While Hurricane Odile caused unprecedented devastation to Mexico’s Los Cabos—which includes sister towns San Jose del Cabo and Cabos San Lucas, plus the corridor that runs between the two—the area is now back on its feet and enjoying a revival. Some Cabo properties took the opportunity to upgrade and refresh their facilities, while others decided it was time to make their official debut. Here are the top renovated and new hotels at the tip of the Baja.
We think when a resort is only accessible by a private 300-meter tunnel, it ups the ante a bit as far as exclusivity is concerned, which is the case with The Resort at Pedregal. While it’s just minutes from bustling downtown, you’d never know it once you reach the end of the Dos Mares tunnel and are greeted by the 24-acre property, which reopened in January 2015. And to add another layer of exclusivity, the resort debuted its brand new Villa Collection earlier this year with the intro of three- and four-bedroom suites practically carved into the mountainside. These joined the 113 existing residential-style guest rooms, all of which were upgraded after the hurricane with new furniture, and feature plunge pools on private terraces and indoor fireplaces. Culinary offerings include the traditional Mexican Don Manuel’s; the ceviche, sashimi and sushi-heavy Crudo; the laid-back Beach Club for light bites; and El Farrallon, a seafood-focused cliffside eatery with the new adjacent Champagne Terrace, which has up to 20 different bubblies by the glass. Cheers to you, Pedregal.
The Medano Beach stunner probably suffered the most damage and was slowest to reopen. But good things come to those who wait because after a $16 million renovation to just about every inch of the resort, ME Cabo finally said bienvenidos in March this year. The redesign sought to meld traditional Mexican and modern aesthetics throughout the 162 guest rooms and public spaces. Case in point: You’ll find paintings and sculptures by Mexican artist Yuri Zatarain alongside contemporary images by Portland-based photographer Kineo. And in keeping with the Cabo scene, ME totally reinvented its nightlife, restaurant and bar concepts with Blue Marlin Ibiza Los Cabos, a new signature modern Mediterranean restaurant and bi-level poolside beach club complete with frosty cocktails and cutting-edge DJ sets; the Rose Bar, a destination spot with DJ headliners; and the upstairs Dare lounge.
Calling all surfers, especially if you’re goofy — footed, that is. The Cape, a Thompson Hotel, which made its debut in June 2015, is situated directly on Monuments Beach, a very popular left-hand surf break. But don’t despair if you don’t hang ten, we think you’ll still enjoy the unimpeded Sea of Cortez views and private patios with hanging daybeds in every one of the 161 guest rooms. Dining at the 114-seat Manta is also a treat. Helmed by renowned chef Enrique Olvera, the restaurant combines Mexican and Pacific Rim cuisine with a highlight on the freshest seafood he can find. Sunset chasers can head straight to the rooftop lounge (the only one in Cabo) and beer garden that specializes in craft Baja brews for a gorgeous Technicolor show as the sun sinks into the horizon. Or if you’re looking for a different kind of zen moment, book a treatment at Currents spa, designed by famed Mexican architect Javier Sanchez.
Back when One&Only Palmilla debuted in 1956 as a 15-room hideaway — accessible only by private yacht or plane — it hosted the likes of John Wayne and Lucille Ball. Today, you might see Jennifer Aniston or Hugh Jackman lounging poolside, but we think the view of the azure sea from the free-form Agua Pool beats a celeb sighting any day. And after reopening in April 2015 with a slew of updated offerings, such as a new Jean-George Vongerichten steakhouse called Seared, 174 refurbed butler-serviced guest rooms and suites, and the renovated 22,000-square-foot One&Only Spa, this sprawling premier resort is holding strong as one of Cabo’s top luxury options. Bonus: Palmilla’s Pelican Beach is one of the only swimmable beaches in Cabo so if you’re specifically an ocean-water baby and not just an any-kind-of-water baby, this is the place for you.
Rounding out the “top three chichi” — together with One&Only Palmilla and Las Ventanas al Paraiso — is Esperanza. The property took the devastation wreaked by Odile as a chance to hit the refresh button and reopened in June 2015 after a complete revitalization. A contemporary redesign of its 57 guest rooms reflects the juxtaposition between the sea and the desert, while also giving a nod to Mexican tradition with the use of original art and handcrafted furnishings. Meanwhile under the watchful eye of new executive chef Guillermo Gomez, Cocina del Mar restaurant and Lounge Bar was revamped to include a new ceviche bar, plus The Spa saw the addition of an alfresco relaxation lounge. We also love the new Floating Lounge, which means you can take your party seaside, complete with a DJ, cocktails and butler service.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Or in the case of Las Ventanas, if it is broke, then fix it exactly the way it was because why mess with a good thing. The tony 84-suite resort reopened in June 2015 after being restored to its pre-hurricane grandeur, but, admittedly, with a few extras here and there in the form of services and guest experiences. For instance, the hotel unveiled its “once-in-a-lifetime experiences” collection starting in the summer of 2015, now updated for winter 2016 to include offerings like a four-course Champagne dinner under the stars accompanied by an actual astronomer and oversized telescope, or a romantic sunset cruise aboard the hotel’s very own 60-foot luxury yacht complete with a bottle of Dom and fireworks because who doesn’t love fireworks? Of course, there’s always the option to laze on your personal patio or post up poolside and have your butler spritz you with Evian as needed.
The all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva took a major hit during the hurricane, but after extensive renovations, this 591-key family-focused resort reopened with a host of new amenities. A short list of updated features includes a Mexican entertainment plaza with an authentic tequila bar, a new Sports Bar with 16 HDTVs so you’ll never miss a game, an Italian beachfront restaurant with a pizza oven, an expanded Asian restaurant with a separate sushi bar, a KidZ Club with a water park and treehouse for those aged 4 to 12, and an updated Club Lounge for all you Hyatt Gold Passport members out there. Our favorite feature of the hotel, the breathtaking open-air lobby that looks straight out to the Sea of Cortez, started welcoming guests exactly a year and a day after Odile; it’s kind of poetic when you think about it.
Situated in the Puerto Los Cabos enclave, a new residential development, the JW Marriott Los Cabos is well away from the could-be chaos of Cabo San Lucas but within striking distance of the quaint quiet of San Jose del Cabo. Jim Olson from Olson Kundig worked in collaboration with Mexico City-based design firm IDEA Asociados to create the 299-room resort whose architecture was conceived to frame nature. Just take a look at the open-air lobby, which greets guests with views of the hotel’s 10 infinity pools that blend seamlessly with the cerulean sea. There are also five different bars and lounges and a 21,000-square-foot Jasha Spa, which offers a modern-day therapeutic temazcal, an indigenous name for a sweat lodge. (We hear it’s easier to connect with your inner self when you’re on the verge of delirium.) If you’re looking for a more exclusive experience, The Griffin Club, a boutique hotel-within-a-hotel, offers upgraded amenities, such as a private beach and pool, reserved spa areas and a movie theater.
Sometimes the words luxury and all-inclusive are used in conjunction but the property they’re describing just does not live up to the hype. Well if you’re at all familiar with the other Grand Velas resorts (i.e., Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit), then we think it’s safe to say newly-opened Grand Velas Los Cabos in fact embodies its luxury all-inclusive moniker. The 304 ocean-view suites, the smallest of which clocks in at a whopping 1,180 square feet, all offer expansive terraces with private plunge pools and contemporary Mexican décor. But what we’re excited about is the gourmet food and bev program at the hotel’s five restaurants. Just to give you an idea of how seriously Grand Velas considers cuisine, the signature restaurant, Cocina de Autor is helmed by two-star Michelin Chef Sidney Schutte, while the other fine dining outlets looks a bit like a world culinary tour—Frida for Mexican, Piaf for French and Lucca for Italian.
When Chileno Bay Resort opened to guests earlier this year, it ended One&Only Palmilla’s monopoly on Cabo’s only swimmable beach. As it’s nestled on the shores of Chileno Bay, a protected cove with calm waters, you can get your swim on here without fear of the usually strong rip currents. And if that’s still too much for you, you can always retreat to the resort’s stunning three-tiered pool (one for kids, one communal and one for adults) that melts right into the beach. The architecture also reflects this seamlessness by blending indoor-outdoor spaces—such as floor-to-ceiling windows and doors in the guest rooms that open out to expansive terraces—and a palette that infuses both desert and sea sensibility. Three dining options are on tap for the property, including an open-air signature restaurant called Comal with raw and ceviche bars, plus there will be a 10 treatment room full-service spa too.