Checking In and Checking Out

Experience the Best of Baja at Paradero Todos Santos

by Jessica Cantlin
Paradero Champagne and burritos on the beach. All photos by Jessica Cantlin.

TODOS SANTOS, Mexico – In early February, I ditched the foot of snow that had just fallen in Seattle and headed south to Baja for some much-needed Mexican sunshine. I have spent a lot of time in this part of Mexico, so I felt safe returning to someplace familiar as the pandemic raged throughout the world. An hour north of Cabo, Todos Santos is a stretch of Baja that’s quiet and sparsely populated — the perfect place to check out for a few days. The community, largely multi-generational farming families and low-key expats, have taken the pandemic very seriously, not only because they must protect their own, but because they want visitors who come to this part of Baja to feel safe and comfortable. And that, I did.

While this trip was loosely about taking a break from winter, the true purpose was to check out Paradero Todos Santos, the newest hotel to open in the area (and one of Fathom's Best New Hotels for 2021). Paradero Hotels, a new brand based in Mexico City, is the first experienced-based luxury hotel brand in Mexico. Paradero’s mission is to develop hotels in unspoiled locations throughout Mexico and introduce guests to the community and the environment through highly curated experiences.

Checking In

I visited Paradero in February, a couple of weeks after its opening and in the middle of the pandemic, which meant it was quiet, but full at limited capacity. Since my flight was significantly delayed, I arrived in the evening when it was already pitch black. Though I am familiar with the lay of the land and had the benefit of Google Maps, the hotel was not easy to find in the dark. After a few U-turns on the highway, I finally turned down the correct dirt road where signage and security for the hotel suddenly appeared. Checking in was simple and straightforward (temperature check, sanitation, credit card registration, and room key). I had booked my experiences in advance, so there was very little to accomplish before I had a cocktail in hand and was seated at the bar of Open Kitchen for dinner.

Location

The hotel is nestled among the farms of Pescadero, the agricultural community just south of Todos Santos, about an hour north of Cabo. Developed on five acres of untouched land, Paradero is purposely not located on the beach, a suggestion to guests that there is more to this part of Mexico than lazing in the sand day after day. Though a virgin beach is just down the road, Paradero chose this location because it wants to direct travelers’ attention to the distinct ecosystems of the area, which, in addition to beaches, includes incredible 200-year-old cacti, the Sierra de Laguna Mountains, an oasis of 5,000 palm trees, and fertile farmland.

The outdoor living room.
The pool.

Hotel Style

Combining indoor and outdoor living is at the heart of Paradero’s design. The small property will attract travelers who are interested in minimalist, sustainable luxury, as well as those who seek to experience a different side of Mexico. The setting — dusty agriculture meets high design with a sustainable twist— results in a property that is a sanctuary for both the comfortable and the chic.

What’s on Site

At the heart of the property is Paradero’s outdoor living room. An impressive, concrete, open-air structure, the living room is where you will find reception, meeting space, lounge chairs, hammocks, and an outdoor fire pit. A cozy place to gather with a cocktail in the evening, its roof is also designed to be used as a yoga deck.

A few steps away is Ojo de Agua Spa, the first full-service hotel spa in the area. Focusing on ancient Mexican healing traditions, the spa offers massage, meditation, hot and cold plunge pools, and a mud hut for Temazcal ceremonies. Though newly planted, the spa is shaded by almost 100 locally grown palm trees and other native species. When the landscape matures, it will surround the outdoor facility and appear like an oasis, inspired by the secret watering holes of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains.

Adjacent to Open Kitchen, Paradero’s restaurant, is a 130-foot infinity pool, hot tub, and a half-moon-shaped sun deck. Built entirely of concrete, the stunning pool faces the perimeter of the property and has unobstructed views of the desert. Every morning, Tony teaches yoga classes (at 9:30 a.m., neither too late nor too early) on the pool deck. But in the afternoon, sun salutations and stretching give way to relaxation and margaritas.

Guest suites.
The guest rooms — seen from the entry and overhead.
The rooftop suite.
Garden Suite. Photo courtesy of Paradero Todos Santos.
Detail from a guest suite. Photo courtesy of Paradero Todos Santos.
The view from the guest rooms.

Rooms

The 35 desert-facing guest suites are two-story structures built in an L-shape along the perimeter of the property. The minimalist, sand-colored concrete buildings blend into the wild landscape and take advantage of the panoramic views of the rustic terrain. Each room, designed in a natural color palette, is accented with Mexican textiles and custom-crafted furnishings. While the hotel does have air-conditioning, the windows are strategically placed within the suites to promote cross ventilation of fresh air. Translation: You’ll sleep better without the noise pollution! Garden Suites on the lower level extend into the landscape with outdoor lounges, hammocks, and outdoor soaking tubs. Rooftop Suites have panoramic rooftop living rooms with plush daybeds and built-in “star nets” for gazing. In the suite, the bedroom is separated from the bathroom by an outdoor patio space. Since Paradero prides itself on sustainability, you won’t find small bottles of shampoo, a mini bar, or coffee machine in your room. In fact, you won’t see excess plastic anywhere on the property, which we heartily applaud. Locally sourced soaps and shampoos are provided in refillable bottles. Similarly, a carafe of water, along with glasses and two reusable, branded water bottles are available in each suite.

In-Room Amenities

WiFi is good and strong throughout the entire property. There are no televisions. This is a good thing.

Food and Drink

At Open Kitchen, chef Eduard Rios (previously of award-winning Pujol in Mexico City), combines his expertise in refined Mexican cuisine with ingredients native to Baja. You won’t find Baja fish tacos on the menu here, as chef Rios is aiming high with his menu, hoping to draw foodies from all over the region. So far, standouts include an excellent hamachi tostada with blackened avocado, grilled chili-rubbed prawns, and soft shell crab tacos. Breakfast at Open Kitchen is a huge hit among guests, as evidenced by the number of times I overheard “these are the best eggs I have ever had.” Excellent cuisine and authenticity were highly important to the owners of Paradero when they were looking to hire a chef — no fewer than 20 people were interviewed for the job. They insisted that the restaurant source as many ingredients as possible from the neighboring farms and that their chef make tortillas in house from scratch. To compliment this skill, the owners incorporated a clay oven into the kitchen design. I learned that Rios eventually hopes to grow corn on the property so that his tortillas can be 100 percent farm to table.

Open Kitchen.
Come hungry. Tuna hamachi on the left, chilequiles on the right.

Experiences

Paradero aims to immerse its guests in the environment through outdoor experiences led by knowledgeable local guides. Hiking, mountain biking, farming, and surfing are just a few of the physically challenging experiences on offer. Guests geared towards intellectual adventure can opt in to community-based experiences such as guided taco tours, cooking classes, and visits to local galleries.

Exhausted from travel (and maybe a few too many tequilas), my first experience began with an 8 a.m. date with Hernando, Paradero’s hiking guide. As we hiked for four miles along the dusty bluffs above the Pacific, Hernando taught me about the flora and fauna of Baja’s environment. To my surprise, we weren’t walking through the desert, but rather, a dry jungle, populated by plant species that rely on the few inches of water that drops on the region annually (nothing grows in an actual desert). At the end of the trail is an overlook with a magnificent view of Playa Las Palmas, one of many virgin beaches in the area. We hiked down to the sand and walked to the end of the small cove where we came upon a family of wild horses lazing in the sun. (I’m not making this up.) Behind the beach, we picked up the trail and headed inland through an oasis of fresh water streams and a canopy of thousands of palm trees. I definitely earned my breakfast that morning.

On my last day, I was scheduled to surf at Cerritos Beach with Mario Surf School. I woke to clouds and wind, and at 8:30 a.m. did not feel like this was the day that my middle-aged body wanted to learn how to surf. But I motivated, and off we went. Mario Surf School sets its students up with a board, wetsuit, and one-on-one instruction, ensuring that everyone catches a wave. Paradero provides transportation, towels, lounge chairs, an umbrella, and snacks. Now this is how it’s done! Not only did I get up on the board and ride a few waves, but I had a blast doing it. If you have never surfed, drag yourself out of bed and go! It was the highlight of my trip.

Wild horses on Las Palmas Beach.
Las Palmas Beach.

This Place Is Perfect For

Discerning travelers; those who seek to experience something new through travel, and first-time visitors to the area.

But Not So Perfect For

Budget travelers and those seeking a full-service, beachfront resort experience. And families, as Paradero is an adults-only hotel.

Drawbacks

Paradero is not on the beach.

Standout Detail

The architecture and and landscape design of Paradero are really quite stunning. I can’t wait to return in a few years when the flora has had a chance to mature and fill out.

What to Do Nearby

Shop for art and antiquities in the heart of colonial Todos Santos. Visit Las Tunas neighborhood in the northern reaches of Todos Santos and have unbelievable tostadas on the beach at The Green Room. Go surfing at Cerritos Beach followed by tacos at Barracuda Cantina.

Good to Know

Gratuity is included in your final bill.

Getting Around

Though the hotel has a shuttle that will take you wherever you want to go in the immediate area, I highly recommend renting a car, as part of the charm of Baja is exploring on your own.

Book It

Rates from $550, which includes daily breakfast and one experiences per day.