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View of the pool and Pacific ocean from Esperanza Resort, Los Cabos, Mexico - Photo by Andrew Harper

Ask the Editor: Why Did You Recently Recommend Baja?

By Andrew Harper

The Harper Way | September 27, 2017

Our intrepid editor-in-chief, Andrew Harper, travels the world in search of the most luxurious hotels and the very best travel experiences. With more than 30 safaris under his belt and millions of miles covered, there is no better resource to answer all of your travel-related questions.

Q.
Why did you recently write about Los Cabos, considering that there’s now a State Department Travel Warning for the southern Baja Peninsula?

It would indeed have been better to have mentioned the Travel Warning in my article about southern Baja resorts, but we went to press before the warning came into effect. I was able to note it only in my Letter From the Editor, unfortunately.

But even with the new Travel Warning, Los Cabos continues to draw tourists. Bookings to our recommended resorts haven’t dropped significantly when we last checked. Since the region is still of interest to travelers, and since no tourists have yet been directly affected by the violence, it seemed wise to press ahead with the article. Hopefully it will be of use to those with undiminished interest in vacationing in Baja.

The pool at Chileno Bay Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico Photo by Andrew Harper

I love the region. I had a splendid time relaxing at the new Auberge resort and clambering around lush oases in the desert, where waterfalls sandwiched between massive boulders fed cool, lily-pad speckled pools. I would go back in a heartbeat if my travel schedule allowed.

Of course, one must take the State Department’s warnings seriously, and I certainly don’t recommend ignoring them, as I sometimes do. Just as important, you must take your own feelings seriously. If you would feel unsafe in Los Cabos (or anywhere else, for that matter), you won’t be able to relax and you won’t have a good vacation.

The same goes for the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, home to Cancun, Tulum and the Riviera Maya. Here, too, there has been violence, but as in Cabo San Lucas, tourists have not been targeted. In any case, the city of Cancun, where most of the violence has occurred, has little to offer. It’s no loss to avoid it and spend one’s time touring the region’s spectacular Mayan ruins and relaxing on the beach.

Q.
It seems as if all of Mexico is under a travel warning now, or suffering from earthquake damage. Is there anywhere left to go?

Indeed there is, and traveling to Mexico, where thousands of livelihoods depend on tourism dollars, is a great way to show support for the country.

Those interested in a beach getaway should consider the Pacific Coast near Puerto Vallarta. The region has no travel warning, and it can still offer wild and pristine natural settings, such as the one at Las Alamandas, as well as manicured enclaves like Punta Mita, with its two Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses.

View of the beach from Las Alamandas near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Las Alamandas

Many of Mexico’s finest colonial cities also have no travel warnings or advisories in effect. I won’t soon forget the itinerary I did in 2014, which took me from Guadalajara to Guanajuato to Morelia. Guadalajara is the largest and most stylish, full of excellent restaurants and fashionable people, but it still has a pretty historic core of leafy plazas, ornate churches and intriguing museums. Hilly Guanajuato has a wonderfully atmospheric tangle of narrow lanes lined with colorful old mansions, dating from the time when the city was a wealthy silver mining powerhouse. Morelia has a less romantic grid layout, but it also has its share of mansion hotels, superb restaurants, vibrant food markets and grand colonial monuments.

All three cities have unusually lively street theater traditions. Each evening I went out to watch the musicians, jugglers, dancers and storytellers, along with local couples and families.

And, of course, San Miguel de Allende remains justly popular, with its steep cobblestone streets, pretty pastel houses and grand 17th-century Spanish architecture, as well as an exuberant and festive atmosphere.

La Parroquia cathedral soars above the colorful city of San Miguel de Allende © Alexcrab/iStock/Thinkstock

These colonial cities all stand in the temperate Mexican highlands. Because of the altitude, daytime temperatures never rose above the low 80s during my summertime trip, and nights sometimes required a sweater or light jacket. The climate there is quite hospitable almost any time of year.

Colonial treasures and delightful weather aside, what I’ll most remember about the colonial cities is the unforced friendliness and hospitality of the inhabitants. People in the stylish restaurants, shops and cafés seemed pleased to see American visitors, and often took time to chat with us. I hope to have an excuse to return soon.

Our "Ask Andrew" series features queries from our readers with responses from Andrew Harper, our editor-in-chief. Do you have a question of your own for Mr. Harper? Email "Ask Andrew" submissions to aharper@andrewharper.com.

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Andrew Harper Photo Andrew Harper is the editor of The Hideaway Report, a luxury travel newsletter that first appeared in 1979. He travels anonymously and pays his own expenses in pursuit of unique properties that offer unusually high levels of personal service. Hotels have no idea who he is, so he is treated exactly as you might be.

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