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100 Years


In 1932, the grand hotel foyer was constructed, as well as 50 additional rooms, the Salon Mexicano Ballroom and the Azteca restaurant. Mr Barbachano married the talented and beautiful Maria Luisa Chabert and set about building a mansion on the ocean that was worthy of his wife and family. That elegant mansion now forms the hotel's Casa Playa Spa and Chabert's restaurant.

Guests included: Orson Wells, Edward G. Robinson, Robert Stack, Gregory Peck, Vincent Price, Robert Preston, Spencer Tracy, and Anthony Quinn. One guest, Ali Khan, son of the Shah of Iran, visited the hotel in 1954 accompanied by sultry movie star Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra and recently Robert Redford.

The Rosarito Beach Hotel was visited by Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, Joan Bennett and Kim Novak. A sign above the lobby entrance states: "Through this door pass the most beautiful women in the world." 

Feast on Puerto Nuevo-style lobster and savor Baja-Med cuisine that has earned praises of celebrity chefs including Anthony Bourdain. The resort is in its third generation of ownership by a family whose members helped shape ROSARITO and Baja.

Since 1924

The year was 1924. Paris hosted the Olympics. The United States was in its fourth year of Prohibition, and J. Edgar Hoover was named the first director of that nation’s FBI.

The population of San Diego, California was less than 150,000, compared to almost, 1.5 million today. That year, just across the border from San Diego, things were happening in Baja California.

Caesar Cardini invented the Caesar Salad at his Tijuana restaurant. And just about 12 miles south, what was to become Baja’s largest and best known beachfront resort announced its ongoing expansion on July 27, 1924.

On that particular Sunday, several advertisements were published on Page 23 of the San Diego Union. One promoted what was to become Rene’s and the other what was to become the Rosarito Beach Hotel, the first owned by Juan Ortiz and the second by Jay Danzinger and Daisy Moreno.

The ad for the grand opening of the hotel, then called the El Rosarito Beach Resort and Country Club House, proclaimed it the “sensation of the season.”

There, the ad proclaimed, people could “enjoy a real day at a Mexican beach resort, only 16 miles south of Tijuana Mexico.” The ad promised amusements galore: fishing, bathing, hunting and horseback riding; and, of course, unlike in the U.S., where Prohibition was in its fourth year, guests could get alcoholic drinks legally, surely an attraction to many.

History of the region

Although its owners hoped it would become the “sensation of the season,” the El Rosarito Beach Resort & Country Club House was far removed from the iconic 500-room-and-suite self-

While the Rosarito region had a name when then-owners began promoting the “hotel” in 1924, it did not have much else. The road house later named Rene’s had opened nearby about a year before, but there were few people and even fewer structures in the area

That would not start to change dramatically until Manuel Barbachano bought the Rosarito Beach Hotel in 1929. He was a visionary who also brought electricity and phone service to northern Baja.

Mr. Barbachano had the goal of bringing to Baja a world-class resort, in part to please his future wife, actress Maria Luisa Chabert, who was accustomed to the more glamorous life of Mexico City.

After the 1929 purchase, Mr. Barbachano began adding rooms and a beautiful casino. The alluring seaside resort soon became a favorite of the rich and famous, including the Hollywood crowd, some looking for a break from U.S. Prohibition.

Today, such guests would be called jet setters, although jet planes had yet to be invented back then. The resort had a landing strip between buildings and beach, and sometimes more private planes than cars in its guest parking lots.

In 1932, fifty more rooms were added along with the hotel’s grand foyer, with 20-foot ceilings, murals by Matias Santoyo, plus replicas of Mayan and Aztec art. The lobby murals remain today, some refreshed and re-done. It is Maria Luisa’s elegant image in stained glass that still graces the entrance to the Rosarito Beach Hotel, along with the words: Though This Door Pass the Most Beautiful Women in the World where thousands of visitors take their memory pictures.

Construction began on the luxurious family mansion, parts of which today comprise Chabert’s Restaurant and the Casa Playa Spa. Furnishings and fine materials were imported from throughout the world.

Casinos were outlawed by the Mexican government in the 1930s and U.S. prohibition ended in 1933. Still, during this period a galaxy of stars appearing at the resort just south of the border and so near Hollywood.

They included Kirk Douglas, Orson Welles, John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Vincent Price, Frank Sinatra, Burgess Meredith, Ali Khan, plus glamorous leading ladies including Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Kim Novak, Joan Bennett and Lana Turner.

There were scores more, including many Mexican presidents.

The modern era

In 1983 the Barbachano’s nephew, Hugo Torres, assumed ownership and operations of the resort, and the next major period of expansion began. Much like his uncle, Mr. Torres is a Baja visionary.

Beginning in 1983, Mr. Torres led the effort that in 1995 made Rosarito Beach a city independent from Tijuana... This enabled the seaside tourist region to keep its own to revenues while improving itself. Mr. Torres greatly expanded the Rosarito Beach Hotel, The 84-room Playas Tower was added in 1984 and the eight-story Coronado Tower in 1993. A 1,800-foot sports fishing pier was completed in 2000.

In 2007, the 17-story Pacific Tower, opened, with 271 condos rooftop infinity pool. It was the region’s first condo-hotel, where people can be guests or owners in luxurious suites, with panoramic views of the Pacific.

The condo Hotel

Despite the economic crisis that hit the region on 2008, after the decline in US finances, the Rosarito Beach Condo Hotel development did not stop and now represents a unique offer in Baja California, announced the manager of the project, Hugo E. Torres Chabert.

The vision led the entrepreneur to invest in a novel project in Playas de Rosarito, which annually houses thousands of tourists, mainly from the United States.
"It's different investment from everything there is in Baja California, like a successful Condo Hotel," he said.

Construction started in 2006 and ended in August 2008, although investors had to wait a few years to make a profit, said Torres Chabert; the performance so far has been higher than projected five years ago.
The Rosarito Beach Condo Hotel is a building built with the condominium regime, but designed to operate as a hotel. Being operated by the Rosarito Beach Hotel they benefit from the successful result with more than 90 years in the tourism market.

The construction of the Rosarito Beach Condo Hotel was made possible thanks to a loan from the Mortgage Bank for 34 million dollars, which resulted in the construction of this building on the property, a loan that in 2011 was restructured.

For many years, the Rosarito Beach Hotel was the only luxury place that the American tourist from Southern California and even Hollywood celebrities could travel.
But the resort didn’t become a legend by glamour and stars alone. For nearly a century, millions upon millions of guests have been hosted by the Rosarito Beach Hotel, attracted by its beauty, great location, easy access, affordability, wealth of activities and lodging options.

Many enjoy their visit totally within the extensive facilities of the self-contained resort, which includes restaurants, bars, swimming pools, world-class spa. The hotel also is a center for special events and community functions.

Many guests also use the resort it as a beautiful base to enjoy nearby Baja attractions, including the Puerto Nuevo Lobster Village and Guadalupe Wine Valley.

The hotel is in a region rich in art, culture, fine food, entertainment and recreation. U.S. News & World Report named Rosarito a top spot for outdoor activities. San Diego Magazine readers chose the Rosarito Beach Hotel as Baja’s best.

Today, Mr. Torres remains involved in the operations of the hotel, as do the five children of him and wife Rosa Maria. The resort remains committed to preserving the best of the past, while planning for the future.
And, as always since 1924, through the door of the Rosarito Beach Hotel pass the most beautiful women in the world.