Rancho Pescadero: Inside Baja’s Newest Sustainable Hotel

Travel Features mexico
Rancho Pescadero: Inside Baja’s Newest Sustainable Hotel

At the tail end of a mile-long, rugged, bumpy road just south of Todos Santos sits an unassuming sand-colored building. Besides the striking contrast of the light sand-colored building against the deep blue sky, the plain façade belies what is on the inside. As the heavy wooden door swings open, however, an enchanting hacienda-style open-air lobby reveals itself, beckoning Rancho Pescadero guests to explore the hidden gem that is Baja California’s latest luxury wellness resort. A life-sized Day of the Dead style altar adorned with Our Lady of Guadalupe folk art invites guests to light a candle and set an intention for their stay. Guests are then encouraged to take off their shoes to walk barefoot on a path that winds through the wild desert landscape dotted with giant cacti towards the azure waters of the Pacific ocean.

Owner Lisa Harper wanted the lobby to act as a portal where visitors would step through in a Narnia-like fashion from the busy outside world into a peaceful escape. The transition between states is much like the transition from small boutique hotel to sprawling luxury wellness center that Rancho recently went through. 

In the late 1990s, Harper originally bought a small parcel of beachside property six miles from the relatively unknown Todos Santos. Her dream was to one-day build a little hotel on the beach, which she did in 2009 when the 12-room Rancho Pescadero opened. In the decade that followed Harper watched nearby Todos Santos explode in popularity. In 2018 she decided to add to the area’s growth and transform her “little hotel on the beach” into a wellness-focused luxury resort. 

As a result the 12-room boutique hotel expanded into a 30-acre beach property with 103 rooms arranged in a way to allow for unobstructed views of the nearby Sierra de la Laguna Mountains and Pacific Ocean. In addition to accommodations, Rancho added a sprawling 25,000 square foot spa, a fitness center with a pilates reformer studio and a yoga studio. 12 villas built into the sand dunes complete the overhaul. The villas highlight indoor-outdoor living with their retractable glass walls, plush patio furniture, outdoor rainfall showers and direct access to the shoreline. 

Rancho Pescadero

The Botánica Spa is the crème de la crème of the hotel. One of the largest spas in Mexico, it includes 12 outdoor treatment rooms, a Himalayan salt sauna, an aromatherapeutic eucalyptus steam room and a lap pool. Therapists use curative balms and ointments made with ingredients gathered from the spa gardens for massage, body treatments and facials. The spa’s apothecary offers classes where guests can forage herbs such as lavender, lemongrass, rosemary, and sage from on-site gardens to make their own essential-oil blends, lotions and tinctures. 

Rancho’s nine inter-connected gardens not only source ingredients for the spa, but also source a majority of the ingredients for the resort’s restaurants. 90 percent of the food and beverage for the restaurants are sourced from within 50 miles of the hotel with a vast majority coming from the onsite gardens, citrus orchard and two farms.  

 “We grow 30 types of salad greens and herbs, 10 types of chilis and 25 types of tomatoes,” said Culinary Direct Chef Sandro Falbo as he led guests through the gardens he refers to as the salad bowl. Vegetables are picked straight from the garden, washed, then transferred to the kitchen. They do not spend any time in a refrigerator resulting in the freshest, crispiest ingredients possible. 

Centro is Rancho’s casual Mexican restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with an emphasis on Baja specialties. The farm-to-table Botánica Garden Restaurant highlights Falbo’s freshly farmed vegetables and organic beef and poultry grilled over a live fire. The Botánica signature smoke tasting menu provides a sensorial feast where each course is presented in a wooden box that when opened releases an aromatic cloud of fragrant smoke. A third oceanfront restaurant, Kahal, is planned to open with a focus on seafood.

Rancho Pescadero

Ever a steward of the environment, Harper’s team was meticulous about reforesting all plants moved during the property renovation. They went so far as using a GPS catalog to replant all the indigenous plants moved during construction in the exact place they had been pulled from. This resulted in the recovery of 96 percent of the plants. That dedication to sustainability is seen through the property. 

In attempts to be as sustainable as possible, Rancho Pescadero goes well beyond mandating kitchen composting and banning single-use plastic. The entire property aims to be off-the-grid in two years with the help of a sprawling solar power system, a desalination plant and onsite water recycling system. Harpers also plans on launching a water bottling plant on property.

“From an environmental responsibility standpoint, we’re building the project to be as self-sufficient as possible,” said Harper. 

The resort offers guests an extensive array of personal enrichment programming from meditation and sound healing to indigenous cacao ceremonies and garden conservatory classes. One of the hotel’s most captivating offerings, however, might be just whale watching from under the canopy beach daybeds intermixed with mid-afternoon naps. It’s truly serene—much like Rancho Pescadero as a whole.

Jennifer Simonson is a travel writer by trade and a lover of the world’s food, cultures, drinks and outdoor spaces by nature.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin