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Airtight jars of ceviche rose to the surface of the pool as three cooks — fully dressed in their chef coats and aprons — did somersaults in the water. Dishes from Baja and the Yucatan hung suspended in the air. A stilt walker danced with fire, and migrating whales breached in the distance. While this whimsical experience sounds more like a dream than anything else, it was just a fraction of the fun to be had at Relish the Heritage Festival, which was held at JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa in January.
Relish the Heritage celebrates Mexican cuisine, regional wines and live music in a picturesque beachfront location along the Sea of Cortez. Now in its fifth year, the festival is spearheaded by executive chef Thierry Blouet of Cafe des Artistes, in Puerto Vallarta, which now has a venue at JW Marriott Los Cabos. The event also includes off-property excursions such as sailing, whale watching and a picnic at an organic farm.
Every year, in addition to featuring upscale Baja cooking, Blouet invites a guest chef who showcases the endemic cuisine of his or her region of Mexico. Chef Jonatan Gomez Luna, of Le Chique in the Riviera Maya, participated this year and brought the flavors of the Yucatan Peninsula — from suckling pig with roasted bananas to marquesitas (sweet cheese crepes), a popular street food.
“Each guest chef has his or her own style, so the experience could be very different from year to year,” Blouet said. “This year, we have a super chef among us — chef Jonatan has one of the most renowned restaurants in the world. The most important thing about Relish the Heritage is that we all have a good time together. That’s why we put on the festival in the first place — it’s not all for business, a lot of it is for enjoyment.”
JW Marriott Los Cabos spares no expense to make Relish the Heritage a rollicking good time for all guests in attendance. For instance, just about anytime I returned to my room, there was a surprise waiting for me. Unexpectedly, I came back to a bottle of D’Aristi Xtabentun, honey liquor from the Yucatan. Another night, I found a pair of chocolate candies that were shaped like a cactus and stuffed with passion fruit habanero and herbed guava jellies.
My guestroom served as a sanctuary for me after an adventure-packed day, and I found it to be meticulously designed with everything I needed and more. Amenities included a Nespresso machine; an oversize bathtub; chamomile bath salts; and Aromatherapy Associates products that incorporated lavender, ylang-ylang and rosemary. As a nod to its surroundings, guestrooms are inspired by desert tones and materials, with accents such as hardwoods, brown leather headboards, marble bathrooms in sandy colors and shades of burnt orange in both the bathroom tiles and bedding.
The 299-room property also features an impressive spa for recharging after a busy day. Jasha Spa encompasses 21,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. While there is a sea salt steam room, a Jacuzzi and an ice-cold plunge pool in both the men’s and women’s sections, what really stands out is the design of the outdoor area that plays with light and shadows. The communal outdoor pool is a refreshing addition, too. Why not catch some rays and breathe in the salty, fresh air before an ayurvedic treatment?
Other over-the-top highlights of my weekend at JW Marriott Los Cabos included acrobats and dancers dressed in the theme of Earth, Water, Air and Fire. During the festival, they led the way to a tasting of Yucatan-distilled Gin Katun and craft beers from Baja Brewing Company. We were treated to a sampling of Baja wines, as well, followed by classical music in the resort’s amphitheater. We also enjoyed a nightcap while humming along to cover songs by Yucatan jazz band Gina Osorno and the Dreamers.
Our visit to Miraflores Farm, a family-run business for 26 years, was a singular experience. Chefs Blouet and Luna walked the grounds with us, encouraging us to pluck tomatoes straight off the vine and taste fistfuls of fresh strawberries that were both sweet and the right amount of tart. In season were red Russian kale; amaranth, an ancient grain; Persian cucumbers; and nasturtium (edible flowers that also help repel insects). As an organic farm, Miraflores employs natural ways to care for the land, including using garlic instead of insecticide to repel bugs and bat guano for fertilizer. Miraflores was quite the setting for a true farm-to-table lunch, prepared by two great chefs.
“Relish the Heritage is an enriching experience, from our Baja California wines and live music to the flavors, textures and sensations in each one of the culinary delights created by our celebrated chefs,” said Miguel Mestas, general manager of JW Marriott Los Cabos.
The resort is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but management hopes to update the public on plans for reopening soon. While the festival is slated to return in 2021, the exact dates have not yet been announced.
The DetailsJW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spawww.marriott.com