By Chelsea Stuart
Hotel reviews for resorts in Los Cabos are often heavy-handed in their focus on spa amenities, five-star dining and proximity to world-class golf courses. But if you dig a little deeper, past the all inclusives and the popular spring breaker destinations, you might just find something a little different. Hotel El Ganzo, in San Jose Del Cabo, certainly holds its own in the spa, cuisine, and amenities categories, but it also brings to the table local and international artistry in the form of resident painters, musicians and all around creatives.
While most hotels can be easily be recognized by their enduring design motifs, may they be urban chic, laid-back comfort, or ultra-luxe, the boutique Hotel El Ganzo is quite literally an ever-evolving canvas. With bare white walls and an upscale modern atmosphere, the hotel is an artist’s haven, and one that is far removed from the over-the-top resort feel of much of the destination.
Thanks to the artists in residence program that El Ganzo hosts, the hotel loves to surprise repeat guests with new art installations. The innovative program involves the hotel welcoming painters, graphic designers and sculptors to stay with them for as long as they like (most often two days to two weeks) in exchange for contributions of original art.
“Artists are given absolute freedom to create works of art inspired by the property and its unique, creatively charged atmosphere and setting. Artists can choose to create live installations almost anywhere throughout El Ganzo’s public areas or inside The Underground, a “secret” space that’s tucked beneath the hotel lobby, where they have privacy to get inspired. The artists’ projects and masterpieces are then showcased throughout the hotel for guests to enjoy.”
During my visit to El Ganzo this November, right after its grand re-opening following a year of preparation post-Hurricane Odile, I certainly felt the inspiration everyone kept talking about. From the Bob Dylan quote on the bar chalkboard– “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night, and in between does what he wants to do,”– to the brightly colored bookshelves giving me major bookshelf envy, to the refreshing tamarind Papa Doble I was handed (also known as the Hemingway Daquiri–he had quite an affinity for them), the hotel just felt so energized.
With such a comforting and creative vibe, it’s no wonder how the hotel has welcomed dozens of local and international artists to work with them. Previous artists in residence have included Manel Pujo, a student of Salvador Dali, Jan de Cock, a Belgian artist who has had solo exhibitions at the Tate Modern and the Museum of Modern Art, among others, and retired-NBA player turned artist Desmond Mason.
Desmond Mason finishing his crown on the front of the hotel
The hotel is also know for the El Ganzo Sessions–a music series quite akin to MTV’s Unplugged–a major pillar supporting their cool kid status. The program is curated by Mark Rudin a music industry veteran and the hotel’s music director, studio manager, and artist-in-residence. Upon moving to Cabo before the hotel’s opening in 2013, Rudin was put in charge of creating “The Underground,” Hotel El Ganzo’s on site recording studio. Along with Pablo Sanchez Navarro, El Ganzo’s owner, he also hand picks every artist in the concert series.
At the culmination of their stay, musical guests perform a live show on El Ganzo’s rooftop performance space. Recent El Ganzo Session performers have included four time Latin Grammy winner Natalia Lafourcade, California duo The Honey Trees, the Slash, Sara Bareilles, and Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice.
Artists and musicians in residence change rather quickly, so to stay up-to-date on El Ganzo’s guest list, follow them on Twitter @HotelElGanzo.
About the Writer
Chelsea Stuart is a recent graduate of Boston’s Emerson College and a new Brooklyn resident. When she’s not reeling from wanderlust (she lived on a ship for four months and visited 15 countries with the study abroad program Semester at Sea), she’s planning her next trip, reading, writing, thrifting, drinking an absurd amount of coffee, and Netflix bingeing like any good Millennial. Follow her on Twitter for more of her articles and occasional pop culture ramblings.
All photos via Hotel El Ganzo.