Santulan - Adapting to Mexico's Wine Country
A place that adapted itself to its surroundings.... not the other way around
Next time you check-in at an hotel, take a few minutes to feel its vibe. Look around and see if the décor matches the place you are visiting. Does the artwork represent that place? Are menu items representative of the local cuisine? Or you find that the hotel feels like it can be at Anywhere, USA?
You might think that only independent or boutique hotels have the liberty to integrate local elements to their décor, but many hotel chains like Hilton and Marriott are moving forward with local elements at their hotels (Check out my story about Hilton's Umbral hotel in Mexico City).
So let me tell you about a recent stay I had at an amazing property at Mexico's Wine Country: the Valle de Guadalupe.
Hotel Santulan, Eight Rooms with One Soul
I always try to travel to UNESCO Creative Cities of Gastronomy from around the world, and finally after a long and overdue wait, I was ready to visit the area around Ensenada, Mexico.
We drove from the U.S. and crossed into Mexico through the town of Tecate (yes, like the beer). It was an easy one hour drive from the border to the town of Guadalupe. The road in Mexico was well maintained and easy to navigate. All of a sudden, I started to doubt Google Maps. Dirt roads. Left turn, right turn, left again, and all of a sudden there it was, the Hotel Santulan (sorry Google Maps, you were absolutely correct, and took me right into paradise).
There was a gate with a keypad where we entered the code provided at reservation and proceeded to the main building. We were greeted by two staff members who helped us with check-in (that basically was saying hi, and giving us the access code to our rooms). The staff gave us a tour of the property, and we were all good to go.
The hotel architecture is amazing. Minimalist and constructed mainly with bricks made with pressed dirt from the property. You have to walk outside from the main room (lobby/dining room) to the rooms, as well as to the meditation or yoga buildings. Vineyards surround the property, and you can see a winery next door. One of the best surprises? NO TV in the room or anywhere in the hotel. That was refreshing and amazing.
There are some spectacular hotels and restaurants, but unfortunately many times the service is not at par. To my fortune at Santulan, the staff at the front office, cooks, housekeeping, landscape, etc. were always saying hi, greeting us and asking if everything was O.K. And yes, everything was O.K.
Food and Wine
The hotel offered us daily breakfast, which is prepared in the kitchen on the main building and served from 8:30am to 10:30am. Freshly squeezed orange juice, coffee, an egg-based dish (one day we had chorizo and eggs that was really good), pan dulce, fresh made tortillas. This was a great way to start the day, and recover from the previous one.
The main room, is where you will find a large room with a kitchen, dining table and a lounge with some board games. There is a wine fridge on the kitchen with a stock of beer (including some local craft beer) and of course local wines. On the kitchen counter there is a notepad where you write down what you took from the wine fridge (an honor system).
In conclusion, I am already planning my next visit to Valle de Guadalupe. I will check new restaurants and wineries, but I will stay again at Santulan. Would you join me?
LINKS: Hotel Santulan: Information and Reservations
Rancho San Marcos Ejido El Porvenir Valle De Guadalupe Ensenada, Baja California, 22755 US: +1(310)844-7177 Mex: +52 (664)748-0265 firstname.lastname@example.org
If you don't believe me (this is an outstanding place to stay) here is what other publications are saying about Santulan
National Geographic: Best Luxury Stays in Latin America
Voyage au Mexique: Santulan: Sustainability and Well-Being among the Vineyards of Mexico
ArchDaily: Bed & Breakfast Santulan
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