Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On a Dark Desert Highway...

Ever wonder what inspired the Eagles for their famous hit song Hotel California? Most people think they are singing about a hotel somewhere in California, right? Well they are if you mean Baja California, in Mexico's famous Baja Peninsula. Recently I rented a lovely villa in Baja, just outside Cabo San Lucas and retraced the steps (and at least some of the activities) The Eagles sing about in their song.

Only fifteen minutes from the airport, we arrive at our beautiful villa, Casa Bella. We are stunned by the gorgeous views right from the living room. We push the sliding glass doors into the walls and our living room gracefully extends right into the pool area, complete with a built in Jacuzzi, negative edge pool and a fire pit in the middle of a circular seating area—all of this on a cliff overlooking the beautiful Sea of Cortez. We sit back to take in the view, and are thrilled to see several whales breaching and blowing spouts of water into the air. (The Sea of Cortez and Baja are also big winter vacation spots for whales—who knew!)

Our villa comes equipped with a terrific chef and concierge who cater to our every need. We haven't even unpacked our bags when we are offered the first round of margaritas and fresh chips, salsa and guacamole. This isn't store-bought salsa and guacamole by the way. This is the kind that was sitting on the counter as fresh tomatoes, onions, avocados and jalapenos 30 minutes ago! You can taste the difference. We later enjoy a terrific dinner prepared with equally fresh ingredients.

The next day, our concierge arranged a Surf-Safari to the small town of Todos Santos and neighboring beach of Cerritos. We are picked up at the villa by three enthusiastic guides and surf instructors who tell us all about Baja and the sights as we drive to the beach. At Cerritos, we find an expansive white beach several miles wide with beautiful peeling surf rolling right to left. Just as importantly for us beginners, the beach has no rocks or reefs, just soft sand, waste deep water and a smooth rolling wave break that is perfect for learning. Our guides give us a lesson on the beach and then it’s out into the surf. We quickly catch some small waves and make spectacles of ourselves falling all over the place. An hour later we are starting to get it and our guides seem as excited as we are with the progress.

After surfing, we take the ten minute ride into the small town of Todos Santos. A spring-fed oasis in the middle of a desert—this was the "shimmering light" Don Henley sings about at the end of the "dark desert highway." We pull into the sleepy town and, as if on cue, hear the famous "mission bell" and there she is, The Hotel California! A small hotel with only 11 rooms, it is clearly famous for the experiences The Eagles must have had inside. We pile into the hotel's quaint courtyard and enjoy a tasty lunch. A few hours and several potent margaritas later we are starting to understand the lyrics, "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave"—who would want to?

Fortunately, our trusty surf guides rescue us before round five and return us to our villa. It was a terrific day in a beautiful part of the world.

If you are looking for a different type of vacation try renting a catered villa in Mexico! Having the staff allows you to enjoy the luxuries of a beautiful home in an exotic location without the need to cook or clean. They also know the area well and can arrange the perfect set of excursions and activities to make your vacation a memorable one. To plan your perfect villa vacation, visit, or call 1-888-33ROOST.

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