Merced County Times Newspaper
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Tourist Hotels Return To Life In Baja California

Years ago, the Mexican government thought they could make Baja California more of a tourist destination, and they built a string of beautiful hotels called La Quinta.

The idea may have come from the wife of the president who was from Baja.

Like many government projects, as time went by, the hotels deteriorated and were never properly repaired. They were overpriced and mismanaged.

Then the government sold them to private investors and things changed. The investors brought capital and know-how to renovate the hotels. They are now called Mission Santa Maria.

The result was an amazing transformation. Major repairs were done and improvements in the original design were also made, bringing out the true beauty of these hotels.

Such a hotel is the one at Catavina where we stayed on our way south. Catavina is located on the spine of Baja, high above sea level and almost exactly at the center of the long peninsula.

The area is dominated by huge boulders worn smooth by glacial movement. Unfortunately some people felt it was a nice place to show their love for others and the boulders were defaced with graffiti.

Now that has been removed or covered.

The hotel is something out of the past with its vaulted brick ceIling in the dining room. Hardwood floors and giant chandeliers make the place a cathedral unto itself.

The fountain in the courtyard sets the stage in the center of the hotel and there is a swimming pool with its own fountain surrounded by the guests rooms.

Tile is everywhere and set off by inlaid tile of a different color and design.

As if the grandeur were not enough, the price would surprise you. Only $70 a night for this gem in the middle of the high dessert. It is a place to get away from the hot summers in Baja but not so cool that the winter months of January and February are too cold for shorts.

Much of the original hotel are still present. The hotel is designed like it is in the middle of a park with vintage cars and art work right outside the window of the dining room.

Dinner is served in the evening until 10 p.m. and the selection of wine is superior, as is the chef.

This place can’t be reached by plane, but by bus or passenger vehicle driving from the border south on Mex 1.

It is a must see.

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