Crossroads Country Club and Vida Soul Hotel on the East Cape, Baja Sur, Los Cabos

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CROSSROADS COUNTRY CLUB ON THE EAST CAPE - BAJA AS IT WAS LONG AGO

If you're looking to get away from it all, I've got just the place for you... the Crossroads Country Club. Brainchild of owner Joan Hafenecker and her architect son, Crossroads rests on the shore of the Sea of Cortez in an area where you won't find much more than a sprinkling of private homes flanked by miles of empty beach and rugged desert. You're in the East Cape where things happen slowly and that's a good thing.

The East Cape region of Baja starts just north of San Jose del Cabo and reaches nearly all the way up to the city of La Paz, the capitol of Baja Sur. While there are pockets of development aimed at tourism – with a few major projects like Cabo Riviera currently under construction – the area has managed to hold onto its raw, unspoiled character. Lots of folks, myself included, simply love the peace and quiet that the East Cape offers. Now I've found another reason to love this place. Crossroads Country Club. Think of it as an oasis where good food, good drink and good friends wait for someone new to join the clan. We've been meaning to take the drive up and visit for quite sometime. We finally fit that visit into our schedule in late December, 2012. All it took was a quick lunch while soaking up the isolation to know we'd be back, and none too soon.


BOUTIQUE HOTEL, RESTAURANT AND LIVE MUSIC IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE


Crossroads Country Club as seen from the open air stage area
A Modern, minimalist design aesthetic is what makes Crossroads stand out from the landscape.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
When my wife and I took the trip to visit with Joan Hafenecker – New York transplant and owner of Crossroad's – we arrived well past lunch hour but that didn't seem to be a problem. We found Joan in the restaurant, made our introductions and settled in at the bar for a cold drink while we got to know each other. I try my best to subscribe to proper gentlemanly behavior. Asking a woman's age is not something I do or recommend doing. Needless to say, it's not that hard to guess that Joan's probably somewhere in the vicinity of sixty years young. Not exactly the age you'd venture out to build something rather spectacular, let alone something spectacular in the middle of nowhere. But that's what Joan and her architect son set out to do and have managed to bring to near fruition. The restaurant, aka club, is merely the first in a series of steps that leads to the realization of a dream.… a way cool place called Vida Soul. Once completed, it will encompass the restaurant, a live music venue and what would have to be classified as a boutique hotel with endless possibilities.

CHEESEBURGER IN PARADISE, EAST CAPE STYLE
Ever notice how food just seems to taste better when it's eaten outdoors? Add an incredible view and you take it up a notch. Well, the open design of the Crossroads Country Club does a great job of bringing vistas of the Sea of Cortez to any table you choose and the talent in the kitchen cooks up food that does those views justice. Crossroad's menu isn't a huge one but what's on it will satisfy most appetites – if you don't find what you're looking for on the menu, a daily special's board helps round out the offerings.

What you will find on the menu is fresh ingredients... lots of it sourced from local farms and local fisherman. Lunch and dinner menus feature a nice assortment of seafood including shrimp prepared in a variety of ways plus cabrilla (seabass) and halibut. Fish and shrimp tacos, quesadillas and freshly made guacamole and chips join burgers and a mixed salad but what you might not expect is a bit of the old country tossed into the mix. Several Italian dishes are available including a homemade pesto, a puttanesca and a spicy shrimp pasta finished with white wine and dried chile flakes.

Cheeseburger at Crossroads Country Club, East Cape, Baja

My wife had a craving that many of us gringos share after a couple of weeks away from home – a good old fashioned hamburger – and that's what she opted for. It came with hand cut fries set beside a toasted bun stacked with a juicy beef patty, hand-leafed lettuce, tomato and pickles and a slice of cheese. Me, I opted for their Chicken Picatta and was not disappointed. A golden brown chicken breast cooked with garlic, capers and white wine served atop penne pasta finished with fresh grated cheese and garnished with lemon and parsley.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding in Cabo isn't just for young people.
Chicken Picatta over Penne Pasta brings together a nice blend of flavors courtesy of capers, garlic and white wine topped off with grated cheese and parsley.

We really weren't intending on having dessert but Joan talked us into it after she let us know they had homemade ice cream – cookies and cream to be exact – and boy was it good. Dense, creamy and no doubt loaded with fat and calories but that's what dessert's are supposed to be, right? Dee and I sat back watching little waves lap at the shore hearing not much else besides the ocean and a dessert breeze and truly enjoyed that big bowl of ice cream. Trust me when I tell you it's made to share.
Homemade Cookies and Cream Ice Cream at Crossroads Country Club
Homemade Cookies n' Cream Ice Cream with whipped cream, an oreo cookie and chocolate sauce.

THE JOURNEY MAKES THE VISIT EVEN BETTER
You've heard it before... "the journey is the destination" may be an old cliché but that doesn't make it any less true. Getting here really is half the fun. When it comes to how you get here, you've got options. If you're driving your own car you'll need to decide how much time you have to make the trip and just how adventurous you are. For you explorer types like us, take the East Cape Road – twenty plus miles of dirt road that is not shock absorber friendly but makes up for what it lacks in smoothness with some amazing scenery. You'll find your way to the East Cape Road by way of old town San Jose del Cabo. At the eastern end of town you'll find a bridge that crosses the San Jose arroyo and estuary heading into Puerto Los Cabos. From there you'll bear left and head inland for a short spell before turning back towards the Sea of Cortez. That's where the pavement ends and the real trip begins.

We took that route in late December, 2012 not too long after what may have been one of the wettest winters in recent history. A series of storms sent runoff water barreling down from the mountains taking significant amounts of road with it. Even though the road isn't regularly maintained, the local population does impromptu repair work somehow managing to put the road back into passable condition fairly quickly. Our advice is to take your time and keep a lookout for washouts and deep ruts along with some truly spectacular vistas. You may even meet a few friends along the way like we did, albeit our friends happened to be burros. If you want to get an idea of what the drive is like, watch the video below.

The other route is to take the road towards Santa Catarina from HWY 1 just a few kilometers south of the SJD airport. It's still a dirt road but it's better maintained, less winding and more direct. Still, it's easy to miss a turn so Joan has a map that makes use of local landmarks that will help you find your way.

GETTING THERE GETS EVEN MORE INTERESTING, SOON!
Earlier, I touched upon the future at Crossroads, that being the completion of the first phase of the Vida Soul Hotel. The Hafenecker's want to make it easy for folks to get here so they've come up with a couple of different ways to do it. First, shuttle vans from Vida Soul will be available to pick you up at the airport transporting you and your baggage, and while they'll be doing the driving, you'll be enjoying the landscape sipping on a cold beer. Stay 5 nights and your roundtrip transfer is free.

Not cool enough? Then how about a helicopter? That's right, a helo! Vida Soul is working on providing the option of picking you up at the airport and flying you to the hotel in a private helicopter. I can't imagine how much fun it would be to make that trip but I can tell you we've done a helicopter tour over Los Cabos in small Robinson a few years back and the views are simply amazing. Having that bird's eye view further up the coast along the unspoiled East Cape has to be even better.

GRAND OPENING PLANNED FOR APRIL 20TH, 2013
We'd love to tell you all about a stay at Vida Soul, we just weren't lucky enough to be there when the first phase of the hotel was to make its debut. The good news is that it's happening soon. A grand opening party is taking place on April 20th replete with live music performances by a couple of different bands including Kilometro, a very popular band that plays the best venues in Baja. Check out the video of them doing a Pink Floyd classic below. I'm trying to clear my schedule to be there, but if I can't make it and you do, send me an email and let me know all about what I missed!



HOW TO GET IN TOUCH OR LEARN MORE:
Visit Crossroads Country Club Websites
Visit Vida Soul Website
Send them an email

Call them: Intl: +011-521-624-157-9569 Mexico: 624-157-9569