Living well at the Hacienda Beach Club & Residences

articles Living, Working, Retiring

Darian Day and Michael Fitzpatrick

Discover the secret to the very best life in Cabo

Photo Gallery: Living well at the Hacienda Beach Club & Residences

There is no buzzing lobby. No long formidable hotel desk. No jostling line of people waiting to check in and out.

Instead, there is the Hacienda’s Concierge desk, set in the open-air reception terrace, amidst stunning Old Mexico architecture and looking out on the almost unbelievably beautiful azure waters of the Sea of Cortez.

And, there is Clara. The message is instantly one of warm and impeccable service, thoughtful attention to detail, and sincere hospitality. Clara — smiling, sweet, genuine — welcomes us to the Hacienda Beach Club & Residences.

Reception area
Reception area

This incredible place will be our home for the next few days. We are presented immediately with ice-cold cloths and chilled water to assuage the warmth of the summer day.

We have arrived at the Hacienda Beach Club & Residences, only steps away from the Cabo marina (you can walk here from your yacht slip, for heaven’s sake) and its wonderful cornucopia of restaurants, shopping, and seaside activities.

Here, we have entered into an extraordinary place of rich tranquility. Alberto Gangoiti, Residential Services Manager, appears, with a beaming smile, to join Clara in welcoming us to the Hacienda. Greetings are exchanged, and we feel comfortable and cared for, as if we have just made two new wonderful friends.

Land's End, Cabo's iconic rugged outcroppings that mark the southern end of the Baja peninsula.
Land’s End, Cabo’s iconic rugged outcroppings that mark the southern end of the Baja peninsula.

Land’s End, Cabo’s iconic rugged outcroppings that mark the southern end of the Baja peninsula.

And, in fact, we have.

As travelers, my husband and I have been fortunate, visiting dozens of countries over the years and often enjoying some magnificent hotels and residences along the way. But here, at the Hacienda, we feel immediately that we have arrived in a place quite unlike any other we have experienced. Immediately, we feel we are in a haven of delight and all things excellent.

The Hacienda Beach Club and Residences is balanced gracefully on the edge of the Sea of Cortez, on the shore of Medano Beach — arguably the premiere swimming beach in all of Los Cabos. Fringed with the white lace of the surf, its waters, transition smoothly to the aquamarines of tropical greens and blues, then recede into the depths of the deeper blues just beyond the boats anchored offshore. Most special, the Hacienda lays claim to what are probably the most stunning vistas of Land’s End, Cabo’s iconic rugged outcroppings that mark the end of the long Baja peninsula.

The original bell tower at Hacienda Beach Club & Residences are traditionally rung every year at midnight on New Year's Eve.
The original bell tower at Hacienda Beach Club & Residences are traditionally rung every year at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

We find ourselves in good company. Thirty years ago, developer Don Koll and his fishing pal John Wayne landed in their Cessna for a weekend of deep-sea fishing. Koll kept his eye on what is now the Hacienda property, and, when it became available, he purchased it and built the Hacienda Hotel, Cabo’s first luxury hotel. John Wayne was followed by the likes of Bing Crosby, Desi Arnaz, Raquel Welch, and others. In the early 2000s, Koll — together with the Starwood Capital Group, a global leader in real estate investments, and acclaimed Del Mar Development — put together the experienced team that built the new Hacienda while paying homage to the old. The Hacienda Beach Club & Residences opened officially in 2010. Today, it continues to attract those fortunately gifted with exceptional taste and means.

Our luggage is loaded onto a golf cart and we are personally chauffeured by Alberto a short distance to the Resort Residences and to the condo that will be our home for the next few days. Alberto swings opens the heavy wooden hacienda-style doors and we follow him into the apartment. We are astonished and dazzled by first the beauty and spaciousness of the apartment itself and then by its absolutely extraordinary views of the Sea of Cortez and Land’s End. This is a special private world of opulence and luxury, and it is ours until Tuesday. Bliss.

Breathtaking view from the terrace of a villa
Breathtaking view from the terrace of a villa

Alberto familiarizes us with our condo home: nearly 2,000 square feet with two well-separated bedrooms, each opening onto the gigantic L-shaped terrace. The fully equipped kitchen is complete with a wine cooler. There are two full baths, one with a soaking whirlpool tub, and a powder room. There are also an office and a very substantial great room with a phalanx of glass doors that slide completely away to meld the outdoor space and vistas with the interior of the residence. Everywhere we discover discerning touches — fine furniture, original art, hacienda-style architecture that blends seamlessly with beachside contemporary decor. And, from every window, there is the astonishing, compelling, riveting beauty of the sea.

Multi-tiered Infinity pools
Multi-tiered Infinity pools

After settling in, we rejoin Alberto a short while later in the reception terrace to begin our tour of the extensive Hacienda properties. The Hacienda occupies 22 acres alongside a ¼+ mile private stretch of golden beach with omnipresent views of Land’s End.

We descend the winding staircase from the terrace to the heart of the Hacienda, where the multi-tiered Infinity pools comingle with beachfront dining, the Palapa bar, and a fully-staffed Beach Club. The effect is exquisite, at once luxuriantly contemporary and yet steeped in the richness of heritage. The Hacienda architectural themes continue, with stone work, tiles, and wooden beams that speak to the best of Mexico. We will return here later in the evening, to dine at the remarkable Hacienda Cocina y Cantina.

We proceed with Alberto to visit one of the Beachfront Villas. From our own terrace, we gaze on the roofs of these villas, Spanish-tiled, tilting this way and that, looking like a quaint Mediterranean village. Each of the 16 Beachfront Villas provides its owners and guests with 3,424 square feet of indoor living space, multiple large terraces, and a private Infinity pool and Jacuzzi.

As we move from room to room, admiring the luxurious spaces, we see an interior world that continues to reflect the spirit of Old Mexico yet is appointed with every modern convenience and the finest of finishings. We linger, savouring the moment. But, there is more to enjoy at the Hacienda.

Back in the golf cart, we whir along the quiet pathways to our next stop. We remark to Alberto on the beauty and bounty of the gardens. He smiles broadly and shares with us that the gardens are his special passion. He works personally with the team of gardeners to design and care for the Hacienda’s overflowing lush tropical and desert botanical beauty. Alberto tells us that he loves his work — the Hacienda occupies a special place in the hearts of its residents and the people who work here, and it shows.

Architectural themes exalt olden Mexico
Architectural themes exalt olden Mexico

Here in the desert of the Baja, the Hacienda is an oasis, green and flowing with water. The music that flows from moving water is everywhere at the Hacienda, with bubbling fountains in courtyards and on walkways, as centerpieces and adornments, from the discreet to the grand. The promise of water greets guests and residents at the Hacienda’s very entrance, with the majestic fountain of the original Hacienda Hotel. And, the sounds of the frothing surf are omnipresent: muffled as one meanders through the grounds, emerging with joyous frolic as one nears the seaside.

Our property tour is almost over, but there is one important place yet to visit. The Spa. If the Hacienda Beach Club and Residences is an oasis — and it is — then the Hacienda Spa is its inner sanctum.

Upon entering, one feels immediately the departure of care and fretfulness, and the arrival of calm and pleasurable contentment. This is a luxurious cloister that promises indulgent care with a spa menu of rejuvenating treatments and therapies steeped in Mexican traditions and the rituals of renewal. Mireya, the glowing and gracious spa manager, greets us and joins Alfredo in showcasing its resplendent features — four treatment cottages, each with its own small private courtyard (a private Jacuzzi also adjoins the couples cottage), hot and cold plunge pools, a sauna and steam room, al fresco showers lined with butterscotch stones, a shaded resting area, and many luxurious and delightful accents. I will return here tomorrow for a much-anticipated relaxation massage with the gifted Minerva. Once again, bliss.

Interior courtyard of the spa.
Interior courtyard of the spa.

We return to our own Resort Residence, where we slide open the glass walls of the terrace to the late afternoon sea breezes. We are visiting here for a few days, but we feel completely at home. As Ricardo Ramirez, the Hacienda’s general manager, explains, it’s important to understand that the Hacienda is not a hotel. For those who purchase one of the Resort Residences, Penthouses or Beach Villas, the Hacienda is home, and guests of the Hacienda are welcomed as treasured family.

And, yet, we also feel that we have arrived at an absolutely incredible resort. With the rental program, the full service 24-hour concierge, the Spa, the Beach Club and pools, the Kids Club , and the Cocina y Cantina and bars, the Hacienda offers the best of resort living.

Each owner can participate in the revenue-sharing Rental Program, or can elect to keep their residence entirely for private enjoyment; the choice lies entirely with the owner. In either case, the Hacienda management provides complete property care and management, lending peace of mind and assurance to owners that their residence is in capable hands during their absences.

Sr. Ramirez emphasizes the service and the attention to detail that is the cornerstone of the Hacienda ethic. “There are many beautiful places in the world. But it’s the small things that make the difference,” he says, “it’s all about service.” During our own days at the Hacienda, we feel ourselves in a world apart, a world distinguished by its immaculate pursuit of excellence. The people of the Hacienda, those dedicated to caring for its guests and residents, show both a polished sense of professionalism, and a truly sincere kindness that extends far beyond the requirements of the hospitality industry. This, I believe, is genuine stuff; the Hacienda’s people display a considerate thoughtfulness not only for guests, but also for each other. The Hacienda exudes an atmosphere that seems to bring out the best in everyone and everything that is here.

The original fountain
The original fountain

As I relax in the late afternoon sun on our terrace, the sea breeze refreshes the warmth of the day as we listen to the soft and infinite sounds of ocean surf. I gaze on the palm fronds shimmering in the breeze, and the pelicans that drift lazily by on ocean air currents. Soon, the early shadows of evening are upon us.

The sun is setting as we prepare for the evening event: dining here at the Hacienda’s own Cocina y Cantina , a restaurant that shares an outstanding pedigree with some of the best in Napa Valley. The much-anticipated restaurant opened in 2010 and, in 2011, was voted the Number 1 Mexican Restaurant by Trip Advisor, and Best Restaurant and Best Ceviche by the Cabo Social Magazine. Chef Octavio Hernandez chooses fresh local ingredients with which to infuse his creations with distinction. It is a cuisine based on the regional fare of Oaxaca, Puebla, Guerrero and Veracruz.

Cocina y Cantina Restaurant was voted the Number 1 Mexican Restaurant by Trip Advisor
Cocina y Cantina Restaurant was voted the Number 1 Mexican Restaurant by Trip Advisor

When queried about the reasons for this foundation, Chef replies “These areas produce some of the most recognizable and re-created dishes (mole, pozole, pescado a la Veracruzana…) now found throughout Mexico. We want to give our guests something familiar but with our own personal stamp and unique spin, while utilizing local products and ingredients.”

We settle in at our table on the outdoor terrace, and bask in the last light of the setting sun and absolutely the most stunning views in all of Cabo. The restaurant is nearly at capacity, even though it’s low season: clearly its reputation extends far beyond the boundaries of the Hacienda. Fusion music — well-chosen and at a perfect level — blends with the sound of the surf and the ever-present fountains and water features of the Hacienda. The evening is warm, yet is cooled by the quiet whirl of overhead fans and the natural sea breezes. The dark sea glistens mysteriously, the pools shimmer with the flickering flames of candles and torches.

Our waiter, Carlos, begins the evening’s excellent and attentive service with wine and an appetizer of jicama flavored with lemon juice and chili sprinkles. Savoring the moments as they slip slowly by, we continue with Aguacate con Camarones y Palmitos al Escabeche (avocado, shrimp, hearts of palm, red onion, escabeche vinaigrette), and Calamares Fritos (calamari, poblano, tomato, avocado cream). As our entrees, we both choose Medallones de Filete con Mole de Chile Ancho y Cacahuate (Oaxaca style beef medallions, ancho chile and peanut mole, roasted potatoes, spinach). Postre — dessert — is a flan, adorned by a sprig of mint. Genius.

To describe the evening’s dinner as a complete success would only just begin to do justice. The Cocina y Cantina is simply an exquisite place in which to dine. (It’s worth mentioning, too, that the prices are very accessible.)

Chef Hernandez describes his concept in this way, “Hacienda Cocina y Cantina is meant to delight all of the senses — from the stunning backdrop which overlooks the iconic rock formations of Land’s End and the picturesque beachfront and ocean views, to the authentic flavors and dishes derived from different regions throughout Mexico that are highlighted on our menus. Guests can dine with us for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or any time of day in our palapa bar while enjoying our delicious hand-crafted cocktails and admiring the view. The beautiful Cabo sunset is always a favorite of our guests.” His vision has been achieved.

The architecture is classic Mexican
The architecture is classic Mexican

We retire to the luxury of our Resort Residence where the last of the evening drifts by on the terrace. Sleep is peaceful. The morning arrives early, before dawn’s first light, and we are fascinated by the bobbing lights of the small boats as they round the still-dark terminus of Land’s End, on their way to the Pacific for a day’s fishing. Then, the sun begins to emerge from the edge of the Sea of Cortez. It blinks red on the horizon, then materializes through the band of mist to cast pink light, then golden, on the waking Cabo.

We have yet another incredible day to look forward to here at the Hacienda. A relaxation massage at the Spa, which truly lives up to its name. Fun time at the nearby walkable Cabo marina. Another superb dinner at the Cocina: this time a shared Molcajete served in a piping hot lava stone bowl. Comprised of marinated skirt steak, chicken, chorizo, poblano stuffed with corn and goat cheese, black beans, spring onions, panela cheese and avocado, this is Chef’s favorite creation. “My Molcajete combines the different flavors from all of Mexico,” he explains. On the Cocina y Cantina dinner menu, the Molcajete is part of the Para Compartir (to share) offerings, a group that contains other traditional family-style platters. As Chef says, “Nothing says Mexico more than the mealtime gathering of friends and family.”

Vacation over, as we prepare for our departure, I reflect on our time here at the Hacienda, with its buttery palette of stonework and plaster, its superb Old Mexico architecture and the clear Baja sunlight that plays amongst the slivers of light and delicate shadows cast by palm fronds and palapas. I find myself infused with an experience that speaks of luxury and enjoyment, but also something more resonant.

The Hacienda Beach Club & Residences is home, and it is a home that is deeply in love with Mexico, with its terracotta and saltillo, its abundant foliage and dappled sunlight, its ironwork and talavera, and, most importantly, its people — to whom hospitality and warmth come as naturally as breathing. Mexico, the best of Mexico, is here, at the Hacienda and in its people. Life is very, very good.

Published or Updated on: March 29, 2012 by Darian Day and Michael Fitzpatrick © 2011
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