Paradise Perfectly Lost

By Jim Kastleman

Combine Lake-Flato’s modernist architecture with Austin’s hipster-cool hotelier Liz Lambert and an isolated shoreline outside Todos Santos, Mexico, and you’ll get laid-back luxury in an authentically Baja way.

If you need the structure of The Carlyle in New York, or The Dorchester Hotel in London, you may not like it here. If you’re fanatic about Austin’s Hotel San José or Hotel Saint Cecilia, and if envision yourself in an isolated, boho-chic, movie-star quality compound, lounging poolside overlooking the ocean, sipping tequila, and eating fish fresh off the boat, hop on a jet — destination Hotel San Cristóbal — now.

This new, 32-room sanctuary — the latest from Liz Lambert’s booming Bunkhouse Group and her first hotel outside the US — would seem at home on the Mediterranean, but thankfully, it’s Baja California Sur environs are much closer. There’s a room for any type: ocean view, mountain view, soaking tub, outdoor shower. Stamped concrete floors support perfectly finished, Venetian plaster-like walls. Waterworks fixtures and Malin + Goetz products are yours.

Furniture, fabrics and lighting are all custom made by Guadalajara and Guatemalan artists. And the ocean-inspired culinary offerings from chefs Edgar Palau and Austin food whiz Lou Lambert are perfection — a combination of Mediterranean, Asian, and Mexican flavors that create a magnetic pull that tends to make you want to eat every meal on the property.
Because of the hotel, a community now exists in this sliver of Mexico, where not too long ago there was nothing. It fosters the local panga fishing cooperative, which shares its shore and provides for the region. The staff is noticeably local, humble, and not yet chiseled by the demanding throngs of tourists common at other resorts. Admittedly, a slight knowledge of Spanish goes a long way.

You don’t need to be told to tread lightly, here, it just happens naturally. The only gross excesses acceptable are the consumption of bebidas and indulging in the abundant views of countless cacti, colored textiles, ocean, and mountains. Music and crashing waves soak the air. If, for some strange reason, you want to leave, there are quintessentially Baja activities nearby: fishing, whale watching, surf camps, hiking, biking and ATVs. Todos Santos, less than 10 minutes away, is a sweet town to visit.

In a fit of enthusiasm, I asked David, the concierge, and the very man in charge of booking activities, what we should do. “Should we ride ATVs in the desert? Dune buggies on the beach? Horseback ride?” He smiled, looked me in the eye, and in a slow Spanish cadence, said simply, “No. Just eat, drink, and sit at the pool.” Gracias, amigo, I think I will.

Booking it: Hotel San Cristóbal, Playa Punta Lobos, Carretera Federal No. 19, Km 54+800, Todos Santos BCS. CP 2330, 011.52.612.175.1530, sancristobalbaja.com. Rooms from $285 per night.

This story first appeared on PaperCityMag.com.

Airlines fly into San Jose del Cabo, but flying privately into Cabo San Lucas International cuts the drive time to San Cristobal almost in half. Manny Aviation in Cabo is one of the best international handler’s I’ve experienced, with out-of-this-world customer service.