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As I interacted with other travelers over the course of a stay in Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe, one thing became increasingly clear: This Baja California destination may not be a household name yet, but it is certainly a place that people are eager to introduce to their family and friends.
Located just 45 minutes south of the U.S. border, the wine country destination is becoming a favorite among those who seek trips that include sophisticated cuisine, local wine (from more than 70 area wineries) and singularly designed hotels and restaurants.
Editor’s note: The writer’s visit to Valle de Guadalupe took place pre-pandemic. Please check with the individual properties and businesses to verify COVID-19-related operating policies before booking.
Where to StayConsisting of 22 individual rooms scattered along a hillside, Encuentro Guadalupe is an eco-hotel that feels like a modern, luxury sleepaway camp for adventurous adults.
RELATED: Top 5 Boutique Hotels of Valle de Guadalupe
As I arrived at the property, I was in awe of what looked like stylish shipping containers resting on stilts, effortlessly blending in with the surrounding environment. Soon after entering the front gates, I passed rows of grapevines before reaching the open-space lobby with an expansive patio that overlooks the valley below. At check-in, the concierge offered me a complimentary glass of wine from Encuentro Guadalupe’s own vinicola (winery), before a shuttle whisked me away to my private room in the hills. (In an effort to minimize disruption to the environment, cars are prohibited beyond the lobby.)
Each lodge evokes a sense of tranquility through its minimalist design, which includes floor-to-ceiling windows and a private patio with a fireplace and seating area overlooking the vineyards and the mountains in the distance.
At night, the patio functions as a platform for stargazing while a bonfire keeps guests warm. Rooms are equipped with complimentary Wi-Fi access and a two-way radio to contact staff for shuttles, room service and other needs.
In addition to the private cabins, Encuentro Guadalupe offers some great amenities, experiences and dining options. On the top of the list is its striking infinity pool and hot tub, strictly for hotel guests, which is conveniently located next to an outdoor bar. Encuentro Guadalupe also has two restaurants — Origen, which serves Baja cuisine, and Raw, an oyster bar — as well as an underground wine cellar with tastings available.
Where to Wine and DineOne could be forgiven for spending their time in Valle de Guadalupe relaxing poolside, but that would mean missing out on the area’s creative, locally focused restaurants and wineries. My first culinary stop was Deckman’s en el Mogor. Boasting Valle de Guadalupe’s only Michelin-ranked chef, Deckman’s offers some impeccable dishes made-to-order from an open-fire grill at the center of the outdoor restaurant. I was fortunate enough to sit at the chef’s table and got a firsthand look at Drew Deckman working his magic on the grill.
Also on the must-try list is Fauna, located in Valle de Guadalupe’s popular boutique hotel, Bruma. The first thing I noticed when I arrived at Fauna was the beautiful decor, including a large wooden communal table that begins on the outside patio and travels through the open floorplan to the inside of the restaurant. The rustic yet neutral environment serves as a perfect foundation for the vibrant and complex dishes — featured on an ever-rotating, experimental menu — that take center stage.
Valle de Guadalupe is home to more than 100 wineries that each deserve a separate visit. Reservations are suggested for some of the more popular spots, such as Monte Xanic, where guests can experience a tour of the elaborate grounds, which include a tasting bar, a fermentation room and an underground cellar. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Lechuza Vineyard, which accepts walk-in guests, has a laidback attitude and offers games and activities for clients to enjoy while sipping on a selection of reds and whites.