Friday, January 1, 2010
My stay at Villa del Faro....
Getting to Villa del Faro
Once you leave the highway it takes about one hour to reach us. On the often bumpy dirt road you may encounter cattle, horses, goats--even wild deer and foxes. It's off the beaten track, and it may seem like a long rough road in getting here, but this is what keeps Villa del Faro so beautifully secluded.
Note: We do not recommend this road for women who are in their 3rd trimester unless you are feeling very strong!
Driving instructions to Villa del Faro
Villa del Faro is about one hour from Mexico Highway 1.
From the Airport, head south (right) towards San Jose for 2 miles (3 km.) You are looking for a road on your left. First you will see this sign, “Veterinaria” on your left. Then you will see highway signs on both sides of the road reading, “No Tire Basura”. You will see beneath them a small sign that says “Palo Escopeta”. Here you turn left across the highway. Just before the turn there are speed bumps across the road.
(If you come from San Jose, you will turn right at the “No tire Basura” signs. If you pass “Veterinaria Chiapa” you have gone too far.)
You will see the first of our signs at both sides of the road you turn into.
Follow this paved road which ends in about one mile, just past the bar “Catarina Beach”. Now you are on a dirt road. You cross a sandy arroyo and once again find yourself on paved road in the center of a small town called “Santa Catarina”. At the town monument the road turns to your left (you will see another “V” sign) and you follow it through the town until it becomes a dirt road again.
Follow this road, which will wind back and forth, always staying on what is clearly the most traveled route. Five miles (8.4 km.) after leaving Highway 1, you will reach a branch. Straight ahead lies the dump (Relleno Sanitaro). Do not go there!!! You will see another “V” sign here. Bear left towards Palo Escopeta.
Drive 6 miles (9.3 km.) again, always taking the route most obviously used. You will now reach the pueblo of Palo Escopeta and be within sight of a ball court. Veer left towards it, you will see an arrow and another “V” sign.
You are now halfway there. Watch out for pigs, chickens and calves crossing the road as you go though this little village.
Now continue on, winding down the hills, through the Palo Escopeta ranchos. Watch out for cows on the road along this entire last stretch. Keep going straight for another 4 miles (6.3 km) until you pass another “V” on your left. Keep going (5 miles/ 8km) until you reach the Sea of Cortes, at a “T” intersection. You have reached the coast road (Camino Costero), and this spot is called Las Vinoramas. You go left (north) on the coast road. (V)
Continue to the north 2 miles (3 km.) and you will see on your right the Villa del Faro sign (the stone marker), our driveway, and lots of palms.
The dogs and I will greet you! Do not be afraid of them, they are loud but they are all sweethearts!!!
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you mean by “Green Hotel”?
Villa del Faro is completely “off the grid”. There are no phone lines and no electricity. We have developed this area in a low impact way. For example we will build around a venerable cactus instead of moving it.
What about water?
The East Cape is a desert, and there is no water. We buy the water from a local ranch, after which it is purified. We use it sparingly and ask you to do the same. Bottled water for drinking is provided. Water is the gold of our paradise. Drinking water is trucked in and stored in a big tank where it is cleaned and purified. Water for our plants comes from a well with a solar pump in the arroyo. Water conservation is always of the utmost priority that has always been a part of life in this “green desert” by the sea. Some of the grounds have been xeric planted. We use drip systems on most of the plantings. Laundry is sun dried. This is definitely a “green” hotel.
How do you get electricity?
Everything at the Villa is run on solar power. You will see the big bank of solar panels as you first drive in, we have over 30 Sharp 216 watt panels running a 48 volt system which provides lighting, refrigeration, and all our other electrical needs.
Because of satellites, there is computer service and TV. To call out in an emergency you can use Skype – either on your own computer on ours. We invite you to help us in all our conservation projects
How do you heat the houses in winter?
Every bedroom including the Stone Beach Cottage has a working fireplace with wood provided.
What else is “Green” about Villa del Faro?
The surrounding desert is a very delicate ecology, so we try to be sensitive and respectful of the creatures we share it with, and balancing our lives with the natural animal and plant life that surrounds us.
STONE BEACH COTTAGE
Are there beach chairs and a beach umbrella at the cottage?
What do you mean it’s for the adventurous only?
The Stone Beach Cottage is like very elegant camping! There is an outdoor shower and an outhouse, which is about 12 feet up a rock path and is lit by solar lights.
Are there any cooking facilities?
The Stone Beach cottage has a charcoal grill, a sandpit grill for cooking over the fire, and a small propane burner to make morning coffee.
Does the cottage come with staples like salt, sugar for coffee?
There is no food in the Stone beach cottage. We suggest you bring anything you might need. We can provide you with a cooler and ice to keep perishables in.
How safe are belongings in the cottage if no one is there? Have you had any theft?
We have never had any theft, and there is a lock on the door of the cottage. However if you are worried you can leave valuables in your locked car or up at the Villa.
Is the traveled road visible so that we don't veer off the wrong path?
The road is quite clearly marked.
Once we are on the dirt road it is an hour to the Villa del Faro, correct?
If we were to drive into San Jose del Cabo would it be safer to leave and be back before nightfall?
We recommend you do most of your driving during daylight hours.
How many miles from San Jose del Cabo to the Villa del Faro?
28 miles or 40 km from the turn off at the main highway, but mileage means little on a dirt road.
Do we need to rent a car from Los Cabos airport and if so, what type of car do we need to drive the terrain?
Yes, you will need to rent a car at the Los Cabos airport. Any car will do, although if you are planning to explore the area, we recommend a 4-wheel drive.
Would a taxi take us this far out?
It is too far for a taxi.
Can you drive along the coast to reach you from San Jose Del Cabo, or is it best to go on the road from the airport as indicated on your map?
As long as you leave in the morning and are ready for an extremely rough ride, the coast road is beautiful. However, we recommend coming over the Palo Escopeta road as shown on the map. The coast road is only graded occasionally.
We are interested in the gourmet dinner as well. How far in advance should we request the dinner?
Either a day in advance or in the morning.
Where do you buy your food?
We shop locally and when we can, we gather our vegetables from an organic farm in a town north of the airport.
Are there any other places to eat nearby?
There is only one restaurant nearby - it is two miles down the road and run by an American. It is called the "Crossroads Country club" which it will be someday…for now it is a very simple palapa by the sea. The food is decent and it is popular with the surfers. The best part is that you can walk along the beach to get there if you want to go for lunch.
What months are you open?
We closed from the 1st of August until the 15th of October, (which are the hot months here and is also when there is a possibility of hurricanes.
Is there a phone in the casa for emergencies?
There is an Internet phone in case of emergencies only.
Is the ocean safe for swimming and snorkeling?
Yes, we live next to one of the safest swimming beaches in Baja Sur.
Do we bring our own snorkel gear?
When is the earliest that we could check into the Casa and when is the check out time?
Check in time is after 1:00 pm and check out is 12:00 am but it is flexible.
When in San Jose del Cabo, what phone number can we phone to reach you?
E-mail is the only means of communication; we really are off the grid!
Where can I buy groceries in San Jose?
To go grocery shopping we would suggest "Soriana". It is a large supermarket about halfway to San Jose from the airport. It is a couple of miles beyond the turn-off to us. It will be on your left at a traffic light and its entrance is very clearly marked. Of course after shopping, you will have to turn around and go four or five miles back towards the Airport to get back to the Palo Esopeta road and the "No Tire Basura” signs.
About Villa del Faro
Villa del Faro is a small, unique, and secluded hotel situated on 12 acres of gardens and desert over-looking miles of private, deserted beach. A large pool is shared by all of our guests and there are paths leading from all casitas to the only swimmable beach on the East Cape—the perfect spot for long, uninterrupted walks.
The only access to our getaway is via a long and extremely bumpy road that starts near the Los Cabos airport, winds through the middle of nowhere, and finally brings you to the desert by the Sea of Cortez. However, you’ll find that once you’ve arrived at Villa del Faro, it was well worth the trip, in spite of the rough roads!
Our getaway is not a place for everyone; it offers solitude instead of shops, hikes into the deep arroyos as opposed to golf, and whale watching from your private balcony in lieu of television. A stay in this beautiful place is more like being a guest in someone’s fabulous home, which is exactly what the owners intended, and you’re guaranteed to receive personal care from the friendly family who runs and owns Villa del Faro.
While the hotel sits amid lush gardens, the surrounding desert is pristine and virtually untouched. Originally a private home for a large extended family, Villa del Faro was built, as much as possible, around the local flora, leaving many cactus, trees and other vegetation intact. Always aware of the ecological impact they were making, the family chose to build small houses here and there, rather than one large imposing structure. The result is a sense of closeness to the desert--an intimate interaction between civilization and the wilderness.
There are countless lizards, including the harmless geckos that live on the ceilings and make particularly large noises for such small creatures! From a window in any of the casitas, you might observe a mother fox and her babies drinking from a fountain, or the shy bobcat perched on top of a Cordon cactus early in the morning, looking for rabbits in the brush. Large iguanas also lay on top of the cactus in the sun, chipmunks are everywhere, and occasionally even a rarely seen deer will wander through. Of course some of the more unsavory residents can also be found, (rattlesnakes, scorpions, centipedes, and tarantulas, which are also quite shy) and caution is always advised when walking the paths. However, these creatures do their best to stay away from well-trodden human paths. Some of the most fascinating wildlife is the birds, which are immense in population, and change with the weather, as they are seasonal.
Permanent aviary residents include several species of hummingbird, some of which are quite rare. There are also quail, orioles, falcons of various types, kestrels, finch, cardinal, and the hard to spot phainopepla—a bold and humorous common raven, which the neighbors feed and have practically tamed. The great white egret lives in our dunes and the great blue heron number among our sea birds and eagles. Nature abounds!
The property was purchased in 1989, with building beginning the following year. The family ran a large construction company in Los Angeles and thought the Baja property would become a wonderful vacation place for company members, it being a short flight from LA. Since the family consisted of many artistic and talented members, everyone wanted to contribute, and soon Villa del Faro became not just a fabulous place to get away from it all, but also a labor of love for parents, children and friends alike.
Molds were made for tile and balustrades. An in-house wood-carver and furniture maker constructed the doors, chests and tables. A local ironworker fashioned the iron gates and some of the windows. The crew was gathered from one small town in mainland Mexico, and as more workers were needed, more came. During the construction, everyone lived in tents; meals were readied by a local Mexican policeman in an outdoor kitchen attached to a camper. That same man now owns and runs a small restaurant in a town north of Villa del Faro. Many of the children “cut their teeth” here, and went on to run their own construction companies, become landscape architects, architects, builders, painters, and sculptors, having had a real set of experiences to get them started. From hauling in trees, to mixing cement in a hole in the ground, to using nothing but hand tools, everyone learned from the bottom up.
When the family says Villa del Faro is “off the grid”, they mean it! There is no electricity and no phone lines. Everything at the Villa is run on solar power, and supplemented by a generator when needed. There are propane hot water heaters and refrigerators, stoves, but no microwaves. The water is trucked in and stored in a large tank where it is cleaned and purified. Water conservation is always of the utmost priority, as everyone who lives in this area is well aware. The grounds have been xeriscaped in order to adapt to the arid climate, and laundry is dried in the sun. This is definitely a “green” hotel. Thanks to satellites, there is access to Internet service and television. There is even a satellite phone, which can be used in emergencies, however it is not very dependable as of yet.
The family members who run and lovingly maintain Villa del Faro fluctuate somewhat, (like the birds they change seasonally) but more or less the same group remains most of the time. There are also artists, writers (‘The Eye of the Whale’ was written here), architects, designers, and musicians, who work and play here off and on throughout the year. Since 1966 when it all began, the Fort Hill family has survived hard times, bad press, and each other; however, they’ve also learned that living beautifully is an art.
So if you like good books, great food and music, exquisite surroundings, comfortable ambiance, the great outdoors, the sound of the ocean to soothe you to sleep, and the conscious embrace of all living things, then by all means come and enjoy this remarkable place!
Dining & Accommodations
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