Indulgent, fashionable, family-friendly
Carretera Transpeninsular, Km 7.5 San José del Cabo, Mexico +52 624-146-7000 www.oneandonlyresorts.com
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At a Glance
This chic hacienda-style property with 174 guest suites spread across 250 acres on the Sea of Cortez offers spacious ocean-facing accommodations that suit both couples and families, has an acclaimed collection of restaurants and bars, as well as a luxurious spa and one of the only swimmable beaches in Los Cabos (plus, all just a 20-minute-drive from the airport). Sophisticated but laidback, modern yet traditional, the resort centers around a whitewashed chapel and bell tower from the 1950s, when Baja was a sleepy peninsula—and long before the late Sol Kerzner came along to envision it as a signature One&Only property in 2004. There’s no shortage of activities: guests can partake in deep-sea fishing, 4×4 Jeep explorations to Fox Canyon and Santiago, horseback riding in desert backcountry or surfing, as well as golf on the 27-hole, Jack Nicklaus– designed course. A private beach dinner with a live guitarist and an astronomer and Mexican wine and tequila tastings can also be arranged. One&Only also has multiple restaurant options, including Seared, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s steak house; Suviche, for Japanese fusion; and cliffside Agua for a sunset dinner.
The Standout: Villa One, the resort’s spectacular new 14,000-square-foot four-bedroom hilltop villa, or Villa Cortez (at 10,500 square feet), which has an infinity pool, exclusive beach access, a personal host and chef, a fitness suite and private spa treatment room for maximum relaxation and pampering
Don’t Miss: An expedition aboard a luxurious yacht to watch the seasonal migration of gray whales or to watch endangered baby sea turtles make their way from shore to the sea
- Swimmable Pelican Beach (rare in Cabo), plus a surf shop and such activities as surfing, sailing, snorkeling, paddleboarding and more
- Staff beach cleanup for World Ocean Day, food and toy drives for local charities
- The 22,000-square-foot wellness sanctuary with ESPA products
- After sundown, the pathways are lit by 2,000 candles—simply magical
One&Only Palmilla Review
Part family-friendly enclave, part indulgent adult playground, One&Only Palmilla maintains a delicate balance between laid back and uber chic, mostly thanks to the welcoming and caring staff who prevent it from venturing too far into over-the-top (though there’s some of that, too). It helps that the hub of the property is a traditional Mexican hacienda, complete with a whitewashed chapel and bell tower dating back to 1956, when this part of Baja was a sleepy backwater.
Palmilla began operations in the 1970s as a modest beachside hotel that drew passionate fishermen, but it wasn’t until 2004 when Sol Kerzner—South African tycoon and chairman of the company that owns the One&Only brand—injected $90 million into renovations and expansions that the hotel joined the ranks of other luxury retreats.
The setting is gorgeous: adobe Mission-style buildings on 25 lushly planted acres house 174 large, lavish guest suites, all of which overlook the sparkling Sea of Cortez and are outfitted with handmade furniture from Guadalajara. Though Palmilla has a bewildering variety of room categories, all accommodations have light, contemporary furniture and colorful Mexican accents, like wrought-iron chandeliers, ceramic-tiled sinks, hand-woven blankets and reproduction armoires and wooden chests. The centerpiece of the property is the four-bedroom Villa One, a freestanding 10,500-square-foot complex at the property’s eastern edge. The hacienda-style house has a private gym, a screening room and a full-time butler and private chef. The new four-bedroom Villa One (built in 2015, the second of two on-property villas) is located on the hill and offers sweeping views, a glass-sided infinity pool and personal fitness instructor.
Families should consider one of the buildings located closer to the extensive kids’ club and family pool while couples will prefer one of the casitas, especially one in the Casa Playa block towards the southern end of the property. Villa Cortez comes at celebrity rates, but the setup—four bedrooms, one of which has two queen beds—also works well for several couples or even families traveling together.
The real star of the property is the service. With more than 1,000 staff members taking care of 174 rooms, every need is met as soon as it is requested if not before. Complimentary iPads, smoothies and popsicles are offered throughout the day and the staff will go the extra mile to make sure each guest feels special (including embroidering a baby’s name on the edge of a pillow).
The newest on-property dining option is steakhouse SEARED, a collaboration between the property and renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten helmed by Executive Chef Sébastien Agnès. With the finest cuts of Kobe Tomahawk and Wagyu A5 beef along with fresh catch of the day, Seared offers Cabo’s most decadent surf and turf along with an extensive wine list. Meanwhile, Agua, on the other side of the property by the kid-friendly pool area, still turns out dependably delectable Mexican-Mediterranean fare (some dishes also show influences from Morocco, home of longtime chef Larbi Darouch).
Thanks to the size and layout of Palmilla, which is sprawling and has two separate pool areas, the resort works best for families as well as couples or friends traveling together. The KidsOnly club gives children a chance to meet and play and babysitting service are available. Other on-property highlights include a nice stretch of beach where it’s safe to swim (a rare occurrence in Cabo), an on-property dive shop, a state-of-the-art gym and a spa with 13 treatment rooms and beautifully relaxing grounds. Guests also have easy access to the Palmilla Tennis Club and the Jack Nicklaus–designed Palmilla Golf Club nearby, though expert golfers make the drive to play Cabo Real.
Who Should Stay
Those craving a stylish spot with great water-based activities and excellent service.