South of the Border at Puerto Nuevo Hotel & Villas

Sometimes what you want is to escape across the border to enjoy a couple days in a different country, with enough familiarity and enough differences to make you feel you comfortably got away. Today the border is nothing like the sketchy crossing so memorably portrayed in the famous three minute single take opening in Orson Welles’ 1958 classic “Touch of Evil” with Charlton Heston playing the local sheriff.

Now you cross the border at San Diego into Mexico, skim past Tijuana and head to the first beach town. In Rosarito you have a handful of hotels from which to choose, and we chose Puerto Nuevo Hotel & Villas.

The nearby tasty dinner of fresh lobsters, two for about $18 with all the fixings, was perfectly in keeping with the oceanside setting of the trip.

Bring the travel edition backgammon, and enjoy the drawn butter.

As the tide comes in the waves crash closer to shore, eventually splashing the seawall in front of the hotel. Kids love standing safely on the adjoining sidewalk as the booming waves splash them. With an ocean front room, we let the waves lull us to sleep after a day scouting around the area.

The pool is plenty big for all the folks lolling around. Drinks flow plentifully, as does the regional music piped in.

The hotel’s design is pleasantly intriguing, with various inexplicable corners, nooks and crannies. We found the staff friendly, and somewhat quick to replace a few missing towels.

It was a great venue for getting your mind miles and miles away from home, even if it was far less than an hour from the border.

And when you check out, somewhat improbably the hotel can offer you a FastLane pass for getting back across the border, which is different from the Sentri pass. It may not take you the three minutes portrayed by Welles in 1958, but it’s quicker than the other options today.

(photos by Brad Auerbach)

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.