From the moment you look down upon it from your airplane window, Cabo is unexpected: the barren desert land dotted with cacti and the dusty mountains seem completely at odds with surrounding blue seas. Once on the ground, the long hazy stretch of Transpeninsular Highway that connects San José del Cabo to Cabo San Lucas and the many resorts in between is uninspiring, with big box hotel after hotel but not a pueblo (or even a taco stand) in sight. It’s not until you’re whisked through the gates of your resort—and most likely handed a margarita in front of a big sea vista—that you begin to understand what visiting Cabo is all about, and why people keep coming back.
Though the six-hour flight is a bit longer for us on the East Coast than the quick hop down to the Caribbean, for trips lasting four nights or more, the extra airtime is a small price to pay for the truly excellent service, stellar resorts, and the total pampering you will receive.
This is where you encounter the problem of planning a trip to Cabo: when faced with a trifecta of fabulous properties, how do you choose your desert oasis? Luckily, One&Only Palmilla, Las Ventanas and Resort at Pedregal are all incredible options—it's just about selecting which is the right fit for you. It’s important to note that if you’re the type who loves swimming in the ocean, Cabo may not be the ideal destination for you. The only property with a swimmable beach is One&Only Palmilla, but with pools so fabulous, it’s easy to trade swimming in the sea for watching the waves from your lounge chair.
The first property you pass on your way from the airport is the chic, lush and extravagant One&Only Palmilla. The One&Only strikes the balance of being totally fun and indulgent for adults and a fantasyland for kids. The sprawling kids’ pool and the KidsOnly Club (with a separate TeensOnly Club) can’t be beat, but the fantastic SEARED restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and the buzzy scene at the adults only pool are best suited for a couple or a group of friends. If you plan on exploring the charming colonial town of San José del Cabo during your stay, the One&Only is just a 10-minute drive and is the most conveniently located of the three resorts. This is the only property with a swimmable beach, a rarity in Cabo, but the surf is strong and may not the best for young children. Once you visit the occasionally over-the-top, but always welcoming One&Only, you’ll feel like a part of the club.
There’s something about Las Ventanas al Paraiso that feels like you’ve stumbled upon a secret. Pink bougainvillea overflow from the balconies of whitewashed, adobe-style buildings and cowboys on horseback trot by on the beach (guests, too, are invited to go horseback riding). This is the destination for a dreamy honeymoon or a romantic escape, but may also be fun girlfriends looking to relax at the spa and feel totally pampered by poolside service. Cabanas on the beach are available for daily rental, featuring private plunge pools and jacuzzis. When night falls and the lanterns are lit, the property becomes even more magical. There are plenty of nooks in which to cozy up, including several hammocks dotting the beach, lovely by day but even better by night.
Down by Cabo San Lucas (but just a 40-minute drive from the airport), is the sleek and sexy (and newest luxury entrant), Resort at Pedregal, built into cliffs and boasting dramatic and rocky views. If you’re planning on booking several spa treatments, this is the place for you. The 100,000 square foot spa is gorgeous, with an oversized saltwater spa pool and chic treatment rooms and lounge areas. The resort also has some of the best entry-level rooms of all three properties, each boasting sea views, private terraces and plunge pools. Families who appreciate a more boutique experience will love the kids’ club and the many larger suite options available here.
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