Sun-splashed beaches have long been the main draw for vacationers in Baja, Mexico. In recent years, however, an inland wine region two hours south of San Diego has increasingly attracted tourists seeking an alternative to the sand and surf. With verdant fields ringed by hills and mountains, Valle de Guadalupe harbors some 60 wineries scattered among colorful shops, modest dwellings, and a handful of quaint inns. Untouched by commercialization, the area often elicits comparisons to the early days of Napa Valley.
Hotel Endémico, a striking newcomer designed by Tijuana architect Jorge Gracia, blends with the milieu while catering to the sophisticated traveler. Opening in July, the resort features 20 Modernist cabins on pilotis'all nestled within a rural setting teeming with flowering shrubs, sculptural boulders, and desert wildlife. 'I conceptualized them as camping tents with all the comforts of a luxury hotel,' Gracia says while giving a tour of the grounds. 'They're sealed boxes in this aggressive nature.' The 232-acre site is also dotted with small vineyards and includes a 19,400-square-foot wine-production facility (designed by Gracia) that, once complete, will house a tasting room and restaurant.