Ajijic, which has a population of about 15,000, is part of a string of valley communities on the north shore of Lake Chapala known as Lakeside, an area whose moderate, semi-tropical climate is treasured by both tourists and retirees.
Charm and friendliness are what attracted innkeepers Fernando Gomez and Steve Cross to Ajijic and they make those same qualities a priority at their five-room bed and breakfast, Casa de las Flores.
In addition to hospitality and relaxation, guests of this five-room inn are treated to a bar serving wine and beer, a solar-heated pool surrounded by tropical plants, and a gym, where a workout session can be scheduled with Gomez, a certified personal trainer.
Cross answered a few questions for us about Casa de las Flores in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico.
Please tell us a little about the history of Casa de las Flores.
In February 2008, we purchased the inn completely unfurnished as it needed a fresh look. The property was totally revamped and another suite added as our living quarters. The idea was to retain the Mexican charm but include modern conveniences and comforts that many travelers take for granted.
We added top-of-the-range beds and high-quality bedding along with TVs, DVDs, fridges, microwaves, coffee makers and hair dryers. Two suites now have working gas fireplaces. We also added wireless Internet.
What are some of your inn's unique features?
Our decor is an eclectic mix of arts and crafts from around the world.
Our location is just about perfect, being about a three-minute walk from the town plaza, or village square. Yet we are just far enough away to be out of the noise.
Many guests comment on the constant aroma from the gardens, especially in early evening when the roses, gardenias and other floral smells combine with the sweetness of the jasmine and other plants.
How do you make a stay at Casa de las Flores special?
We like to inquire as to the nature of the visit -- as in is it a honeymoon, romantic break, etc. -- so we can tailor the final details of the room to the occasion, providing fresh flowers, candles or incense.
Or if -- as often is the case -- the visit is a real estate excursion with the possibility of retiring to the village, we can provide all the necessary publications and information, recommend a real estate agent and of course share our experience of living here.
Also we are affiliated with the Lake Chapala Society and our guests can use the facilities to plan many aspects of their stay. (This nonprofit organization has) wonderful excursions and other activities at wonderful prices to offer to our guests.
What are some of the attractions in Ajijic and the Lake Chapala area that you would rate as must-see?
Ajijic is wonderful place to meet new friends over a coffee or cocktail while relaxing on the village square.
At the natural hot springs in San Juan Cosalá, about a five-minute taxi ride, you can indulge in sweat lodges, mud baths, natural steam rooms, facials, massages and many other forms of pampering.
Tlaquepaque (part of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area), about a 40-minute ride, is wonderful to browse for arts and crafts, admire the cathedrals and museums, and dine in some of the best restaurants that Mexico has to offer.
What might a guest at Casa de las Flores expect to have for breakfast?
All breakfasts start with a plate of fresh fruit, yogurt and freshly squeezed juice. Entrees may include eggs, bacon, pancakes, omelets (with just about everything), and local dishes like chilaquiles and different forms of eggs and salsas. Special dishes, such as blueberry or raspberry pancakes, are also offered.
For a healthy alternative, we serve larger fruit platters and egg-white omelets. We also accommodate guests with special dietary needs.
Which is your personal favorite room at your bed and breakfast?
Our personal favorite is the Garden Lodge. It is perfect for romance and privacy. Candles line the fireplace and fresh flowers complete the romance. The private garden terrace, leading into the pool and garden area, is wonderful place to relax outside with a book or a cocktail.
Why did you decide to become an innkeeper?
We both come from service industries and have a love of decor. We love to interact with the guests and share our experiences. However we realize that there is a fine line between providing a service and being intrusive. We want to be there when needed and not in your way when not.
What advice would you give to aspiring innkeepers?
You have to love what you do. If you don't enjoy talking with people and helping them, then this is not the position for you. The love of the job must come from the heart or the guests will instinctively know that this is only a job to you and not a genuine interest.