Cabo Calling

Cabo offers a paradise for guests to savor

By: Andréa Vaucher

I’ve been visiting Mexico for years. Inspired by books such as Malcolm Lowry’s “Under the Volcano” and films like John Huston’s “Night of the Iguana,” I’ve snorkeled in Isla des Mujeres, had my own Day of the Dead experience in Oaxaca and sipped tequila in nearly every bar along the road from Careyes to Las Hadas.

When I first came to Los Angeles in the late ’70s, Puerto Vallarta was my exotic weekend getaway, much as Puerto Rico or St. Martin was when I had fled the New York winters.

Back then, it was a picturesque fishing village, albeit one with a Carlos O’Brians. But we never went there. We preferred El Set, which is still there, a bar-restaurant high above Conchas Chinas that had matchbooks inscribed “another lousy sunset in paradise.”

As Puerto Vallarta morphed into a mega-destination over the next 25 years, I searched in vain for another quaint Mexican locale that might provide a quick and easy weekend escape.

I never considered anywhere in Baja, because I’d heard the rough surf prohibited swimming, and frankly, for me a Mexican vacation definitely includes afternoons on the beach and swimming in gorgeous, warm blue water.

Taking the Plunge

I discovered that, though the ocean is rough and does have an unforgivable undertow, there are many swimming beaches along the Sea of Cortez, and from just about any hotel, you can walk to one of them. These protected stretches of the whitest sand imaginable are, to me at least, prettier than just about any beach in Mexico outside the Yucatan. The best thing about Cabo is that your clients can get from Los Angeles to their hotel in about two hours by air.

San Jose del Cabo is a pretty colonial town with hardly any signs of the hotel boom that may eventually change the laidback atmosphere. And the stretch of virgin wilderness between San Jose and Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Baja is an adventurer’s paradise.

For now, the resorts that dot the beach along the sea such as Palmilla, Esperanza and swanky Las Ventanas are havens of tranquility separated by magnificent golf courses designed by Nicklaus or Trent Jones II.

One of my favorite resorts is the Marquis Los Cabos, and it’s the five-star destination where your clients will get plenty of bang for the buck.

With style elements inspired by Pritzker-winner Luis Barragan the architect who defined Mexican modernism with his vividly hued structures and interplay with nature the 237-room Marquis, a memberof Leading Hotels of the World, boasts an unobstructed sea view from every room and water features galore. There are plunge pools in all 28 casitas (several of them right on the beach) and a 36-foot waterfall that envelopes the El Suspiro bar, the poolside restaurant and the relaxation area in the spa, plus sunrise and sunset infinity pools.

From the minute you enter the open-air marble-and-stone lobby dominated by its extravagant arch with staff in starched linen standing at attention, you know you’ll find top-of-the-line service.

Would you like to have a drink or dinner at the famed and exclusive Las Ventanas al Paraiso, where only guests are allowed access to the property? No problema, the concierge will arrange it.

Need a tee time at the Nicklaus-designed par 72 Palmilla course? The golf desk will even secure a preferential green fee.

From the Bulgari toiletries and Frette linens to the hydro-massage bath with ocean views in every room to the little cubbyhole next to the door where your clients will find their continental breakfast, the Marquis staff sure knows how to take care of its guests.

The Canto del Mar, one of the hotel’s three restaurants, seats only 30 and offers a prix-fixe dinner personally prepared from the freshest ingredients daily by a French chef who previously presided over a Michelin two-star restaurant in Reims.

The recently opened, oceanview Spa Marquis the largest spa on the peninsula features private open-air Jacuzzis and relaxation areas. The spacious facility will likely de-stress even the most type-A guest with its muted wood and natural stone interior, candlelight and aromatic scents. The treatments incorporate indigenous cactus oils, agave and sea salt and seaweed from the Sea of Cortez. The unusually large, oceanview fitness center has all the latest equipment and a full-time personal trainer eager to help guests get the most out of the machines.

But for me, one of the best features of the Marquis Los Cabos was the swimming beach, a 10-minute walk to the beach in front of the hotel, where I swam and snorkeled in water as warm as a bath.