A November 2004 trip
to Cabo San Lucas by jenandfrank
Quote: The fishing capital of the world.
If that doesn't interest you and you still want to see the Arch, go to the marina in Cabo San Lucas and catch a water taxi. For $10 per person, they take you to and around the Arch and even drop you at Lover's Beach for however long you’d like. They also come back and get you (required by Mexican law).
You can lie on the sand, walk around, snorkel, or even scuba at this beach. The sun is very hot, even for those who usually don't burn. Use sunscreen; if you've been to Aruba, you'll understand what I mean.
If you are into sterling silver jewelry, Mexico is the place to buy it. Just about everywhere you go are vendors who are willing to bargain. The Antiques Roadshow recently had a segment on Mexican sterling silver jewelry from the ‘40s, and the current value would blow your mind.
If you want to get a drink and just hang out, there is Cabo Wabo in Cabo San Lucas (a famous bar/grill). There are also plenty of choices within the Cabo Marina. This part of Cabo I found to be somewhat Americanized, with a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, a Johnny Rockets diner, and others that were similar. There was also a mall off the marina, which we found to be rather empty, but the parking was free and it was a close walk to the marina.
For the adventurous types, take an ATV tour. Ours was arranged by our concierge at the Westin and was a fantastic experience on a great trail. The tour guide was patient and made sure everyone was having their own thrill-seeking good time. Plus, there was a free shuttle to and from our hotel!
We rented a car, which I thought was the best way to get around. Although I know many people take the public bus and many others take taxis, we like to be able to go at our own pace. Plus, if you are staying in the Corridor, the cost of taxis to and from Cabo every night equals as much as, if not more than, the rental car. It mostly depends on whether or not you are the type who likes to go out and explore or the type who is content at the resort. I will say, though, that we rented our car from Dollar, and I would not recommend using them. Our car chugged along and had to be at least 10 years old (which is odd for a rental car). We found the staff slightly rude and the line longer than usual. Plus, when I returned the car with a full tank of gas, they actually had the nerve to start a huge fight over whether it was full or not. This was after I spent $250 for insurance, which was more then the car rental. That was a first for me.
It was named one of the top family resorts on Mexico in 2004 by Travel and Leisure magazine and was on CondeNast’s Gold List for 2003 golf resorts. It is located along the corridor about 13 miles from Cabo San Lucas and 12 miles from the airport (the other way). After turning in off the main road and driving along the curvy and uphill stretch, you don’t see much. We noticed this with many of the Westin properties in Mexico. After getting out of the car and walking towards the lobby, you realize that this hotel is quite a sight. It’s in a very secluded area, built into a mountain and on the beach, with excellent views of the Sea of Cortez. It’s absolutely huge, and you come to find out that there are less then 300 rooms. There are tons of plants, flowers, artwork, and huge salmon-pink buildings.
We were greeted by the valet and immediately offered a local lemonade or ice tea to enjoy while checking in. Getting to the room was a bit of a challenge since the lobby "building" is not connected to the buildings with the rooms in it. You have to take the elevator down, walk across the property, and then take the elevator up to you room. Getting to the pool is a similar challenge. Our room was oceanfront on the sixth floor and done with marble floors and light wood, and it had a hug bed and bathroom and a private terrace. The room came equipped with all basic amenities: hairdryer, iron, etc., and there was ample room to lay out luggage and not have to walk around it. The bathroom had two sinks and a separate bathtub and shower stall. The toilet is off the side of the sink and separated by a half wall, meaning you are on display if someone else is in the bathroom.
The spa was nice but nothing great. The "relaxing area" was very open and not very relaxing. Anyone going to the gym basically had to walk through this area, so I felt like I was on display while waiting for my massage. My masseur came 10 minutes late and only gave me a 40-minute massage (I paid for 50 minutes). My husband said I should have said something, but I figured there was no point. What was I going to do, go downstairs to the desk, complain, and then go back upstairs get back on a table and try to relax for 10 minutes?! They charge a daily fee for gym use (but I saw plenty of people just sneak in). Despite the incident with the spa, overall, the service was excellent.
Meals were very expensive here; the breakfast buffet at the La Cascada restaurant was $27 per person.. For eggs! The poolside grill is called Margaritas Bar, and they have ocean-view/pool-view seating. The menu is average in terms of selection and price for a resort. We spent about $40 a day on two entrées and one drink. They do serve you salsa and chips when you sit, which is nice. Their fancy restaurant is Arrecifies, which offers a breakfast buffet for the timeshare attendees. Dinner there is pricey but offers live entertainment and great views of sunset. Those who found themselves late to the pool often had to wait for towels, though, and seating became tight later in the day. They offer seven pools, which sounds like a lot, but they were mostly on the smaller side and always packed. The "adults only" pool was towards the timeshare area and sort of a walk. Despite the signs, rude people brought their children there anyway, so don’t count on it being very quiet. Swimming behind the Westin was rough, and we didn’t see anyone actually in the water because of it. There were no lifeguards. The beach was also predominately rocks – small rocks but rocks nonetheless, so bring shoes if you plan to take a walk.
The upside to the location is that the only people on the beach are Westin guests (and vendors) – no one else has access. The Westin offers a nine-hole putting green on the beach for a fee and lighted outdoor tennis courts, and they rent out snorkeling equipment for $17/day. There is a small (pricey) grocery store in the timeshare area (which all guests have access to), but it is quite a walk uphill to get to. Try to get one of the staff to take you in a golf cart if this interests you. There are also two gift shops, some hotel vendors in kiosks, and an internet café/bar in the middle of the resort off the pool area.
The ride to San Jose is quick, and there are plenty of grocery store options there as well. Beware of the timeshare reps that approach you when you first walk into the Regina. They act like the concierge, and after they finish pumping you for information, they pounce. If you are willing to give them 3 hours (they say 90 minutes, but that is far from the truth), it's worth it because you can negotiate some nice deals/kickbacks. If you are actually interested in a timeshare and have never sat through a presentation, then their deals are actually pretty good. Beware, though, because if you refuse their first deal, the rep walks away and comes back with another deal, etc. After five or so of these incidents, we got our price down at to least half of the original.
Arthur (Arturo) at the concierge desk was very helpful and made all of our dinner reservations before we even got to Mexico. The front desk does not keep American change, so don’t bother going there. We found the best way to get change was at the valet stand (those guys do pretty well). Try your best to keep singles on you, as you will be digging into your pocket constantly to tip people here. Overall, it was a great experience and the Westin provided excellent service. The property is kept very clean and pristine. It is highly recommended.
I should have known how filthy I would end up by the fact that a dust cloud came out of the van-bench when I sat down. The ATV site was 5 minutes down the corridor, across the street from our hotel, which was very convenient. This was a 3-hour, 25-mile tour that was very exciting and a little scary for those that are less adventurous. Before the tour begins, the guide demonstrates how the vehicle works and supplies you with goggles, a helmet, and a scarf (to cover your face from all of the dust) We looked like a pair of bank robbers. We have never ridden ATVs before and found it relatively easy, very exciting, and fun. After receiving your vehicle and equipment, you are given about 15-20 minutes to practice riding in a separate area, just to get a feel for what it’s like before your drive behind someone else. The ATVs are manual, and the gears shift after lifting the pedal—that took some getting used to.
We started the tour with our own vehicles, and midway through, I decided to ride double with Frank. I think it was even more fun that way. He went faster than I would have ever, and we were together for the bumps, hard turns, laughs, and the views. The tour guide made sure the group was always together and stopped occasionally for breaks, pictures, water (which they supplied), etc. The breaks were brief, though—just enough to catch our breath. We took the waterfall tour and were amused when we actually arrived at what was said to be the waterfall. I am convinced that someone was standing with a hose at the top of this hill. The water was dripping down (and from what the tour guy said, it had nothing to do with the fact that it was the dry season). It did not take away from the tour at all, though.
The "journey" included beautiful views of the Sea of Cortez and panoramic views of the canyons and desert. We traversed mountains and narrow canyons, all along well-marked trails. Towards the end of the tour, we went to a private beach/sand dunes area, and that part of the ride was fantastic. In this completely open area, we were allowed to roam free and do our thing for about 30 minutes. At 35-40 miles per hour, you felt like you were flying over those dunes. We saw several different butterfly species, wild turkeys, and a ton of vultures. There was dust everywhere, though, so you leave disgustingly dirty. There are also tons of plants and sticks everywhere, so if you are fooling around or are not dressed properly, it is easy to get hurt. Wear pants—that is a must—and a long-sleeved shirt and sneakers wouldn’t hurt either!! It’s definitely an experience we will never forget. Highly Recommended.
Margaritaville – Cabo San Luca Marina.
We went here for breakfast before taking a water taxi to Lover's Beach. It was very convenient to the marina and very reasonably priced. They had porch seating which was great because it was covered and overlooked the entire marina. Plus, we weren’t stuck eating on the sidewalk again. The staff was attentive, and the breakfast was tasty. I had French toast (again), which they cover with a layer of brown sugar—mmmmmm. My husband had a traditional Mexican breakfast with eggs, pork, cheese and brown chipotle sauce in a warm tortilla. It looked excessive to me, but he was extremely happy (and full when he was done). They had a huge tea selection (which, for some reason, I found odd but delicious). Our concierge did tell us, though, that it was not a good place for dinner. I don't know about that. I also want to note that after we were done, they found a water taxi for us. I thought that was nice. Recommended.
The Office - On the beach, north of the Pueblo Bonito Resort, 52-624-143-3464.
This is a very casual restaurant on the beach (literally) with views of the Arch. Shoes optional. Make a reservation, or don't bother going (although they don't tell you that). This place is always packed, and there are always people waiting. We went for breakfast and dinner on two separate days. The food is fresh and authentic, and the service is fast (because they want you out to reuse the table). I had French toast with fruit for breakfast (awesome), which was covered in brown sugar and fresh cream. For dinner, I had authentic chicken fajitas which came with six tortilla shells (I was able to choose corn or flour) and included so much chicken/peppers/etc. that I didn’t even make a dent in the plate. My husband had another traditional Mexican breakfast of eggs, pork, and cheese with a brown chipotle sauce, which he raved about, and had a combo of fajitas, burritos, and tacos for dinner. We could have rolled out, we ate so much both times. There is a nightly Mexican fiesta show that you watch while you eat. They also offer a small buffet if you prefer that over the al la carte menu. National beers are priced two-for-one all day long. The place is a madhouse—organized confusion, I'd like to call it—but it’s a great place to people watch. In the midst of everything going on, there was a person (employee) walking around making "dirty" balloon hats for people. Some were very graphic, if you can believe it, but all were amusing. And of course, it wouldn't be Mexico if they didn't have vendors on the beach selling blankets, dishes, sterling silver, etc. The vendors were much worse in the morning than during dinner. Also, if you can avoid it, try to be seated away from the speakers—it gets almost unbearable once the show starts. They have a frequent visitor policy: eat five meals there and get a T-shirt or hat free. That said, The Office had a gift shop as well.
Restaurant at the Las Ventanas Hotel, Corridor. The valet walks you to the restaurant—what more can I say? Triple-check your reservations here, because they seem to lose reservations for non-hotel guests. The restaurant, simply called "The Restaurant," has a Baja-Mediterranean feel/decor. There is a separate and very large bar and lounge area off the pool with live entertainment. The service is stuffy but very efficient. They have indoor and outdoor seating. The indoor seating should be called outdoor because the walls/doors completely open up. That being said, the indoor seating is also climate-controlled. Both areas overlook the infinity-edged pools and the Sea of Cortez. The food is excellent, and there is quite a selection. Executive chef Marc Lippman is passionate about using local ingredients. The bread is incredible; I almost tackled the guy every time I saw him (I swear I could have made a meal of the bread alone). For dessert we had the banana crumble with lavender ice cream. Sounds odd but it was fantastic. Select your favorite wine from the 2,400-bottle cellar. People wear dressy attire. No children were there, nor would I say this food would be of interest to them. This is an expensive meal; we spent almost $200 and I didn’t have anything to drink but water. This is my second favorite fancy place to eat after C. This is highly recommended. email@example.com
C (Charlie Trotter's) - Pamilla Hotel. This is total first-class dining all the way! If you are willing to drop major dough and you have a romantic dinner in mind, this is the place to go. There is an excellent and very attentive staff and incredible food. It is very Art Deco, with unique glass-blown pieces on each table. They also have a huge wine and water selection. The restaurant is beautiful. And you pay for all of the above. If you are celebrating a special occasion, call in advance - they give you personalized menus when you arrive (and they wrap them for you to take home). From what I was told, the menu changes frequently there (and the menus are dated, so I guess that is accurate). I had the crispy risotto cakes with olives, zucchini, and red curry sauce for an appetizer. For dinner I had the herb-crusted grouper with couscous and lemon basil sauce (which was served in a very small portion but delicious). My husband had the Yukon gold potato pave with mushrooms and red wine essence (yes, it's that kind of a place) and the Thai barbeque short ribs (I'm guessing he was very happy with it based on the sounds he was making while eating). I had the apple tart for dessert, which my husband enjoyed very much, and he ordered the chocolate soufflé-like dish. Between the dining room and the kitchen are large water tanks that were filled with blue water. They allow you to see through (in a distorted way) into the kitchen while adding décor and a conversation piece (see attached picture). Seating was very spread out and comfortable. The booths (which are considered prime seating there) are situated so you sit next to the person you are with, not across. The staff does not leave bottles of any kind on the table and jumps at the chance to refill your glass. For anyone who watches The Newlyweds on MTV, this is the hotel they stayed at when Jessica had a photo shoot in Cabo (a little fact for you). Again, I did not drink and the bill was almost $300. This is very highly recommended.
Pitahayas - Sheraton Hacienda del Mar, Corridor Km 10, Tel. 145-8010. They are open for dinner only from 5:30 to 10:30pm, with live entertainment every night except for Wednesday. There is nothing great to say about this place but nothing bad to say, either. Executive chef Volker Romeic boasts Pacific Rim cuisine with "tight service" in an open kitchen. This is a seven-time winner of the Five Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality – I didn’t see it nor do I get it. The restaurant is cliffside with barely any lighting, so you can not enjoy what I’m sure was a great view. I think in part our concierge should have recommended sunset dining, but he didn’t, so that’s that. They have a huge bar – almost too big for the restaurant; I doubt the hotel or this restaurant pulls in a crowd large enough to warrant the size. My husband was very happy with his meal (steak special), but I thought mine was okay; pecan-crusted sea bass with crab. They played bad ‘80s music, which I thought was odd considering we were in Mexico at a fine restaurant. Their wine selection was excellent (700 bottles) and very pricey. Formal resort attire is requested, but we were literally the only ones not in shorts or sleeveless shirts. Somewhat recommended.
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