Hacienda de Los Santos in Álamos, Sonora

By Lynn Meadows
This item appears on page 10 of the May 2021 issue.
This sign sits atop Mount Alamos. Left to right: Tom and Lynn Meadows and friends Vince and Susan.

When people think of Mexico, most are thinking of the small coastal towns along Baja and on the mainland where cruise ships stop, but, in the northwest, there is another part of Mexico that is well worth visiting.

In the state of Sonora, in the foothills of the Western Sierra Madre, is the town of Álamos. Dating back to the 17th century, Álamos was founded by Spanish colonists. They were followed by mining barons and then imperialists and revolutionaries. With a current population of around 20,000, the town is a historical monument and state historical site.

This chapel, on the grounds of the Hacienda de Los Santos Resort, is a replica of Mission San Francisco de la Espada in San Antonio, Texas. Photo by Lynn Meadows

A wonderful resort awaits your visit: Hacienda de Los Santos Resort & Spa (Álamos, Sonora, México; phone +11 52 647 428 0222, haciendadelossantos.com).

The hotel’s website has all the information you’ll need for border crossings, US car rentals, bus service and private aircraft. If you have reservations, they’ll pick you up at Ciudad Obregón’s airport for the 90-minute drive to Álamos.

My husband, Tom, and I flew with another couple in their private aircraft into the Álamos airport, but you can fly commercial to Mexico City and then take Aeroméxico to Ciudad Obregón. You can also catch a flight on Volaris from Tijuana into Ciudad Obregón. Once the border opens again, you’ll also be able to reach Álamos with a 10- to 12-hour drive south from the border town of Nogales, Arizona, on Mexican Federal Highway 15.

With only 34 rooms, Hacienda de Los Santos is a luxury hotel, complete with turn-down service. Rooms, suites and villas are available, each furnished with wonderful Mexican antiques and artwork. Nightly rates ranged from $200 to $850. For four nights, Nov. 24-28, 2020, Tom and I paid about $400 nightly for a Master Suite with a king-sized bed.

This included breakfast — baked goods like muffins and tortillas along with fresh fruit (such as kiwis, papayas, bananas and strawberries) and juice plus tea or coffee. We could order eggs and other food too. We ate lunch and dinner at the resort nearly every day and charged it to our room account. Prepared by creative chefs, all of the food was excellent.

Food such as fish-and-chips, burgers and sandwiches was available at the resort’s Cantina Bar Zapata, which also featured over 500 kinds of tequila.

Due to COVID-19, masks were required on the hotel’s premises, except at meals and when you were on your own patio or balcony. We were there over the Thanksgiving holiday, and a warm, festive atmosphere prevailed. The weather from fall to spring is ideal. Summer is hot, and monsoon/thunderstorm season is in July and August.

Swimming pool outside our hotel room. Photo by Lynn Meadows

As we walked around the beautifully landscaped grounds, we saw nooks and corners containing delightful statues and authentic artifacts, plus a stone chapel that had just been added in October. There were bikes available on site, four swimming pools, relaxing spa services and a private theater with hundreds of DVDs available.

Bird-watching, float trips, guitar lessons, horseback riding, Spanish lessons, day trips, dove and quail hunting and guided history walks were available with advance reservations.

We took an hour-long morning walk through a different part of town every day. From the resort, it’s only three blocks to the zócalo (plaza), with the Spanish-colonial church on the south side, and a slightly longer walk up to Mount Álamos for a view of the town.

The town is friendly, walkable and safe and follows COVID masking protocols for the most part. Some of the homes have been restored, but most are typical whitewashed adobe homes. Dogs and kids wander everywhere.

A sign explaining the origin of the Panteón de Álamos cemetery, which opened in 1794 — Mexico. Photo by Lynn Meadows

We visited the church and sat a while in the zócalo watching the people pass by. We stopped at a few small shops frequented by locals and walked through the mercado a couple times. It had vendors selling housewares, meat, purses, clothing, etc. One of our travel companions, Susan, bought some Mexican candy there that she likes. At the modern grocery store, with loaded shelves, I bought Mexican vanilla, which is much stronger than what we get in the US.

One day, Susan and I walked through the local cemetery, Pánteon de Álamos. It was fascinating and, like most Mexican cemeteries, colorful. It contained two massive memorial grave sites belonging to two Mexican generals who fought for Álamos’ freedom in 1865. We were the only ones at the cemetery except for two men who were digging a new grave.

Because we had an airplane, we took a short flight over the western part of the Copper Canyon one afternoon. It is several times bigger than our Grand Canyon but looks very different, as it is covered with foliage.

It was hard to bid “Adios” to this corner of Mexico, a special place made extra special by a wonderful resort!

Truckee, CA