Famous Faces And Their Favourite Places

That would be here
BY: GAIL COLLINS

Celebrity spotting on the peninsula is not new. From 1919-1933 when prohibition was in full swing in California and casinos, alcohol, prostitution and horse racing were strictly prohibited or severely restricted, Tijuana became the go to mecca of forbidden pleasures for the Hollywood set.  Charlie Chaplin, Gary Cooper, Douglas Fairbanks, Jean Harlow, Bing Crosby and Clark Gable all found their way to what was known then as “Satan’s playground”. When they arrived, they might even have seen thirteen-year-old Margarita Carmen Cansino performing in a duo with her Spanish gypsy flamenco dancing father at one of the casino’s shows.  She would later become known as 1940’s sex symbol and icon – Rita Hayworth who sadly carried throughout her life the legacy of her father’s abuse.

 In 1931 the Mexican playground scene changed as Nevada legalized gambling followed two years later by prohibition being lifted. The glitz and glamour set slowly died off and the Tijuana they knew slowly did too.

But Baja continued to be a draw to the Hollywood crowd throughout the 1940’s and 50’s when heroes and heartthrobs such as John Wayne and Frank Sinatra, funny-man Bob Hope and American novelist and adventurer Ernest Hemingway (wherever I have been in the world they always claim he was there first!) They came for the relaxation, the cocktails and the fishing (or at least that’s what they said).

American Presidents have flown in surrounded by their entourages of men in suits (or even ladies if it was after 1971 when the first women secret service agents were appointed). Ronald Reagan came to Baja in 1982, 1983 and 1986 to meet with then President de la Madrid. George Bush visited Los Cabos in 2002 for the 14th APEC Summit meeting and Barack Obama followed in his footsteps in 2012 for the G-20 Summit meeting. Sadly, Trump’s only brush with Baja was a failed condo-hotel project in Rosarito Beach,  (oh and a wall) back in 2006 which led to a lawsuit against him that was finally settled in 2013.

As Los Cabos and San Jose del Cabo have grown over the years, attracting millions of dollars of investment into 5 star accommodation, exclusive communities, gourmet eateries, golf courses and luxurious spas, so too have the new generation of A-lister visitors. Top of the game is the One and Only Palmilla resort in San Jose. Originally built in 1956 by the son of the former Mexican President  Albelardo  Rodriguez and with only 15 luxury rooms, its first guests included Lucille Ball and former United States president Eisenhower. Nowadays, with an additional 100 rooms, it is the favourite of stars such as Jennifer Aniston (a regular with husband Justin Theroux, Friends co-star – Courtney Cox, John Mayer, Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore to name but a few.  The Friends cast is obviously in agreement about Cabo being a great place as Matthew Perry also owns a house in the area.  Up until 2016 George Clooney and best mate Rande Gerber had neighbouring villas here. Hellraiser Charlie Sheen bought a modest 3 bedroom home in Rosarito in his quest for a quieter life the same year (was it something he said?)

The hip and chic Hotel El Ganzo, with its backdrop of white sand and the Sea of Cortez is another hangout for the stars. The hotel was the baby of creator Pablo Sanchez Navarro who sadly died last year at just 33 years old. He created a space for art and music to come alive and the hotel boasts an underground recording studio and hosts artists in residence who add their works to the white walls that were built for this.  Famous faces have included Reece Witherspoon and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine who rented the entire hotel back in July 2014 for his wedding celebrations with Victoria’s Secrets model – Behati Prinsloo. 

Talking of weddings – Cabo has seen its fair share of the famous tying the knot. Back in 1983, Rolling Stones Keith Richards with best man Mick Jagger in tow, got hitched to Patti Hansen (and the good news in a rock ‘n’ roll world is they are still happily married), in 2014 Naya Rivera of Glee fame married actor Ryan Dorsey at the aptly named Las Ventanas al Paraiso (windows to paradise) although this one does not end happily ever after as they divorced this year. Thom Matthews, best known for his roles in soap operas such as Falcon Crest and Dynasty as well as Freddy in the horror franchise, married Karla Jensen and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps tied the knot with Nicole Johnson. Last year Country crooners Kelsea Ballerini and Morgan Evans chose Cabo as their wedding destination and in April of this year Gwyneth Paltrow was in town with a gang of A-list gal pals that included Stella McCartney, Drew Barrymore and Reece Witherspoon for her bachelorette party

The Cape - a luxury hotel in the Thompson Group – is a regular hotspot for actor David Arquette and has been enjoyed by Noel Gallagher, Kim Kourtney Kardashian (seen in August this year strutting her stuff on Cabo’s beaches in an itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie yellow no polka dot bikini) and golden surf boys – Rob Machado and Tom Curran.

This year we’ve seen Justine Bieber, Selena Gomez and Jennifer Aniston with her family ring in the New Year. Will Smith came down for some high-adrenalin fun, staying at the Chileno Bay Resort and Residences. Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz were spotted in February kayaking along the coast and singer - Camila Cabello with British dating coach Matthew Hursey were seen splashing around on the beach. More recently Housewives of New Jersey star – Teresa Guidice was spotted in the luxury Le Blanc, lazing by the infinity pool in a red bikini whilst hubby Joe was not seeing much daylight from jail, where he now resides, following a conviction for fraud.

But hey – it’s October and Sammy Hagar rocked back into town for his annual bash at Cabo Wabo so the place is still reeling from a slightly tender head.  He sold off his Cabo Wabo Tequila company to Campari for a cool 80 million USD – now that’s really rock ‘n’ roll!