Despite divisive contemporary politics, American interest in and appreciation of Mexican culture is reaching new heights. Just last month Brooklyn Museum opened Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving, the largest retrospective of the iconic artist in the United States, and director Alfonso Cuaron made cinema history by winning three Oscars for Roma, a visual love letter to Mexico. However, not all successful art diplomacy occurs on such blockbuster scale. Smaller consistent efforts often have stronger long-term impact. This is exactly how popular Baja peninsula resort Los Cabos is transforming its convivial reputation into an art patrons’ destination of choice. Move over spring breakers, it’s time to discover the private side of Cabo.
Hacienda Beach Club & Residences, Querencia and Flora Farms are leading the creative transition in Cabo. If you’re surprised to see luxury property developers or a restaurant/farm as cultural trailblazers, check out my earlier story about the Hawaiian habitat and heritage preservation program at Kohanaiki. Some noble missions take more than a village.
On the drive up to Querencia high in the hilltops, I reflect on its ambitious marketing slogan. “Those Who Seek More Are Found Here.” The landing page of the Querencia website features prominently current temperature as well as the times of sunrise and sunset. Such 24/7 commitment to joie de vivre is evident throughout the re-landscaped and redesigned property with stunning views on the Sea of Cortez. Bajan architects Arturo Ponce de Leon and Ivette A. Barragan engaged the natural surroundings and used many features custom-created from reclaimed materials to turn these buildings into works of art. Architecturally and stylistically, this development pays homage both to the traditional Baja pueblos and the famed resorts of the French riviera. The mix is fascinating! Querencia Beach Club will be completed by the end of 2020, giving members a 360 experience of Cabo. What sets it apart from many other places in Cabo is it’s cultivated sense of community. In multiple conversations with residents, the word used most often to describe their daily experience was interesting. The approach to events management here was inspired by the McCloskey Speaker Series at The Aspen Institute. The exhibitions focus exclusively on Mexican artists. Live outdoor concerts feature rising talent from across the music genres. Recently, a classical Russian pianist Angela Zanevsky had impressed the audience familiar with the world’s foremost stages.
Querencia Talks, modeled after TED, bring a variety of speakers from around the world. Two conversations on the state of global education with Michael Mulligan of the Thacher School, the oldest co-ed boarding school in California, were extremely thought-provoking for many owners. Over 30% of resident members are Mexican, which makes a tremendous difference. For many expats in similar type of second-home properties, “real Mexico” begins outside the compound perimeter. Here, this is Mexico. Later, I learned that a collective of Querencia homeowners financed establishment of the region’s children’s hospital and many continue to sustain its lifesaving work. The more from the community’s slogan became clearer. This is a place for those whose work and lifestyle epitomize globalization at its best.
I must mention Flora Farms, a gastronomic and social experience already worth flying down to Cabo. This 25-acre farm and restaurant in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains was featured earlier in a New York Times travelogue inspired by Gwyneth Paltrow’s pre-wedding beach getaway here. It is, indeed, one of the most scenic eateries with a strong earth-to-table ethos I have ever visited. There is also no better place to meet the who-is-who of Cabo as the place gets cozy for long lunches and unhurried dinners. With spring break mania behind it, the private side of Cabo is finally getting its due.