Todos Santos Hotel: an Eco-conscious Paradise in Baja Sur


Rancho Pescadero, a 103-key property on 30 acres in Baja California’s historic town of Todos Santos, Mexico, reopened this past November after a four-year renovation and expansion. “I wasn’t a developer who just popped in,” says Lisa Harper, the property’s owner. “I was part of the community.” Harper, who retired as CEO from Gymboree in 2006, purchased the parcel of land that would become Rancho Pescadero after spending 11 months camping on the beach right near where her hotel would eventually stand. 

In 2009, Harper opened Rancho Pescadero as a 12-room hotel and then expanded the property’s footprint a few years later to 28 accommodations. The property’s most recent renovation, though, offers guests almost six times as many options and also includes many eco-conscious upgrades, like a water desalination and bottling plant, which helps to eliminate the presence of plastics on the property. 

A path through a garden with local flora at Rancho Pescadero
Rancho Pescadero’s endemic garden. KENNY VIESE/COURTESY OF RANCHO PESCADERO

Harper embraces what she calls “environmental responsibility.” “Anything that we tore up, we tried to reuse, whether it was wood or tile,” she says. “We reused tile to make patios. We reused the wood to build living walls. We couldn’t do it 100 percent, but we tried to reuse as much as we possibly could.” 

Harper has come to see her role in the expansion of Rancho Pescadero — an honoree in Travel + Leisure‘s 2023 Global Vision Awards — as going hand in hand with her position in the Todos Santos community, and she aims, she says, to be a “good, responsible patron.” Although the footprint is much larger than before, she remains true to the original vision when it comes to using local vendors, employing local people, and putting business back into Mexico. Harper hopes that she can operate a hotel on a much larger scale the way she did on a small one — by continuing to drive business to Todos Santos. 

View from the terrace of a guest room at a hotel in Mexico
The view from a guest room at Rancho Pescadero. ALBERT LEWIS/COURTESY OF RANCHO PESCADERO

During the build-out, Harper and her team took extra steps to ensure the ecology of the land would be preserved. The land had once been a poblano chili farm, and any indigenous plants that were moved during construction were noted by GPS coordinates and then restored at the project’s conclusion. “We had a 91 percent survival rate of the plants we transplanted that way,” Harper says. 

Rancho Pescadero skirts a beach that is home to a nesting population of turtles. One of the property’s considerations, as a result, has been to install lighting that factors in the turtles’ natural habitat and the darkness of the sky. Dark sky lighting ensures the turtles will not get disoriented during their journey from land to sea.

A recessed shower in the middle of trees and vines at the Rancho Pescadero resort
At Rancho Pescadero, outdoor showers are screened by trees and vines. KENNY VIESE/COURTESY OF RANCHO PESCADERO

Other projects remain on the horizon still. Within the next few years, for instance, the property has plans to launch a solar farm so that it’s entirely energy-sustainable.

Rancho Pescadero is currently in the process of constructing 21 homes, which, Harper says, will be used to house staff and their families. The final plan for the project, which should take several years to complete, will include a total of 170 houses and apartments, all constructed to accommodate staff and their families, the vision for which, as ever, keeps the community of Todos Santos in the foreground. 

Source: Travel + Leisure Global Vision Awards 

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