01 Aug Exploring Villa del Palmar in Baja Sur
After graduating from UCLA, JIll traveled the world looking for unique destinations. She’s been writing about her travels for almost 30 years in various publications.
She writes a weekly restaurant review for the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News. It’s inserted into the Los Angeles Times every Thursday and delivered to subscribers from Hancock Park to Beverly Hills, Hollywood Hills to the Wilshire Corridor.
Exploring Villa del Palmar in Baja Sur
BY JILL WEINLEIN
Sitting in a window seat while flying on a two hour Alaska Airline flight from Los Angeles to Loreto in the Baja Sur, I immediately recognized why Jacques Cousteau dubbed the Sea of Cortez as one of the most beautiful aquariums of the world.
Arriving at the small airport, our shuttle driver whisked us in an air conditioned bus for a twenty minute coastal drive to the Villa del Palmar Beach and Spa Resort. Surrounded by the Sierra Gigantic mountains and set in the Danzante Bay, this 4500-acre resort offers stunning aquamarine ocean and mountain views. Guests have three ocean breeze restaurants, five beautiful tile mosaic swimming pools that look like turtle shells, two tennis courts, a 39,000 square foot luxury Sabila Spa and a world class 18 hole golf course.
This luxury resort and timeshare offers spacious guest suites with a kitchen, living room, bedroom with a large whirlpool tub, walk-in tiled shower, large closet and security safe. Both the living and bedroom have glass sliding doors leading out to a large veranda with a lounge chair, table with four chairs and a relaxing chair with an ottoman.
We donned our bathing suit for a swim in the adult-only pool and noticed the staff host water exercise classes and pool volleyball games throughout the day in the family pool.
Afterwards, we got ready for the weekly Thursday night beach party. Slipping off our sandals, we dug our toes in the sand and sipped house cocktails presented on trays. Tables were set up on the sand under festive decorations. A DJ and staff encouraged everyone to dance as the sun set to the west over the mountains.
Once darkness set, the staff offered guests a unique experience for a $10 donation. They lit a paper lantern, instructed guests to make a wish, and sent it soaring in the night sky. The proceeds are donated to a local eagle refuge.
The next morning, I started out on a hike along one of three paths to the top of a mountain for exquisite views of the surrounding islands. Taking a path down to a private beach, I noticed replicas of cave paintings with a descriptive sign educating visitors about the history discovered in this area.
After my hike, I enjoyed a breakfast buffet on the patio of The Market, and later took a boat trip to the neighboring islands with Danzante Tours. We learned about the five islands – Isla Carmen, Isla Coronado, Isla Danzante, Isla Montserrat and Isla Catalina are all part of the Loreto National Marine peninsula. Anchoring at a snorkel bay off Isla Carmen, we jumped into the warm water to view a diversity of marine life. The Sea of Cortez is known for 800 species of fish. While swimming along underwater rock formations we swam near an octopus, puffer fish and among schools of yellow and blue stripped fish. Cruising close to the coastline, we noticed the rocky shoreline featured dramatic sculpted walls and spires shaped as a woman’s hand, gorilla, and archway.
Afterwards, I enjoyed grilled fish tacos and a margarita at the resort’s beachside Casa Mia open air restaurant, before a spa reservation.
Walking inside the two-story 39,000 square foot spa, I received a 30 minute massage and relaxed even more in hot and cold plunge pools, steam and sauna rooms.
Walking out of the spa, I noticed two golfers hitting balls at the The TPC Danzanta Bay Driving range before they played 18 holes on the beautifully manicured Rees Jones designed golf course. It’s challenging for all levels with stunning beach, cliff and canyon holes. In-house golf pro Danny Garcia is happy to give guests a tour of his course and provide instruction if needed.
For a fine dining experience, we had reservations at Danzante for fresh, gourmet Mexican cuisine. The menu includes a deconstructed tortilla soup, fresh fish of the day, and an interactive flaming Mexican coffee demonstration.
On our last morning, I paddled in a kayak out on Danzante Bay to see pelicans fly above me and dive bomb into the water for food. There was an abundance of colorful fish swimming in schools below. I was mesmerized when multiple small stingrays levitated out of the water and slapped down making belly flop sounds.
Before leaving, we asked the staff if we could tour the model home built next to vacant lots that are for sale. These view lots are available for around $300,000 each and an architect has created four different floor plans for buyers to select and build a 2,967 sq. ft. to 4,352 sq. ft. home.
Before flying home, we had our shuttle driver stop in the town of Loreto. Walking along the stone-built malecon toward the waterfront, we noticed a beautiful Mission in the center of town. Explorer Juan Maria Salvatierra traveled to Loreto in 1697 and founded the Mission Nueustria Señora de Loreto. After exploring this charming colonial town with quaint shops, outdoor restaurants and a boat harbor, we agreed Loreto is a wonderful getaway in the Baja Sur area of Mexico.
To learn more or reserve a room at Villa Del Palmar Beach Resort and Spa call (800)790-4187. https://www.villagroupresorts.com/resorts/islands-of-loreto/villa-del-palmar/.