With a flurry of new openings — romantic seaside villas, high-design boutique hotels, a Hakkasan group restaurant — the spring break destination of your youth is officially all grown up.
LOS CABOS, Mexico — I lived in Los Angeles in my early twenties and, despite the relatively short flight from Southern California to Los Cabos, never made the trip down for a visit. Given my age at the time, you’d think the promise of endless beachside partying would have drawn me in. But, as Cabo was in Baja California (which was still kind of like California in my mind at the time), it felt a little too close to be a true escape. I wasn’t much of a partier anyway, and figured my money would be better saved for long-haul destinations on my bucket list, like Europe or Africa.
Fast forward to 2018, and Cabo unexpectedly made it onto my travel radar. It’s having a bit of a renaissance, thanks to several buzzy openings and re-openings in the hotel and restaurant spaces. (A 2014 hurricane destroyed many beachfront properties, creating opportunities for new business to come in and existing properties to rebuild and expand.) As fate would have it, I ended up in Cabo not once, but twice in a year. Both times, I found that, instead of the party spots I once associated with the area, the focus had expanded to include even more sophisticated, art-forward experiences that any luxury travel lover can get behind — particularly in San José del Cabo, just northeast of Cabo San Lucas and the famous Zona Hotelera.
If these initial experiences are any indication, I have plenty of reasons to book a return visit — again.
Let’s start here, at Las Ventanas al Paraíso, which opened in the ‘90s and is still a leader in service and luxury. (Case in point: They have an entire department devoted to creating romantic experiences for guests.) You’ll be sold the minute a margarita, mini massage session, and in-room tequila tasting flight greet you upon arrival. The view’s pretty sweet, too.
Looking for some magic? Few things top dinner at the recently opened Arbol restaurant. Enjoy a unique combination of Indian tandoor and Asian dishes in a private booth that’s sunken into a reflecting pool glittering with lantern light.
A short drive east, the former Mar Adentro property recently reopened as Viceroy Los Cabos. The giant nest-like structure is not only a focal point of the otherworldly landscape, it’s also a must-try dining experience called Nido — think inspired ceviche, creative cocktails, and live music inside the coolest hive ever.
A work in progress at Viceroy Los Cabos by L.A.-based artist Spencer Mar Guilburt, who also created the large-scale mural you may be familiar with at Viceroy Santa Monica. His work is part of the hotel group’s A Canvas for Discovery program, which hosts artists-in-residence at properties around the world.
While we’re on the topic of artists-in-residence, don’t miss nearby Hotel el Ganzo. In addition to a glorious rooftop infinity pool with a glass-sided hot tub and ocean views, the hip boutique hotel hosts international artist sessions and performances in its on-site recording studio. Added bonus: The hotel has its own private beach club that’s accessible by boat. Just wait at the dock outside to catch a short ride to sun, surf, and cervezas.
A spaceship? Nope, just the ultra-grand entrance to Vidanta Los Cabos. Stroll through, and you’ll land at one of four new Hakkasan Group restaurants and lounges. After you snap 1000 pictures, of course.
It’s Día de Los Muertos every day at Casa Calavera at Vidanta Los Cabos. While the bar area looks like a sleek IRL version of Coco, the main restaurant — which serves creative interpretations of traditional Mexican food — opens up to an intimate beachside dining experience. I got the catch of the day and it was, no joke, the best I’ve ever had. Looking forward to whatever they serve up next.