A close look at the friendly enclave of beachfront resorts south of Los Angeles, just over Mexico's Baja border.
The lively beach resort of Rosarito Beach, a popular getaway for southern California families, is worthy of a weekend break for others traveling with kids who may tire of the summer heat in metro Los Angeles and San Diego. If you’re driving through Tijuana, heed the current directive of the U.S. Department of State, which cites increasing border violence related to drug trafficking at some of Mexico’s land crossings. They advise travelers to stay in “more well known tourist destinations” which are likely to have greater security. Note that as of March 2010, the community will have an enhanced tourist police presence thanks to a security initiative launched throughout the northern Baja Peninsula.
Rosarito Beach Hotel
Boulevard Benito Juarez 31, Rosarito, Baja California 22710
The renovated Spanish Colonial-style Rosarito Beach Hotel (800/343-8592) is Rosarito’s best and a favorite, family-owned destination since 1927. Its 230 oceanfront rooms and suites have hosted Hollywood moguls, Mexican presidents and screen legends including Rita Hayworth, Spencer Tracy and Marilyn Monroe. Today’s families will find a friendly staff, and spacious rooms with ample closet and storage space, cable TV and space for rollaways if needed. Modern amenities (WiFi internet can be accessed throughout the lobby) and recreation facilities abound.
Adults and teens will enjoy volleyball, racquetball, tennis and basketball; other hotel amenities include two large oceanfront pools, a water slide, three Jacuzzis, ping pong, and a walking pier that juts out to the ocean. Nearby are the oceanfront Real Del Mar or Bajamar golf courses. Younger kids will be kept busy with the resort’s slides, playhouse, and the jungle gym in the large children’s play area. The staff-supervised Kids Club is available for youngsters of all ages during holidays and summertime at no extra charge. The smallest kids will get to dabble in finger paints, search for buried treasure, build sandcastles and splash around in their very own kiddie pool. The older kids will enjoy a piÃ±ata party, have their faces painted, participate in Loteria (Mexican Bingo), and compete in the water balloon contests and mini Olympics. A special Kids Club Menu is available for even the pickiest eater that includes cheeseburgers, spaghetti with tomato sauce, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, quesadillas, burritos and everyone’s favorite, chicken nuggets.
For the ultimate relaxation and pampering with your choice of massages, body treatment and facials, indulge yourself in the hotel’s magnificent European-style Casa Playa Spa set in the original mansion (also site of a wonderful fine dining restaurant). The Spa also has a complete gym outfitted with universal equipment and a large exercise room for aerobic classics, and is open to all hotel guests. Special events include party time for the whole family every Friday and Saturday night at the Fiesta Mexicana floor show complete with folkloric dancers and a sumptuous Mexican Buffet. Karaoke Nights are great fun at Rose and Ritas.
Kids under 12 stay free in adults’ room and seasonal family packages are available. If you’re considering your very own vacation home, you’ll be interested in the 17-story Rosarito Beach Condo Hotel (866/RBH-BAJA) being built right alongside the Rosarito Beach Hotel. A variety of beautifully furnished apartments are now on view.
Km 35.5 Carratera Libre, Tijuana – Ensenada , Baja California 22710
Further south along the Tijuana to Ensenada Highway, this hotel is set right on the bluffs above the beach. There are 80 oceanfront, ocean or garden-view rooms and suites here, and two children under 12 stay free in parent’s room. When dining at the huge oceanside restaurant, be sure and bring your camera and opt for a table on the south side for a better view. A major highlight here from January to March is the sighting of the thousands of gray whales who pass by the hotel on their migration from Alaska to their birthing grounds in the Sea of Cortez.
Hotel Festival Plaza
Boulevard Benito Juarez 1207-1, Rosarito Beach, Baja California 22710
(800/453-8606; 800/027 37 71 -Mexico)
This is a family-friendly, modestly priced hotel located downtown near — not on — the beach. Characterized by its wild colors and distinctive design, the hotel offers a choice of 203 rooms and penthouses where children under 12 stay free in parents’ room. Festival Plaza is close to the action with its own stage, a fun Ferris Wheel, and courtyard where the kids will love letting out their energy. The hotel’s Portofino restaurant features a wide variety of Italian delicacies, including gourmet pizza.
Las Rocas Resort & Spa
Km 38.5 Carratera Libre, Tijuana – Ensenada , Baja California 22710
The Rocks is a picturesque 74-room retreat that appeals to large families especially. The suites are well priced and even in the standard rooms, up to three children may stay free when sharing their parents’ room. There are two pools, Jacuzzi, tennis and volleyball courts. This oceanfront resort is renowned for its holistic inspired Spa that offers therapeutic massages, and a signature Mexican chocolate or banana wrap, facials, manicures and pedicures while looking out across the Pacific sipping chilled cucumber lemon water. Restaurants include CafÃ© de Mar for casual dining and brunch, and the exquisite formal El Meson Restaurante for dinner. Singer Julio Iglesias was a frequent guest here.
Photos by Mel Greenberg
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