Check Into Rancho Pescadero for a Soulful Weekend in Baja California Sur

Slow travel fans will love this revamped wellness resort near Todos Santos

March 10, 2023 6:43 am
A villa at Rancho Pescadero
A villa at Rancho Pescadero
Albert Lewis

Dotted with giant cardón cacti, edged by the Pacific Ocean and blessed with some of the best waves in the country, Mexico’s dreamy southern Baja Peninsula promises equal parts magic and adventure. The wild desert landscape and tiny towns like Todos Santos have long drawn free-spirits looking to get off-grid — including Lisa Harper, who spent a year camped out in El Pescadero, where she bought a parcel of land in the late ’90s. Located six miles south of Todos, her vision for “a little hotel on the beach” eventually became Rancho Pescadero — now a revamped design-forward beauty enticing a new generation of soul seekers to Baja California.

But first, let’s rewind a little. Before the palatial spa and superlative oceanfront villas with their plunge pools — both worthy of an Architectural Digest cover — Rancho’s first incarnation was a petite 12-room hotel. One where Matthew McConaughey stayed after his Dallas Buyers Club Oscar win and made margaritas for lucky guests one evening. After she snapped up 30 acres of undeveloped adjacent land three years ago, Harper, a veteran retail CEO, went all in on its major top-to-bottom remodel. Officially reopened last November, the now 103-room “new Rancho” has since welcomed a steady stream of former guests and first-timers — and people love it.

Lobby Ofrenda
Lobby ofrenda
Kenny Viese

Barefoot luxury meets Mexican soul in Baja California

Part of Hyatt’s Unbound Collection and a member of Virtuoso, Harper worked with Mexican architect Alejandra Templeton and oversaw every design detail and picked all of the hotel’s made-in-Mexico furnishings — from the peacock-hued Talavera tiles made in Tijuana that grace suite and villa bathrooms, to the steel headboards with leather tassels made in Chihuahua and wool rugs from Michoacán. Less about being a beautifully designed boutique hotel (although it is undoubtedly that), Rancho leans more soul reviving sanctuary — one that honors the natural beauty of Baja and slowly reveals itself in layers. The first of which is experienced upon arrival. 

As first impressions go, it’s a subtle taste of what’s to come. An hour’s drive from Cabo airport and a mile-long dirt road later, leads to an unmarked concrete entryway and a large wooden door, which duly swings open to reveal a hidden hacienda-style “access” lobby — and where guests “step through” into Rancho’s first layer. Decorated with Our Lady of Guadalupe folk art pieces and shaded by two young tabachines trees, intentions can be set at a decorative Day of the Dead style altar or ofrenda before being whisked down to “Centro” in an electric cart (Rancho’s heart where the actual check-in part happens) or strolling there instead. Thanks to Harper, it’s possible to walk barefoot around the property, and opting to follow a sandy path, which winds its way through an endemic desert garden of cacti, yucca, elephant trees and ocotillo — all of which were carefully dug out and taken to a nearby nursery then re-transplanted post-construction — creates another lasting first impression and connects you with the land.

Rancho Villa Seating Area
Rancho Villa seating erea
Albert Lewis
The Newly Renovated ME Cabo Offers a Quintessentially Los Cabos Stay
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Oceanfront Milagro Suite
Oceanfront Milagro Suite
Albert Lewis

Botanical gardens, bees and a bird sanctuary

On the way to Centro, you’ll catch a glimpse of Botánica Restaurant and maybe even chef Sandro Falbo or a member of his culinary team headed to the kitchen with a basket of just-picked greens, fruit or vegetables from one of the nine gardens where produce is planted in tandem with local growing seasons to pair with Falbo’s menus and ethnobotanical program. Thanks to the talented Roma chef, Rancho is like nirvana for epicures — the original site was a poblano chili farm and a variety of peppers are still grown here, and each of its three restaurants sources ingredients from the farm and gardens while bees are busy making honey. There are chickens for fresh eggs, and a citrus orchard with lemons, kaffir limes and kumquats, too (Falbo’s limoncello is a must). But many of the herbs, flowers and botanicals — rosemary, Castillo roses, sage, calendula — from a central apothecary garden are used elsewhere at Rancho, too.   

At 25,000 square feet, if not the largest wellness space in Mexico, the central Botánica Spa is probably the most photogenic. From the cenote-inspired fountain, yoga shalas, relaxation pavilions and treatment nests to the palapa-lined lap pool, it’s a wow-factor moment wherever you choose to sit, swim or salute the sun. A weekly roster of wellness rituals and journeys, from meditation ceremonies and aromatherapy workshops, to other nature-inspired experiences, are the draw here and designed to help guests get centered, but a pre-spa treatment hydrotherapy circuit session also works nicely. And fitness fans fret not because there are HIIT classes, a Reformer Pilates studio, pickleball courts and a gym with TRX, ropes, sleds and free weights.

While the spa and garden restaurant are open to the public, the next layer of Rancho is its guest-only inner sanctum, where you’ll get acquainted with Centro Café and Bar, Rancho’s all-day dining duo — a breezy upstairs and poolside spot serving detox juices, cocktails and Mexican classics (get the breakfast tacos, any salad or tostada). Centro is also home to UNOA boutique by Eclectic Array, a trove of artisan made goods and apparel, plus a coffee shop, although rooms come with handy little bags of pre-ground local coffee, cafetières and electric kettles. 

Rancho Pescadero
Rancho Pescadero pool
Kenny Viese

A five-star wellness escape to connect with nature

From the architecture to design details, every element across the resort is eye-catching and its rooms, villas and suites are no exception — beautifully appointed in neutral tones with custom furnishings and an intuitive layout, everything feels high-touch. With their oversized terrazzo bathtubs, outdoor rainfall showers, plunge pools and private beach access, the oceanfront villas admittedly steal the show, but thanks to the Rancho’s thoughtful U-shape design most of the accommodations (read: 98%) have ocean or coastal views. If popping up to your private roof deck for a linen #robelife moment to gaze at the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains doesn’t appeal come sunset, head down to the beach and enjoy the show (and look for whales) from one of the day beds instead. Guests come and go from the Centro pool throughout the day although a new show-stopping oceanfront restaurant and beach club called Kahal is poised to open this spring and will feature a swim up bar, more daybeds and plush loungers, plus a sea-food centric menu.

With its impressive roster of zero-waste sustainability initiatives, pillars dedicated to thoughtful wellness and culinary experiences, not to mention rooms that could win design awards but feel like somewhere you can really kick back and relax, Rancho Pescadero, is a truly special place where the desert meets the sea in Southern Baja — one that you’ll probably never want to leave.


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