A vacation in Los Cabos, Mexico, delivers it all: a dramatic landscape where the desert meets the sea, lots of cool activities, easy accessibility and a fabulous food scene. It’s safer than ever, too, thanks to recent upgrades in security processes, personnel and infrastructure.
The real question is where to stay. Lodging options abound, from sprawling all-inclusive resort to peaceful boutique oases. Thanks to AAA preferred travel partners like Travel Impressions and Pleasant Holidays, choosing one is easier. Narrow down the list even more with a AAA Four or Five Diamond property. Here are six to choose from!
AAA Five Diamond
Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection (Pleasant Holidays)
Most Cabo resorts set rooms as close to the beach as possible, but not Esperanza, where casitas are arrayed around an emerald-green lawn that slopes toward the sea. The result? Each of the 59 terraced rooms and (some with outdoor hot tubs) not only look out over the water, but offer a sense of seclusion that’s tough to beat. That feeling of privacy extends to the beaches, a pair of sandy coves hemmed by dramatic boulders.
Throughout the resort, thoughtful touches prevail: buckets of icy cervaza delivered to beachfront Bali beds come topped with a handful of wrapped chocolates; complimentary shoulder massages, frozen snacks and smoothie sips are delivered poolside and turndown service includes lighted candles on the balcony, warmed essential oils and a tiny bedside offering that reflects the local culture. There are fun excursions, too, like a gallery tour of nearby San Jose del Cabo and a chance to snorkel for chocolate clams, a local delicacy.
The resort’s main restaurant, Cocina del Mar, serves regional Baja cuisine on a rocky bluff set over the crashing sea; additional restaurants and bars (as well as pools, shops and a cliffside walking path) are located at the adjacent Residence Club.
Grand Velas Los Cabos (Pleasant Holidays)
At some all-inclusive resorts, the relaxation that comes with knowing the bill is already paid is tempered by disappointing, less-than-stellar food; raucous guests and lackadaisical service. Not Grand Velas, where a single call to your personal butler takes care of any crisis, big or small; room service is included and the five fine-dining restaurants (some of which are adults only) are so good they draw locals and guests from other, non-affiliated hotels. Each restaurant provides a strikingly different experience, too, with authentic flavors, elegant décor and even cocktails and after dinner drinks themed to the restaurant’s cuisine. Be sure to seek out the resort’s hidden gems, like Cabrilla, a tiny ceviche café tucked behind the pool and a twice-weekly tequila tasting that features premium spirits poured by the resort’s knowledgeable sommelier.
Each of the 307 oversized suites — the smallest measures in at 1,180 square feet — is set with a large terrace overlooking the three-tiered pool and the ocean; bathrooms have double sinks, dressing tables and enormous soaking tubs. Some of the larger suites have plunge pools.
The spa is extra but well worth the expense. That’s because treatments of 50 minutes or more include a seven-step, attendant-led water journey that starts with time in a subterranean swimming pool lined with hydrotherapy stations. Emerging from the pool, you’ll be met by a staff member who will guide you through each of the next five experiences. When it’s time for your actual treatment, you’ll already be in a state of watery bliss.
Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal (Travel Impressions)
Entryways don’t get much more dramatic than Waldorf Astoria’s Los Cabos Pedregal, which is accessed via a rough-hewn stone tunnel carved through a mountain that’s lighted by ornate chandeliers and flickering sconces. The drama doesn’t end there. Curved infinity pools add a mirror-like quality to the desert setting; within the spa, an outdoor saltwater pool is fed by a tumbling waterfall. Even more striking is the resort’s renowned seafood restaurant (and Champagne bar), El Farallon, which hugs the sheer cliffs that plunge into the ocean below. At night, when the moon lights the churning water, the scene is magical. Guest rooms, too, have dramatic touches, including plunge pools on the terrace, rustic beamed ceilings, colorful textiles and beds with ornate headboards; within the bathrooms you’ll find hand-painted tiles, ceramic sinks and footed soaking tubs. Many of the decorative pieces from the rooms are available for purchase in the hotel’s gift shop.
A unique location at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula — most of Cabo’s luxury properties are located further up the coast — puts the Waldorf Astoria within easy walking distance of Cabo San Lucas, the once-sleepy fishing village that’s been transformed into a bustling tourist town.
AAA Four Diamond
The Cape, a Thompson Hotel (Travel Impressions)
Hip, sleek and stylish, this 161-room boutique resort has been a Cabo hot spot since the day it opened in 2015. One reason is the décor. The striking, art-filled lobby has industrial accents; restaurants and bars lean toward a more mid-century vibe with warm woods and sexy, sinuous curves. Drinking and dining venues are also a draw. Superstar Mexico City Chef Enrique Olvera’s welcoming Manta takes its cues from coastal Mexico, Peru and Japan; the Rooftop, which rocks late into the night, is Cabo’s only rooftop bar. The resort has also instituted a number of intriguing new programs including beach and rooftop fitness classes with celebrity trainer Modu Seye; a meditative breathing ceremony using ancient Mayan techniques, CBD massages at the minimalist Currents spa and multicourse mezcal food pairing experiences which are held inside the hotel’s signature Glass Box, an architecturally stunning on-property mezcaleria cantilevered above the beach.
Even with its high cool factor, the hotel hasn’t skimped on more typical amenities. The pools meld beautifully into the desert-scape, the fitness center is well outfitted and casual cafes serve fresh, delicious dishes in friendly settings with views of the sea.
Rooms overlook Cabo’s surf-centric Monuments Beach and have fun extras like hanging day beds, colorful tiled floors, a welcome bottle of tequila and, in most rooms, freestanding copper tubs.
Hacienda Encantada Resort & Residences (Travel Impressions)
It’s all about choice at Hacienda Encantada, which sits on a sunny promontory overlooking the Sea of Cortez. Start with lodging options, which include regular hotel suites, hotel suites with full kitchens, multi-bedroom villas and large homes with private pools. You can choose your meal plan, too. Guests with access to a kitchen might opt for the a la carte European plan — Cabo is filled with large grocery stores—for everyone else there’s the all-inclusive plan, which includes the resort’s nine on-site bars and restaurants, where you can dine on everything from handmade tacos and pasta to salads and burgers; as well as those at Marina Fiesta, a sister resort located near Cabo’s lively marina. There’s also 24-hour room service and, with the (included) Dine Around option, the opportunity to try a number of restaurants in and around Cabo San Lucas.
Evoking a hacienda from Mexico’s early 19th-century Porfiriato era, Hacienda Encantada meanders through interconnected buildings and open-air terraces where you’ll find the restaurants, shops and pools. It’s a beautiful resort, too, celebrating traditional Mexican craftsmanship and art forms with ornately painted talaverapottery from Puebla; handmade ceramic wall decorations from Jalisco; hand embroidered traditional garments, tablecloths and wool rugs made by indigenous women from Oaxaca and hand-crafted iron chandeliers, lamps and bed frames.
Marquis Los Cabos (Pleasant Holidays)
Anyone who has ever driven along Cabo’s main highway has probably noticed Marquis Los Cabos: the all-inclusive, adult-only resort’s massive arched entrance is nearly impossible to miss. What you can’t see from the road is that the impressive arch houses the resort’s open-air, third-floor lobby, which is dominated by a series of fountains and, overlooking the ocean, a placid pool that is the beginning of a waterfall that streams down three levels into one of resort’s three oceanfront pools.
The graceful arch isn’t the Marquis Los Cabos’ only artistic flourish. More than 400 original paintings, sculptures and other works decorate the resort, including a pair of 3-ton bronze Botero-like sculptures by Colombian artist Mercedes Hoyo and, arrayed around the infinity pool, Mexican sculptor Jorge Marin’s graceful bronze acrobats. Marin is also responsible for The Angels, which stand in the lobby atop globes, wings spread, overlooking the sea.
Built in 2003, the 235-room property presides over a huge stretch of beach with curving pools, palm trees and tiered terraces; balconied rooms are oversized and feature inventive two-doored cubbies—one in the hallway and the other in your room—that allow room service waiters to deliver your order without even knocking on the door. Food options are varied and include pan-Asian (with a sushi bar), Mexican specialties, wood-fired pizza and award-winning chef Thierry Dufour’s French delights.
Ready to book your Los Cabos escape? Your AAA Travel Agent can help!
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(Go Magazine March/April 2020)