CostaBaja Resort & Spa in La Paz, on Mexico’s Baja California Sur, is a haven of privacy and tranquility.
Peace. It’s a rare and elusive commodity many of us seek most while vacationing, whether exploring a new destination or retreating to the familiar sanctuary of a second home. Thankfully, it’s also what CostaBaja Resort & Spa offers international guests in abundance.
This alluring Mexican resort, located in La Paz (which translates from Spanish, appropriately, as “the peace”), is less than two hours north of Los Cabos. As the capital of Mexico’s peninsular western state Baja California Sur, which also has the country’s longest shoreline, La Paz has long been regarded as a quaint and quiet coastal getaway, famous for its stellar sport fishing on the Sea of Cortez.
But peace is now only a part of its broad appeal. CostaBaja, the first five-star resort and spa in La Paz, has set a new benchmark in luxury accommodations, world-class dining, and lavish amenities, boosting this emerging destination’s prestige for savvy vacationers.
The tranquility of La Paz, however, remains intact. This richly historic and centuries-old city isn’t a man-made tourist destination, asserts CostaBaja CEO Alejandro Yberri, which is what separates it from other well-trod Mexican vacation destinations. “Tourists blend in here, but they do not dominate the city,” explains Yberri.
Although La Paz-Manuel de Leon Airport is highly accessible via direct flights from Los Angeles and Mexico City, you’re far more likely to encounter easy-going residents in town than visiting jet-setters. And just as visitors mix seamlessly with the friendly locals, the glamorous contemporary architecture and design of CostaBaja seem to meld organically with the region’s natural desert-by-the-sea terrain.
This lovely resort is a getaway to the azure waters of the Sea of Cortez.
Situated on 550 acres of coastal and mountain property, CostaBaja is a master planned community featuring a variety of real estate and vacation options, including a 115-room Grand Heritage-managed boutique hotel. The comfortable accommodations offer mountain, golf course and ocean views, but vacationers can also enjoy spacious marina view suites that take full visual advantage of La Paz’s direct access to the Sea of Cortez.
Famously described by Jacques Cousteau as the “world’s aquarium,” the always sparkling gulf is the centerpiece of any stay at this lovely retreat. “Every element focuses on the water and is set into its context with sympathetic materials, massing, and design,” says architect Barry Smith, who was responsible for a recent redesign of the hotel, striving to include the unique and diverse topography within the resort’s embrace.
He succeeded. The hotel itself has a modern, airy feel. Inside the rooms, glass-enclosed showers and dark mahogany wood finishes contrast with the bright surroundings. To maximize space (and to sleek effect), there is no furniture. Room components like head boards, dressers, and butlers are built-in millwork.
The resort’s open-air restaurants also allow visitors to soak in the Baja beauty, especially from Steinbeck’s—named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose famous novel The Pearl was inspired by a visit to La Paz. The restaurant offers a bountiful selection of ocean-fresh fish, smoked chicken, and a myriad of tapas, plus an extensive tequila menu and full-bodied wine list sure to satisfy the discriminating oenophile.
Step outside the well-appointed accommodations and activities abound. The star attraction, of course, is the Sea of Cortez. Take a kayak trip from the beach to the nearby sea lion colony, or charter a catamaran from The Moorings at the double-basin Marina CostaBaja, accommodating 250 slips from 30 to 200 feet. For even larger vessels, captains can drop anchor just outside the marina. During our visit, Venus, a superyacht designed for the late Apple founder Steve Jobs, dropped anchor (the flashy 260-foot vessel is sometimes dubbed the iYacht.)
This lively village, designed by Mexican architect Pepe de Yturbe, is the perfect spot to listen to music while dining at one of the many marina-view restaurants. Back at the resort, dine al fresco at The Beach Club, replete with outdoor dining and lounge seating.
Find a shady spot under the palapa by the large bar, or soak in the surroundings from an infinity pool that blends perfectly with the Sea of Cortez. The signature Damiana Margarita will add a distinctly Baja flavor featuring liqueur from the Damiana, a local desert herb, in lieu of the traditional Triple Sec.
Relaxation comes quickly and easily in the calm and peaceful enclave of CostaBaja Resort & Spa.
Perched above the Beach Club is another vacation gem CostaBaja Golf Club, the first Gary Player-designed golf course in Mexico. This 18-hole, par-72 course is considered challenging, but even those with a higher handicap will enjoy the views from the tees; the course has panoramic vistas of the Sea of Cortez from 14 holes. And if you’d rather leave your competitive spirit back home, unwind with a soothing massage or body treatment at the rejuvenating Espiritu Spa at CostaBaja.
If a vacation piques your interest in a more permanent (or part-time) way, CostaBaja offers luxurious homes across three very different communities, all with controlled, gated access and designs that purposefully complement the surrounding landscape. The goal was to showcase clean and contemporary style that blends Mexican architectural traditions with modern elements, says David Farca, president of ToH Design Group, the company responsible for the interior design of two communities, Las Colinas and VistaMar.
Las Colinas offers 71 one- and two-story townhomes of warm-colored stone and stucco. Nestled amid a hillside village reminiscent of Tuscany, they convey a rustic yet contemporary feel. In 2012, the development added a fractional ownership opportunity to the Las Colinas community, with the launch of The Residence Club at CostaBaja. The homes range from 1,750 to 2,600 square feet, and whole ownership prices start at $558,000; 1/9th fractionals are just under $100,000.
VistaMar Residences and Casitas are CostaBaja’s most luxurious properties. Set on a bluff overlooking the sea, the spacious 63 units range from 2,600 to 4,700 square feet. VistaMar features a grand arrival plaza with palapa roof and hill-hugging casitas complete with a subterranean garage. The homes range in price from $787,000 to $1.8 million.
And finally, there are Lomas de CostaBaja custom homesites, which range from 8,070 square feet to 12,378 square feet and start in the mid-$400,000s. They are situated on a highly desirable piece of property, a southwest slope above the 14th hole of the golf course, overlooking almost all of the resort, the harbor entrance, and La Paz skyline.
CostaBaja is the complete package, a planned resort community offering the best of the desert and sea, and immersing guests in privacy and luxury. The warmth of the locals, the slower pace of life, and five-star amenities come together to create a single and cohesive piece of property. And a sense of peace that, for a vacation or forever, everyone deserves to own, costbaja.com.
CostaBaja’s Sustainable Design
When it comes to green initiatives, CostaBaja is a showcase of environmental excellence. Building in Baja isn’t about indiscriminate bulldozing. “At the core of CostaBaja’s land development is the concerted mission to protect the ecosystem,” says CEO Alejandro Yberri. But environmental conservation is no easy task when it comes to creating a large resort development like CostaBaja.
Take the marina: early construction required relocating a reef, which was carefully dismantled by underwater crews and moved to a new location outside the Bay of La Paz. There are also more than 20 species of protected indigenous plants in the area, so each plant is carefully excavated, cataloged, photographed, and moved to a new location like the on-site nursery, while others are used for landscaping.
Even the resort’s golf course was carefully developed to minimize its managed turf-grass area, reducing the required use of fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and water. These sustainable design practices have been well rewarded—CostaBaja was awarded a coveted Certificate of Environmental Excellence by PROFEPA, Mexico’s federal environmental protection agency.