ROSARITO BEACH, BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO---The words above the ornate lobby entrance to the Rosarito Beach Hotel & Resort bear this message: Through this door pass the most beautiful women in the world.
Those have included Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Kim Novak, Paulette Goddard, Dolores Del Rio and scores more. They mingled among the likes of Frank Sinatra, Gregory Peck, Orson Wells, John Wayne and recently Robert Redford.
Millions of others have visited the oceanfront hotel since it opened in May of 1925, an event heralded with in a San Diego Union advertisement. This May, the best known hotel in Baja celebrates its 88th year.
“We are so grateful for those decades of growth and support,” said former two-time Rosarito Mayor Hugo Torres, who has been president of the family-owned hotel since 1974. “As we get closer to our 100th year, we plan to make this a grand occasion.”
Special promotions and gala events now through May 23 will mark the anniversary.
Mondays through Thursdays, rooms in the Coronado tower are $18.88 per night, and deluxe one-bedroom condos in the Pacifico tower $88. An $88 weekend special in the Coronado includes two getaway dinners, two margaritas and one 30-minute massage.
Eighty-eight free rooms will be given away in contests on the hotel’s Facebook page.
Months of events also are planned, culminating with a gala anniversary costume ball on May 18 in the Salon Mexicano. Room and ball packages, including commemorative bottle of wine, are offered at $149.
Full details of promotions, events and reservations are available at www.rosaritobeachhotel.com
American investors opened the hotel in in 1925 as a 12-room lodge catering to the hunters who enjoyed the región, which at the time was no more than a small village with no highway connecting it to Tijuana or points south.
Manual Barbachano --- a visionary eventually responsible for highways and a power company --- bought the hotel in 1929 and it began to flourish and expand.
Fifty more rooms were built, along with a casino and ballroom. In 1937, Barbachano married actress Maria Luisa Chabert (Mr. Torres’ aunt) and built an elegant family mansion, which is now home to the luxurious Casa Playa Spa.
The Hollywood crowd fell in love with the beautiful Mexion resort a short distance to the south. Stars flocked there. A photo from the era shows the hotel encircled by small private planes. Some had propellors but the Hollywood jet-set surely had arrived.
Plaques in the hotel’s restaurant now mark favorite tables of John Wayne and others. Burgess Meredith and Paulette Goddard were frequent guests, and Kirk Douglas visited.
Prince Ali Khan spent two weeks with Rita Hayworth. He left a waiter a $100 bill for a 45-cent drink and said keep the change. He enjoyed long walks on the beach with Hayworth. Servants used palm leaves to erase the couple’s footprints in the sand.
As decades passed, surfers replaced hunters as frequent visitors. Rosarito grew. The hotel became an increasingly popular spot for visitors from California and the southwest --- and it continued to expand.
A three-story addition was built in 1984, an eight-story tower in 1994, a pier in 2000 and a 17-story condo-hotel tower in 2008.The región beame famous for the Puerto Nuevo lobster village, nearby wine country and Baja Studios, where Titanic was filmed.
Today, the Rosarito Beach Hotel & resort continues to expand while preserving some of the best architecture and artwork from its past.
In 2012, the almost 500-room resort enjoyed its busiest summer ever. And some of the most beutful women in the world continue to pass through its door.
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