Villa Santa Cruz

We're in Hot Water! New Eco-Friendly Pool Heating System

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In a matter of days, Villa Santa Cruz, Boutique Hotel on the Beach, will have an eco-friendly heated swimming pool! While the weather in Todos Santos is amazing year round, a heated swimming pool will ensure our guests’ comfort whether it is December, March or July. And, most importantly, the pool will be heated by an innovative solar system, thereby reducing our carbon footprint.

After doing the research, talking to experts and investigating the options, we decided to buy a solar pool heating system by Heliocol. We learned that the Heliocol solar “panels” that heat pool water are actually quite different from the typical electricity-generating solar panels that we see on homes in the United States or that we have on the Roof Terrace at the Villa. In fact, the Heliocol panels are actually solar “collectors,” composed of a series of tubes in which the water is heated by the sun as it is cycled through the system and then deposited back into the pool. This cycle is repeated until the pool has reached the desired temperature – at least 80⁰F! Check out this diagram which shows the process.

                                                    (Follow the blue/cold water up out of the pool, through the
                                            solar collectors where it turns red/hot, and then goes back into the pool)

The panels are nothing short of enormous. Each one measures 4 ft. x 12.5 ft., and with our monstrous 55,000 gallon pool, we have 24 of them! Here is a picture of the racking system that the solar collectors will soon be affixed to. As you can see, the racks sit comfortably between the pool and the dunes and blend into the landscape behind well-placed palm trees

Our “green” efforts don’t stop at the pool heating system as we are also in the process of replacing our diesel pool pump for one that runs on the sun’s energy. The solar pump will serve two main purposes – to filter the pool and cycle the water through the new solar collectors to heat the pool water. We love that this new solar system will cut down drastically on our diesel consumption and take advantage of one of the Earth’s renewable resources – the sun!

We are thrilled with our new solar pool heating system and solar pump and we know our guests will appreciate a heated pool and our eco-friendly nature. Bring on the sunshine!


Salute to the Summer Solstice

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

With clear skies, a warm breeze and a peacefulness that only summer can bring, this is the kind of day that you wish would last forever - and, since today is the Summer Solstice, it almost does just that.  On this longest day of the year, we have 13 hours and 32 minutes of daylight in Todos Santos.  At Villa Santa Cruz, the sun won’t set until 8:10pm, leaving an impressive amount of daylight hours to get in a game of beach bocce ball, nap in the hammocks, take a dip in the pool and have a margarita…or two!  Here are some pictures of this gorgeous first day of summer – enjoy!



Sandra Sutphen commented on 21-Jun-2011 08:07 PM
Just beautiful, Jessica! You and Matt (and John) must be so proud of your wonderful space. Solstice is a little longer here in Orange County (14.5 hours) and finally, we're getting some warm weather. But I miss Todos Santos. See you in October. Sandra
Villa Santa Cruz commented on 29-Jun-2011 08:53 AM
Sandra - thank you so much for your lovely note! We are proud :-) See you in the Fall.

Day Trip to El Triunfo: An Unexpectedly Delightful Day

Monday, June 13, 2011

Itching to get out on the open road and explore a new area of Baja Sur, we decided to take a day trip to El Triunfo, a small historical mining town about 1 hour northeast of Villa Santa Cruz and Todos Santos. Up in the mountains, the town itself is very quiet and very quaint, but with some surprisingly notable things to see. With only a few restaurants, some mining ruins, and a lovely mission, you need just a few hours to get a good look at El Triunfo.

To begin our afternoon, we first dined at the delicious Caffe El Triunfo for a casual lunch. Serving amazing homemade pizzas, pasta dishes and enormous salads, the Caffe seems to be the center of life in El Triunfo. We enjoyed lounging in the café with iced teas (a nice respite from the heat), watching a steady flow of customers, and chatting with some of the local expats who have made El Triunfo their home. The food is simple, but wonderful, and the homemade bread and sweet treats for sale at the counter are worth the trip on their own.


After lunch, we strolled behind the restaurant to see the remains of the silver and gold mines that were active in El Triunfo from the 1860s to the 1920s (these mines are the reason the town came to be). While most of the structures were crumbling and decrepit, the one beacon that remains is an impressive 35-meter-high smokestack designed by Gustav Eiffel. While it is no Eiffel Tower, it is très magnifique. During the late 1800s, Eiffel traveled throughout Latin America designing a variety of structures and made a stop in El Triunfo – what a wonderful legacy for the town.


Equally as impressive as the Eiffel smokestack, the collection of pianos on display at the El Triunfo Piano Museum is both remarkable and a bit bizarre. The Museum boasts pianos and other instruments from New York, Chicago, Germany, Austria, etc. and are from all different historic time periods. For such a small town like El Triunfo, it is quite unbelievable to see vintage pianos from around the world collected and exhibited in this unlikely location.

After wrapping up our walk through the Piano Museum and wandering through the old Mission, it was time to head home. On the drive out of the hills of El Triunfo and back to the beaches of Todos Santos, we were quite content with our day trip. With a lovely café and noteworthy historical sites, we will definitely recommend this excursion to our Villa Santa Cruz guests.

Cinco de Mayo - An American Invention?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

For many people living in the United States, the 5th of May, or Cinco de Mayo, is a day to let loose and celebrate. With visions of margaritas and cervezas, crazy sombreros and delicious Mexican food, for many Cinco de Mayo is a day to leave work early and hit the neighborhood cantina for a Mexican fiesta. The irony is that while the Americans are partying it up in the USA, it is just a normal day in Mexico without fanfare, parties or even as much as a second thought given to the day…why is this? 

Americans widely believe that Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s independence, but this is just not the case. Mexico earned its independence from Spain in 1821 and celebrates this day – the most important national holiday of the year – on September 16. Cinco de Mayo is merely the anniversary of the Mexican military’s triumph over the French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It was an important victory to the Mexican people because their smaller, outnumbered army defeated the larger French forces, helping the Mexican people develop a much needed sense of national identity in Mexico (which is the reason for its continued celebration).

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Mexico as a regional holiday in the State of Puebla (where the famous battle took place), but really nowhere else in Mexico. Yet, the celebration of Cinco de Mayo in the United States has exploded! It seems that Americans have transformed the day from its origin as the commemoration of a Mexican military victory into a day to celebrate Mexican pride and culture – similarly to the celebrations of the Irish, German and Chinese heritages associated with St. Patrick’s Day, Oktoberfest or the Chinese New Year.

So, even though the US celebration of Cinco de Mayo has evolved into something bigger than the actual holiday itself, it remains a great day to join in to celebrate the vibrant Mexican culture. So, go on, leave work early, head down to a Cinco de Mayo celebration and shout “Viva Mexico!”

For more information, visit

April 2011 Newsletter - Todos Santos Farmers' Markets

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Our April Newsletter was filled with updates from Villa Santa Cruz, included our heartfelt thanks to everyone who attended our Grand Opening Celebration, and featured the two amazing Farmers' Markets we have in Todos Santos each week. Click here to check out the April Newsletter! 


Taking the Plunge: Learning to Surf

Thursday, April 28, 2011

When giving tours of the Villa to guests, the pièce de résistance, without doubt, is the spectacular view from the Roof Terrace. With sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean, our guests glimpse pinpoints of surfers in the waves and then turn to us and ask, “Do you surf?” We sheepishly look at the floor, avoid eye contact, shuffle our feet, and barely whisper, “No, not really.” We then ramble off a litany of excuses like “We’re so busy” or “I once had a bad experience in the ocean” or, my personal favorite, “La Pastora is not a beginners’ break, etc.” just to salvage our reputations. Matt and John even claim that they discovered our property in 2001 while on a “surf trip.” They did look the part - they had surfboards strapped to their old VW van and camped at the major surf spots – but they managed not to actually surf, choosing instead to relax with some cervezas on the beach. While Matt has had some friends take him in the water to learn to surf, the lessons usually consisted of one phrase - “Charge it, bro!” - leaving novice Mateo to figure it out for himself . . . not an easy task for a boy from landlocked Winnemucca, Nevada.  Poseidon seemed to get the best of him every time. 

With all these excuses and cover stories, it was time to grab the bull by the horns and learn to surf. We called up Mario Surf School Owner, Mario Becerril, and arranged to have a lesson with two of his instructors, Chuy and Luis, at Cerritos Beach. ( Located just 25 minutes south of Villa Santa Cruz, Cerritos is a good learners' break due to its sandy floors and smaller rolling waves. Matt and I met Chuy and Luis on the beach, put on our wetsuits, and learned the basics while still on the sand. They demonstrated how/what position to lay on the board, how to push up to a kneeling position, to balance your weight, and finally to stand up on the board and ride the wave. We gave it a try on the sand a few times and then we were ready for the waves.

(Our instructor had a friendly little Chihuahua dog.)

The waves were a bit big that day, so we stayed “on the inside” and focused on riding the white water. Our instructors were with us the whole time, making for a great beginners’ experience – they helped us over waves on our way out, decided which wave we would ride, and released us into the wave. With the major decisions made for us by the instructors, we could focus on converting the motions we had gone through on the sand into actual surfing. And, the result was amazing – we both stood up on the first wave!  We were really doing it!

After about an hour or so in the water, we were happy, tired and ready for a break. We thanked Chuy and Luis for a great afternoon and for making us feel so safe in the water. Proud of ourselves that we had actually “surfed,” we lay contentedly on the sand and discussed our future as surfers. Have we actually caught the surfing bug? That remains to be seen, but, at the very least, we have now joined the ranks of those lucky enough to have surfed the Baja waters.

Alec commented on 28-Jun-2011 09:07 AM
Wow, great piccie. Congratulations!!
Villa Santa Cruz commented on 29-Jun-2011 09:41 AM
Thank you! It was a great day.

Asana in Paradise Yoga Retreats - July 2011

Friday, April 08, 2011

Asana in Paradise Yoga Retreats - July 2011

We are excited to host two back-to-back Yoga Retreats in July - reserve your space now, they are filling up fast! July 16 to July 20th & July 20th to July 24th.

Organized by a San Diego based group, Asana in Paradise, these retreats promise to be a relaxing, luxurious and fun-filled few days at Villa Santa Cruz.  Visit their Facebook page for more details and contact information.

Asana In Paradise

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History of Villa Santa Cruz

Sunday, March 13, 2011

This is the story of how we came to be...

In 2001, Villa Santa Cruz founders Matt Canepa and John Brown, came down the Baja Peninsula on a surf trip and camped just north of Todos Santos and the famous La Pastora surf break. They knew immediately that the area was special and fell in love with the white sand beaches, ocean views and solitude of such a private beachfront spot. After discovering that the 45-acre property, known as Rancho Santa Cruz, was for sale they quickly decided to buy it. Over the next few years, they transformed the raw land into today’s Villa Santa Cruz, overseeing every aspect from conception to construction, and completed the estate in 2006.

Later that same year, Matt met his future wife, now Jessica Canepa, when she came to visit Villa Santa Cruz. Matt proposed one year later in the Villa’s ocean-side Palapa and in 2009 the couple was married on the roof terrace. After two years living together in the United States while Jessica pursued her law career, the couple decided it was time to make Todos Santos their full-time home and began converting the estate into a boutique hotel on the beach. Now, Villa Santa Cruz has opened its doors for all to experience the beautiful house, relaxing pool, secluded beach and gorgeous ocean views.

Lindsay commented on 16-Mar-2011 10:08 AM
Wow! What a story! How fun. I hope to visit one day!
Philipp Stelzner commented on 23-Mar-2011 02:57 PM
Beautiful story! True romance happens at Villa Santa Cruz!

Grand Opening Celebration - Sunday, March 27

Monday, March 07, 2011

Grand Opening Celebration & Open House - Sunday, March 27th

Villa Santa Cruz, a new boutique hotel on the beach just north of Todos Santos, is officially opening its doors to the public with a Grand Opening Celebration! You're invited to take a tour of the Villa and its extensive grounds, and watch the sunset from our roof terrace. We will have live music, drinks and appetizers. We hope to see you there!!

For more information contact Matt and Jessica Canepa at 612-143-9230.

What: Villa Santa Cruz Grand Opening Celebration & Open House
When: Sunday, March 27, 3:30pm to Sunset
Where: We are located 5 miles north of Todos Santos on Camino a las Playitas, just north of the La Pastora surf break – follow our signs from town!

Anonymous commented on 21-Mar-2011 03:54 PM
This sounds great. We'll try and make it!

February Newsletter

Monday, February 21, 2011
Our February newsletter is dedicated to the wonderful local organic food choices in Todos Santos and at Villa Santa Cruz.  We make it a priority to provide healthy meals for our guests (breakfast and lunch are included in our nightly room rates), and having fresh food at our fingertips makes this possible!  

Read the February newsletter here.

Our Banana Trees