Just Back From

A Quick Trip to Cabo

I have just returned from my second trip this year to Mexico: Tulum this spring to attend a friend’s fabulous beach wedding and now Cabo San Lucas, where I stayed at the new Resort at Pedregal (pictured below). Each trip has reconfirmed what I already felt about our southern neighbor: Mexico is safe (at least the parts you are likely to visit as a traveler). Mexico is fun. Mexico has culture, phenomenal food, friendly service and a collection of luxurious resorts that makes, with a few exceptions, the Caribbean hotels look like Marriotts.

Yes, Mexico also has crime. But the drug wars are focused around the border, much of it in Juarez. The violence in this area is admittedly terrible, but to avoid the entire country based on it is akin to avoiding Edinburgh due to riots in London or evacuating Chicago when a hurricane hits New York City. The resort areas are over a thousand miles away from the images we see splashed across CNN. I love Buenos Aires and Istanbul and Barcelona, but to be honest, I feel safer in a place like Cabo, where a tequila hangover seems to pose the biggest threat.

Hollywood certainly agrees—Cabo has become almost an extension of Southern California, with movie stars, agents and other high-power West Coasters filling the Cabo San Lucas airport with private jets. Even in the low season, there was a string of them parked when I landed. In the past, the glitterati mostly divided themselves amongst the holy triumvirate of luxury: One & Only Palmilla, Las Ventanas and Esperanza. These days, they are lured by a sparkling newcomer, the Resort at Pedregal.

Located in Cabo San Lucas’ gated community of Pedregal (the “Beverly Hills of Cabo,” as described by a local), the resort serves as both a romantic escape for couples and a luxurious resort for families. The rooms, all with ocean view, blend modern Mexican design with such rustic touches as beamed ceilings, carved wooden headboards and wrought-iron chandeliers. The three- and four-bedroom residences have spacious bedrooms, full cooks’ kitchens, private terraces, plunge pools and laundry rooms.

With only sixty-six rooms, the resort is much smaller than Palmilla and Esperanza and seems to have placed itself in direct competition with Las Ventanas. And based on my stay, they may just have a leg up on their famous neighbor. The finishes are newer, the amenities more generous, and the spa a real wow. Although I can’t speak for the service at their competitors (and I hear very good things), it would be tough to top the friendliness and efficiency of the staff at Pedregal. Las Ventanas recently started a total renovation of their spa and hired a new general manager, indicating that I’m not the only one who believes that the gauntlet has been thrown down.

Cabo’s safety and glamour are nothing new. What is, at least to many East Coasters, is the accessibility. This winter, there will be three direct flights from Newark each week, departing on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. The flight, six hours and change, will be longer than the under four-hour hops New Yorkers take to the Caribbean. But for a Spring Break, it’s well worth the extra air time to access better service and fantastic resorts at a lower price than many of the geographically closer competitors.

The one thing Cabo lacks is swimmable beaches. There are a few, but in general the Pacific surf is powerful and better observed than entered. Instead of swimming in the ocean, book a boat for deep-sea fishing or whale watching; golf on one of the area’s many championship-level courses; zipline through the desert; horseback ride through the neighboring Sierra de la Laguna mountains; drive up the coast and spend a day surfing. There’s no risk of boredom, only of finding time for a nap by the pool. Although the endless diversions of Cabo have their appeal, I’m not sure there are many I can recommend more than a margarita, the Mexican sun and nodding off over a good book.

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