Magic Ice

Magic Ice

by Roberto Valle

For those whose bucket list includes an expedition to the polar regions, but without the arduous physical trek, the luxury icebreaker Le Commandant Charcot offers an incredible opportunity for the adventurous epicurean.

The latest jewel in the crown of French cruise ship operators Compagnie du Pondant, the Charcot is a Class 2 polar vessel pairing icebreaking capabilities with the epitome of elegance and a purposefully light carbon footprint. The powerful vessel uses green technologies and runs on a hybrid liquefied natural gas propulsion system coupled with a bank of high-capacity batteries.

Le Commandant Charcot

The ship’s power is duly overshadowed by its level of comfort, with interiors designed by Jean-Philippe Nuel and Jean-Michel Wilmotte, including a theater with seating for all 245 passengers, a spa replete with snow room, several lounges and two pools, one wrapping around the back deck surrounded by heated sofas for lounging in chilly weather. 

The ship’s restaurant, Nua, boasts menus created by famed French chef Alain Ducasse, his first floating restaurant, where fine wines, caviar and foie gras are served along with other specialty dishes for the gourmand adventurer.

After all, this is an expedition ship and hosts two scientific laboratories for those studying the Arctic. There’s even an onboard helicopter for scientists to venture out onto the ice cap, collecting valuable data about this frigid yet fragile ecosystem.

With itineraries in the Antarctic in the summer and the northern hemisphere in the winter, the Charcot offers the unique opportunity to set off on an exhibition few have attempted, and none so luxuriously. 

Photos courtesy of Le Commandant Charcot

Out Of This World Dining

Out Of This World Dining

By Roberto Valle

Out of this world dining experience

Dinner Among The Stars

For those looking for a truly out-of-this-world dining experience, a French company may have just the ticket, offering luxury and fine dining on the very edge of space.

The company, Zephalto, says it will soon begin offering low-carbon, stratospheric balloon rides high above the Earth’s surface, more than 80,000 feet into the atmosphere, complete with a gourmet meal served from the craft’s highest vantage point.

Six passengers and two pilots will ride in the Celeste, a pressurized capsule designed by architect Joseph Dirand who created the Balmain, Balenciaga and Givenchy fashion boutiques in Paris, and Loulou, the restaurant at the Louvre. 

While the chefs for the voyages have yet to be announced, Zephalto’s founder, Vincent Farret d’Astiès, is dedicated to providing Michelin-star quality and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

“The view and overall journey remain the central focus of the offering, allowing guests to appreciate and take in the beauty of their surroundings,” he promises. 

The Celeste, hoisted by a balloon, will slowly rise above the planet, traveling twice as high as most jetliners, followed by a stop at cruising altitude for an aperitif, a gourmet meal, and plenty of time for photos and selfies from a 75-foot observation window. 

The Celeste will then gently descend back to terra firma after a six-hour total voyage certain to leave adventurous diners starstruck. 

Zephalto balloon

Photos Courtesy Of: CNES, Zephalto

Grupo Habita: 20 years of blood, sweat, and focus

As one of the most innovative hotel groups in operation, Grupo Habita has earned every accolade that spans two decades since HABITA opened in Mexico City 20 years ago -today. Now, with 13 projects under their belt, it can firmly be stated that Grupo Habita has rewritten the narrative of contemporary Mexican design and hospitality. Over the past twenty years, Grupo Habita has conceived some of the most authentic reflections of the unique neighborhoods, always with a distinct language. And what better way to celebrate a platinum anniversary than by opening the door to their newest project, Circulo Mexicano—in Mexico City.

Grupo Habita has created in two decades a hotel collection focused on art and design. The instinct came naturally; hotels for art collectors and the uncompromising mission to bring the vibrancy of the neighborhood. “We only create one hotel a year in order to understand a community, its vision, and tastes,” says Couturier of their approach to each new project. “Even if we’re successful at something, we don’t repeat it.’’ Among the group’s most celebrated hotels are The Robey in Chicago,  Hotel Escondido Oaxaca, and Casa Habita in Guadalajara.

For the most recent opening of Círculo Mexicano, Grupo Habita collaborated with award-winning local architects Ambrosi | Etchegaray, who are known for “architecture that is in harmony with nature, where earth, gravity, and light must be present.” At Círculo Mexicano, the collapsed roof of the existing building revealed the potential of a patio that would flood the property with light and open up its spaces. And so, this adapted central patio now acts as a modern marketplace with handpicked stores such as Simple by Trista by Giovanni Estrada and José Alfredo Silva, and unique dining options by Gabriela Cámara of Contramar. Most of the rooms also have patios that provide private spaces for guests to retreat. A proud showcase for local talent, Círculo Mexicano features custom made furniture by design studio La Metropolitana, following the Shakers design principle of simplicity, utility, and material honesty to add to the space’s architectural lightness.
Grupo Habita is committed to investing in the regions in which they build hotels, from Mexico to the United States.“We use a different team every time we build a hotel, and we read the surroundings and their traditions to integrate the local culture into our projects,” Couturier explains. As a signature element of Grupo Habita, art and culture reigns supreme at Circulo Mexicano, and takes its main cues from the address of the property itself where the nation’s most celebrated photographer, Manuel Álvarez Bravo (1902 – 2002), was born and spent his formative years. As such, a selected number of works by Bravo are exhibited throughout the hotel rooms and public areas. 

Celebrating National Personal Chef Day, Every Day

In honor of #NationalPersonalChefDay, a day dedicated to the delicious, we’re also rejoicing with the re-opening of the luxurious Las Ventanas Al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort, in breathtaking Los Cabos, Mexico, where homeowners of The Residences, and guests receive the five-diamond experience in Los Cabos — Personal Chef included.

This getaway is curated luxury like no other. The resort is set on the dramatic desert coastline, where sand and sun converge with the Sea of Cortez. The residences come packaged with a lifestyle that only guests of the Rosewood Hotels and Resorts typically enjoy. These pampering perks include check-in at anytime convenient for the guest, spa and fitness center access, concierge services, pre-arrival activity planning, valet parking and more.

But words and pictures will only go so far in describing this striking collection of only 30 private residences — the height of luxury seaside living, you have to experience it for yourself. Handcrafted finishes individually sourced from artwork from the Oaxaca, Chiapas and Guanajuato areas are evident in even the smallest detail — every home a living, breathing work of art.  But let’s get back to the celebration of food.

Al fresco dining at El Restaurante is an escape all of its own, with intimate ocean views and fresh locally sourced seafood to enjoy while stargazing.

Every Friday and Saturday evening, Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort, offers the Gourmet Table Dinner. This special, five-course tasting menu showcases the uniqueness of Baja cuisine. Sample some of the world’s finest vintages, presented to you by the resort’s executive chef. Or arrange a Men in White night. Have a meal prepared in the outdoor kitchen of the aromatic herb garden. A butler will escort you to the garden after presenting you with champagne and a menu, while a private waiter dressed in chef’s “whites” brings your dinner that you enjoy beneath a palapa by candlelight, with soft music and herbed perfume in the salty sea air.

Lastly, learn the secret to Las Ventanas’ al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort’s award-winning cuisine with a private cooking class.

And if all of this makes you hunger for #NationalPersonalChefDay, every day, reach out to Engel and Volkers Snell Real estate, the exclusive agents of The Residences at Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort, and discuss making this desirable vacation destination your home.

Contact [email protected] to learn more or visit Las Ventanas Al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort to book your next vacation in paradise.

75 Seconds to Win – Palio di Siena

For The Siena’s townsfolk, “Palio di Siena is history, tradition, and life itself.” Four days of festivities culminate in just seventy five thunderous seconds of racing, where a horse can win “scosso” – without its rider!

This public event is uniquely focused on residents rather than tourists. Ten of Siena’s 17 contrade, or districts, take turns to compete in a race as old as Tuscany itself. For visitors, securing a spot on a balcony overlooking the piazza is a priceless privilege.

The atmosphere amid the emotionally-charged crowd is exhilarating. In Quantum of Solace, the twenty-second movie in the James Bond series, an intense chase through dark passages is intercut with heart-thumping scenes from the horse race in the piazza outside. As well, Cosima Spender’s documentary, Palio, provides rare insight into the underworld of Italy’s most famous horse race and one of its most prominent cultural events.

Although a secular festival, the Palio is swathed in religious rituals and symbolism, from a blessing of the horses and riders at a traditional mass, to the Madonna represented on the silk Drappellone hand-painted by local artists every year.

The race circles the Piazza del Campo where jockeys who are hired to bring out the best in horses they have met only days before the race, ride bareback at breakneck speeds. The magnificent mounts that participate in the Palio are mixed breeds selected for their speed, strength, and temperament.

This year’s twice-annual Palio races had thrillingly close finishes. The Giraffa team, both horse and rider, extended their stride to win July’s race, and Selva’s mare, Remorex, took the honors “ scosso” reminiscent of her win in the 2018 Special Edition Palio.

Discover Earth’s Subliminal Beauty on this Epic Six-Month Cruise

Intrepid travelers take note. The first Expedition World Cruise in history sets sail in January 2021. Globetrotters yearning for escape and rejuvenation will find solace in Silversea Cruises, “Uncharted World Tour – a six-month exploration of Earth’s “raw and unfiltered” beauty where the ship’s featured lecturers bring to life the sublime landscapes visited.

What’s on the itinerary? On January 30, the ship departs from Ushuaia, Argentina, the world’s southernmost city, then continues through Antarctica’s Drake Passage to the Chilean Fjords. After stops in Chile, passengers will enjoy Robinson Crusoe Island, Alexander Selkirk Island, and the remote volcanic Easter Island, before venturing into French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Samoa, and the Fiji through March 23.

From there, the ship will skim the shorelines of the Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, making its way to Papua New Guinea and finally, Australia. After much exploration and a day at sea, Indonesia comes into view, with subsequent stops in Singapore, Sri Lanka, India, and Oman until May 22.

Trading in the Indian Ocean for the Red Sea, the cruise navigates to Egypt and then the Greek Islands. A brief stop in Tunisia leads the way to Italy, where full-bellied passengers eventually leave for Spain, Portugal, France, and London. With Europe melting into the horizon, the climate cools as the ship approaches Iceland, making numerous stops before completing its epic journey to the Paris of the North – Tromso, Norway.

Those interested should jump on this once-in-a-lifetime voyage now, as many of the ship’s suites already have waitlists. Cost is upwards of $100,000, with the two-bedroom Owner’s Suite maxing out at $404,000. Luckily, exploring Earth’s “uncharted wonders” is priceless.

Top 5 Virtual Museum Tours

“It’s a lovely experience walking around a museum by yourself.” Brad Pitt

We are all armchair travelers these days. But even when spontaneous world travel was still a thing, spending a leisurely afternoon exploring your favorite museum was not always easy. A reluctant partner, tight schedules, and overwhelming crowds all trying to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa – who knew she was so tiny IRL – would cool the passions of the most ardent museumiac.

I’m not sure if Mr Pitt meant visiting a museum without a partner, or if he took advantage of private viewing tours after hours. Either way, we can all indulge in solitary explorations now, as countless well-known museums and galleries around the world have gone online during their temporary closures.

We have rounded up our favorite Virtual Museum Tours to get you started on your Home Travel Experiences.

The Louvre, Paris

A selection of four virtual tours are currently available on the museum’s website. View an exhibition titled ‘The Advent of the Artist’ in The Petite Galerie; Egyptian Antiquities; Remains of the Louvre’s Moat; and the Galerie d’Apollon.


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The Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.

One of the most well-known and extensive museum complexes in the world, the Smithsonian is an intriguing place to visit at any time. Now you can take self-guided, room-by-room tours of select exhibits and areas within the museum – without that characteristic redolence of antiquity in the air. Current exhibits include African Voices, and the Butterfly Pavilion.


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National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

If you are more into art than archaeology, this is an excellent choice. Enjoy video tours of current exhibitions (Degas at the Opéra, and Raphael and His Circle), or discover in-depth looks at highlights of the collection, audio and video recordings by artists and curators, and other online opportunities for learning.


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History of Science Museum, Oxford

There’s certainly something for everyone in this online space, with several galleries to choose from. Explore the 3D “dollhouse” rendering of the museum to find exciting interactive treasures. If we must pick a fun favourite, it is probably this one!


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The Vatican Museum, Rome

For a sense of awe infused with spiritual majesty, The Vatican Museums are filled from marbled floor to ornate ceiling with breathtakingly beautiful pieces. Art, archaeology, and opulent décor combine in in glorious walk-though galleries including the celebrated Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s Rooms.


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Want more?

Google’s Arts & Culture Collection offers a fantastic showcase of virtual tours: 360° videos, interactive Street View images, and high-definition Art Camera close-ups of famous pieces. Notable inclusions in Google’s Top 10 Museums are Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology, MASP in São Paulo, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and Seoul’s National Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art.

Search #MuseumFromHome on Twitter for more interesting links.

At Home Where the Desert Meets the Sea: Mar a Cielo, Cabo del Sol

Mar a Cielo, Cabo del Sol

The setting is one of the sunniest spots on the planet—Los Cabos, Mexico. This is the place where 350 days of sunshine is expected and idyllic 75° temperatures year-round are not uncommon.

The residences, represented by Engel & Volkers Snell Real Estate, are a crisp collection of 36 modern and beautiful vacation homes. Two-and-a-half miles of oceanfront are your constant companions. Where the desert meets the sea is also where the Gulf of California meets the Pacific Ocean. All of it, at a scenic sliver of beachfront just 35 miles from the airport and 20 minutes from storied San José del Cabo.

The entire area is springing to life as luxury hotels and resorts have poured millions into re-invigorating the area with new luxury offerings. Future plans include a beach club, the cornerstone of the many new amenities to come.

The Residences

The two-and three-bedroom homes take their inspiration from their surroundings and complement the land, sea and local culture. Yet, their modern airy feel brings everything up-to-date. Open floor plans provide plenty of space for relaxed living — and finally writing that novel you’ve been talking about. Nice corner-wrapped terraces give you a welcoming spot to take in sea breezes and some of the most spectacular sunsets you’ve ever seen.

Outdoors, indoors it all comes together here. Ocean views included. These palm-lined perches list from $1.375M to $1.725 M. It’s not every day you find a pearl along the Baja, so now is your opportunity to own at Mar a Cielo.

How Richard Branson Does Cruises

Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages Redefine Luxury Cruising

“Don’t just build a ship, create a yearning for the sea.” — Richard Branson

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When you’ve been out on the ocean often enough, one cruise can seem very much like another. Sunshine and waves, entertainment night and day, an abundance of tempting food, and cocktails to keep you hydrated at any time of day. Well yes, its great, but perhaps a little boring.

For innovator Richard Branson, boredom is never an option. His Virgin Voyages project redefines luxury cruising with two new ships – Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady – combining luxuries one would demand on land with the liberty and ease promised by life on the open ocean. Richard Branson has gathered together the most inspiring partners to build a ship that breaks barriers and demands admiration.

So, exactly what can you expect when cruising like Branson?

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Curated Destinations
All itineraries include late stays and overnights, bringing you real experiences with real people in your favorite ports.

Rediscover the magic of the Caribbean on Scarlet Lady. Built in Italy in partnership with ship-building powerhouse Fincantieri, Scarlet Lady with her 17 decks will afford you a new perspective of the Jewels of the Caribbean. Set sail from Miami to Key West, Costa Maya or Puerto Plata. Find your fire in San Juan, gaze in wonder at Cozumel’s coral reefs, escape to Tulum and Playa del Carmen. A stop at Virgin’s exclusive Beach Club in the Bahamas features a dramatic bonfire on the beach.

Valiant Lady will carry you to the heart of the Mediterranean, with three European itineraries planned from her home port of Barcelona to enticing destinations that include Marseille, Monaco and Marina di Carrara. The call of the Mediterranean Islands will lead you to Corsica, Mallorca and Sardinia. Ibiza, home of the iconic Beach Club, will serve as an overnight stop on all itineraries.

Sweet Suites
Inspired by mega-yacht aesthetics and infused with intuitive technology, these accommodations offer so much more than just a place to rest after an action-packed day at sea. Mood-lighting, roomy Rainshowers, and configurable beds are a few of the innovative ideas that make Mr Branson’s cabins unique.

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Mega RockStar Suites cater for discerning guests who are accustomed to life at the top. Exclusive, top-tier luxury living, prime access, 24/7 agent attention, and personal riders are yours. Tom Dixon-designed suites feature spacious marbled bathrooms with all your expected comforts; hand-woven hammocks on the terrace; and outdoor Peek-a-View showers. And of course, membership to Richard’s Rooftop sundeck.

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Eat, drink and be merry!

With a selection of over 20 eateries on board, you’ll be forgiven for over-indulging. Fresh ingredients and vibrant flavors unite in truly mind-blowing food, created in partnership with respected cuisine connoisseurs from NYC to London. While you won’t find a traditional cruise-style buffet on a Virgin Voyage, you will be spoilt for choice! From a nostalgic steakhouse vibe at The Wake, to grab-and-go food-truck inspired The Galley – there’s a food scene for every mood you can possibly swing. Think Upscale Mexican, Creative Vegetarian, or Lively Korean. Still got room for more? Lick Me Till Ice Cream will astound you with seasonal, artisanal flavors. Thoughtfully-sourced coffee, draught beer on tap, champagne for days … Virgin Voyages has you covered, no matter your thirst.

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Just Breathe …

There’s no need to let yourself go (unless you want to, of course). With a fully equipped B-Complex Gym, Athletic Club, Redemption Spa, outdoor yoga on The Perch, and The Runway (an iconic Virgin-red running track), choose your level of glow-inducing wellness. Return home with body art from the talented crew at Squid Ink Tattoo Studio, an enduring reminder of a life-changing sea-adventure!

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Make it Last …

“There is nothing more important in this world than our oceans, and we’re on a mission to protect them and set an example. Success needn’t compromise sustainability.” — Richard Branson

Underlining the entire Virgin Voyages experience is a commitment to the ocean and the life it supports. Branson’s primary aim is to minimize environmental impacts. Materials and products used are sourced with sustainability in mind. From repurposed ocean plastic and upcycled materials in Virgin’s retail collection, to luxurious, green skincare products and reef-safe sunscreen. Unnecessary single use plastics including straws, food packaging, takeaway cups and more are all banned from the ships. Design choices such as tinted windows, LED lighting, and room sensors help in the quest to use less energy. Innovative technologies transform heat from the ship’s engines into clean energy, and purify wastewater for re-use.

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Don’t wait!

Plan your Caribbean* vacation on Scarlet Lady now by visiting, and find out what its really like to cruise like Richard Branson.

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*Virgin Voyages Mediterranean Cruises on Valiant Lady start in May 2021

Heaven Has an Address: Cielomar Rooftop at Viceroy Los Cabos

Experience Cielomar Rooftop at Viceroy Los Cabos

If you’ve every stayed at a Viceroy hotel or resort, you’ll no doubt recall an epic guest experience, a hallmark of the brand. Each hotel is a reflection of the local culture and a provides a unique guest experience. In Los Cabos, that experience began in May 2018, when the hotel first debuted. Since then, Viceroy Los Cabos has been at work making enhancements that now complete its goal to inspire travelers to create their own journey. The enhancements include the Cielomar rooftop bar and restaurant, a five-star spa and boutique shopping.

The Rooftop

Photo Courtesy by Cielomar Rooftop.

Not only are travelers drawn to this high point overlooking expansive views and one-of-a-kind sunsets, but the locals have caught on too. Cielomar translates to “Sky and Sea.” The name reflects a true sense of place where a fiery sky meets cerulean blue waters. When the sun goes down, you’d be hard pressed to find a better view in all of Los Cabos. The true architectural design becomes even more detailed and transformative as day fades into night. The exquisite ambient lighting and decor also add to the entire experience, rivaled only by food that features fresh seafood, wood-fired pizza, flame-grilled fare, and innovative craft cocktails.

Photo Courtesy by Cielomar Rooftop.

The menu reflects locally sourced ingredients and the freshest catches each day combined with unique Mexican panache. There is a delicious tuna poke pizza topped with grilled jalapeno, habanero-fermented Hamachi, charred corn ravioli and even bone-in rib eye for the carnivores in the family. However, the restaurant also caters to vegetarians too. The fresh black truffle, fontina cheese arugula pizza is quite a popular dish.

Photo Courtesy by Cielomar Rooftop.

Not only is the food world-class, but the international wine list and selection of craft beers and spirits ensures the right accompaniment for any meal. But it is Los Cabos, and nothing is more relaxing than watching the sun go down with a signature cocktail in hand. The menu includes incredible combinations of fresh ingredients such as the “Blonde Shakerato” incorporating beer and black truffle all meticulously engineered by the head Chef Pita and his talented team.

Photo Courtesy by Cielomar Rooftop.

With an enviable location nestled at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, Lost Cabos is certainly one of the sunniest spots. With around 350 days of idyllic blue sky and an average temperature of 75, you can visit in any season. Los Cabos also has a unique art and cultural hub that only adds to the vibrancy of the Viceroy. There is no lack of culinary adventure, but as a hotel guest, you might not want to eat anywhere else.

So, while looking for the perfect place to watch the sun set you have many choices. Cielomar in Los Cabos is a slice of Heaven. In fact, you might not want to leave. Fortunately, Engel & Völkers Snell Real Estate can help you find the right spot here to call your home away.



Experience the Best of Baja with Sun Rider Tours

Luxury Experiences at Sea with Sun Rider Tours

Proudly serving Los Cabos and La Paz for more than 25 years, Sun Rider Tours are renowned for creating quality and luxury experiences at sea presenting the very best of the Baja California Sur sights and sounds. From exploring the vast deserts and swimming or snorkeling in the warm emerald Sea of Cortez, to discovering the secluded beaches of Balandra and sailing in search of humpback whales and dolphins, Sun Rider Tours promises guests enjoyable and memorable experiences for all.

Step aboard the vast collection of luxury vessels part of the Sun Rider Tours fleet including catamarans and cruises. The uniquely designed tours, including private excursions for friends and family, cater for those seeking both adventure and relaxation. For an exceptional journey on the seas, ride with Sun Rider Tours.

Luxury Experiences Redefined: The Baja Way

Where the extraordinary unfolds

What does it mean to have a luxury experience? We don’t think you can truly know until you’ve visited Los Cabos. For it’s only here — on the edge of the known world — that every moment has a way of grabbing hold of your spirit. Where dramatic coastlines, bold adventures and an elevated style become one.

In Los Cabos, whale watching becomes an art form. The turquoise waters are breeding areas and migratory stops for humpback whales in the Pacific Ocean. You can have your pick of expeditions that will take you to see these majestic creatures dive out of the water. Witness the excitement and beauty of humpback whales in their natural habitat.

The perfect activity for nature lovers and extreme sport enthusiasts is blamping in Los Cabos. Experience the thrills of biking with the luxury of staying in glamping accommodations where you can enjoy Baja’s incredible nights to their fullest. Conquer the rolling hills to marvel at stunning views and then settle in for the night at a luxurious desert ranch.

The nearby town of Todos Santos has been designated as a Pueblo Mágico, or “magic town,” in recognition of its natural beauty, cultural riches and historical relevance. Todos Santos sits on the Pacific coast, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains. Stepping onto its cobblestone streets, lined with restored colonial architecture, is like stepping back in time. Make your way to the town’s main square to discover a historic temple, the mythical Hotel California and other buildings with stories to tell.

In Los Cabos, no matter which path you choose, all of them lead to extraordinary experiences. That’s The Baja Way.

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