Poolside margaritas. Hot carne asada tacos with fresh cilantro. Warm ocean waters. Whether you are still buried in snow or are just tired of having to don a sweater with your sandals as I am here in Southern California, we’re all dreaming of warmer weather and a getaway. It’s time, isn’t it?
A few weeks ago, my family and I headed south to explore the Hotel Coral in Ensenada, Mexico. Here are four reasons why you should put it on your family’s visit list.
Every room with a view
Though it looks larger, the Hotel Coral only has 147 rooms, but every single one of those rooms faces the beautiful Pacific Ocean and the hotel’s marina. In other words, there’s not a bad room in the hotel.
Even the rooms on the ground floor offer a patio and view of the pool, garden and marina. Families can choose from a variety of room options, which include features such as a king bed or double full beds, a minibar, kitchen, separate living room and dining area. We stayed in Junior Deluxe Suite that had two beds (our three boys opted to all sleep together, however we could have gotten a roll-away, too), a monstrous bathroom (the pictures don’t do it justice — you could fit 20 people in there!), and a separately living room which was great for when the kids got up early and wanted to watch cartoons.
I also had the chance to tour the one of the Presidential Suites (marina-view soaking tub!) and Honeymoon Suites (in-room massage table!) in case you’re looking to splurge.
On-site family fun
The Hotel Coral is about five-minutes outside of Ensenada (they offer a shuttle that can take you in to town to explore), but we loved that the hotel had so much to offer on-site. The property has a hot tub and two gorgeous pools with a third pool indoors and workout facility which is currently being renovated for the upcoming busy season. Kids will love the mini waterfalls between pools and the cool tile recliner chairs built-in to the shallow end. Parents will love the plentiful lounge chairs, marina views and poolside bar. If you want even more relaxation, head to the C Spa for massages, facials, beauty services or their signature spa treatment — Vinotherapy — which includes a full body exfoliation, mask, body wrap and moisturizing massage with local products all made from wine-making byproducts.
A bit past the pool, you’ll find an impressive play structure — a unique feature I haven’t seen at a hotel before — along with tennis courts and a sand volleyball court. If your family wants more water fun, the marina offers rentals of stand-up paddleboards, waterbikes and kayaks — a great way to cool off and get a little closer to the amazingly gorgeous yachts parked in the hotel’s marina (I heard Nick Cage has a multi-million dollar yacht there!).
Beyond the hotel, the local area offers lots to explore from markets and cultural centers to wineries, ziplining, golfing and La Bufadora, one of the largest natural marine geysers in North America.
Tacos, margaritas and more
Yes, the tacos and margaritas are good, but the hotel restaurants offer a lot more to satisfy your appetite. Hotel Coral has two main on-site restaurants — the BC Bistro & Cava and the Marina Grill. If the weather is warm, grab a marina-view seat around a fire pit at the Marina Grill and enjoy family-friendly fare like tacos, wings, burgers, seafood and creative cocktails, all while catching the sunset.
For more formal dining, make a reservation at the BC Bistro & Cava to enjoy fresh seafood specialties, Baja trademarks like caramelized grilled quail or slow-baked lamb, and a wide selection of local wines. Despite the white linens and more sophisticated ambiance, the BC Bistro & Cava is still suitable for kids who can enjoy pizza, tacos or burgers.
Here, be sure to order a glass of wine. The BC wine cellar is the largest regional cellar in Baja, with more than 100 local varietals, predominantly from the nearby Valle de Guadalupe. You can also buy bottles of your favorites at tasting room prices. You also won’t want to miss their morning brunch which offers an array of omelets, pancakes, cereals, fruit, pastries and local favorites like chile relleno, pork mole, and empanadas. And coffee. Really, really good coffee.
It’s driveable from Southern California
“You’re driving over the border?!” was the number one response I got when I told friends and family we were driving from Southern California to Ensenada. The fears were unwarranted though. The toll roads you take are well-maintained and safe (they take dollars or pesos, but you will need to have money handy) and we didn’t have any sketchy encounters during the border crossing or drive to the hotel.
Plus it’s a beautiful drive. A study in contrasts to be sure. From mansions and shopping sprawl in San Diego to cardboard shacks and burning trash in Tijuana to new developments along the Baja coast, but it allowed for some good conversations with my boys about wealth and poverty, development, opportunity and gratitude.
Before you leave, be sure to ask at the front desk for a FastPass which will let you avoid the majority of the line to cross back into the U.S. Be sure to read the included directions carefully — the FastPass lane is not well marked and is often blocked at the booth with a cone (when you stop at the cone, a border agent comes out to check your FastPass and lets you through). It’s a huge time-saver though and worth picking up.
Disclosure: This was a media stay and parts of this trip were comped for the purpose of reviewing the hotel. All thoughts are my own. Thanks to Hotel Coral and Allison+Partners!