Villa Santa Cruz

Villa Santa Cruz in the New York Post (March 12, 2013)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Check out this great write up for Villa Santa Cruz in the New York Post! We enjoyed hosting travel writer, Jennifer Ceaser, at the Villa in October 2012.  And, now that the road paving project out to the Villa is almost complete, we hope no one will get "lost in Baja" again!

See the article below, or click this link to read it online.

Jump into the Todos Santos Art Scene at Studio N.E. Hayles

Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Whether you live in Todos Santos or are just passing through on vacation, the beautiful landscapes and warm light are sure to inspire your creative side. With spectacular surroundings - the crashing surf, green mountains, unique sunsets - it is no wonder that Todos is an artist haven, home to more than 31 artists. While you should definitely tour through the many art galleries in town, one of the best ways to experience the Todos art scene is to jump right in and create your own masterpiece. Try your hand at a Paper Tile Mosaic Art class taught by well known Todos Santos artist, Nanette Hayles.  

Paper Tile Mosaic Sample

In her Paper Tile Mosaic Art Class, students will learn to create a mosiac with paper tiles. Using high-end slick quality paper from magazines such as Architectural Digest, Vogue and Vanity Fair, your designs will come to life, one piece of paper at a time. With a "hands on", step by step approach, Nanette will lead you through the entire process. This course is great for everyone - beginning and advanced artists alike (and even for novices who wouldn't even deign to call themselves "artists").  

Student Hard at Work

The class takes place in Nanette's beautiful home/studio/garden setting. The relaxed atmosphere her home offers makes the creative process comfortable, fun and productive. During the class, you'll have ample opportunity to get to know Nanette, learn about her life as an artist and ask questions about what life is like as an artist in Todos Santos.

Whether you participate in a full day class (9am to 5pm), or a half day class (10am to 2pm), one of the highlights of your experience will be the delicious lunch that Nanette personally prepares for you. Our guests rave about her cooking!

Beautiful & Healthy Lunch

After a day spent watching your artistic vision come to life through paper tile mosaic, you'll be sure to have a deeper understanding about the magnetism of Todos Santos and why so many artists have made it their home. You can arrange the class through Villa Santa Cruz, or contact Nanette directly at

N.E. Hayles in Studio

More Details:

-  Pricing: $1,200 pesos for all day session; $700 pesos for half day session (both with lunch).
-  Classes include materials except magazines, please bring four.
-  Minimum 2 participants, Maximum 8 participants.
-  Visit the N.E. Hayles website at

More Information about N.E. Hayles:

Artist N.E. Hayles has lived in Todos Santos, Mexico since 1990 and has exhibited works in the United States, Japan and Mexico for over 25 years. With degrees from the University of California at Santa Barbara and U.C. Berkeley in social sciences and education, she is a self taught artist and a master of the paper tile mosaic. Her art has been on display in the Galería de Todos Santos for a number of years and is currently displayed in her own gallery in Todos Santos.

Known for her unique paper tile mosaics, her pieces range from small to large format. They are available as commissions, originals, Nash Limited Edition Iris Prints, Epson Archival Prints, posters and postcards and cover such varied art themes as portraits, angels, florals, landscapes, seascapes, abstracts, architectural interiors and exteriors. In addition to working in paper tile mosaics, N.E. Hayles also works in oils, ceramics, venetian tiles and one of a kind furniture.

Sushi Lessons at Villa Santa Cruz

Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Sushi has a certain mystère that  makes it feel impossible to master at home. So many unknowns are do you work with seaweed? how do you make that perfect sticky rice? how do you it roll up tightly? what is spicy tuna? Even thinking about the practicalities of preparing sushi at home makes me throw up my hands in frustration and head to a restaurant. Luckily for our guests at Villa Santa Cruz, Boutique Hotel on the Beach, sushi is made easy through lessons put on by La Sirena Eco-Adventures, an activities company here in Todos Santos, Baja Sur, Mexico. 

A few weeks ago, Villa guests Johnny, Bonnie, Robb & Barb had the good sense to partake in sushi lessons to celebrate Bonnie's birthday. Francesca Dvorak and Ira Nevius from La Sirena came to Villa Santa Cruz, armed with all things "sushi" - knives, wasabi, siracha, seaweed paper, bamboo rollers, veggies & fish. The crew quickly got to work thinly slicing cucumbers, green onions and carrots for the sushi rolls.

Next, it was time to prepare the fish. Ira & Francesca bought a beautiful tuna from the local fisherman at Punta Lobos. We saw a video Ira took of the experience at Punta Lobo - the boat coming in, selecting the fish, and cleaning it. Doesn't get any fresher than this!

Ira taught the group how to properly fillet the tuna for sashimi and gave instruction on how to prepare spicy tuna - finely dice the tuna and then mix in mayonnaise, siracha and green onions.

The trickiest part of the operation was assembling and rolling the sushi rolls tightly. Fran & Ira explained how to lay out the seaweed paper, add the rice & toppings and roll it will the help of the bamboo mats.

They turned out great - well done, Bonnie!

The group made all kinds of sushi rolls - rice on the outside, rice on the inside, some topped with the spicy tuna, others just with veggies, another with tuna and mango.  

The sunset that night was worth taking a moment to peek your head out the kitchen.

What a feast!

Our thanks to Fran & Ira from La Sirena for the sushi lessons in the Villa Santa Cruz kitchen - a perfect way to learn something new and enjoy fresh Baja foods.  Who knew sushi was easy after all?

More Details:

$60/person (small groups of 4-7), $50/person (groups of eight or more).  Includes all ingredients, tools, and instruction.  Fish selections will depend on the season, but usually include Dorado, Yellowtail, Tuna, and Sierra Mackeral. Vegetarian selections also available upon request.

Upcoming Events in Todos Santos - 2012 to 2013 Season

Monday, July 30, 2012

Summertime is upon us in Baja Sur. With hot long days, occasional afternoon thunder storms and beautiful red sunsets, our Villa Santa Cruz guests are falling into the slow pace of the Todos Santos summer. Sipping cold drinks in the ocean front hammocks, taking evening beach strolls with the dogs and dipping in the pool to refresh and revive, they have become part of the calm and peacefulness that the summer brings us.

Even as we enjoy the unhurried groove of the summer season, we look forward to the events that are already being planned for the coming year. As you start to plan your getaways for 2012-2013, consider the following festivals and celebrations that will make your stay in Todos even more memorable.


October 12 to 16, 2012 - Festival of the Patron Saint of Todos Santos, Nuestra Señora del Pilar

This lively festival commemorates the founding of Todos Santos.  With music, arts, dancing, a parade and horse show, these will be five days filled with celebration and cheer.

January 10 to 26, 2013 - 2nd Annual Todos Santos Music Festival, Organized by Peter Buck of REM

The debut of this 3 week music festival last season was incredible!  With three weeks of live music, big names (Robin Hitchcock, Chuck Prophet, Kevn Kinney & more) and great venues, it is absolutely a "must do" in Todos Santos.  Performances every Thurs, Fri & Sat nights for three consecutive weekends (Jan 10 - 12; Jan 17-19; Jan 24-26).  This is definitely the hottest ticket in town and rooms are going quickly - limited availability remains at Villa Santa Cruz during the first weekend only.  Contact us now to make your reservation.

Photo Credit: Pescadero Surf Properties

February 2 to 9, 2013 - Todos Santos Art Festival

This week long celebration of the arts offers many cultural events - includes art exhibitions, dance and music performances.  Official program to come.

February 10, 2013 - 4th Annual Todos Santos Artist Open Studio Tour

On the heels of the Art Festival, over 30 of our local Todos Santos artists will open their studios and invite in the general public to view their work spaces and chat about their creative practices. You will pick up a map of the studios and take a self-guided tour throughout the town, stopping in to see the artists who most intrigue you. 

Shown: Todos Santos Artist Tori Sepulveda

February 21 to February 28 - 10th Annual Todos Santos Film Festival

Selected films from across Mexico and Latin America are shown at the beautifully restored Manuel Márquez de León Theater, located in the heart of the historic district of Todos Santos.  Before the films begin, have dinner in town and stroll the main plaza where you'll find local vendors selling wine by the glass and sweet treats to take into the theater with you.  So charming!

This is such a promising line up of festivals and events - the 2012 to 2013 season will be here before we know it!  

Gourmet Cooking Lessons with Chef Dany Lamote at Villa Santa Cruz

Sunday, June 10, 2012

One of the very best things about visiting Baja and Todos Santos is the amazing food.  From the abundance of fresh produce and seafood to the chefs who magically whip these ingredients into gastronomical delights, visitors to our area are in for a treat.  And, if you are looking for a way to take your culinary experience to the next level, we have just the thing - gourmet cooking lessons at Villa Santa Cruz with Chef Dany Lamote, head chef at the legendary Hotel California.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Chef Dany arrived at Villa Santa Cruz  ready to guide me, Matt and our friends through the preparation (and consumption) of an exquisite four course dinner. Chef Dany was ready to get down to business, armed with everything needed for a serious gourmet cooking class - fresh shrimp and yellowtail fish, colorful produce and aromatic herbs, and, of course, a creme brulee blowtorch.   We were celebrating a milestone birthday for one of our dear friends, Laura, and loved the intimacy and group togetherness of the cooking class.  The Villa, with an open social kitchen, butcher block island, ample counter space, and big chairs (aka "king and queen thrones") in which to relax, is a perfect venue for a group cooking experience.

After toasting to the promise of a great meal with a crisp glass of white wine, Dany gathered the group to introduce us to his cooking philosophy.  Originally from Belgium, he explained that his signature style is to combine Mexican ingredients with European techniques.  He loves to make exotic Mexican foods more familiar - we'd be incorporating nopales (cactus paddles), cuitlacoche (corn mushroom know as "Mexican caviar") and ancho chile peppers into our meal.  He then split the three couples into three groups - each in charge of a different course - and we were on our way down the culinary road.

Max and Laura were in charge of the appetizer course.  Their menu included yellowtail sashimi marinated in soy sauce and ginger, shrimp skewered on rosemary sprigs with an orange-saffron-habanero-coconut sauce, pineapple salsa, and crab and goat cheese stuffed peppers (the stuffed peppers were definitely a group favorite). 

Amy and Dustin were assigned the salad and dessert courses.  The dessert, an ancho chile creme brulee, was the most time intensive dish, so they started on that first - boiling the ancho chiles, cream and cinnamon, melting the chocolate, combining the ingredients, pouring into ramekins, and baking for 35 minutes.  Once the desserts went into the oven, they jumped over to the preparation of the salads and crostini.  They worked on a nopal cactus salad with goat cheese and tomatoes, a mixed salad with agave glazed pecans topped with duck and arrachera steak, and a crostini of puffed pastry, nopales, goat cheese and cuitlacoche.

Matt and I prepared two sauces for the fish course, one with tomatillos and one with tamarind.  We peeled and roasted the tomatillos and then boiled and strained the tamarind, creating two flavorful bases for fresh yellowtail and halibut.  We also made a sweet potato gratin spiced with ginger and Chef Dany's amazing flavored curry salt.

At this point, we were all starting to bulge around the middle, but were ready for the evening's grand finale - creme brulee adorned with huge strawberries.  We all gathered in the kitchen to watch Dustin wield the blowtorch to create a perfectly caramelized crust.  With a hint of ancho chiles, it was a winner - definitely a recipe to keep in your back pocket to recreate for your friends at home.  It was tough to get a lot of birthday candles into those little ramekins, but we made it work!

We send our warmest thanks to Chef Dany for such a fun and special evening.  Sitting outdoors under the covered patio, listening to the crashing waves, enjoying the warm ambiance of the Villa's gas lamps and soft candlelight, delighting in a gourmet meal with good friends over glasses of doesn't get much sweeter than this. We highly recommend that all our Villa Santa Cruz guests put it at the top of their Todos Santos "to do" list.   

Classes offered daily from 11am to 2pm at Santo Vino (Hotel California’s Bistro Restaurant). Chef Dany is available to host an evening class at Villa Santa Cruz on Sunday nights (4+ persons). $100 USD/person for basic class, $175 USD/person for upgrade with wine/tequila (includes 1 glass wine/tequila per person per course).  For more information, visit our Cooking Lessons Activity link.

Amy commented on 12-Jun-2012 07:37 PM
Cooking lessons with Chef Dany at Villa Santa Cruz was a special and unforgettable experience! We had a wonderful evening. I highly recommend the activity to visitors!

Yacht Charter in La Paz with - Beauty in our Backyard

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thanks to our friends at - a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel advice on Baja California, Mexico - we spent the day aboard a spectacular yacht in the Sea of Cortez, explored the beautiful Balandra Beach and swam with whale sharks.  While our guests at Villa Santa Cruz, Boutique Hotel on the Beach, are usually quite content enjoying the Villa and Todos Santos, this day trip to La Paz is a "must do" for any guest of Villa Santa Cruz and any traveler to Baja Sur.

The Samurai - what a beauty!

Arriving bright and early to the La Paz marina after an hour drive from Todos Santos, we were welcomed by Kenny Busick, the owner and captain of our vessel for the day, The One Baja's 56' Samurai Luxury Yacht.  Over piping hot coffee and breakfast on board, we met up with the team and other Baja "ambassadors" with whom we would spend the day.  The impressive list of locals included Tim Means, a passionate Baja conservationist and owner of the outdoor adventure company, Baja Expeditions, Roy Stock - Principal of Wide Open Baja, an off road touring company, James Curtis - Owner of the Cortez Club, the best diving and watersports center in La Paz, who regaled us with amazing tales of personal encounters with whales and dolphins in the Sea of Cortez, and Restaurateurs Miguel Ochoa (Hotel Casa Tota and La Santena Restaurant & Bar), Geoffrey Lujan (Las Tres Virgines Restaurant in La Paz) and Rafael Rodriguez (Salsipuedes Bar & Restaurant in La Paz) and more!

Once we settled in on the yacht, we were soon heading north through the La Paz Bay.  With the morning sun on our shoulders, it was a beautiful sight watching the coast from the sea.  Within minutes, the crew on the top deck spotted a friendly whale shark near our boat.  Jim Pickell, the CEO of, was the only one brave enough to jump in and get up close and personal with him.

Whale Shark Mouth

Jim with the Whale Shark

We made our way to Balandra Beach, one of the most breath taking stretches in all of Baja Sur.  With crystal clear water, powder white sand and gently lapping waves, an afternoon here is one spent in paradise.  Captain Kenny anchored the boat in the bay and let us explore.

Beautiful Balandra Beach

Kayaking around Balandra

Balandra's Famous Mushroom Rock

Docking back at the Marina, we were sad to say good-bye to all our new friends and to such a great day out on the water.  We'd like to extend a huge thank you to everyone at for such a fun day.  We look forward to sending our Villa Santa Cruz guests out for the same adventure!

General Information:

Location.  La Paz is located approximately one hour northeast of Todos Santos by car.  With a completed four-lane highway, the drive is easy and quick.  The Samurai is located here.

About the Samurai.  The Samurai is a luxury yacht for cruising, fishing and family fun.  It is a luxurious, smooth riding stable platform that offers a 20 knot cruise, great for sport fishing and perfect for multi-island exploration or long range voyages, manufactured by Ronin Shipbuilding in Puerto Rico.  She is completely self-sufficient with two generators, four air conditioners, 800 per day fresh water maker, three private staterooms, two private heads, complete chef's galley, two custom BBQ's, main dining room and underwater lights for night time fishing action.

Charter Includes.  They typical day includes full breakfast, lunch and snacks as well as beer and wine. Guests can take the dinghy to explore beaches, snorkel, kayak, dive, fish, paddleboard and more.

Cost.  The cost varies with the number of people, itinerary and menu, but is usually around $3,000 USD/day (plus 10-20% tip).  Overnight trips are quoted upon request.

Reservations.  Reservations can be made through Samurai's listing on

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Winos take Delight! - Baja Wine Shop in Todos Santos

Friday, December 09, 2011
Tired of wines from the same old regions? Craving something new? Head over to the wine shop in Todos Santos, La Bodega, to taste wines from the Baja California Wine Region. Stocking exclusively Baja wine from smaller vineyards and wineries, you’ll have the opportunity to expand your wine palette and have a little fun too! The owner and wine connoisseur, Mac Sutton, will pour you a glass to taste, teach you about Mexican winemaking and tell stories of his experiences in the Baja wineries.

Don’t miss Monday and Wednesday evenings at La Bodega. Monday is “Flight Night” and is a great time to sample featured wines and listen to the funky blues band, Ben & the Men. Monday nights, 5-8pm. 

Wednesday night is “Big Red Wednesday” where Mac sells boldly structured red wines by the glass, paired with Dona Guillermina’s delicious tamales. Tolin serenades the evening with his beautiful guitar music. Wednesday nights, 5-7pm.

Located on Calle Hidalgo, between Juarez and Militar (stand in front of the Tecolote Bookstore and walk straight down the street). Open Monday, 5-8pm; Tuesday – Saturday, 11am to 7pm.  Find La Bodega on Facebook.