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Review: Rancho Pescadero, the Unbound Collection by Hyatt

A place of true well-being for both guests and employees.
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Image may contain: Flooring, Building, Tub, Home Decor, Architecture, and Floorbest beach hotels winner Rancho Pescadero hotel MexicoImage may contain: Living Room, Room, Indoors, Furniture, Couch, Wood, Interior Design, Flooring, Table, and HardwoodImage may contain: Furniture, Chair, Couch, Table, Patio, Indoors, and RoomImage may contain: Villa, House, Building, Housing, and Mansion
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Why book?
To connect with nature, oneself, and the communities of artists and surfers in nearby Todos Santos. 

Set the scene
At-adults only Rancho Pescadero, desert landscapes and on-site farms make clear that everything here is about nature. It can be visualized as botanical garden first, resort second. Thirty generous acres make it feel like you have the place to yourself, and yet it’s not so sprawling to require being chauffeured by golf cart. As such, I found myself blissfully lost near the chicken coop, where chef Sandro Falbo found me and asked if I wanted to select a few eggs, walk to the garden, and pluck herbs and vegetables for breakfast made at the open-air restaurant, Botánica. Experiences like this weren’t uncommon during my days at Rancho Pescadero: I followed the scent of barbacoa beckoned to a large Sunday brunch, I spotted whales breach the Pacific, I joined an essential oils class in the flower garden, and I learned the oral history of the resort from “Pescaderoites,” a passionate group of guests who have been returning to the resort since its inception, when there were only 12 guest rooms. Now, there may be 103 keys, but they assured me the spirit and ethos hasn't changed one bit. 

The backstory
In the mid 1990s, Lisa Harper wanted a break as a retail fashion CEO and spent nearly a year camping out on a secluded beach that would soon become Rancho Pescadero. She bought the parcel of land from poblano farmers in 1997. She pretty much single handedly planted trees, drew up plans, and got to work on a hotel project that would soon become beloved by the “it” crowds of Los Angeles.

The rooms
Designed for indoor-outdoor living, the rooms are carefully arranged around the views, and 98 percent of accommodations look out on the ocean. All of the rooms have plenty of space to unwind, and the ocean-front suites level up the experience further, each with its own fire pit, private plunge pool, and outdoor shower.

Food and drink
After my happenstance tour with chef Sandro Falbo, I encountered him again during the Botánica signature smoke tasting menu, where each course arrived in a wooden box opened table-side allowing the fragrant smoke to fill the air. Falbo said that the charcoal treatment was one of his favorite ways to showcase the bounty from the surrounding gardens. Everything I tasted was insanely fresh, balanced, and indulgent without feeling heavy. Falbo’s passion shines through every dish, from the slow-roasted lamb tacos to the garden salad. A fine-dining seafood concept and a vegan casual spot are opening soon, too.

The spa
The James Turrell-evoking, circular, indoor-outdoor 25,000-square-foot spa is the pièce de résistance of the property, offering a bounty of well-being practices, treatments, classes, and a lap pool. During my own experience with the wellness programs, relaxing to the masterful direction of our teacher during a sound bath, I found myself next to a couple of tech execs and a girls' trip. Beforehand, I totally got my butt whipped at the state-of-the-art gym, which had all of the machines and equipment anyone could want. 

The area
Located an hour north of Cabo San Lucas near Todos Santos is a long dirt road that leads to the resort. During the 15 minute ride, I could feel my stress melt away with each bump in the road until finally I arrived at the front door. I passed through it, stepping into the botanical gardens, wanting only to soak up as much time as possible at this desert paradise.

The service
The staff was laid-back, friendly, and seemed genuinely excited about Rancho.

Eco effort
The footprint is minimal. Harper and husband and co-owner Billy Moore have placed great importance on sustainability. They've implemented expensive programs like transplanting thousands of plants moved during construction to their original locations, creating a solar farm, and installing a desalination plant. But they are also concerned about the strains that a luxury resort can bring to rural areas. They have created a housing complex for employees, implemented a technical education program for the community, and invested in a clean-air incinerator for the resort’s waste and also for local use. 

Anything left to mention?
Waking up on my last day in my elegant-yet-beachy guest suite, designed head-to-toe by Harper (of course), and jumping into the private plunge pool overlooking the crashing waves, I found myself thinking, This is true well-being. A place to reconnect with what matters most and feel confident that the investment in this stay is eco-responsible and helping to uplift the people who live here.

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