After several trips to really cold destinations, I needed an escape to somewhere warm. I didn’t realize how much I needed this escape until I arrived to the warmth of Los Cabos, Mexico. When I arrived to San José del Cabo airport I felt the weight of winter, or maybe it was the many layers of clothing, lifted off my shoulders. The beautiful sound of Spanish filled the air, sprinkled with the English of the many tourists that visit here regularly. In a weekend’s time, I would get to enjoy two very different hotel experiences and lots of sunshine.
The airport is a direct 5-hour flight from New York and Newark airports, though the area is mostly visited by residents in the nearby Arizona and California states. The airport is easy to navigate – though it’s important to remember to stay clear of the aggressive vendors right outside the security doors before you exit the airport. I really can’t stress this enough. It’s best to book your car service/shuttle through your hotel reservation, all of which will be waiting for you outside of the airport, not before (regardless of what any vendor there will say). Avoid being tricked into sitting through a timeshare presentation and you should be OK to start your vacation.
Back in full force
Most development happening in the Baja California peninsula now is continued recovery from damage due to Hurricane Odile in 2014 where an estimated 27,000 people had to be airlifted from the region as the storm crushed on the area at full force. It left many coastal properties in ruins or severely damaged. But the area was suffering long before then. News of country-wide crime sprees had intimidated travelers from visiting and the crash of the housing market froze investment.
The hurricane was the last straw, especially affecting smaller businesses and boutique hotels that didn’t have the resources to keep their staff, many of whom either left to work for larger hotel chains and resorts or left the region altogether.
Starting over has meant not only redevelopment and reconstruction, but also retraining and recruitment of a new labor force attracted to the returned presence of investors and travelers. I was fortunate to meet a few business owners and hospitality professionals who made it through the storm and are excited to once again share Los Cabos with us.
Enjoying the hacienda experience
I arrived to the luxurious Casa del Mar Golf Resort and Spa a bit sleepy. The sun was bright and the breeze refreshing. It’s still cooler in February, and though Mexicans may find it too soon to enjoy the beach most visitors prefer it. Not to mention this is whale mating season and ideal for sightings. My one bedroom suite was airy and led out into a massive balcony overlooking the Sea of Cortés. Whether you are into sunrises or sunsets, this spot couldn’t be any more perfect.
The resort has 3 à la carte restaurants, plus 24-hour room service which I immediately took advantage of. Its organic vegetable and herb garden serves to compliment the menu options, and the food is Mexican with a contemporary flair.
Golf lovers will be in awe of the three gorgeous golf courses the resort has access too. I am not much of a golf player, but even I found it worth a visit to the Cabo Real Golf Club even if just for the views. The course has three ocean front holes and the sunsets are worthy of taking your game longer, which I hear happens a lot.
The feel is relaxed and intimate. It’s also welcoming of families and has large rooms to accommodate them. I spent most of my time sitting on my balcony enjoying the breeze and peaceful atmosphere as the winter blues slowly melted away.
The gallery resort experience
Right off the Estero San José and a short distance from Acapulquito Beach is the chic and trendy Hotel El Ganzo. From the moment you walk up to the entrance your eyes lock on the massive doors made from repurposed woods. The wall behind the reception is a work of art, but the hotel itself is a canvas for all kinds of art contributed by artists who are selected to be a part of the hotel’s artist residency program. Designers, painters, illustrators, and even musicians from all over the world are sought out and welcomed to stay in the hotel for inspiration on collaborations and work that can be showcased here, available for guests to enjoy.
The hurricane left much of the hotel in rubbles. Ella Messerli, General Manager of both El Ganzo and Casa del Mar, tells of how she had to tell staff to go home for fear they would get injured, but many insisted on helping with clean up. Some sadly had to move on for work while the resort rebuilt, but many eagerly returned once they were in full operation. This dedication speaks volume to the community the hotel prides itself in, not just with their staff but with the many artists it works with.
This gallery resort experience is a beautiful way to be exposed to different talent that we might not know about, as well as enjoy artists we might already be fans of. During my stay, Washingtonian and soul singer Allen Stone, performed live. Concert attendees and guests had access to the artist in an intimate performance setting, while overlooking the lagoon and enjoying drinks from the bar. Music lovers, and especially fans of Stone’s, would consider this the most epic of concert experiences, complimented by Mr. Stone’s down-to-earth demeanor and approachable personality.
Musicians have access to the in-house studio in the hotel and when you enter your room the television is set to showcase the artists featured on the El Ganzo Sessions channel.
This adults-only resort is a bit more festive and lively than Casa del Mar, but both are equally beautiful and the diversity in the experience they offer guests during their stay makes it fun to choose from depending on your mood and vacation style.
Experiences off resort
There is no shortage of things to do in Los Cabos. This is an adventure and nature lover’s paradise. From horseback riding, to diving and snorkeling, to whale watching and fishing, to hiking, bird watching, and ziplining. It is all there and then some. Your visit are as active or as relaxing as you would like.
Enjoying nature in different ways at Wild Canyon Adventure.
I found the dining on resort and off resort to be worthy of praise. A must is a visit to Acre Baja Restaurant and Cocktail Bar. This particular spot was hit pretty hard during the hurricane, but restoration of the 25-acre farmland has been a success. New staff has been recruited and trained and are some of the friendliest around. The farm harvests many of the items used to prepare what’s on the menu and cocktail drinks. What isn’t attained from the farm is sourced from local suppliers. It’s a fusion of flavors and cultures with a modern twist and a Mexican touch. Future guests can expect to stay in one of 12 tree-houses currently being built in the palm forest onsite.
I did early morning yoga, walked the beach at sunrise and sunset, I biked around the lagoon and made friends with donkeys. I made new friends, slept deeply, and laughed often.
Just as Los Cabos has found new life, I walked away feeling the same. The resilience and optimism of so many of the people I met is inspiring. You might find that a weekend isn’t enough, and I wouldn’t blame you. I didn’t get to see a lot of what Los Cabos has to offer. Heck, I didn’t even go into town. But I found yet another part of Mexico to fall in love with and most importantly, I slowed down enough to take it all in. Sometimes, that’s all you want and if a weekend is all you have, then that’s all you need.
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Thank you to Hotel El Ganzo and Casa del Mar Resort Golf Resort and Spa for their hospitality. All opinions are my own.