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Van Wormer Resorts – A Flatlander’s Vision Becomes a Family’s Legacy

Van Wormer Resorts Welcomes You to Baja

Nearly seven decades ago, in a remote area that time had forgotten, the East Cape area of Baja attracted the attention of a few fishermen. With its access to some of the most fertile waters in the eastern Pacific, tales were told of remarkable catches so close to shore it seemed impossible.

baja hotelThe few fishermen became a trickle, attracting Western Outdoor News columnist Ray Cannon and Field and Stream writer Chris Dufrense. Hundreds of thousands of words later, the imaginations of many were fueled and a torrent of anglers began arriving in search of these new horizons.

Among the early arrivals was Robert (Bobby) Van Wormer, Sr. During the 1956 Christmas holidays, Bobby and his brother Frank, along with several other friends, made their first visit to Rancho Buena Vista in East Cape. A goat ranch, turned fish camp in 1952 by Herb Tansey, a retired World War II TWA pilot, and his local partner, José “Joe” Garcia, Rancho Buena Vista was located on a primitive, seventy-mile stretch of southern Baja coast, an area described as having more fish than anywhere else in the entire world.

Bobby, an authentic flatlander, was born on a farm in Missouri.

Trained as an engineer, he relocated to California to work at Lockheed repairing bullet holes in WWII aircraft. He was 30 years old when he headed to Rancho Buena Vista.

There, the shimmering blue Sea of Cortez with its teeming marine life, bird hunting and warm and friendly people, exceeded Bobby’s expectations and he was captivated! When he returned home, the crowded city and his drudgery-filled life couldn’t compare with his vivid memories of what he was beginning to recall as his visit to paradise.

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Months later, Tansey, owner of Rancho Buena Vista, contacted Bobby and offered him a job. With very little hesitation, he packed up his meager belongings and returned to what he felt was his home.

The next two years were filled with excitement. Bobby settled comfortably into his new life and with his engineering background he was a welcome addition at the Ranch. Pitching in wherever needed, he soon assumed management responsibilities.

During a period when business at the Ranch slowed, Bobby was laid off and went to work with Tico Ruiz Gonzalez, helping him to open another sportsman’s camp, Palmas, now known as the Hotel Palmas de Cortez.

Tico’s family roots reached back to the 19th century when Los Barriles was a settlement of just five ranches. Sparks flew when Bobby was introduced to Rosa Maria “Cha Cha” Ruiz Gonzalez, Tico’s sister, leading to the beginning of a courtship that grew into a love affair. Bobby and “Cha Cha” were married at the nearby village of Santiago on June 27th, 1965.

Van Wormer

This formidable husband and wife team would be the foundation of a family dynasty that would alter East Cape for generations to come.

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With Bobby’s supervision and people skills, along with Cha Cha’s grasp of business, Punta Colorada flourished and grew, and more properties were added to what is now Van Wormer Resorts – , Hotel Palmas de Cortez Hotel, Playa del Sol, Villas de Cortez and Punta Colorada(closed).

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Slowly, Bobby and “Cha Cha” turned over the reins of the property to their sons and now under the watchful eyes of Charles (Chucky), Robert (Bobby), Jr. and Edward (Eddie), it has continued to flourish.

fishing mexicoConsidered Baja’s finest vacation and big game fishing spot, nestled on the edge of the Sea of Cortez in the village of Los Barriles, it has not been overdeveloped, is not crowded and it still offers the unequaled sportfishing that drew early pioneers to the area in the past.

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Van Wormer Resorts boasts the largest fleet of sportfishing boats operated by some of the most respected captains and crews in Baja, leading first-time as well as seasoned anglers in pursuit of the remarkable catches of blue and striped marlin, sailfish, dorado, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, roosterfish and many more species of fish.

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A private dock in front of each resort allows anglers a quick way to board and depart on a fishing adventure of a lifetime.

Additional water activities include spectacular diving, kayaking, paddle boarding and wind-surfing or just poolside relaxing.

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Hotel Palmas de Cortez spans the beachfront of the town of Los Barriles. Along a beautiful white sand beach, it offers full amenities for anglers and non-angler family members alike. The magnificent infinity-edge pool and resort-style swim-up bar overlooking the sparkling Sea of Cortez is a one of a kind at East Cape.

Air-conditioned oceanfront rooms, oceanfront/poolside rooms, palapa-roofed cabañas, garden rooms, and two bedroom/two bath luxurious condominiums are all available. Rooms can sleep from one to four people and come equipped with telephones, mini-fridges, and satellite TVs.

Condos feature a spacious living room, large bedrooms, verandas, satellite TV, and complete kitchen facilities including full-size refrigerators, dishes, glassware and utensils, microwave oven, stove, double sink, and coffee makers.

Condos can sleep five to six people comfortably with one king bed, two queen beds and a fold-out couch. The tap water is drawn from mountain springs and certified for purity – 100% safe to drink.

van wormerInspired by the lush natural setting of Palmas de Cortez, Spa de Cortez and Salon de Cortez offer a tropical spa experience with a range of therapeutic and beauty-enhancing treatments. Licensed, experienced professionals furnish an inviting and relaxing atmosphere.

Facials, manicures and pedicures, waxing, body scrubs and wraps, acupuncture treatments, and massage therapy deliver physical rejuvenation. Haircuts, color and styling as well as make up application plus more are available for your special occasion. Pilates, Yoga, and Zumba classes are offered seasonally with nearby local instructors.

The 9-hole executive golf course and driving range are a nice alternative for those taking the day off from fishing. Other land-lover activities include ATV rentals, horseback riding, eco-tours, tennis, and shopping excursions to Cabo San Lucas and the capital city of La Paz.

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The Luxury Tower is the latest addition to Hotel Palmas de Cortez. The three-story building was completed in 2015. It offers two one-bedroom luxury suites and two two-bedroom luxury suites as well as a three-bedroom Penthouse Suite, the only one of its kind at East Cape.

An elevator opens up right into the eloquently decorated Penthouse Suite with a special elevator key.  Private Jacuzzi, four-bedrooms, five-baths, a full kitchen with high-end appliances and decorated with the finest materials.  The open floor plan combines the living room, dining room, kitchen and bar areas making this an entertainer’s dream.

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Spectacular views are visible from every room, including the two private patio areas that come with their own private Jacuzzi tub, lounge chairs and barbecue area. This luxurious setting is one of the most remarkable opportunities in East Cape for your entire group to relax in luxury after a day of fishing.

Centrally located directly in front of the Pool bar/swimming pool, priceless views of the Sea of Cortez made famous more than half a century ago by Ray Cannon in his The Sea of Cortez: Mexico’s Primitive Frontier.

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Hotel Playa del Sol is a separate property, a five minute stroll north from Hotel Palmas de Cortez featuring authentic Mexican charm. With only 26 rooms, Playa del Sol has an intimate feel of a home away from home.

With breathtaking views of the Sea of Cortez, and located right on its shores, guests can choose to stay in either an air-conditioned, recently remodeled ocean view room or in a garden room located in the quietest part of the hotel … a perfect setting for small groups, families or an intimate hideaway.

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The Van Wormer Resorts combined are the largest and most diversified destination in the East Cape region. They also strived to improve their surrounding community and the many local families that choose to call East Cape their home.

Van Wormer

Robert (Bobby) Van Wormer, Sr. arrived searching for a better life and found it. He passed away December 7, 2010 leaving behind his beloved wife “Cha Cha,” and a legacy for his sons and the family he left behind. They seized that legacy and have enriched the three eco-fishing properties to share with their visitors.

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Gary Graham, the BD Outdoors Baja Editor, has more than five decades fishing experience off of Southern California and the Baja Peninsula. From light tackle and fly up to offshore marlin fishing, Gary has experienced all facets of this fishery. He's set several fly-fishing world records and in his first year as a member of the Tuna Club of Avalon, he received more angling awards than any other first-year member in the club's 109-year history. He's been involved with many California angling clubs and is the Baja California Representative for the International Game Fish Association. 
Gary's a conservationist as well as a writer and photographer. In addition to two books on saltwater fly-fishing, hundreds of his articles and photographs have appeared in publications around the world. Graham has devoted his life to finding new fisheries and developing new techniques — all of which he shares through his guiding, speaking, photography and writing.