Las Ventanas: An Ecological Window to Paradise
Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort was envisioned, as it name implies, as a resort that opened the “windows to paradise” for its guests. It could just as easily have been characterized the “ecologically friendly windows to a green paradise.” From the concept to the building materials, the by-hand method of construction and the landscaping decisions, from the spa products to the sea turtle protection program, Las Ventanas from the beginning has taken an eclectic path that has shaped it as uniquely earth friendly.
Firstly, Las Ventanas was not “built.” It was created to blend into the local environment and exude a distinctive “sense of place” in harmony with its surroundings. It was nestled into the natural slope and contours of the terrain, maintaining a strong sense of responsibility to the wonder and magic of the desert-to-ocean terrain and ecology. Below are some of the nature-friendly features that guests love best about Las Ventanas:
Sea Turtle Protection Program:
July to November is Sea Turtle Season, when mother turtles arrive on the beach in front of Las Ventanas, dig nests in the sand and lay their eggs. Soon after opening in 1997, Las Ventanas established a Sea Turtle Protection Program, the first of its kind in Los Cabos. Each day during the season, the resort’s Beach Attendants monitor the arrival of mother turtles, put up markers and rope off areas as needed, and guard the nests from both scavenging sea birds and curious humans. After a 6-8 week incubation period, the babies are born – and watching them dash from the nest across the sand to reach the safety of the sea is truly a spectacle to behold. The success of the program is in the numbers: each year brings more mother turtles and an increase in the number of baby turtles that plunge into the waves and swim away
The Spa at Las Ventanas:
From the day the resort opened, The Spa has been committed to natural healing with holistic treatments, and was among the first to take this tack in the international spa world. It was the first in Los Cabos to offer indigenous holistic treatments derived from the natural flora of the Baja Peninsula. For example, The Spa originated the use of Nopal Detox Wrap, still offered today, which uses paddles from the Nopal cactus mixed with organic coconut oil to create a detoxifying wrap. It also discovered the beneficial power of the local bules, or calabashes, when adapted to massage treatments, making it the resort’s signature massage.
The Spa is naturally simple and lovely – a quiet garden setting, with treatment rooms that open onto gardens of cactus, succulents and flowering indigenous bushes. The focus is on desert beauty and healing. In the outdoor solarium, therapists play crystal bowls that emanate sound-healing vibrations grounded in the frequencies of nature, while treatments incorporate components of ancient Baja healing techniques based on the Four Elements of nature. Organic coconut oil is the only oil used for massages. The product lines offered in the Spa are natural and organic Epicuren and Yonka.
Under the guidance of Executive Chef Fabrice Guisset, the resort has set up systems and procedures to ensure the highest-quality organic cuisine:
Herb Garden: The outdoor herb garden is all organic and includes a demonstration cooking center where weekly cooking classes are held.
Locally-sourced products: The resort works exclusively with local growers, predominantly from the fecund fields of Miraflores, to ensure that Las Ventanas has a dependable supply of the freshest organic produce, right from the region. The seafood is bought from select local fishermen who catch it daily from the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. Likewise, Mexican cheeses, olive oils and other products come from the best regional producers, furthering the resort’s commitment to locally sourced ingredients. (Las Ventanas believes that Baja is the Provence of Mexico.)
Cocina del Fuego: Las Ventanas brought the healthy and delicious art of cooking with wood-burning fires to Los Cabos. At the Sea Grill, the entire menu is cooked in a brick-and-clay oven and on special grills using different local woods. The food is very simple and down to earth, based on the flavors imbued by the woods, fine olive oils and fresh organic herbs from the resort’s garden.
Built by hand with mostly local materials:
The resort literally was built entirely by hand, with tender loving care. No heavy machinery or equipment was used by the large crews that built the entire framework of the resort. Then all the finish work was done by skilled Mexican artisans whose beautiful hand-crafted décor – from inlaid-pebble walkways and bed headboards to hand-carved cedar doors to latilla screens – imbued Las Ventanas with its distinctive style that has since been imitated worldwide. The building materials were Mexican and largely organic in their own way: The inlaid-pebble walkways (the “stone carpeting”) used pebbles from local riverbeds; the latilla ceilings were made with wood from Mexico’s mainland; the palapas were ceated from local palm thatch; and, instead of carpeting, Mexican conchuela stone floors were put down. A visit in 1996, when the resort was under construction, was an extremely novel experience: Being hand made it was a “quiet” construction site where stucco blocks and buckets of freshly mixed cement were being raised by hand pulleys and artisans everywhere were painting, installing wrought iron and setting pebble headboards by hand.
Perhaps more than anything else, it was the approach to landscaping and the external color scheme that have allowed Las Ventanas to remain in harmony, and become one, with the local ambience. While other resorts in Los Cabos created lush tropical environments because this is what visitors expected to see (even though this isn’t native to the area and requires considerably more water), Las Ventanas implemented xeriscaping – i.e., landscaping that uses plants that are indigenous or whose natural requirements and characteristics are appropriate to the local climate.
Las Ventanas is planted with cactus, succulents and other desert plants, largely set in desert-sand gardens, and many are blooming varieties that splash the resort with the many brilliant colors of indigenous nature. Not only is this low-water-usage vegetation but there is an irrigation system that restricts water usage and helps prevent runoff. In addition, the exteriors of the resort’s buildings were given a sand color that mimics the shade of the local desert floor – so they would blend into the natural terrain.
Blending into the local environment was a fundamental component of the concept behind Las Ventanas, so creating a desert xeriscape in a resort setting was essential. It has been so effective, in fact, that the desert fauna have checked-in too: The xeriscape attracts many local birds and lizards – because they are at home in what is a natural environment for them.
Many other small details complement and enhance the natural desert setting within the resort. For example: Candles are used extensively throughout the property in the evenings, reducing the use of electrical lights and creating a more soft, subtle and natural ambience. The decorative ironwork around the resort depicts nature, from whales to agave plants. The gardens with sand floors are raked daily to echo the wavy lines created in the sand by the wind in desert landscapes.