In all honesty, Los Cabos surprised me. This was a destination that I never understood or had a desire to visit, despite having clients who return year after year to their “happy place”. I didn’t get the allure of this almost entirely resort destination that seemed (in my mind) to be over touristed, with an ocean you more than likely couldn’t swim in, and what I assumed was a see and be seen party atmosphere. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Los Cabos, framed by the Sierra de la Laguna mountains, is where the deep blue Sea of Cortes collides with the ochre and rich browns of the rugged desert topography. It’s an unusual landscape of sand dunes, cacti, and an endless expanse of ocean. And while the beaches, for the most part, are not swimmable, due to the incredibly strong rip tides, the destination more than makes up for it with its unbelievable hotel product, and its ability to cater to anyone and everyone.
Ultimately, Cabo is entirely what you want it to be.
- Foodie Mecca, home to award-winning restaurants and internationally renowned chefs? ✓
- Wildlife and Birding Paradise, where 42% of the Baja Sur territory is classified as a naturally protected area, with more than 100 land mammal species, 8 whales, five sea turtles, and over 300 types of birds? ✓
- Family-Friendly Vacation for kids of all ages? ✓
- Romantic Getaway with that special someone? ✓
- Nightlife Hotspot, with any number of bars, nightclubs, and other entertainment options? ✓
- Adventure Center for those looking to zip line, scuba, snorkel, horseback ride (or camelback ride), ATV, sport fish, surf, sail, parasail, hike, mountain bike, sea kayak, golf, canyon swing, or jet ski, just to name a few? ✓
- Relaxation Destination, for those looking to keep their toes in the sand, and their fingers on a good book? ✓
- Wellness Center, with more spas that I could count, and an emphasis on combining traditional treatments with curanderas and Mexican folk healing? ✓
With that in mind, it’s no wonder that 7 out of 10 visitors to Cabo are repeat guests, as I too fell in love with the rugged desert and the seaside beauty, the unbelievable hospitality and impeccable service, and the never-ending array of options.
On my 8-night whirlwind hotel tour, I explored 11 vastly different properties, and I wanted to try and distill the essence of each experience into three words.
Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal
Serene. Iconic. Intimate.
Entering this resort is, in itself, an experience, as you drive through a 3000 ft tunnel cut through solid rock and illuminated by a series of glorious chandeliers, emerging to picturesque ocean views. It’s an arrival experience like no other. There is so much I could say about the understated elegance that is Pedregal, from cliffside dining at El Farallon, and the two infinity-edged swimming pools, to the natural stone details and charming fountains, and the complimentary chips and guacamole delivered daily before dinner…but my personal highlight here was that every, single, room (which start at nearly 900 sq ft) has a private plunge pool. Start your day with a “floating breakfast,” room service delivered straight to your plunge pool on a floating raft…or end your day with a tequila toast while watching the sunset reflect across the water. It’s the best spot on the property, and it’s all yours.
Mar Del Cabo by Velas Resorts
Charming. Peaceful. Boutique.
With its white walls, terracotta-colored roofs, blue tile accents, and pink bougainvillea, this boutique paradise is a sight for sore eyes, with charm and character seeping from around every corner. I felt like I was walking through an old-world village, with curving staircases, soaring archways, and brightly colored hammocks hanging by each door. The highlight here is its intimacy. Come for the peace and quiet, to reconnect with a loved one, or to disconnect from the world.
Grand Velas Los Cabos
Expansive. Energetic. Fun.
What I love most about this property is the diversity of experience within a luxury all-inclusive that caters to both couples and families. With 7 distinct gourmet restaurants, this is a foodie destination in and of itself, where you can enjoy a global gastronomic tour without leaving the grounds, and feast at a different restaurant each night of the week. The food at Grand Velas Los Cabos is exciting and inventive, from Cocina de Autor’s creative 10 course tasting menu courtesy of Two Michelin Star Chef, Sidney Schutte, to the playful take on Latin cuisine at Frida, your taste buds are sure to be tingling. Lucca, the Italian restaurant is also home to the only Master Sommelier in the region, and over 2500 bottles of wine. The only problem for this elevated and gourmet all-inclusive is choosing where to dine first!
Montage Los Cabos
Contemporary. Fresh. Chic.
Situated halfway between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas is Santa Maria Bay, a quiet cove protected by two mountains, with a horseshoe of soft sand surrounding calm, crystal-clear waters. It’s one of the rare swimmable beaches along the Golden Corridor and also home to Montage’s first international property. One of the highlights of this hotel is that looking out, you can see the ocean everywhere, but to my delight, when you look back at the hotel, there is water everywhere as well – thanks to the resort’s multilevel pool complex! At the highest tier, this includes a large family pool, featuring a sunken fire pit and seating, for a “dry” in-water experience! Below that are seven cabanas each with its own private plunge pools which can be rented on a daily basis. The lowest tier of the pool complex features an oceanfront infinity-edge pool and a zero-entry pool with a swim-up bar to Marea, the resort’s open-air beachfront restaurant! Last, but not least, there is the large, and adult-only, Serenity Pool inside the spa (which at 40,000 square ft is the largest Spa in Cabo!).
Solaz Residences, a Luxury Collection Resort, Los Cabos
Unconventional. Sleek. Curated.
I love that this hotel was built to showcase the best of Modern Mexican architecture, and encourages us to see “sense of place” not only as a reference to the history and traditions of a destination, but also as the evolution of that culture in the context of a modern world. To enhance the visually immersive experience for guests, Mexican artist, Cesar Lopez-Negrete traveled extensively throughout the Baja Peninsula and brought back inspiration from the region’s landscape, history and culture, for the 400+ pieces of contemporary artwork and sculptures. My personal favorite was the golden inlay in the shape of Baja California – a simple yet elegant, glistening map of the region inlaid in local wood.
Viceroy Los Cabos
Modern. Bright. Reflective.
A bold and modern property, this is a considerable departure from the style and aesthetic dominating the Cabo luxury hotel scene, with it’s white-washed block style architecture and water mirrors. This is minimalist Mexico, an artistic haven framed almost entirely by glass, water and concrete, which completely transforms at night as lights illuminate the stark white buildings and reflect across the pools. El Nido (The Nest), the hotel’s centerpiece and accessible via a meandering walkway through the water mirrors, is their signature dining room, encased in a cozy cocoon of branches that have been woven together to create an intimate and dramatic restaurant experience.
Zadun, a Ritz Carlton Reserve
Secluded. Tranquil. Sanctuary.
I fell in love with the Alkemia Spa, a 30,000 sq ft, oasis that blends nature and tradition in everything from the design to the treatments. Enter through the thatched reception area with its incredible arched ceiling and emerge into a lush and magical oasis. Alkemia is also home to a “Savasana Sound Room” – unique in Mexico – which utilizes sound therapy and vibrations through the floor to encourage rest and recovery. Most often used post-treatment, guests lay down on a mat in savasana (corpse pose), warm and cozy under a blanket, with a bolster to support their legs, and a pillow for their head, to enjoy what can only be described as a musical massage, as the floor vibrates in conjunction with soothing music.
Four Seasons Los Cabos
at Costa Palmas
Sophisticated. Untouched. Elite.
Only 45 minutes from the airport, but in a land of its own, this resort is opening up an entirely new, previously undiscovered, destination to the luxury market, and the location is perfection. A far cry from the crowds and rough waters of the hotel corridor, the Costa Palmas development, in Baja California’s East Cape, is set on two long and walkable miles of stunning beach and calm seas, a rarity on the Cabo hotel scene – so you can frolic and play in the ocean until your heart is content (the hotel even has a water trampoline). I took the beach bike out, and spent a morning exploring the unadulterated coastline firsthand! The remote nature of this resort only adds to the appeal, with the mountains and the ocean at your doorstep, it’s an adventure playground for those who are looking for more than an ocean front retreat.
Chileno Bay Resort & Residence
Vibrant. Playful. Polished.
This resort, to me, felt playful in nature, from the three-tiered pool layout and the games room, to the 21-person movie theater, and the beach bar complete with mosaic surfboards, and “Trust me, you can dance ~ Tequila” quotes. It’s easy, yet sophisticated, and ideal for families who would like a little bit of everything. And you cannot leave here without ordering the Cinnamon Sugar Dusted Churros from Comal, which come with a hot chocolate dipping sauce – it’s truly divine.
Las Ventanas al Paraiso,
A Rosewood Resort
Romantic. Elegant. Effortless.
This adult oriented resort is a romantic and enchanting destination for celebrations of all kind – milestones, birthdays, anniversaries, honeymoons, babymoons, you name it. The staff here, including a Romance Director, live to create “mini celebrations” or special moments to surprise each of the guests continually throughout their stay. I fell in love with the room product here, which, from the Garden View Room to the Signature Villas, evoke an elevated level of luxury and comfort, while retaining an authentic coastal hacienda feel. Each accommodation features hand carvings, intricate tiling, mosaic headboards, and charming adobe fireplaces, but the Signature Villas, with walls you can literally “roll back”, bring a whole new level to fluid indoor-outdoor design, and the infinity edge bathtubs are the cherry on top.
One&Only Palmilla Resort
Sophisticated. Enchanting. Tropical.
Unlike many of the other hotels in Cabo, this resort doesn’t offer that luxury desert meets ocean experience – instead, guests who arrive at Palmilla are greeted with lush and green tropical foliage, and an old chapel that makes you feel like you stepped into an old-world, colonial pueblo perched above the sea. Accommodations are spread out in hacienda-style, low-lying buildings, tucked away behind the greenery, which only adds to the resort’s pueblo like atmosphere.