Cabo Keeps Up

From dolphins to daybeds, Los Cabos continues to evolve as a premier destination

By: Patricia Alisau

This is the first Image
Me by Melia

They say good things come in small packages. Maybe 300 pounds is not so small, but compared to his brethren, he was a baby. This was Renoir the dolphin, one of six such mammals appearing at the Cabo Dolphin Center. I had slipped downtown to Cabo San Lucas’ newest attraction during a recent fam to the Capes to explore the “next big things” luring travelers to its desert shores.

After a brief orientation and shower, I jumped into the pool with five others and the fun began. Baby Renoir kissed us, danced with us, rolled over to be petted on his belly and flipped in the air. As a finale, we held onto his dorsal fin while he dashed through the water. Swimming at a speed something like the speed of light, it seemed to me, I lost my grasp. The trainer sent him back and some inner light must have clicked on, telling him to swim slower this time. To my amazement, he did.

For your clients who use golf as their R&R, an 18-hole golf course opens later this year at the new Puerto Los Cabos project. Jointly designed by Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus, it will mark the first of two such greens for PLC. The 2,000-acre spread will also include a 350-slip marina, nature preserve and park and residences. In the near future, Los Cabos will add six more golf courses to the current roster of eight, jacking it up to the country’s premier golf destination.

As if golf wasn’t enough, Los Cabos is also spreading its wings to edgier hotels. The provocative ME by Melia was relaunched earlier this year from the former Melia San Lucas. By day, the Beach Club’s signature Polynesian cabana lounger beds are filled with sun bathers, who, by night, gravitate to the hotel’s hip Passion Club done up in “passionate” red, naturally, and pack three-deep around the bar. It’s the cool, sophisticated place to see and be seen, incognito or otherwise, and a definite counterpoint to the traditional rowdy Cabo San Lucas bar scene.

The new Passion Club is the cornerstone of ME by Melia in keeping with its stylish image. The whimsical art collection in the lobby makes its appeal lighthearted as well. Lodgers find rooms decorated with warm, rich colors plus Wi-Fi, iPod adaptors, CD/DVD library, flat-screen interactive TV, express service and organic soaps and shampoos.

While the ME is provocative, the Villa Group’s new trio of hotels is downright mellow and more suited to families. Clustered together on a hilltop overlooking the beach, the Villa del Arco will formally be inaugurated with the completion of 231 rooms this month along with a 31,000-square-foot spa. Introductory spa packages, which offer commissions to travel agents, will be valid until December. A village-style food market, pharmacy, deli, coffee shop, Internet cafe and ice cream parlor have been conveniently built near the hotel. One of the most striking restaurants is a replica of a pirate ship sitting at the side of the pool.

This is the second Image
One&Only Palmilla
Some things improve with age as is the case with the One & Only Palmilla, a landmark of lavish comfort in Los Cabos since the 1950s. Millions of dollars were poured into a resort-wide renovation two years ago, which positioned it even stronger in the luxury market, Jorge Villarreal, director of sales in Mexico, said. Units like the terrace junior suite, which I visited, reflect the return to traditional Mexican decor like the embroidered yarn headboards made by the Huichol Indians and hardwood furniture from the Yucatan Peninsula. Villarreal said two four-bedroom villas, which will cost up to $10,000 a night, will be added in 2008.

Other hotels, including the Hilton Los Cabos, are also going through upgrades to remain at the top of their game as well. Since February, guests at the Hilton have been enjoying rooms remodeled with plush pillow-top mattresses, 30-inch plasma TVs and hand-carved hardwood furniture, the design of which evokes the era of the grand haciendas in Mexico. Guests traveling with children found a new treatment area for kids at the full-service spa, which highlights innovative treatments fashioned out of the desert plants of the Peninsula.

Likewise, the Fiesta Americana Grand is building a 44-room luxury wing, which opens next year.

So, old or new, Los Cabos continues to thrive by adding to its successful selling tools.


Los Cabos has been stealing hearts with its cuisine and it was nice to find that an old favorite, Don Emiliano, hadn’t lost its touch. The menu carries dishes by renowned Mexican chefs plus the chef-owner Margarita Salinas, who researches prehispanic and colonial recipes for her kitchen. Besides chile poblano stuffed with shrimp, deep-fried white cheese set in a chile chipotle sauce and plantain tortillas, there’s pork with the exotic white mole. Although most restaurants serve chocolate-based mole, Salinas scoured the small villages of Veracruz to discover the source of the rare white mole, which is called “bride’s mole” and served only at weddings. It’s loaded with pistachio and pinon nuts and mild to the taste. Desserts are just as exotic and I’d go back any day for the baked mangoes in orange tequila sauce served with a scoop of pepper ice cream, my personal favorite.