day however, and there’s plenty of time for a siesta. We’ve just checked in and I have the urge to roam. Which could prove to be quite a project. Hotel Encuentro Guadalupe sits on over 200 acres of rugged hillsides and verdant vineyards– all sprinkled with a modern style of world class art and architecture that just begs to be explored. Which is how I find myself standing on a steep, dusty path with the bright blue sky blazing down on top of me. This is the third or fourth time I’ve trooped up this rugged trail since we checked into Hotel Encuentro Guadalupe a little more than an hour ago.
You see, this type of unique property is becoming known in the travel business as an anti-resort. No kids or cars are allowed up here where the guests reside. The excitement of the place and the beauty of my surroundings has sent me off exploring whatever trail I can find. One leads to the pool and restaurant, which also boasts the wide open view of Valle de Guadalupe. Another leads to the main building with it’s wine making facilities and wine bar. The trail I’m on now leads up to a sprinkling of guest rooms impossibly perched on this rugged terrain. I stop at the crossroads, I’m a little winded by my journey. Not just from the exertion but from the exhilaration of the views all around me; all at once wildly fertile and haphazardly desolate.
Everyone down here says a place like Hotel Encuentro Guadalupe could never have existed in this part of Baja 10 years ago. There’s a renaissance going on in the world of wine and it’s happening right here in Valle de Guadalupe. 60 plus wineries are now producing wine in the valley. Farm-to-Table restaurants on par with the great eateries of Napa or Sonoma are giving Mexico’s best chefs access to impeccable local products. There’s creativity in the air, all you have to do is breath it in. I know you can visit more famous wine regions around the globe and find much of the excitement I describe here. But you’d be missing out on this fledgling moment in the valley’s development. The very thing that makes the Valle de Guadalupe special.
I catch my breath, turn my back on the views and head to our room. I’m ready for a bit of that easygoing luxury I mentioned earlier. I’m not disappointed either. The hillside accommodations at Hotel Encuentro Guadalupe are sleek and minimal, but there’s a casual bohemianism about this place too. A sort of unpolished glamor that’s hard to describe. Modern in concept, each of the avant-garde “eco-pods” that serve as the guest rooms sit on steel stilts jutting out from the hillside; making a dramatic platform to enjoy long views across vineyards and mist-shrouded hills. The dramatic footing not only affords fantastic views, it allows each pod to have as little contact with the earth as possible. Which helps sustain the natural topography of the landscape. In fact each pod was constructed elsewhere and shipped to this boulder-strewn hillside, combining high design and ecological sustainability like no place I’ve ever stayed before.
This may be considered a type of “camping” by some, and there is indeed a rustic element to the place, but each pod includes all the luxe essentials: stark white walls, climate control, king beds made up in the best quality linen, wifi, and a small ultra private terrace equipped with a chiminea. There’s no TV and no phone. However, you’re never out of communication with the lobby. Each pod has a walkie-talkie that connects you directly to the front desk. There are other “rugged amenities” like room keys that double as flashlights and hot water bottles wrapped in wool –should a nip in the air from the valley’s famous fog settle in.
Later in the afternoon Ken and I are sitting by the pool enjoying a type of fresh fruity, young red wine sangria you can’t get anywhere but the wine country, when I realize I’ve fallen hard for Valle de Guadalupe. Just 90 minutes from the San Diego International Airport, I had no idea places with this kind of peculiar authenticity still existed anywhere near my bustling city life in Los Angeles.
Hotel Encuentro Guadalupe. I’ll be back. I know I will. GREG
Hotel Encuentro Guadalupe
Carretera Tecate Ensenada Km 75, Valle de Guadalupe, Valle de Guadalupe 21720, Mexico
More on my trip to Valle de Guadalupe: GREG