A small, historic resort city on the southern tip of Baja California Sur, San José del Cabo is often overshadowed by the more rambunctious Cabo San Lucas, located about half an hour down the coastline. Of the two, subdued San José del Cabo is the more artsy city, drawing in creative types with a flourishing gallery scene, expanding local food culture and, most recently, Acre Baja, a rustic, but stylish 25-acre sanctuary created by Vancouverites Cameron Watt (owner of Keefer Bar in Vancouver) and fellow entrepreneur Stuart McPherson.
Located 10 minutes outside the city in the foothills of San José del Cabo and the Sierra de la Laguna mountains, Acre is very Gilligan’s Island, but with a luxurious atmosphere where even movie-star castaway Ginger would feel right at home in her gold lamé gown. There’s solid Wi-Fi, yoga, cooking classes, and a food and cocktail menu driven by ingredients grown on-site by a small team of farmers using organic, biodynamic growing methods.
The property’s original terroir—the natural soil and shape of the land—has been left largely undisturbed. There are organic gardens, farmland and a pool set alongside a fertile mango orchard. A path carves its way through cacti, palm trees and enormous dusty-blue agave plants to the restaurant and bar, with its fire pits and rooftop patio. Tucked behind the lush foliage, 12 branch-lined deluxe tree houses perch on stilts with patios, outdoor showers and luxurious bedding.
“The idea was to make an alternative world,” says Watt. “If you’re somewhere cold and rainy and you want to get away—not necessarily as a vacation or planned holiday—this is a place you can come to spontaneously.”
Mixologist Dani Tatarin, originally from Keefer Bar, shakes and stirs some of the best cocktails in Mexico, and offers private classes right at the bar. In an adjacent mescal tasting room, you can learn the history and sample some of Mexico’s quintessential agave-distilled spirit. In the kitchen, executive chef Kevin Luzande, who relocated from Los Angeles, oversees Acre’s award-winning farm-to-table restaurant.
“At most restaurants, you’re in a walled room—at Acre, I love that people can have dinner and sit under the stars at the same time,” says Luzande. “The food has a Baja feel that gives you a sense of place.”
Luzande was drawn to Acre by the opportunity to design a menu from scratch with an edible garden on site. “We have a catch of the day that changes all the time, locals make our fresh tortillas, and we’ve been using locally grown corn to make polenta. Our cooks will cut fresh herbs and flowers, or if we need anything last-minute, they’ll pop over to the garden to harvest it.” If you’re staying in one of the tree houses, you’ll wake up to a breakfast that might include handmade chocolate croissants and citrus juices squeezed daily from fruit grown steps from the kitchen, or an omelette with fresh zucchini blossoms and queso fresco.
“Los Cabos has been a stop for everyone, from pirates to fishermen,” says Luzande about the region’s history. “At Acre, we cater to both locals and visitors, so you’ll find rib-eye and tomahawk steaks on the dinner menu, but we also create dishes with regional ingredients.”
These unique experiences may feature freshly rolled and filled agnolotti, farm-grown peas and goat cheese courtesy of milk from the doe wandering around Acre’s shuffleboard court. There could be Baja-style fish tacos, fresh ceviche, charred octopus or a whole roasted local hen, all served with sides that encourage socializing among diners. “I want [people] to come in with friends and try lots of different things—to make it a party, or a little feast,” says Luzande.
Three nearby places to eat in San Jose del Cabo
The farm has edible gardens, a field kitchen, wine bar, cooking classes and a spa. La Micro Brewery creates traditional, small-batch brews made with organic ingredients.
Situated on a 19th-century property once used to grow sugar cane, Los Tamarindos offers a farm-to-table restaurant experience. Harvest your own ingredients and take a cooking class on the stone terrace.
In a historic building in downtown San José del Cabo, La Revolución’s chef Benito Molina serves up seasonal and locally inspired dishes paired with creative cocktails.
[This story appears in the July 2018 issue of WestJet Magazine]