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Rising out of its arid site, the Paradero Hotel’s designers disguised its rooms behind an undulating wall of concrete.Handout

As I board an airplane headed in the direction of Todos Santos, I am mildly concerned when three women on the same flight try to walk on to the aircraft sipping their mixed drinks. The gate agent quickly lets them know that their carry-on cocktails are a no go, so they sheepishly step aside to finish them.

These women are ready to party, as many tourists are when they arrive in Cabo San Lucas on Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. My priorities, however, are not focused on Solo cups and paper umbrellas and that’s why, when we land, I drive an hour north up the coast to the smaller and much more laid-back Todos Santos.

For many visitors, the point of coming here is that it’s not Cabo. It’s quiet, centred around nature instead of night clubs, and has an active art and design scene. Any mention of Mexico for many tourists implies all-inclusive resorts and lounger-lined beaches. But dig a bit deeper and the options are much more nuanced. From the delicious food scene in Mexico City to Oaxaca’s wealth of pottery, weaving and embroidery, the opportunities to connect with culture are endless. But Todos Santos, with its unique geography and artistic bent, offers particularly special feeling.

The Paradero rises out of the desert like a contemporary art installation.Yoshihiro Koitani/Handout

One of the newest additions to the area embraces that raw landscape and creative ethos. The Paradero rises out of the desert like a contemporary art installation. In fact, the hotel’s arid environment is not a desert at all. I learn during a nature walk around the property and through neighbouring farmland to the Pacific that it is, in fact, a dry jungle. Fans of Brutalist architecture will be wowed by how concrete ebbs and flows across the surface of its buildings, which house two levels of guest rooms. The design by Yektajo Valdez Architects and the landscape architecture firm POLEN divides accommodations between rooms with private patios overlooking the cacti and others, on the upper level, with mesh nets and plush cushions for lounging under the stars.

Paradero was built away from the beach and around existing foliage so it minimizes disturbing the existing environment. Preserving the landscape was important for its owners, Pablo Carmona and Joshua Kremer, both entrepreneurs based in Mexico City. They designed the property as a resort that you shouldn’t need to leave if you don’t want to. To keep that approach fresh, its restaurant welcomes visiting chefs who create limited-time menus. There’s also a sculptural infinity pool and a traditional mud and clay hut for temazcal experiences, a traditional Mayan interpretation of a sauna that combines a steam bath and music.

In its own way, Paradero signals where this part of Mexico is headed, a place that’s rooted in the land while sparking local connections. A trip into town is essential to understanding where the region has been. Founded in 1723 as a mission and then as a hub for sugar production, today’s Todos Santos is a destination for artists of all sorts, drawn to the area for its temperate climate and access to uncrowded beaches against the backdrop of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains. In 2006, the Mexican government designated it a Puebla Mágico, recognition given to small towns that prioritize historical preservation and a thriving cultural scene.

It takes at least half a day to visit the galleries in Todos Santos’s historic centre, longer if the artists are on site and at work. One afternoon, I roll out of my garden suite’s hammock and go gallery hopping. I first encounter Mexico City-born sculptor Benito Ortega while he is working on a new piece. He uses bronze, stone and wood he’s recovered from local beaches as his media for work that tells the stories of the ocean. Many pieces evoke water imagery, figures – whether animal or human – emerging from the sea. Arturo Mendoza Elfeo runs AR Galeria, a studio and small shop. His minimalist paintings create an impression of tiny people that find themselves in abstract voids. La Sonrisa de la Muerte, a workshop, features pieces from local and international graphic artists including Mexico City-born illustrator Carlos Bautistab, whose work explores the relationship between humans and nature, and Jainite Silvestre of Guanajuato, Mexico, who works with lithography, creating images inspired by Mexican mythology and the relationship between gods and nature.

When it comes to such creative ambitions, Todos Santos’s population of 6,500 punches well above its weight. The annual music and arts festival Tropic of Cancer, based out of the Hotel California, runs for a week each January. It’s a gathering of more than 50 artists and musicians that share new visual art and musical performances in intimate venues around the town.

This creative entrepreneurship applies to the culinary scene as well. In the midday sun, Neveria Rocco’s paletas, made with fresh fruit, and the craft beer menu from Todos Santos Brewing are welcome reprieves. My only regret about a dinner at Jazamango, a restaurant helmed by chef Javier Plascencia that specializes in dishes featuring Baja ingredients, is that I didn’t know about it soon enough to schedule a second visit before I have to head home. Fortunately, there’s a bakery on site, so I grab a cinnamon roll to go.

Paradero’s opening has brought more attention to this part of the Baja peninsula. New hotels and restaurants are set to open in town – Cienpalmas, which rents casitas and glamping tents, is working on a café and shop, joining the recently opened café at Palmar, which is known for its breakfast – and more Canadians are seeking it out as a relaxed alternative to raging Cabo. It is peace people are after here, not parties. Even with its recent growth, there is an intentional balance of work and life, of time spent in town and time spent on the land or in the surf.

My week here is a reminder that creation and collaboration don’t have to adhere to a timeline or come at the cost of well-being. As I head back to the airport, I realize I haven’t seen a single tiny paper umbrella during my entire visit.

If you go: Paradero Todos Santos

The hotel refers to itself as “a high design landscaping project with luxurious suites” and accommodations reflect that duality. Choose between views of the garden, cacti, sky or mountains. There’s also a three-floor casita with lookouts to every vista.

Rooms from $695/night through

For more information about Todos Santos, visit

Style Advisor travelled to Todos Santo as a guest of Paradero. The company did not review or approve this article prior to publication.

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