Hotel at Esperanza features 50 suites, six villas

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CABO SAN LUCAS -- The company that operates California's luxury Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley and the San Ysidro Ranch near Santa Barbara opened its first resort outside the U.S. here last month.

Auberge Resorts opened the 56-room Hotel at Esperanza, a collection of 50 "casita" suites and six privately owned villas, at Punta Ballena.

The property is the second phase of a $65 million project that includes Residence Club, a collection of 36 shared-ownership villas not available for rent, which opened in October.

Clients, however, won't be left out of the villa experience, because Hotel at Esperanza's villas can be rented when the owners are away, with several of them offering up to 4,500 square feet of living space.

Designed to resemble a typical Mexican village, the hotel's casitas and villas are spread across 17 acres overlooking two coves along the Sea of Cortes.

A network of stone footpaths connects the units with all resort facilities, including pools, restaurants and a spa set to open next summer.

The hotel was designed to make the most of its coastal setting. All bedrooms and bathrooms face the sea, and living rooms were designed with pocket doors that slide into the walls to create a feeling of continuity with the outdoors.

In keeping with Auberge's reputation for luxury, rooms feature large bathrooms with deep soaking tubs; white Frette linens; the hotel's signature line of botanical hair care and body products; and entertainment centers with DVD players.

Guests of the two- and three-bedroom oceanfront villas are treated to private pools, large patios, butler service, 24-hour concierge, private chefs and complimentary airport transfers.

High season rates range from $550 to $5,000 per night. Commission is 10%.

The hotel's Restaurant at Esperanza prepares Mediterranean-inspired cooking that incorporates local ingredients and regional specialties. A tequila menu features more than 100 selections.

Guests can work off their meals at the fitness center, which is equipped with free weights, strength-training machines, stationary bicycles and elliptical cross-trainers.

Golfers will appreciate the hotel's golf concierge, who will help guests arrange tee-times at the area's five golf courses, including the adjacent 18-hole, Tom Weiskopf-designed course.

For information or reservations, call (866) 311-CABO or visit the company's Web site, at www.aubergeresorts.com.

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