Abelardo “Rod” Rodriquez: The Premier Hotelier of Baja Sur

In the heart of Baja California Sur, nestled along the rugged beauty of the coastline of the Sea of Cortez, lie two historic hotels that have become legends in their own right: Las Cruces and Palmilla. These iconic establishments owe their existence and enduring charm to one man’s vision and passion for hospitality—Abelardo “Rod” Rodriguez.

Abelardo Luis “Rod” Rodríguez Montijo was born in 1918 in Oakland, California. His father was General Abelardo Rodríguez who served as Governor of Baja California, Governor of Sonora, and substitute President of Mexico from 1932-34. Rod grew up in California and as an adult became a pilot, flying in WWII and commercially. He got into the Baja tourism industry because he could see the most desirable locations to build hotels from up in the sky while he was flying his plane decades before the transpeninsular highway was completed. He purchased ten thousand acres with more than seven miles of private sea coast along the Sea of Cortez south of La Paz. In 1948, he and his wife Lucille Bremer turned the property into a small luxury resort, Rancho Las Cruces. This boutique hotel was not just a place to stay; it was a sanctuary where guests could immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Baja while enjoying impeccable service and comfort.

Image courtesy Rancho Las Cruces

Las Cruces Hotel quickly gained renown for its understated elegance and its commitment to preserving the environment. The architecture seamlessly blended with the landscape, using local materials and sustainable practices ahead of its time. Each room offered breathtaking views of the sea, inviting guests to unwind and reconnect with nature.

Beyond its physical beauty, Las Cruces became a cultural hub, attracting artists, writers, and celebrities seeking inspiration and tranquility. Bremer was a Hollywood actress and famous friends and acquaintances of the couple would come to enjoy a luxury escape.

Not content with one success, Rod continued to expand his vision. In 1957, he and Bremer unveiled Palmilla Hotel, a luxurious retreat located on what has today become the Los Cabos corridor. The hotel is known today as the famous One&Only Palmilla. But back then, it was a small 15-room resort that guests could only access by private plane or yacht.

Abelardo Rodriguez and Lucille Bremer

Palmilla set a new standard for luxury in Baja California Sur, with its world-class amenities, private beach, and unparalleled service. Celebrities and dignitaries flocked to Palmilla, seeking privacy and exclusivity in an idyllic setting. Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby, John Wayne and even President Eisenhower were among the guests who stayed at the Palmilla in its early days.

Like Las Cruces, Palmilla Hotel was meticulously designed to harmonize with its surroundings. The lush gardens, meandering pathways, and Spanish colonial architecture created a sense of timeless elegance that remains to this day. The hotel’s commitment to excellence and personalized service ensured that every guest felt like royalty during their stay.

Rod went on to open the Hotel Hacienda in Cabo San Lucas in 1963. It was the first hotel to open in Cabo. The original hotel was unfortunately demolished in 2005 to make way for a new project, the Hacienda Beach Club & Residences.

Rod died peacefully on his 100th birthday in 2018, but his legacy lives on through Las Cruces and Palmilla Hotels. These establishments continue to enchant visitors with their beauty, hospitality, and commitment to preserving the natural wonders of Baja California Sur. They serve as a testament to his vision and dedication, reminding us of the transformative power of hospitality done right.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *