wandermelon’s Terena Thyne Eisner checks into three of Cabo’s most exclusive resorts and reports back from the sybaritic frontlines of Mexico.
Located at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, where the Gulf of California meets the Pacific Ocean, Los Cabos is one of Mexico’s most popular resort clusters known for its austere desert beauty. A perfect year-round climate, the best sports fishing in the world, and championship style golf courses have made this one of the most desired locations in the world for sophisticated travelers.
Developers have beaten back the desert and tamed this small coastal strip to create a major holiday destination that lies about two hours flying time from Los Angeles. Los Cabos consists of Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo, and the 32-kilometer stretch of highway that connects them, called the Corridor. At the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, the land ends in a rocky point called El Arco (The Arch). The warm waters of the Sea of Cortés, which separates the peninsula from the Mexican mainland, swirl into the Pacific Ocean’s rugged surf, while the Sonoran desert mixes with soaring cliffs that plunge into the sea.
Our first stop was at Pueblo Bonito Pacifica, a holistic hideaway tucked away on the same beach where the movie Troy was filmed. The arid desert air was the perfect temperature and the 45-minute ride to the resort uncovered a unique blend of cactus, rugged mountains, and clear blue seas. The white washed adobe style resort carefully combines natural colors and textures to blend with the desert environment. The dramatic entryway is wide and open, flanked by reflecting pools, with 15-meter floor to ceiling windows, offering a clear view of the crystal blue Pacific water and desert sands outside. The owner of the hotel even bought his own cactus farm to provide the more than 400 varieties of cacti and local vegetation filling the free flowing gardens, structured garden circles, and water gardens. The resort succeeds in its mission to provide a harmonious environment with nature – even the rooms are accented with indigenous wood treatments like slatted cedar pergolas and inlaid onyx stones in the floor. The holistic approach continues outside with the circular shaped infinity pool with soothing underwater music.
A freestanding TeCasa surrounded by small bubbling fountains offers guests a respite from the outdoor heat and splashing waters. This quiet circular room, ideal for quiet relaxation and reflection, serves a selection of unusual teas and elixirs. Closer to the shoreline are the holistic facilities: yoga retreat, massage cabins, beachside cabanas, “rain showers,” exercise sand mats, an authentic temazcal, and a fire pit.
Continuing the holistic tradition is Pacifica’s signature restaurant, Siempre, which features fresh organic ingredients and innovative gourmet dishes. Everything on the menu was amazing and they also offer a ‘spa’ and ‘splurge’ menu. Guests may also reserve tables at the restaurants of neighboring Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach, including the restaurant, Frida. Besides serving excellent gourmet Mexican and Latin American cuisine, Frida is worth a visit just for the décor featuring personal belongings of the famous artist.
Rates: Start at $480 Standard Suite. To make a booking, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Regularly voted as one of the world’s top ten resort hotels, Las Ventanas al Paraiso lies halfway along the 20-mile tarmac highway that links the 18th-century Spanish colonial town of San Jose del Cabo with the former fishing village of Cabo San Lucas. Operated by Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, Las Ventanas opened in 1997 and has attracted a stream of high-profile guests.
“Mexican Mediterranean” is the architectural label given the all-white buildings that resemble both whitewashed Greek island structures and Indian pueblo villages. Overlooking the turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez, Las Ventanas resembles a grand old hacienda; white stucco and adobe walls are accessorized with huge candelabra-style cacti. This five-star resort boasts the largest standard rooms in Mexico, with even the smallest of the 61 suites measuring 960 square feet. Each spacious room contains a wood-burning fireplace and an individual telescope for whale watching and stargazing. The rooms also feature an expansive private terrace providing panoramic seaside views.
The attention to detail cannot go unnoticed here: custom filled mini-bars are stocked with your favorite drinks (a questionnaire for requests is sent to guests before they arrive); the staff customizes the sewing kit in your room by looking at what’s in your closet and pre-threading needles with matching colors. They even have pet cabanas especially designed for the resort. The spa has an expansive menu of holistic therapies, treatments and rituals from around the world, and there is a treatment for everyone from golfers to New Age junkies.
For fine dining, Las Ventanas offers two restaurants, a more formal restaurant off the pool area and the Sea Grill located almost on the beach. Following dinner, the staff regularly brings out a state-of-the-art computerized telescope to view the galaxy glowing in the pristine Baja atmosphere. There is also a mesmerizing fire show offered several nights during the week as entertainment.
Rates: Start at $640 Standard Suite. To make a booking, email: email@example.com
For my last stop, I headed for the recently renovated Esperanza, a 56-suite oasis perched on the bluffs of Punta Ballena and tucked between two private sandy beach coves. The Resort features 50 casita suites and six luxury villas — all with sweeping views of the Sea of Cortez. The unique advantage of Esperanza is the spectacular waves that crash into the rocks lining the beach, as well as views of the famous “Arch”.
My top-floor suite, a spacious 290 square meters, contained a lofty thatched-palm ceiling that rose skyward and made the room feel even more generous. A heavy pocket door slid open to reveal a large terrace with sweeping views of the sea. Furnished with Mexican handicrafts and original oils, and with a lavish bathroom, my room was a sanctuary decorated in a casually elegant Baja style with luxurious touches such as fine linens, plush robes, oversized bathrooms, a plasma-screen TV, and a DVD player.
Outside, the exteriors are brushed in clay and copper colors, an earth-hued extension of the surrounding desert. Paths lead around a lush lawn to an intimate pool and three levels of stone terraces curl around the shoreline. They contain a circular, open-air restaurant and bar. The restaurant is situated so close to the crashing waves that I felt a light spray several times throughout my spectacular meal, which was a perfect blend of Mediterranean and Mexican influences. If you’re a Tequila lover, the menu features 100 selections, including several chosen to be paired with dessert or cigars at the Palapa Bar adjacent to the restaurant where guests can relax around a stone fire pit.
Esperanza has a pamper parlor that goes well beyond aromatherapy massages and whirlpools. The Zen-like spa, with its tranquil koi pond at the entrance and carved stone bowls with hibiscus flowers, offers a relaxing respite from the hot desert sun.
Although Pacifica, Las Ventanas, and Esperanza each offers guests plenty to keep them occupied, a quick drive to either Cabos San Lucas or San Jose offers a glimpse into the local scene. In Cabo San Lucas, one can party nearly 24 hours a day at clubs like the infamous Cabo Wabo. The Marina boasts booming world-class big game sport fishing fleets, luxury yachts and more hotels and golf courses per capita than just about anywhere in the world. I was content soaking in the last of the sun before departing back to Los Angeles, comforted with the thought that I would soon be returning to this luxurious desert hideaway.
Rates: Start from $525 per/night for a Standard Suite. To make a booking, phone: 866 311 2226