History of the Rosarito Beach Hotel

One of the oldest and most famous hotels in Baja California

Rosarito Beach Hotel Arch

The Rosarito Beach Hotel is one of the most famous hotels on the Pacific coast of North America. Built in the late 1920's on the site of an isolated hunting lodge and expanded over the years, it appears as a prominent feature on most highway maps. A Spanish Colonial-style structure overlooking a beach that goes on for miles, the hotel created the city that surrounds it. The founder, Manuel P. Barbachanao, built the first paved highway in the area to make it easier for his Southern California guests to get to his hotel. He built the first power company and telephone company in Baja to make life more convenient when they arrived.

Rosarito Beach Hotel Plaque

The hotel became a favorite getaway for Hollywood stars escaping the restrictions of prohibition and the pressures of studio life in an idyllic old-world setting just a few hours south of Sunset and Vine. Over the years, Orson Welles, Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth and other screen legends along with several presidents of Mexico and foreign royalty have patronized the hotel. Barbachanao remained in charge of his creation until his death in 1954. Today, it is owned and operated by his nephew, Hugo Torres Chabert, who continues the gracious traditions begun by his uncle. Many of the hotel staff are children and grandchildren of the ranchero workers who built the hotel and stayed on to work as cooks, clerks and maids.


One of the hotel's most striking features is the spacious, wood-beamed lobby decorated with original 1920s murals showing different aspects of Mexican history and culture. Another is the beautifully tiled Olympic-size swimming pool set in the courtyard behind the original building.

Rosarito Beach Hotel Entryway

There are 280 rooms in the hotel, including 100 one-bedroom suites in a tower built in 1992. Most rooms are oceanfront. Two restaurants and a full-service spa are part of the complex. The Azteca, which looks out over the pool courtyard, is the casual restaurant. Casa Playa Spa and Chabert's, (the formal restaurant) are located in the magnificent mansion Barbachanao built for his wife in 1935.

The above content was reprinted with permission of Steve Thomas, Churn Publishing, Inc. and originally appeared in the Orange Country Metro.

For more information visit the Rosarito Beach Hotel website.

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