Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 1:17 p.m.
Endemico, Valle de Guadalupe
The powers that be have kept development in the Valle de Guadalupe at a perpetual tease--when someone says this year's going to be big, as was the tone in 2010--one hotel opened up, and then the region gained two restaurants--that's frenetic activity in the ruta de vinícola
. It used to be there were two nice places to stay in the Valle de Guadalupe, and now there are five, and that's all that's happened in the last thirteen years I've been coming to Mexico's wine country. Wineries have sprouted up much faster than places to stay, and apart from the few upscale stays, there are a half dozen mid-priced options or so, and one inexpensive motel that has a heater you have to prime, and could double as the Bates Motel.
There was a buzz a couple of years ago that the Hotel Habita Group from D.F. was coming to the Valle de Guadalupe, and had big things in store for the region--Grupo Habita is a luxury brand of boutique hotels found in several major cities in Mexico, with one of their hotels located in Chelsea, New York, the Hôtel Americano. The Encuentro Guadalupe property was stalled for a year before finally opening in the spring of 2012, and in a very short time the Eco-lofts have been featured in nearly every travel publication and design magazine for its natural, sustainable, and sleek architecture. But what's it really like? After a couple of famous stays I can say that this is the place to be for doing the Valle de Guadalupe in style while staying in touch with its weathered elegance.
Eco Lofts at Encuentro Guadalupe, Valle de Guadalupe
After you check in a shuttle will take you up the trail to your loft in a peaceful, natural setting--the lofts blend in to the environment surrounding an oasis in the form of a pool, hot tub, and pool lounge that are carved into the landscape.
Walking to your loft is like a summer camp experience, especially at night when you'll need the flashlight provided by the Encuentro Guadalupe property to make your way to your Eco-box.
Its soothing minimalist design imparts a guiltless sense of luxury--the world might be a better place if we all lived like this. The Encuentro Guadalupe project encompasses a winery, the eco-lofts, eco-residences, a cooking school, and a restaurant.
Queso añejo from Rancho Mora and Encuentro Guadalupe wines at Encuentro Guadalupe
I usually pick up a round of cheese from Rancho Mora, and swing the door to the loft wide open to take in the Valle with a glass of the house wine from the wine cave located beneath the lobby in the main building. Be sure to bring your Ipod--there is a cable provided connected to a pair of speakers--it's the only amenity needed. Speaking of which--there's no television, no telephones--you're given a radio to call down to the lobby. There are no other distractions from your wine country retreat except WiFi, well --you'll need it to look up wineries and dining tips from our own Tijuana Si!
The loft's comfortable beds and provide a romantic, private space complete with your own deck--the used, oxidized ship container has blinds that bring in light and the splendor of the Valle while maintaining your solitude.
The pool and hot tub have always been unoccupied at night--it's the perfect opportunity to indulge in an late night glass of wine with your significant other underneath the starry sky--did I mention you've got the place to yourself?--wine--stars? You figure it out!
The Encuentro Gudalupe serves breakfast and lunch at the pool lounge, and there's a wine bar down in the lobby--in the near future there will be a cooking school and full-service restaurant in the spacious main building.
The rates vary from the the low season to the the spring and summer when the Valle receives more visitors--in August during the wine harvest festival, or Vendimias, it will be difficult to get a room at the Eco Lofts--expect to pay between $167-$240 depending on when you book.
This is an experience that's in tune with the history and culture of the Valle de Guadalupe, and one of the best ways to get away from it all while taking in the blossoming wine region and digging in to the internationally acclaimed Baja culinary movement--how do you top this?--book another stay.
Eco Lofts at Encuentro Guadalupe, take the Ensenada-Tecate highway to km 75 and make a left onto the Encuentro Guadalupe driveway, 011-52-646-155-2775, email@example.com, www.encuentroguadalupe.com,
Update, March, 13: The Habita Group is no longer involved in the Eco Lofts, which are now known at the Eco Lofts at Encuentro Guadalupe, an independent group based in the Valle de Guadalupe