My Cabo Caper
I have always been a little bifurcated in my vacation choices; should I go for a well-known hot spot with lots of daytime activities and a great nightlife dotted with celebrities, or should I select a quiet, unspoiled village location with interesting architecture and small art galleries to explore??
Well, when you go to Cabo, Mexico you can indulge both of those urges. Situated on the southernmost tip of ‘Baja California’ in Mexico, Cabo is actually made up of two Cabos: Cabo San Lucas, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico, and San Jose del Cabo, its quieter sister, situated a hop, skip and a jump down the beach.
I recently vacationed at the Sheraton Grand Los Cabos Hacienda del Mar, which is conveniently located almost halfway between the two Cabos. The Sheraton is a destination in itself – situated on its own private, beautiful beach, it offers enough pleasures to keep you from wanting to leave. The hotel is designed in traditional Spanish style, with a cobbled courtyard and fountain greeting you upon arrival. Walk through the entrance and you are immediately looking at the Sea of Cortez and beyond to the Pacific Ocean.
My suite was huge and lovely, cool even in the midday sun (and Cabo gets hot – it was 90 degrees in the daytime but comfortably warm in the evenings). My balcony provided another view of the ocean and my room came with all the comforts you could desire. The staff, led by the handsome, charismatic manager Ricardo Iriarte, were fabulous — responsive and friendly and eager to please. They really upped the fun quotient of the trip.
On the first night at the hotel, my friends and I dined outside with the sound of the waves crashing on the beach below. The food was fabulous. We were entertained with live music – a talented young woman who sang a medley of songs that included covers of Amy Whitehouse and other more romantic fare, and who happily obliged specific requests. A tranquil start to this action-packed vacation.
The next morning my friends and I started our day with a delicious breakfast at Tomatoes, another of the hotel’s restaurants. Their breakfast buffet is $30 per person and has a lot of fresh and healthy options. I had a bespoke omelet, paired with fresh papaya and other fruits.
Feeling fully satiated, we took a quick ride to a glass blowing factory, where we watched gifted craftsmen make fantastic, multi-colored glass fish and vases. We were then each invited to create a piece of glass for ourselves. Most of my friends managed to produce pretty heart-shaped ornaments. My effort sadly looked more like The Blob, so I was happy to leave it uncollected at the end of the visit. From the glass factory, we made our way to Tequilera El Faro (a trip arranged by Tours R Fun) to learn how tequila is made, with a good deal of happy sampling despite the early hour.
From there we took a boat ride out to “The Arch”, more formally known as the Arco de Cabo San Lucas, a stunning rock formation that is a justly famed local landmark. The water was blue and clear and the glass-bottomed boat afforded glimpses of strange and beautiful fish. Cabo San Lucas is heaven for those who love to snorkel, dive, parasail, and jet ski. Whale watching is also a feature of the area in wintertime when whale pods visit the warm waters to bear their calves.
Back on dry land, we were off to lunch at the gorgeous club, SUR Beach House, by Bar Esquina, situated on Medano Beach. From the outside, SUR looks as though it belongs on a Mediterranean island with its white-washed walls and thatched roof. Inside, the decor has a modern vibe and the club offers early morning yoga, sunbathing, stand-up paddleboarding and dining. But the best seats are, of course, under the white sun umbrellas on the beach.
The food is nothing short of fabulous, created by the chef Andres Bracamonte who we all, men and women alike, immediately developed a crush on. His culinary creations – an unlikely combo of Mexican, Peruvian and Asian – were a treat for all palates, especially when accompanied by handcrafted cocktails and complemented by the most delicious chocolate cake I have tasted in a long time (and I make it my job to taste as many chocolate cakes as I can before I die!)
Back to the hotel and, full of food as we were, we nonetheless happily accepted an invitation to attend a cooking class given by the hotel’s executive chef Manuel DeLuca. In spite of our groaning tummies, we paired off into groups and kneaded dough and chopped veggies and avocados and created a Mexican pizza – another surprising combination of culinary cultures. Who knew Italian and Mexican could find such delicious common ground! In spite of ourselves, we consumed the results of our efforts with great gusto.
At that point, some of my friends went for facials and massages at the hotel spa which they later told me were a relaxing afternote to the day’s activities. I opted to take a dip in the spa’s hot pools then meandered my way back to my room, opened the curtains to the ocean breezes and took a nap. Each to own, as the old lady said when she kissed the cow.
We all assembled later to dine in the hotel’s 5-star Diamond Award-winning De Cortez restaurant overlooking (what else??) the stunning Sea of Cortez. More fabulous food (memo to self – take exercise classes or buy new pants when I get home), followed by wine and more wine.
After dinner we were treated to smores, which we consumed in a sand pit on the beach that the staff had dug out and lined with blankets. With the sound of the waves as a backdrop, smores soon turned to snores, as one-by-one we all started to doze off. Back to the room to ready ourselves for more fun and frolics the next day.
The next morning I rolled out of bed with the sound of the ocean and the salty air breezing through my windows. While some of my friends opted for a day spent doing an extreme version of zip-lining, a smaller group of us headed off to see the quieter side of Cabo.
Centered around a lovely old church, the village of San Jose del Cabo is filled with souvenir shops and small art galleries. It offers a peaceful vibe and plenty of window-shopping.
Attracted by its appealingly authentic looking entrance, we discovered a restaurant and bar called Casa Don Rodrigo. We sipped our drinks and chatted with the owner as he offered us complimentary tastings of homemade guacamole and cheeses from his family farm and told us of his family’s history. He told us about how the building had been his family’s home for generations. It felt very authentically Mexican to be eating and drinking in someone’s former living-room. This bar is not to be missed if you visit San Jose del Cabo.
Another restaurant you simply must try is the award-winning restaurant/hotel called ACRE. Owned and managed by Cameron Watts and Stuart McPherson, and situated outside San Jose del Cabo, ACRE is also a 25-acre farm whose mission is to leave the land as unspoiled as possible, while providing dining and accommodations to discerning travelers looking for a different experience. The next time I’m in Cabo, I’m definitely going to stay in their treehouse hotel suites, built into the farm’s tall palm trees.
The entire property is stunningly beautiful. The cleverly lit garden of palm trees reminded me of St. Laurent’s Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh. And the food was extraordinary. Altogether, a wonderful way to end a fabulous couple of days. And the end it was, for while some of my sturdier friends went off to drink tequila at the Sheraton’s Tequila Bar La Suerte, I finally admitted defeat and went to bed.
So whatever your fancy in terms of vacation choices, Cabo offers so much to do or not do that it will easily satisfy that fancy – it’s not hard to understand why it is fast becoming a must-go vacation spot for celebrities and non-celebs alike.