Rosarito Beach Hotel: Steeped in the past, fun in the present and looking to the future
Sun, sand and sea … just a few hours from Las Vegas
Tucked away on a white sandy beach is Rosarito Beach Hotel. Opened as a lodge more than 80 years ago, the timeless Pacific tides and breezes of this Baja spa resort still have the power to restore the mind, body and spirit. Located in what was once part of the family mansion, the Casa Playa Spa is dedicated to pampering and nurturing hotel guests in an atmosphere of elegance and serenity.
The history of the Rosarito Beach Hotel has shaped the growth of west Baja California Norte. Its popularity gave rise to the city of Rosarito Beach 30 miles south of San Diego. The hotel has been at the heart of the popular resort destinations that grew up around it. Today, the 500-room, full-service resort remains one of the most popular destination for the city’s more than 1 million visitors a year offering old world grandeur, world-class restaurants, entertainment, lodging options and activities.
“We want to make Rosarito Beach a model city of Baja California Norte and for all Mexico,” said Hugo Torres Chabert, president and manager of the Rosarito Beach Hotel. “We are blessed with a coast line of white sandy beaches and inland areas of natural beauty. Our goal is to enhance the resources of Rosarito Beach, both for our residents and the visitors who enjoy our wonderful city.”
Rosarito Beach Hotel offers authentic Mexican cuisine, The Azteca Restaurant, with a range of omelets along with traditional Mexican breakfasts and other egg dishes. For lunch and dinner, the menu includes a selection of seafood, beef and chicken dishes. It is located off the main lobby where guests dine in a quaint and charming atmosphere. Wall-to-wall windows provide a view of the 100-foot-long swimming pool beyond the restaurant.
The Casablanca Restaurant is located near the beach bringing the flavors of Baja of colorful, balanced and exquisite dishes. Visitors can also order unique cocktails and tapas in the restaurant’s lounge with a breathtaking view of the ocean. A traditional Mexican buffet at a folkloric ballet show is offered in the Salon Mexicano.
To the right of the hotel entrance is the Rosa and Rita hacienda-style bar. This fun and famous karaoke bar is decorated with wonderful historic photographs of the hotel from 1926 to the present. It provides guests with an inspiring trip of the grand history of the legendary Rosarito Beach Hotel. There is also the newly remodeled Adobe lounge with live music playing old time favorites creating an intimate ambiance.
Having a day at the spa at the Casa Playa Spa completes a relaxing vacation. When it originally opened in 1925, the Rosarito Beach Hotel was considered a wonderful vacation and health destination because the sea swept air was both preservative and restorative. Early visitors appreciated the therapeutic effects of saltwater bathing and fresh ocean air. People were also drawn to the soul satisfying aesthetics the seascape provided. The hotel’s unparalleled oceanfront location gave early visitors the chance to enjoy one of nature’s most inherently beautiful landscapes: sun, sand and the sea.
Casa Playa Spa has put together a variety of body services that can help achieve perfect, smooth and nourished skin. Natural products are used from the sea and earth. They are specially combined to restore and improve the condition of the skin as well as to detoxify and rehydrate creating an all-over body glow. The staff consists of registered and highly trained massage therapists. They are educated on how to effectively relax muscles, increase circulation and improve joint mobility using light and deep tissue techniques.
Rosarito Beach Hotel is also the perfect setting for a romantic getaway, renewed nuptials or saying I do to the love of your life. The staff at Rosarito Beach Hotel can assist in planning a dream wedding on the beach.
For guests looking for some adventure, there are plenty of off-site activities in Rosarito.
Guadalupe Valley offers great wine tasting, Baja’s answer to Napa Valley. Located just northeast of Ensenada, the Baja California Wine Country is blessed with some of the most ideal Mediterranean climate for grape growing. There are very few microclimates in Mexico that combine the very unique characteristics of elevation, soil, season and temperature. The Valley is home to about 18 wineries that range from a small organic winery, La Casa de Dona Lupe, to L.A. Cetto, one of the most renowned and oldest wineries in Mexico. L.A.Cetto is one of the most important wineries in the Mexican industry; having achieved a total of 132 international awards in excellence from countries such as France, Italy, Spain, England, Canada and the United States. The different wines can also be enjoyed at the Rosarito Beach Hotel where once a month they host a wine tasting and dinner at Chabert’s restaurant featuring many of the local wineries.
Baja’s Gold Coast, the 60 scenic miles that stretch from just south of San Diego to Ensenada, offers some of the best recreational activities. Surf the same waves that host the Mexican national championships and for the beginner surfers, the hotel offers lessons. Fishing is available right off Rosarito Beach Hotel’s quarter-mile wooden pier. Race down the beach in an ATV or ride a horse alongside the water at sunset. Spend the day golfing, parasailing, going on an exotic shopping spree, or enjoy nightlife that calls to mind a Mexican Mardi Gras.
Rosarito Beach Hotel is also family friendly, offering a summer kids camp and activities, plus baby-sitting.
Originally opened as a lodge, travelers from all over the world traveled to hunt the quail, ducks, deer and mountain lions that inhabited the area. In the late 1920s the lodge was purchased by Manuel P. Barbachano, which began the historic journey of what is now known as the Rosarito Beach Hotel.
Wanting to expand the eight rooms and one bath lodge, Barbachano began drawing up plans and working on developing the area as a whole. To design the elaborate hotel lobby with 20-foot-high ceilings, he worked with an engineer. He also added more guest rooms and a large dining room that included a bar running the entire length of the room.
Barbachano hired people that lived on nearby ranches to work on the hotel’s construction. After the completion of the hotel, many of them stayed on as staff and today, a number of the hotel workers are children and grandchildren of the original families who built and worked at the facility.
The legendary Rosarito Beach Hotel, which opened its doors in 1925, quickly became one of Baja’s most famous landmarks. The nostalgic enchantment and warm generosity has drawn millions of visitors as well as movie stars, presidents and international royalty. Special guests Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, Joan Bennett and Kim Novak inspired the sign above the entrance that reads, “Through this door pass the most beautiful women in the world.”
Barbachano continued to expand the beautiful hotel. He had special murals made to decorate the lobby walls and placed replicas of important Aztec and Mayan art throughout the hotel. The grand hotel foyer was constructed, including the addition of 50 rooms, the Salon Mexicano Ballroom and the Azteca restaurant and the decoration of extraordinary chandeliers and furniture from Mexico City. He wanted the hotel to emphasize gracious Mexican living but also appeal to the U.S. tourist.
In 1937, Barbachano married Maria Luisa Chabert, an aspiring actress from Mexico City, and built a gorgeous 19-room mansion next to his hotel. In 1940, he expanded the Rosarito Beach Hotel again by putting in an Olympic-sized tiled swimming pool, casual Beachcomber bar and more guest rooms. The World War II and post-war years continued to see popularity of the hotel grow.
Barbachano died in 1954 and his wife Maria remarried in 1957 to a U.S. Navy Pilot, James Shaw. The couple moved to Washington state and Maria Shaw leased the hotel. In 1974, Hugo Torres Chabert, Maria Shaw’s nephew, became president and manager of the Rosarito Beach Hotel and continues to manage the operation.
In the early 1980s, a wing of ocean-view rooms were added to the hotel and in 1992, an eight-story tower to the north opened with 147 more oceanfront rooms. The elegant, 19-room Barbachano estate has been transformed into the hotel’s spa, Casa Playa, as well as housing the Mediterranean specialty restaurant, Chaberts, in the elaborate former living room.
According to Chabert, he will continue to transform Rosarito Beach Hotel while keeping its traditions.
Visit rosaritobeachhotel.com or call 1.866.ROSARITO (76727486) for more information.