With praise for Baja’s gastronomic treasures mounting, ENTREE plunged headfirst beyond the border to stay in Ensenada between the holidays. Miles of unblemished, rugged coastline along smooth roads lead us directly to Hotel Coral and Marina, a medium-sized, contemporary escape enhanced by its position in a small, picturesque harbor, and marked by impeccable cleanliness and warm service.
Buzzing with Californians in shorts and immaculately dressed Tijuana families, the property proved itself one we’ll gladly return to when venturing to soak in culinary rewards like Manzanilla restaurant and delightful wineries like JC Bravo. The hotel’s daily breakfast buffet is an enthralling spread of all-you-can-eat moles, omelets, barbacoa, and hand-made tortillas, a popular and energetic spot for jump-starting mornings. Ensuing days were mostly spent out of the hotel to soak in downtown Ensenada’s shopping, the Valle de Guadalupe’s gorgeous wine country, or ambling drives to walk vacant beaches.
Back at the property, we enjoyed evening idling in the Jacuzzi at the outdoor pool deck, interspersed with dips into the warmer indoor pool, next to an extensive gym packed with machines and weights for working off the day’s fish tacos and sea urchin tostadas. We sought deeper relaxation in the hotel’s spa, our muscles depleted of the stress of many a long beach walk, kneaded out expertly by talented therapists in a soothing dim room where the music had nary a trace of tuba and trumpet. The hotel also boasts a salon with full-service hair, skin, nail, and facial treatments, attached to a small boutique. Our room, with a balcony overlooking over the stunning bay to the island Todos Santos, was warm and spacious, from the rainforest shower and to the soft king bed. We truly admired the smooth rhythms and marked comfort of Hotel Coral y Marina. The sole lapse, in stark contrast to everything else, particularly that amazing breakfast, was dinner in Bistro y Cava, the hotel’s restaurant. The cuisine and atmosphere have some way to go to live up to the delights of their breakfasts, but we are assured changes in decor, wines and menus to reach standards of tip top excellence are paramount in the playbook of management and ownership.
While skipping dinner here is a wise play because there are so many excellent options nearby for fresh fish, the hotel’s charms and pampering should not be missed. It is a beautiful entryway to Ensenada with all one requires for a stay in northern Baja. ENTREE eagerly looks forward to our return to Ensenada, with plans to root ourselves back at this pleasant property. Hotel Coral and Marina, Carretera Tijuana-Ensenada Km.103 #3421, Zona Playitas, 22860 Ensenada, B.C., Mexico, +52-646-175-0000; http://www.hotelcoral.com/default-en.html.