LOS CABOS, Mexico Hunting for golden beaches in greater Los Cabos
does not have to break the bank, despite the area’s reputation in
Mexico and elsewhere as an expensive destination catering to the
well-heeled, deep-pocketed tourist.
Since not every client with a desire to experience this Baja
destination can afford top-of-the-line travel, we set out to find
What we found is that the words “all-inclusive” have added value
in this high-end vacation paradise. At resorts of this variety,
rooms, taxes, meals, snacks, drinks and most watersports are free,
once the traveler has pre-paid for an all-inclusive stay.
At the Royal Solaris Los Cabos, an all-inclusive in San José del
Cabo, guests who arrive before check-in time don’t even have wait
to hit the beach.
“If a guest checks in and the room’s not ready, we have the
96-locker Hospitality Room off the lobby with showers and
bathrooms, so a guest can immediately use all of the resort
services,” general manager, Gilberto Bermúdez, informed us.
Extending “all-inclusive” into the cyber realm, some Royal
Solaris packages even include free use of three computer stations
and Internet access.
The Royal Solaris is located in an enclave of other
all-inclusive properties, including the Presidente Intercontinental
Los Cabos Resort and the Crowne Plaza Los Cabos Beach Resort. To
get into downtown San Jose del Cabo from these properties, guests
can take the resort shuttles for $10 or opt for a money-saving 20-
to 30-minute walk to town in the cooler hours of the day. Walking
will help to offset the tendency to overindulge at the
all-inclusive resorts’ all-you-can-eat buffets. If it’s too hot to
walk, the local bus costs less than $1.
To get away from the smorgasbords, one day we had a hot meal
cooked to order at a local restaurant, El Sazón Mexicano (corner of
Calle Hidalgo and Alvaro Obregón). Bean soup with tortilla strips
preceded a chili relleno covered with egg batter, stuffed with
zucchini and cheese, topped with freshly made tomato sauce and
served with rice and warm tortillas. Horchata, a sweetened rice
water drink, and desert were included, for less than $4.
Another day, we walked down the beach to the Estero San José to
watch its hundreds of birds stir, chirp, trill and cry as the sun
rose over the lagoon. By 7 a.m., the heavenly smells of the Pan del
Triunfo Panaderia & Pasteleria bakery (Calle Morelo) were
During the summer, the Presidente Intercontinental offers free
room upgrades, and children with parents stay free. (Families with
kids are housed away from the adults-only wing of the
cactus-landscaped property.) As a lure for golfers, the Presidente
offers 20 percent off the standard green fee to play the Palmilla
course’s 27 holes.
In this competitive market, each all-inclusive tries to offer
its own unique features. The Crowne Plaza Los Cabos Beach Resort
operates the only wave runners in the area and has its own water
desalinization and bottling plant on the premises. Its landmark
observation tower has a Sky Bar on top. One evening, the bar’s
incongruously named and intensely red house drink, Miami Vice, a
strawberry coco colada, foreshadowed a red and romantic sunset
literally above it all, with 360-degree views of the sea, desert
Ed Jackson, the president of San Francisco-based Runaway Tours,
sees “wonderful opportunities in Cabo.”
“There are more hotel rooms than there are tourists today,” he
said, adding that there’s value to be found in older properties
that can better control costs.
Another moderate-for-Los Cabos property is Cabos San Lucas’
oldest, the Hotel Hacienda Beach Resort. Its location, one block
from the marina, provides room views of cruise ships anchored
offshore, as well as of Los Cabos’ famous Arch.
Guests can economize by making a meal out of the tapas in the
hotel’s Cosmic Oyster Bar with its kitschy 1960’s mural art and
game fish on the walls.
Despite its proximity to those renowned Los Cabos discos, the
family-owned 115-room hotel with 27 acres of gardens is quiet and
has earned a high 35 to 40 percent rate for returning guests. “One
of the advantages of a family-owned hotel is that three to four
generations of a family have worked at the hotel,” said director of
operations, Randal Lehr.
And several generations of guests keep coming back. At breakfast
one morning, servers waited on a group of San Francisco Bay Area
fishing buddies who have been coming to the hotel for the past
quarter of a century.
Lehr remembers his first visit to Los Cabos in 1960 when “fuel
was a can on the beach, and pangas (small fishing boats) were
“Everything is here now,” he said, “twelve cinemas and the
Puerto Paraiso mall just a five-minute walk around the marina.”
With so much to do, along with affordable and well-appointed
all-inclusive resorts, there are still plenty of ways for clients
to enjoy a Cabo vacation without feeling pinched.
Crowne Plaza Los Cabos Beach Resort
Hotel Hacienda Beach Resort
Presidente Intercontinental Los Cabos
Royal Solaris Los Cabos
|Adventuring Los Cabos|
“People think when they come to Cabo, they will only stay in
their resort,” said Alejandro “Alex” Vidal, partner and general
manager of Baja Wild, based in Los Cabos. Guests tell the eco-tour
operator, “If I had only known, I would have brought hiking boots
and tennis shoes.”
Vidal is on a mission to get guests out of their hotels and off
the beaten track.
“There are two sides to Cabo,” he explained, “the tourist
places, bars and restaurants, and the little known Adventure Cabo a
Virgin Cabo no one knows about, with beaches and places to go and
At this eco-tour operation, the three partners do it all. They
guide kayakers out to Cabo San Lucas’ famous Arch for an up-close
and personal encounter with crashing waves, coach snorkelers, teach
surfing, lead scuba diving expeditions at the East Cape Cabo Pulmo
Marine Park, take clients whale watching, and lead them into the
mountains above the desert on camping and hiking trips.
Santiago, a 45-minute drive from San Jose del Cabo, is “an oasis
in the middle of the desert,” according to Vidal, a jumping-off
point for November through June trips into the 7,200-foot-high
Sierra de la Laguna. Here, there are canyons to explore and
waterfall-fed pools to swim in.
This year, Baja Wild rolled out a multi-day camping trip,
complete with a pack donkey, for clients willing to pitch their own
tents. Another tour package offers one day of sea kayaking with
another spent hiking.
Best of all, Baja Wild’s pricing allows travel agents to take a
25 percent commission on the net rate.