A mere 80 miles from San Diego lies the port city of Ensenada, a charming Mexican enclave that runs along 700 miles of Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortéz coastline. The city, which is Mexico’s largest municipality in the area, offers endless possibilities for vacationers since the region is replete with culture, adventure, inspired cuisine, fine wine and gracious hospitality that’s all tempered with a relaxed beach and marine mindset. This certainly holds true for the Hotel Coral & Marina—a luxury Mexican resort that truly has it all for families, couples, groups or any well-heeled traveler seeking an easily accessible, all-encompassing escape South of the Border.
A glistening getaway on the shores of Todos Santos Bay, Hotel Coral & Marina boasts the area’s only world-class marina with 353 slips that offer shared access to the property’s impressive array of amenities. But, for those seeking accommodations on land, the property offers a comprehensive set of conveniences and creature comforts that start with the 147 rooms and suites with each featuring flat-screen TVs, included high-speed Wi-Fi and a coffee maker. Upgrade to a specialty suite for an added refrigerator, dining area, double bathtub, Jacuzzi, wine cooler or fully equipped kitchen.
While standard rooms start at 635 square feet, the luxury suites start at 721 square feet (the “Deluxe” suite in which I stayed at 1,022 square feet) and top out at over three times that with the Presidential Triple Suite, which provides a whopping 2,034 square feet of vacation space. In speaking with Lizette Sanchez, Director of Public Relations at Hotel Coral & Marina, she cited many elevated amenities available with the opulent top-tier suites, such as a wraparound ocean-view balcony, chic bar, modern living area, Jacuzzi, hydro-massage shower, dining table and wine fridge.
With thoughts of the grand room options in mind, I asked Sanchez if any celebrity guests have stayed at the property. She enthused, “We’ve hosted a variety of celebrities, including Matthew McConaughey, Olivia Wilde, Nicolas Cage, Harrison Ford, Esteban Loaiza, Vinicio Castilla and the late Paul Walker, in our ultra-luxurious Presidential Suites.” Nice to know Hollywood A-Listers are privy to this delightful property.
However fabulous your room may be, don’t stay in it too long as there’s so much more to do and see at Hotel Coral & Marina. Whether your idea of a good time includes indulging in “Baja-Med” style cuisine at the on-site Bistro & Cava indoor/outdoor restaurant or more casual fare at the Marina Grill indoor/outdoor restaurant; cocktailing at the patio bar; taking a dip in the indoor or outdoor pool or in the large outdoor Jacuzzi; pampering with a service at the fully-equipped “C Spa”; sweating out the stress in the state-of-the-art fitness center; or playing an exhilarating game of tennis, the property offers all of this and more to keep you and your companions duly engaged and entertained.
Guests can also enjoy various water activities like water bikes, paddle boarding and kayaking all throughout the the marina. With these enjoyable exploits as well as an on-site playground and professionally staffed Kid’s Club, the Hotel Coral & Marina is decidedly family friendly.
What’s more, all of this is located just minutes from downtown Ensenada, San Miguel beach and the Las Cañadas campground where you can purchase a day pass allowing you to partake in an incredible assortment of ground, water and air activities like ATV rental, horseback riding, mountain biking, zip lining, canopy tours, water slide and swimming. It’s also advisable to spend some time in Baja’s burgeoning wine country. I did mention the Hotel Coral & Marina has a Kid’s Club, right? For locations closer to the property like restaurants and shops, the hotel will even provide complimentary ground transportation.
Speaking of ground transport, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the hotel can also provide reasonably-priced pick up and drop off service from, and back to, the U.S. Border, which is only about a 90-minute drive each way on the scenic toll road.
A Magnanimous Marina
For those who prefer to travel by sea, one of the hotel’s unique qualities of having its own marina is how effortless it is for oceangoing guests to arrive and settle in. Sanchez explains, “Our marina offers a high-quality experience that is convenient to those who choose to dock in Ensenada for a short vacation or a long-term stay. Ensenada is the very first port of entry into Mexico, and our property makes the immigration and vessel import process seamless for marina guests.”
“Guests docked at our marina also have access to the hotel’s world-class amenities, specialized yacht maintenance services, a fuel dock and special discounts at the spa and restaurants,” she continues. “Those guests who fish particularly love to have their own catch-of-the-day grilled up at our Marina Grill restaurant!”
Eat, Drink and Decompress
Speaking of restaurants, Bistro & Cava is the hotel’s award-winning signature gourmet restaurant featuring a blend of traditional Mexican entrees and locally-sourced Mediterranean cuisine. But the food isn’t the only notable aspect of the bistro, as it also happens to house the largest local wine cellar in Baja California. From this locale, patrons can enjoy more than 150 labels.
Those seeking a more casual atmosphere will enjoy eating at the waterfront Marina Grill restaurant or at the Pool Bar, where I highly recommend ordering the ceviche and a margarita. If this doesn’t put you in a vacation state-of-mind, probably nothing will. The Arrecife Lobby Bar is another communal space offering sports on the flat-screen and a two-for-one drink Happy Hour.
In my book, no luxury escape is complete without a trip to the spa. Hotel Coral & Marina’s own newly designed C Spa is full service, offering a wide array of beauty salon services along with a number of luxurious and locally-sourced treatments. Among these is a service called “VinoTherapy”—a treatment I myself have experienced that uses organic wine byproducts like grape leaves, stems, skin and seeds to exfoliate, moisturize and replenish skin all over the body. It’s a highly relaxing 50-minute service that will leave your skin feeling soft and supple.
A Look Ahead
Short-term, Sanchez indicated that the hotel’s C Spa plans to launch a more comprehensive wellness program later this year that will give guests another way to unwind and revitalize through a guided program of yoga, spa treatments and health discussions covering a range of topics–from nutrition to meditation and exercise.
In discussing the overall longer-term future of Hotel Coral & Marina, Sanchez indicated the property’s efforts to continually improve all facets of the hospitality it proffers, with a concerted focus on delivering “top-notch customer service.” This I experienced first-hand with an affable, mostly English-speaking staff willing to facilitate nearly any need or request. Continuous attention to cosmetic upgrades, employee training and innovative new guest programs will further enhance the guest experience.
Whether you’re planning a family vacation, a romantic respite or a group getaway, Ensenada’s Hotel Coral & Marina enchants as a one-stop oasis where leisure, recreation and gastronomic pursuits await.
“The Luxe List” Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted at www.TheLuxeList.com. Follow her on Twitter here: www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.
***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***