Mexico knows how to quench a thirst. Whether you're parched on a beach in Playa del Carmen, dehydrated on a dance floor in Cabo San Lucas or toasting clients at dinner in Mexico City, your cup will never run dry — of tequila or cerveza, that is. But what if you're a wine drinker?
While Mexico isn't particularly known for its wine, that's beginning to change thanks to a little-known region in Baja California. A more relaxed and more affordable alternative to California's esteemed Napa Valley, Valle de Guadalupe is a fast-growing food-and-wine destination just two hours south of San Diego. Along with more than 100 wineries, it boasts beautiful scenery, top-notch restaurants and a number of stylish boutique hotels -- the latest of which is Mexico's first Dream Hotels property, scheduled to open in 2021, the Dream Hotel Group announced Monday.
Occupying over 35 acres on the region's Ruta del Vino wine route, the new hotel will be designed by Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao, who will bring an "eco-chic" aesthetic to the project, according to Dream. Along with 61 guest rooms and villas, it will have a signature restaurant helmed by a celebrity chef, a wine-tasting room, a pool and pool bar, private meeting spaces for meetings and events, a luxury spa and its own on-site vineyard.
"Dream Valle de Guadalupe is an exciting collaboration between some of the best minds in the hospitality industry," said Dream Hotel Group's vice president of development, Ariel Sanett. "The region will offer guests an opportunity to immerse themselves in the food and wine culture and natural tranquility encompassing Valle de Guadalupe."
Four More Vineyard Hotels for Thirsty Groups
Mexico notwithstanding, more established wine regions continue to be a draw for meeting groups. Each of these four hotels has an on-site vineyard and can seamlessly blend work with wine.
• The Meritage Resort and Spa (Napa, Calif.). While emerging wine regions are perpetually jockeying for position across the continent, Napa Valley will always be the capital of North American wine country. For an immersive Napa experience, groups can head to the Meritage Resort and Spa on 9 acres of hillside vineyards that belong to family-run winery Trinitas Cellars. Along with 322 guest rooms and suites, features here include walking trails through the vineyards; a bowling alley with six lanes; two heated swimming pools, three whirlpools and a fitness center with vineyard views; a signature restaurant serving Napa-inspired cuisine; an underground spa inside a 20,000-square-foot wine cave, and 80,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space.
• Les Sources de Caudalie (Martillac, France). If wine countries were royalty, Napa Valley would be princely, but the Bordeaux region of France most certainly would be king. Located 20 minutes south of Bordeaux proper is Les Sources de Caudalie, a five-star family-run inn that sits amidst the Grand Cru vineyards of Château Smith Haut Lafitte. Established in 1999, the hotel has 47 guest rooms and suites across six cottages, not to mention three restaurants and bars: a two-Michelin-starred restaurant, a farm-to-table bistro and a wine bar/upscale grocer selling items for upscale picnics. There's also an onsite vegetable garden and hen house supplying fresh vegetables and eggs; a spa whose treatments utilize grapes, wine and water from a subterranean natural hot spring; indoor and outdoor pools; a tennis court; a three-hole golf course; a fitness trail, and five meeting rooms -- plus La Chartreuse du Thil, a 12-room mansion a mile down the road whose historic living rooms can be used for private meetings. Activities abound, such as cooking classes, horse-drawn carriage rides, wine-tasting lessons and guided tours of the on-site vineyards.
• Hotel Marqués de Riscal (Elciego, Spain). If you ask the winemakers who cultivate it, they'll tell you that Spanish wine is special, and that travelers who visit Spain deserve a special place in which to taste it. The Hotel Marqués de Riscal is that place. Opened in 2006 in the small town of Elciego, this member of Marriott's Luxury Collection is a creation of world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, whose contemporary and whimsical design consists of rectangular prisms wrapped in undulating waves of titanium, with pink, gold and silver hues that symbolize "the reddish hues of red wine, the mesh of the wine bottle of Marqués de Riscal and the capsule of the bottle," according to the hotel's website. With 43 guest rooms and suites, the property is part of the Marqués de Riscal City of Wine, an oenophilic campus that also includes two restaurants (one of which has a Michelin star), a spa specializing in wine-based treatments, a rooftop lounge, a wine bar, a wine shop, over 10,000 square feet of meeting space and the oldest winery in Spain's Rioja wine region. The latter opened in 1858 and today instructs guests in the fine art of winemaking, from the grapevine to the bottle; its highlight is an enormous cellar housing 8 million bottles.
• Denbies Wine Estate (Dorking, England). Unlike Napa, Bordeaux and Rioja, the county of Surrey, England, isn't exactly a wine Mecca. You'd never know it, however, at Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, an hour south of London. Family-owned and -run since 1984, it's England's largest vineyard, with 265 acres under vines. The estate's original farmhouse is now a four-star bed-and-breakfast with seven guest rooms. The small number of beds shouldn't scare away larger groups, however, as the estate also includes purpose-built conference facilities for meetings and events of up to 500 people. Other highlights include two restaurants, indoor winery tours and outdoor vineyard tours aboard a seasonal train.