The Hotel California was founded in, 1948, by a Chinese immigrant named Mr. Wong, after three years of construction, it opened on February 5, 1950. Mr. Wong lived in the 16 room hotel with his wife and seven daughters. Wanting the locals to believe he was Mexican, Mr. Wong changed his name to Don Antonio Tabasco which didn’t work as well as he had planned since he soon became known as “El Chino,” meaning “The Chinese Man” rather than Don Antonio Tabasco.
In the 1950’s, “El Chino” brought ice from La Paz to Todos Santos for the first time ever, and the Hotel California’s restaurant and bar served the only cold beer in town. This of course made him quite popular and ironically he opened a general store named “La Popular.” He then opened the first gas station in Todos Santos directly next door to the hotel further establishing his reputation as a visionary. This was just the beginning of the hotel’s colorful story. It’s future was to become even more intriguing.
"Baja is flip flop funky… Todos Santos… lined with artisans shops, and it is here that you will find The Hotel California.”
During the 1960s and 1970s, the precise details of the hotel’s history are a bit “hazy” – not uncommon for the culture of that particular era in general… There are numerous stories. Whether fact or myth, nobody knows for sure. However, one rumor, fabricated in the 1990’s by someone with no connection to any owners of the hotel, states that the Eagles once owned it. This is unequivocally false. Many of the other legends are less black and white and continue to fascinate the public. Although the present owners of the hotel do not have any affiliation with the Eagles, nor do they promote any association, many visitors are mesmerized by the “coincidences” between the lyrics of the hit song and the physicality of the hotel and its surroundings.
- Hotel California is accessed by driving down a long desert highway from either Los Cabos to the south or La Paz to the east.
- The Mission Church of Pilar is located directly adjacent to the hotel and mission bells are heard daily. Since the Church is so close it sounds like they are almost inside the hotel at times.
- Countless stories and firsthand witnesses relating to spirits and ghosts in the courtyard of the hotel.
- During the “Hippie Era” of the 1960s and 1970s, people were know to easily grow their own marijuana in the extremely fertile land of the Todos Santos area and then roll them into “Colitas” which is a Mexican slang term for “Joint” or Marijuana cigarette.
- The simple fact that the Hotel California in Todos Santos was built in 1948 which was of course far before the “Hippie” or “Classic Rock” eras
During the 1980’s and 1990’s, the picture became much more clear again. The hotel had become neglected and in 2001, a Canadian couple John and Debbie Stewart purchased the hotel. After completing a masterful renovation, which would later win numerous awards for design and décor, the original 16 rooms were transformed into the eclectic 11 suite hotel it is today. The restaurant, La Coronela and bar were added and the area of the original gas station became the tienda Emporio, the hotel’s boutique gallery/bazaar.
"A little jewel in the middle of the desert.”
-John Stewart, creator of the modern era Hotel California
Today the “legendary” Hotel California is an icon, shining brighter than ever. It continues to evolve, changing with the times as it has since its birth in 1948.