La Casa Del Zorro: California Desert Gem Re-Opened

Genie Davis November 15, 2015 No Comments

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La Casa Del Zorro first opened in 1937, and was deeply mourned when, after being purchased by investors, it closed in 2010. Its re-opening in 2013 has earned it many accolades in the travel industry for its elegant charm. Located in the small town of Borrego Springs in the heart of Anza Borrego State Park, the venerable resort is a Southern California icon.

SETTING

La Casa del Zorro
photo courtesy of La Casa del Zorro

La Casa del Zorro has a marvelous setting right in the middle of the over 600,000 acre desert. Views of the towering Santa Rosa Mountains beckon guests to explore the park. A gentle nature trail near the park’s visitor’s center is perfect for small children, who will also enjoy a look at the flora and fauna of the region at the center. Older children will find a variety of hikes suited to the entire family, through canyons and mesas, to petroglyphs view points. Spring is the time of wild flowers; autumn will lure visitors to take a forty minute drive to the community of Julian, renowned for apple orchards and apple pie. The hotel will happily pack up a picnic lunch to go for families who explore the area. Flowering ocotillo cacti, mud caves, steep cliffs, and vistas of the vast, wide desert floor are in many cases viewable from the roadside or from the car. It’s a treat just to take a drive through the park. Bird watching opportunities also abound, older kids will enjoy counting some of the species in the region. Or drive south to the Salton Sea, not much for swimming, but a view of the vast, inland body of water is intriguing for kids. Also a drive-able distance away is Salvation Mountain, the late Leonard Knight’s tribute to spirituality, hand painted and designed with intricate colors and found art.

ACCOMMODATIONS

With nineteen multi-bedroom casitas, each with either a small pool or hot tub of their own, large families can feel right at home. Smaller groups can enjoy the forty-four large, modern, hacienda-style rooms with sitting areas, fireplace, porch or balcony, and walk in showers, grouped around swimming pools, lounging areas, and jacuzzis.

DINING

Dining options include the formal, yet family-friendly Butterfield dining room, the open-air Rose Garden Terrace, which makes a terrific lunch or breakfast spot, and the Cantina, which serves casual meals. From breakfast waffles or oatmeal to delicious grape gazpacho for dinner, the service and menu may be traditional and elegant, but the vibe is homey and comfortable, inviting kids and parents alike to relax. Live music is on tap Friday and Saturday nights, the cozy Fox Den Bar and Cantina charms with an antique mural over the bar that shows the Copley family, the first owners of the resort, depicted as foxes.

ONSITE ACTIVITIES & POOLS

La Casa del Zorro
photo courtesy of La Casa del Zorro

This is family nirvana, forty-three acres of aqua water, gorgeous sculptures created by local artist Ricardo Breceda, a rose garden, shuffle board, a giant chess set, and plenty of swimming pools. The main pool is incredibly child-friendly, offering beach balls, swim “noodles,” a shallow depth, and underwater lighting when it gets dark. There are lemon trees to dart between, a vast swimming pool – 80,000 gallons of water – and exercise room, and more intimate pools within each cluster of rooms, or attached to each private casita. Stroll the grounds to find signs whimsically pointing up to “stars,” a fire pit, natural landscaping.

For parents who want to check out the spa, sip a classic libation at the bar, or just doze in a private cabana undisturbed, the hotel has an option our kids adored: the Kids’ Camp. Designed for children ages five to eleven, snacks and lunch are provided in both a half and full-day experience that includes arts and crafts, swimming, treasure hunts, story-telling, and exploring the grounds. Discounts for siblings, too.

The other must do: looking up at the night sky. La Casa del Zorro is part of a dark-sky community; devoid of city lights, star gazing is stellar year ‘round.Just off Highway 79 north of Julian, you’ll find more of the fine work of metal sculptor Ricardo Breceda whose sculptures dot the La Casa Del Zorro property. His sculpture yard inside the Vail Lake Resort, offers a look at dinosaurs, rearing horses, dragons, and snakes. Kids adore these giant, brilliant pieces, some of which Breceda created for his own children. The personable artist is often on-site and available to speak to visitors. This is a do-not-miss stop going to or from the resort or as an adventure away from it.

Indolence warning: the luxurious yet friendly accommodations, delicious dining, and yes, those swimming pools and hot tubs – make it very hard to leave the property.

For more information visit www.lacasadelzorro.com.

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

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