Hotel El Ganzo Brings Multimedia Artistry to Los Cabos
Photos by Lori Rackl
The boutique hotel’s white walls double as a blank canvas, beckoning artists-in-residence to leave their colorful mark.
A trap door in the lobby leads to an underground studio where musicians record tracks — the same songs they might play during a rooftop concert near the infinity pool overlooking the Sea of Cortez.
Welcome to what just might be The Coolest Hotel in Mexico.
The hip-yet-humble Hotel El Ganzo stands out as a true original in this lodging-packed tip of the Baja California peninsula.
Located on the milder — as opposed to wilder — side of the Los Cabos tourist corridor in San Jose Del Cabo, El Ganzo is a magnet for creative types looking for a laid-back escape. Rustic touches add just the right amount of warmth to the minimalist, modern design of the 69-room property that boasts one of the few swimmable beaches in Cabo.
El Ganzo debuted the year before Hurricane Odile wreaked havoc on the region in September 2014. It reopened last month sporting several changes, including new artwork from former pro basketball player Desmond Mason.
“He means a lot to us,” sales manager Miriam Reuter said about Mason. “He was the last artist we had here before the hurricane and he was the first one back.”
The hotel sits at the base of a marina in the tranquil Puerto Los Cabos residential and resort community masterminded by mega-developer Grupo Questro, helmed by Eduardo Sanchez-Navarro. El Ganzo is the vision of Sanchez-Navarro’s 31-year-old son, Pablo, whose affinity for Hunter S. Thompson-style “gonzo journalism” helped inspire the hotel’s name. (Pablo is a Bob Dylan fan, too, which explains the occasional quote or lyric from the folk rocker scattered around building.)
Not long before Odile unleashed her fury, American filmmaker Steve Balderson spent several weeks at the hotel shooting a movie. Loosely based on author Agatha Christie’s real-life bout of amnesia, “El Ganzo” tells the story of two drifting travelers who help each other discover their true selves.
The movie made its Latin American premiere last month at the 4th installment of the Los Cabos International Film Festival. (Ironically, I had to miss the screening because I was literally at El Ganzo, eating lunch at one of the hotel’s four restaurants, when it was being shown.)
The hotel also can be seen on the small screen. Its YouTube channel is home to the popular “El Ganzo Sessions,” a series of music videos shot on-site and produced by Los Angeles native Mark Rudin. Past performers include Rachel Yamagata, Joshua Radin, Mexican singer-songwriter Natalia Lafourcade and Slash, who rocked the rooftop stage. Weekend concerts are free for hotel guests.
“We have a first-rate recording studio,” said Rudin, a musician in his own right. “Liev Schreiber was vacationing in Cabo and HBO sent him here to record a voiceover for their sports documentary series, ‘Hard Knocks.’”
El Ganzo might attract its fair share of celebrities, but its right-brain appeal isn’t limited to famous folks.
“We had a guest whose wife bought him an hour in the recording studio,” Rudin said. “He got a digital recording out of it. That’s a pretty cool experience to have at a hotel.”
Overnight rates at El Ganzo Hotel typically start around $320, although less expensive grand reopening specials are being offered online; elganzo.com. The hotel is a 20-minute drive from Los Cabos International Airport (SJD).
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