Sign Up for Our Monthly Mexico Newsletter
I alternate: a sip of cappuccino, a long stare out to sea, a sip of cappuccino, a long stare, repeat. I move my hand to my brow to block the rising sun’s glare like a caricature of a long-ago explorer. But I’m not searching for newfound lands — I’m scouring the sea that sits between me and the hazy horizon for any sign of Baja’s most famous winter visitors.
Year after year, whales come to give birth and breed, coincidentally thrilling tourists who flock to Baja California Sur and Los Cabos for the event.
Whales or not, I’m content to sit on the deck of Hotel Riu Palace Baja California in the quiet early morning hours, with my perfectly made cappuccino from the hotel’s coffee bar in hand. Few other guests are up, giving the place a sense of peace. Even the Sea of Cortez is almost glassy calm. Throughout my stay, this becomes my favorite part of each day.
Come evening, this same broad, open-air space will pulse with music and conversation as the bars and theater draw nighttime crowds.
Riu Palace Baja is the third hotel in Riu’s expansive Los Cabos complex. It opened last December, joining Hotel Riu Santa Fe, the family-friendly and most affordable option; and Hotel Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas, which is aimed at couples and families. All three are all-inclusive, but only Riu Palace Baja is adults-only.
The new hotel has something else that sets it apart from Riu’s other properties, according to Caesar Mastache, general manager of the resort.
“It’s the first property where every bar and restaurant faces the ocean,” he said.
And views are everything in Los Cabos.
The Riu Palace Baja complex sits above Medano Beach and a quartet of pools, fewer than 3 miles from the marina in Cabo San Lucas (where sightseeing and whale-watching tours depart). It’s far enough away to be a sanctuary from the downtown party scene. Most important, there are unobstructed views of El Arco, the rock formation arch at Land’s End, the southern tip of the peninsula. At sunset, the arch takes on a rose-gold hue, making it the ubiquitous star of countless photos.
“You can see sunrise and sunset from our hotel,” Mastache said. “Sunrise to the left and sunset to the right, over downtown.”
As one of Riu’s few adults-only properties, the resort has some amenities that the other hotels in the complex do not. All guestrooms have bathrobes, while the other resorts provide them only in suites. The hotel’s junior suites feature a shower and a tub, as well as a wine cart that carries an exclusive selection of varietals to pair with dinner (for a charge) — which is an amenity specific to Riu’s adults-only properties.
Riu Palace Baja California also showcases the brand’s evolving design aesthetic. It’s elegant: Public spaces and all 602 guestrooms feature a light, contemporary palette. Lots of windows add an abundance of natural light, and everything is deliberately more open to the sea.
All-inclusive sometimes means a lack of options, but the hotel’s specialty restaurants satisfy varying tastes. In addition to standard buffets, there are Italian, Japanese and Indian eateries. There’s also Krystal, which specializes in “fusion gourmet,” and a steakhouse. For those hungry between meals, a snack lounge is open 24/7.
Ultimately, I did see whales on a boating excursion, but it was fine that my peaceful mornings looking out to the sea, cappuccino in hand, were whale-less. Riu Palace Baja delivered plenty of other special moments.
The DetailsRiu Hotels & Resortswww.riu.com