Roam+Board :: Encuentro Guadalupe

[trip style = luxury + glamping + wine tasting]

{Editor's Note :: Starting this week, Trip Styler's flight schedule is soaring in a savvier direction. Instead of lifting off three times a week, we're going to fly twice a week with a little more in tow, departing on Tuesdays and Thursdays. As always, find daily updates on Trip Styler's Editor's Diary and Instagram.}

My stay last week at Encuentro Guadalupe {formerly Endemico} in Mexico's wine country effortlessly slots into one of my top five hotel hangouts to date. Since its official opening on July 1st, 2012, I've been eying {read: drooling over} this modular masterpiece, even writing about it in Fodor's. So enamored with the removed anti-resort, I booked a few nights for my wedding anniversary. MORE PHOTOS BELOW.

Twenty rectangular lofts sit staggered between desert brush and boulders on a steep hill overlooking a vine-lined landscape in Mexico's wine country. And yes, Mexico has a wine country 60+ wineries strong, but like many other countries in the world, the bulk of the consumption stays within the borders, which is why it's not known to the same degree as Napa or Bordeaux.

Pulling into the nature reserve from the routa del vino {wine route}, the eco-lofts are hard to spot, blending into their surroundings like they're native to the land. Constructed off the ground for the least environmental impact using a combination of steel and concrete, they're meant to disappear into the eco-retreat's 232-acre landscape over time.

Inside each minimalist muse is a blank slate bathed in white---white paneling, white duvet, white-tiled bathroom---lit by Edison-style bulbs. Clean-lined wood furniture completes the space, and also makes an appearance on the pod's porch fronting a clay, wood-burning fireplace.

Up at the petite restaurant and infinity pool, nature continues its magic show from a breezy vantage point over an intoxicating blend of vines, boulders and mountains. Sitting on a wood-slat lounger---as if right off the pages of Dwell Magazine---topped with a black and white striped cushion, sights like creamsicle-colored dragonflies dancing above the water or jackrabbits bounding between the brush play on repeat. Speaking of which, I'd like to hit the repeat button on my stay ASAP.

Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico, about one hour from the Tecate MEX-US Border along a safe, well-maintained and well-marked road. If you're coming from Canada or the US, driving to Encuentro Guadalupe from San Diego takes a little less than two hours. {See recommendations regarding border crossings below.}

While the resort's 20 pads are equipped with both air conditioning and heating for Mexico's hot-come-cool wine country climate, temperatures are the toastiest from May to October. While I was there in June, it was about 27-degrees C during the day and 14-degrees C in the evening. The winter season is November through April, when highs hover around 18-degrees C {64 Fahrenheit}, and evening lows can dip below zero.

For you, boutique is best, yet fluffy slippers and molecular cuisine are not a requirement for every trip. Your far-flung happy place is an inside-out, nature-soaked sejour combining high design and the great outdoors.

Rates start around $230 per night (incl. taxes) and come with *really fast* WiFi, parking and a welcome sip of sangria. Fido is welcome. As for kids, well, you'll have to Skype them before dipping into the infinity pool.

Trip Styler Tip: Request an eco-loft on the sunset side of the mountain. Loft 10 has optimum sun exposure and lofts 1-7 are closest to the pool.

Know This
- On the way down, I crossed the border at Tijuana and it was fine. On the way back, I took the Tecate crossing, and I recommend this border.
- If possible, don't drive an SUV or flashy truck, which draw unnecessary attention from the wrong people. Non-luxe cars are your best bet. I took a Toyota Prius.
- You'll need extra insurance on your vehicle or rental vehicle to cross the border.
- If you do take the Tijuana or Otay-Mesa crossing, you can drive the 1D coastal route down to Ensenada and veer inland for 25 mins to reach Valle de Guadalupe. The coastal route hugs the seaside for most of the way down and has three tolls which require $2.45 usd each time. Note, there are no tolls on the hour-long drive between the hotel and the Tecate border.
- You may pass military checkpoints in Mexico and the US. Don't be alarmed; this is standard practice.
- When you arrive at Encuentro Guadalupe, you check in inside a giant rectangular building which quadruples as a restaurant, tasting room, wine production space and art gallery.
- The hotel's eco-lofts are spread out over the peaks and valleys of a 232-acre plot, so you're asked to leave your car at reception. A bellhop drives you to your loft, and while on property, you can get picked up from your loft or walk where you need to go.
- There are two restaurants at the hotel. One is in the winery building and one is at the pool. I preferred the pool restaurant, where you can order breakfast, lunch and dinner. To give you an idea of pricing, a local beer costs $3.50 usd and a trio of fish tacos cost $9 usd. If you want to drink some wine you purchased while self-touring the region, you can sip it by the pool or at any meal---there's no corkage fee.
- The hot tub is heated, but the infinity pool is left to the day's heat for its warmth.
- Each eco-loft contains two complimentary carafes of bottled water {refilled daily}, a wine fridge with local wine {for purchase}, WiFi, a woolen robe and a two-way radio in case you need to contact reception. Bring a book---thankfully, there's  no TV---as well as slippers to keep your feet warm on the concrete floors.
- There are roads and trails if you want to go walking, jogging, or hiking on the property. - The grounds are dusty, so don't pack your Sunday best. Sandals, non-suede booties and hiking boots are de rigueur.
- Sweaters and wraps are perfect for keeping warm at night. Otherwise, the clay fireplaces do a stand-up job. - Bring lots of sunscreen because there's no Costco or drug store nearby.
- Wineries I recommend: Adobe Guadalupe {tasting is $10}, Tres Mujeres {tasting is $5} and L.A. Cetto {tasting from $2}.
- While at wineries or eating out in the area, be VERY clear about what and how much you order, and keep a mental tally of what you ordered. My bill often inched up and had to be readjusted before paying.