Cabo Azul Resort & Spa
Rates: Room rates start from $350 per night.
Commission: 20 percent on bookings made through GDS.
Packages: A three-night Spa/Dinner Package includes a $100 spa or dining credit.
Details dazzle the eye at Cabo Azul Resort & Spa, the splashiest beach resort in San Jose del Cabo. Interior designer Dodd Mitchell didn’t skip a beat when he created dramatically unique bedrooms, kitchens, restaurants — and a striking wedding chapel — with a deep espresso and cream palette set against nature’s blue horizon. Headboards and lamps have a Moroccan flair, couches and chairs are sleekly modern and dark wooden tables and chairs on seaview balconies conjure visions of a leisurely hacienda lifestyle. All 332 villas feel just like home — if you happen to live in a seaside chateau straight out of Architectural Digest.
Clients can receive beachside
massages from the Paz Spa.
Tucked amid the giant, all-inclusive spreads that seem to multiply like rabbits in Los Cabos, Cabo Azul is downright exclusive and intimate. When I arrived at the guarded gates on a steamy August day, other passengers in my airport van grumbled with envy. Though the lobby was unimpressive (it’s temporary), the bellman’s greeting was instantly friendly and accommodating. Quiet air conditioning blasted beautifully when I reached my one-bedroom villa.
Designed with timeshare buyers in mind (but also available as hotel rooms), the villas have up to three bedrooms and come with fully equipped kitchens. An on-site, gourmet market is stocked with everything from Mexican coffee beans to French wines. At the adjacent bakery/deli/Internet cafe, glass cases display flaky croissants, crisp salads and flavorful pizzas. World-weary clients could hole up in their classy villas for days on end, relying on speedy room service for multi-course meals and various plasma-screen televisions for entertainment.
But, they would miss lunching poolside on savory seafood soup, crisp fries and fresh green salad with panela cheese (ask for the spicy dressing on the side) served at Flor de Noche, a palapa-shaded restaurant with barstools in the pool and dining tables beneath a canopy of thick, nautical ropes. Waiters race about to the pools and beach delivering margaritas, guacamole and ceviche to guests burrowing into woven, basket-like pods with thick mattresses or lounging beneath white umbrellas.
In the center of the property, three black-bottom pools descend on a slight slope that leads to a broad band of tan sand beside the pounding waves and unpredictable currents of the Sea of Cortez. Red flags warn swimmers to refrain from plunging into the tempting surf. San Jose’s main hotel zone has the dubious distinction of being a beach resort with formidable seas, best appreciated from the sand. At Cabo Azul, guests study the whitecaps from plush, padded lounge chairs beneath palm umbrellas, minty mojitos close at hand. Most days, the pools and beach are blissfully free of pounding music and frenetic activities, though the noise level depends on the type of guests hanging about. Children are present and the occasional rowdy crowd insists on splashing about but, for the most part, the ambience is relaxing and serene.
Avoiding the brightest midday sun, I escaped to the cool, cocoon-like Paz Spa. Thousands of iridescent white shells cover the ceiling above curving hallways and smooth, pebble-lined floors lead to bubbling hot tubs and peaceful therapy suites. Onyx, lapis, opal and quartz crystals help balance energies and enhance treatments — the signature massage certainly soothed my jangled nerves. While checking out the spa’s terrace suite with a double outdoor shower, crystal Jacuzzi and daybed sprinkled with rose petals, I wished my husband had come with me.
Romance reigns at El Corazon, the resort’s five-story-high, open-air wedding chapel with candlelit waterfalls and a massive cross and Star of David that can be lowered from the ceiling. The breathtaking view from this stunning aerie provides a dramatic backdrop for couples tying the knot. However, you needn’t attend a wedding to feel the resort’s elegance.
At nighttime, candles and lights glow throughout Cabo Azul. Fire pits burst into flame on pool islands and along paths leading to Javier’s, the signature restaurant. Like its popular sister restaurants in Southern California, Javier’s specializes in extraordinary Mexican cuisine that keeps you coming back for more. Have clients begin their dinner by sipping the hotel’s signature Don Julio tequila while studying the menu — the seafood enchiladas and prawns with garlic and poblano chilies are exceptional.
Cabo Azul is still a work in progress; dining options will eventually include a tequila and ceviche tasting bar and a taco bar. A 60-room boutique hotel will be the centerpiece of phase two, scheduled for completion in fall 2009. By then, many of the existing villas will be reserved for timeshare owners, since Cabo Azul is a part of Pacific Monarch Resorts program. But, the hotel promises to be exceptional as well, thanks to designer Mitchell’s eye for detail and general manager Cesar Gonzalez’s attitude toward service.
During my stay, waiters, housekeepers, store clerks and gardeners all seemed supremely pleased to greet each guest with a cheery smile at every encounter. Even the maintenance workers stopped everything to walk lost wanderers to the spa or reception.
"We want a more relaxed environment that’s not too casual," Gonzalez said when I remarked on my many pleasant encounters with staff members. "Service is all about experience. We strive for excellence with humility."
The result is a welcoming and relaxing ambience that makes you want to settle into your villa as if you truly were at home.