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It’s been a little more than one year since Hurricane Odile struck Los Cabos.
Today, upward of 90 percent of the hotel inventory is back in service, and the millions of dollars pumped into upgrades and renovations — as well as new hotels entering the market and increased airlift to the area — have given travel agents many reasons to feel optimistic.
“Los Cabos is definitely recovering,” said Hope Smith of Born to Travel, a Sierra Madre, Calif.-based agency affiliated with Montecito Village Travel and Virtuoso. “At Virtuoso Travel Week, all the Virtuoso properties in Los Cabos were anxious to show us what they have done.”
In fact, Smith says that her bookings are on the rise.
“People have already booked for Christmas, and I had a hard time finding space for people with certain budgets,” she said. “But I’m fortunate to have good relationships with suppliers, and they’re sending out emails saying what they still have for the season.”
Smith is not the only agent reporting an increase in Los Cabos bookings.
“Los Cabos is changing for the better,” said Geoff Millar, co-owner of Ultimate All-Inclusive Travel, an agency outside Phoenix that has also reported increased sales for the destination. “There are a lot more positives than negatives when selling Los Cabos. The area is getting more upscale restaurants, and newer resorts are opening up.”
Indeed, the recovery is “pushing Los Cabos to a whole new level,” according to Millar.
“And that’s how we present it to our clients,” he said. “The hurricane was certainly not good, but it drove the destination to be even better.”
Also sparking enthusiasm is a pipeline of various new hotels that will bring in nearly 4,000 guestrooms over the next couple of years.
“It’s really diversifying the area, so now there will be something for everybody down there,”
Millar said. “In the past, Los Cabos was known mostly for fishing, and then for golf. Now, you can sell it to everybody.”
Smith agrees, and says that she is especially excited to sell new properties in Los Cabos.
In addition, Millar says that increased air service is making it easier to sell the destination — even to his clients on the East Coast.
“We’re seeing more people from the East Coast who want to go to Los Cabos, too,” he said. “They’ve traditionally gone to places such as Jamaica and Cancun, but they want something new. It’s an old destination to us in the business, but it’s new to a lot of travelers. With the airlift, people can easily visit from the East Coast and the Midwest.”
Stressing the PositiveThe key to effectively selling Los Cabos today “is really knowing the area and educating your clients,” according to Millar.
“The best education is if you’ve been there, you’ve seen it, you’ve experienced it, you know it,” he said. “Then, you can educate clients about what it’s all about and what the new Los Cabos is like.”
However, Smith says that a lot of travelers are already educated about recovery and new developments in Los Cabos.
“They’re clients who like the Los Cabos product and destination,” she said. “They’ve been anxiously awaiting for a lot of these properties to reopen.”
Melissa Porzak, a travel specialist at Protravel International in San Diego, says that Los Cabos also benefits from its reputation for safety.
“Living in the Southwest, most people are very aware of [safety] issues and concerns regarding Mexico,” she said. “Los Cabos seems to have weathered these concerns and is still a popular location. Safety seems to be less of an issue in Los Cabos than other parts of Mexico. Overall, I believe consumer confidence is growing with respect to travel in Mexico.”