Birch and Tiffany Robbins - Kodiak Alaska
First of all, the home and location are amazing, the house is easily a multi-million dollar piece of property and is in the nicest part of the area. Every iota of the one acre lot has been landscaped; not necessarily with trees but alcoves, nooks and crannies that we have found are wonderful places to follow the sun, get out of the sun, and most of all, relax. There is also an infinity pool and outdoor jacuzzi. As I write this I'm finding it's hard to really describe this place---to put it mildly EVERYTHING has been thought of and it is fun to choose which perfectly appointed part of the property will best match the sun's position and our attitude/state of mind.
The energy here is that of complete relaxation; the house is located on the edge of a very sleepy village called El Cardonal. It would seem six or seven families from America decided to build on this gentle point around 2001, so the Casa is in the middle of other very nice seven figure homes on the edge of the Sea of Cortez on a white sandy beach. Each is gated and the Casa has it's own care taker, Mino, who is subliminally present on the property tending the foliage, operating the grounds' extensive accent lighting, water fountain, and pool and jacuzzi. His gentle singing or whistling announces if he will pass by, and he lives in another house on the property by the entrance. The house and grounds are also cleaned every day by Maria, who arrives mid morning and tidies things up.
The people here are truly wonderful--everyone waves at you as they drive slowly by in their vehicles or ATVs, even the Americans! :) We have met locals, mostly Americans, and see them at the restaurant or in the area since we've been here. My ability to speak in Spanish is limited to non-existent, and I wish I'd paid more attention in high school, however, everyone seems to get by with gestures, limited Spanish words, and typically decent English. The Media Frenzy we are exposed to in America every day doesn't seem to apply to these people. It all goes back to the relaxed attitude that seeps into your soul from the moment you arrive into El Cardonal.
There are a variety of dining opportunities; first the Casa has a beautiful, full kitchen with everything you could ask for if you'd like to cook yourself. Or, you can request a catered meal at the Casa, Franchesca is great and prepared several breakfasts/dinners for us during our stay. Or, taking the Casa's old Suburban down the street to our favorite local restaurant called Mar Y Tierra, you can order from a collection of local fare and a great, simple, inexpensive, evening 'out.' There is also a Taco stand open Wednesday and Saturday nights, right up the street from the Casa, that we never made it to.
We do recommend asking the driver to pull in to the grocery store on your way to the Casa from the Airport when you arrive, which will likely be the one in Los Barriles. Also remember to get any beer, wine, juice, etc. The grocery store in Los Barrilles will accept your credit card, and everyone else accepts dollars. They may give you change back in Mexican Pesos, which obviously you can use that night at the restaurant or local store in El Cardonal.
I would recommend coming to the Casa with relaxation on the mind! I can't emphasize that enough! However, there are a number of activities available, from kayaks and paddle boards available at the Casa, to going fishing/sightseeing in the Casa's Super Panga (boat) with Mino as the guide, or four wheeling among the Arroyos. There are opportunities to go to Cabo San Lucas, over to the Pacific Side of Baja, or up a shorter distance to the Bay of Dreams Resort. To emphasize, we didn't have anything planned, and it was sometimes hard to communicate to Mino our wishes due to our lack of Spanish. Octavio and Hector are both fluent in English but are based away from the Casa, yet can communicate with Mino, Franchesca, and Maria about your trip plans and bridge the communication gap.
We rented four wheelers, with Mino as our guide, from a resort about 20 minutes up the beach. Mino took us among the arroyos, which was fun as we saw a little more of the area and more elegant coastal homes. We decided to opt for the 'tour to the Indian Paintings' advertised on the Casa Cardonal website, which is about a 30 minute ride, then a 10 minute walk/climb, to a huge granite boulder, creating a sort of overhang. On the underside of the overhang you can still see paintings from years past; one of which is a huge Marlin! It was fun and very dusty; we highly recommend it. It was also short enough to return to the Casa in time to shower, crack a cold beer, and settle back in to relaxing.
We also went to Los Barriles one day, with Mino escorting us with the Suburban. I would rather not do that again, though the drive over was beautiful! Compared to the atmosphere at the Casa, Los Barillos felt claustrophobic, though it was probably the laziest town of 8,000 people I've ever been in! It was fun to visit the shops and eat a burger and watch the tourists drive by in rental cars and rental ATVs, but I immediately missed the Casa and our favorite restaurant down the street.
We highly recommend this experience; it is one of the most peaceful places we have ever been. The atmosphere is that of relaxation, invitation, and comfort. The people here are wonderful, professional, and friendly. We're sad to leave.