by L.S. Winkler
Pablo Sanchez-Navarro created Hotel El Ganzo with the vision of building an exclusive adults-only destination in Los Cabos that catered to a youthfully inclined crowd and considered the tastes of locals and visitors alike. Through multitudes of collaborations, he and his cohorts have successfully designed an artistic haven that feels equal parts social club and resort. The extensive offering of amenities qualifies El Ganzo as a first-class luxury resort, but with just 72 rooms, an extremely personable staff and an all-access sensibility, this boutique hotel is more of a low-key spot that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Located in Mexico's Puerto Los Cabos, the property is secluded from the main tourist corridor and framed by a panoramic view of the Sea of Cortez. The stunning aquamarine backdrop is impossible to avoid. The first hotel in the area—and one of a kind—Hotel El Ganzo was designed to be a work in progress, and serve as an ever-changing landscape constantly transformed by its resident artists and performers. But even in this state of continual flux, the space is masterfully conceived from every angle.
Each month the hotel hosts various visual artists, filmmakers, and musicians as part of its Artist In Residence (AIR) program. Large white walls, intentionally left blank, serve as canvases for artists to actualize their work along with six suites that will also receive visual enhancements over time. Beneath a trapdoor in the lobby lounge lies The Underground, a 1,700-square-foot, state-of-the-art recording studio where musicians from around the world come to create, perform and record their work. Guests and locals can attend El Ganzo Sessions, a free ongoing series of live music performances, and anyone can view the entire catalog of performances on the Hotel El Ganzo YouTube channel.
During our visit, along with a dozen other guests, we witnessed Resident Artist Leonardo Tezcucano put the final touches and his signature on to a large mural he painted on the hotel’s exterior. The completion was met with applause and awe. A filmmaker was on site recording a time-lapse of the installation, and onlookers became subject matter for the film. At El Ganzo, the experience is always as unique as this, by design. All who enter become part of the hotel’s evolution and will never have the same experience twice.
The AIR program will soon welcome chefs from around the globe into its resident ranks. Each chef will host a special dinner with all of the hotel’s guests and locals invited to attend. The addition of the chef program will play to the centerpiece of the main floor—a beautiful long pinewood table crafted by a local artisan. Additionally there are three restaurants on-site, each focused on serving sustainable, farm-to-table cuisine. A weekly farmers market and neighboring fisherman’s wharf make it easy to source local ingredients, and since Los Cabos is a world-renowned destination for fishing, it's easy for the chef to prepare your personal catch of the day if you should find yourself drenched in such luck. Let’s not forget the beverage menu, which features wines made from grapes grown in Mexico, a house tequila from Jalisco (El Ganzo Rosa Tequila) and a selection of local craft beer is in the works.
In between art gazing, tantalizing your palette and musical performances, there’s a whole other world worth of activities to squeeze in. Guests can attend a yoga class and follow it up with a nap in one of the hotel’s many hammocks, schedule an appointment at the full-service spa and fitness center—which uses eco-friendly, organic products—or swim laps in the ground-level pool. The rooftop's infinity pool offers sweeping views and is complete with a glass cube jacuzzi and the sushi bar Gachoo, which serves up Japanese and Peruvian snacks. If that's not splendid enough, take a three-minute boat ride across the bay to the private Ganzo de Playa Beach Club.
Adventurous guests can borrow one of the hotel’s bicycles and set out on a leisurely ride around the marina to reach the beach club. The bike route provides a breathtaking ride past a park with 15 bronze sculptures and 50 works of art by surrealist artist Leonora Carrington, and the Wirikuta Cacti Garden. At the beach club, enjoy a dip in the ocean (swimmable beach access is a rarity in Los Cabos) and some casual fare at the club’s restaurant—no shoes necessary. Work off an al fresco lunch by taking a stand up paddleboard, kayak or canoe out for a spin. You can also rent a yacht for a day cruise or fishing tour, or toast bogeys and birdies in the clubhouse of an exclusive 18-hole golf course designed by leading architects and golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman. Finally, head back to the hotel to relax by the indoor or outdoor fire and take it easy with a movie screening or live performance.
It comes as no surprise that many of Hotel El Ganzo’s guests plan their travel to coincide with specific artists and musicians on the events calendar, but a new fitness and wellness program offering specialized retreats is another reason to carefully time your visit. This October professional trainer Teddy Bryant and holistic nutritionist Kristina Jackson will host a retreat exclusively for women, which will be followed by a runner’s retreat hosted by New York Times best-selling author Danny Dreyer in December.
While much of Cabo is geared toward the seasonal influx of students on spring break or transient timeshare owners, El Ganzo sets its focus on offering the local community a more authentic place to hang out. They are the only venue in the area providing quality entertainment day and night, but they also do a great job of promoting exciting events going on around town. Historic San Jose del Cabo is just five minutes away—perfect for an afternoon stroll and shopping spree. In the foothills of the Sierra de Laguna Mountains in San Jose, Flora Farm, a 10-acre working farm and restaurant is not to be missed.
There is no better way to describe Hotel El Ganzo other than purely magical. Make a reservation (rates start around $200 per night) and creative and positive vibes that permeate the resort.
Lead image, hammocks and recording studio courtesy of Hotel El Gonzo, all others by L.S. Winkler