Loreto Right This Minute

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Many years ago, FONATUR—Mexico’s national trust for the promotion of tourism—tagged Loreto as the first on its list of resort destinations to develop and promote. Legal wranglings that took several decades to solve impeded a growth similar to that of Los Cabos and Cancun. Loreto progressed at its own pace instead—sitting “idle,” at least in developer-speak.

The result today is a Loreto that is undiluted, pure and plenty affordable, where taco stands are still the lunch spot of choice. A blended margarita at the Giggling Dolphin Restaurant and Boat Bar means having to hop on a bike connected to a blender and pedaling until it’s nice and smooth. In Loreto, you’ll find souvenirs that are actually made in Mexico and dinner that came from the sea a few feet away and a few minutes prior.

There is more coming for Loreto, including projects from JW Marriott Residences and The Villa Group, which owns hotels in Cabo San Lucas and Riviera Nayarit. And although more comforts may be on the way, urge clients seeking to be squeezed by true, natural Baja to visit now, right now, while Loreto is still relatively unaffected. Have them enjoy the crests of La Giganta mountain range and the bounty of the Sea of Cortez while they are still untouched—dolphins cavorting and whales breaching and pelicans plunging in for lunch. No high heels or party dresses are necessary and there are enough hotels and untrodden locales to have clients lose themselves, perhaps for more time than they bargained for.

in the town of laurels Laurel trees form archways over some streets in Loreto, providing a name to the town and shade and relaxation to travelers visiting the Mission of Our Lady of Loreto, founded in 1697. There are a handful of properties here with different levels of charm. Oasis Hotel, the oldest in Loreto, has just 40 rooms and a casual, homey ambiance reminiscent of family vacations “back in the day,” with a weekly clam bake and very affordable prices. Guestrooms are simple yet convenient, and the property is situated right in town so visitors can walk almost everywhere. Oasis Hotel is ideal for travelers wanting a convenient home base and proximity to the boardwalk and dock as they explore Loreto and the infinite bounty of the Sea of Cortez, for which the property is a favorite of visiting fishermen. In fact, the hotel offers a “fisherman’s breakfast” at 5:30 a.m. and can arrange fishing excursions for its guests. Rates start at $120 per night for a room with two double beds by the pool.

La Mision Hotel is brand new, right on the boardwalk, with humongous terraces in each guestroom, a yummy fish-shaped pool with jacuzzi, outstanding cuisine and a wine cellar. This more deluxe option has a modern spa and massage center as well as both standard rooms and expansive 2-bedroom suites. Clients can currently enjoy a 4-night Friends & Family package for $541.20 dbl in an oceanview suite with daily breakfast, 20 percent off a spa treatment, a $75 dinner certificate at its gourmet restaurant, 10 percent off tours and activities, and roundtrip airport transfers.

Clients can easily arrange for any number of excursions to the five islands that make up the Loreto Bay National Marine Park; each is a private Shangri-la. Coronado Island alone is a stunner. A panga can have them there in 45 minutes, lost in a world of rock formations that look like elephant paws, sea lions complaining as you draw near and angelfish that make for a snorkeler’s dream. The waters around it are so crystal-clear that you see even the most miniscule of marine creatures making their way across the sand.

outside of town The Inn at Loreto Bay is just outside of town, a 155-room resort that recently achieved silver-level status from the Green Globe environmental certification program for travel and tourism. The property is part of Loreto Bay, an 8,000-acre community that includes Baja-style villas also available for booking, 24-hour concierge services, spa services, and a wide range of outdoors activities. Guests can hop on a kayak just a few steps away from their room and while away the morning on the natural mirror of the Sea of Cortez, climb a rock formation off the beach or spend hours on their own photo beach safari. Loreto Bay has a new resplendent golf course that will no doubt become one of the main attractions here. The second nine holes are now open for play and the first nine will be ready by the end of this month. The star here is the 14th hole, which juts out to sea.