The man who led the effort to make Rosarito a city, twice served as its mayor and was instrumental in making it an internationally famous tourist attraction recently had a major thoroughfare named in his honor The event occurred at 11am on Tuesday, Nov. 29 on Boulevard Benito Juarez, directly across the street from the welcome arch of Mr. Torres' iconic Rosarito Beach Hotel. That's when the street formerly known as Magnolia became forever known as Calle Hugo Torres .
The community and media were invited to the ceremony near the entrance of the tourist district of downtown Rosarito Beach, a city that attracts about a million visitors a year, many from the United States as well as Mexico. "I'm very thankful for this honor," Mr. Torres said, "and especially grateful to my family, friends, officials and everyone else who helped me achieve it. Rosarito has been my life's work, and it's gratifying that a part of it will carry my name forward into the future."
Mr. Torres moved to this region from Mexico City in 1943 at the age of 7 to live with his aunt, Maria Luisa Chabert, and her husband, Manual Barbachano, owners of the Rosarito Beach Hotel. He assumed operation of the facility in 1966. He retired this year as its president, although he remains active there. The hotel began operations in 1925 as a 12-room hunting lodge and continued to expand, hosting global royalty and Hollywood stars including Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Gregory Peck, John Wayne, Rita Hayworth and a galaxy of others during the '40s and '50s.
Under Mr. Torres' direction, the hostelry expanded from 50 rooms to 500, including 271 deluxe suites (also offered for sale) in its 17-story Pacifico Tower, which opened in 2008. The self-contained resort is the largest and best-known beachfront hotel in Baja.
In 2012, Robert Redford stayed in a suite at the Rosarito Beach Hotel & Resort during the filming of "All Is Lost" at nearby Baja Studios. Then known as Fox Studios, that facility was built in 1996 for the filming of "Titanic," during Mr. Torres first term as mayor. It has since been the locale for many other blockbuster films.
As the Rosarito Beach Hotel & Resort grew, so too did the surrounding Rosarito region.
Mr. Torres led the 12-year effort that resulted in Rosarito becoming Baja's fifth city in 1995 --- before then it was part of Tijuana --- enabling it to use tax revenue generated here for city improvements. He was named the city's first mayor that year and was elected to a second three-.year term a decade later.During his second term, he reformed and restructured the city police department, strived to eliminate corruption and worked closely to assist the city's large expatriate community. The prestigious Tijuana newspaper Zeta named him its Man of the Year in 2008.
Mr. Torres has been a leader in developing Rosarito business, tourism and on bi-national relations. He currently serves as chairman of the Baja Image Committee, a private-public partnership that works to promote and improve the region. He is married to Rosa Maria Ramirez with whom he has five children: Hugo, Gustavo, Laura, Rosy and Daniel, all of whom are active in government, community service or business ventures.