When hotelier Margot Stern first visited the small town of Todos Santos on the west coast of Mexico, it was to consult on a friend’s hospitality business plan. A two-month stay, max. Nine years later, she still hasn’t left, and she’s opened a property of her own: Avenida Baja, a boutique hotel and coworking space designed for remote work and lots of relaxation.
In this coastal community of surfers, artists, and expats, Stern noticed that working from home was trending, even two years prior to the pandemic. There was high demand for hotels that had really good Internet, but those that existed were catering to young travelers who wanted to stream videos and upload photos. “No one was addressing the needs of a more seasoned worker who would be interested in working remotely and going somewhere for a few weeks or a month,” Stern explains.
But designing a space made for both long-term work and play was daunting for Stern, who had only operated on the business side of hospitality. “I did so much research,” she says. “I spoke to owners of coworking spaces about what made a workspace productive. I read blogs about lighting and just kind of dove into it.”
That dive led Stern to turn the traditional office on its head. She transformed two neighboring new-build homes and an empty lot on the town’s up-and-coming strip into a boutique hotel filled with moody lighting, colorful artwork, and spaces for both collaboration and solo productivity.
Each guest room is designed so that visitors can make themselves at home—think: dressers for fully unpacking, linen bedding for ultimate comfort, and a full-size desk (no need to work from bed). The vibrant adjoining bathroom is fitted with custom light blue tile and brass fixtures.
Stern also wanted guests to be able to plug into the culture and events of Todos Santos or, alternatively, to retreat and relax. “There needed to be opportunities for both privacy and interaction,” she says. In the common areas, a bright kitchen with ample seating is paired with quieter outdoor nooks and discreet corners where guests can take a call or have time to themselves outside of their room.
Set behind the primary buildings is the pool area, where work and play can really mingle. Low daybeds and classic sun loungers in a variety of blue patterns flank the patio, while a neon pink “Out of Office” sign brings the message home.
Boutique hotels can become kitschy very quickly, but the spaces at Avenida Baja are organic, laid-back, and entirely fresh. By highlighting the work of local artisans and avoiding stereotypical color palettes, Stern was able to veer away from interiors that feel destination themed.
The visual elements of the project were important, but Stern also wanted visitors to be left feeling rejuvenated. As a transplant to the area herself, she was used to feeling like a fish out of water, especially when it came to loving work in a town built around vacation. Avenida Baja is Stern’s attempt at melding those two lifestyles. She explains: “It was my way of saying I can be intense and still belong here. Watch me create a space for other people like me.”
Go-to local vintage shop or resource: Tienda 17 in Los Cabos.
Favorite local home store or source: Locally, Zocalo in Todos Santos, but I also love Haven in Boulder, Colorado.
Object that gets the most use: The La Bohemia Baja Peruvian alpaca throw blankets.
One thing I wish I knew before renovating: Try to choose and purchase all your fixtures in advance so that waiting for them doesn’t slow down the construction process.