How lucky am I, on this sun-drenched morning, to experience a private luxury sailing excursion on a 42-foot SeaRay motorboat hosted by Cabo Sailing in Los Cabos, Mexico. Captain Jaisther and Abraham, his one-man crew, are eager to share the natural beauty around them. “The aquarium of the world,” said Jacques Cousteau of the Sea of Cortez. Whales cavort with their babies as we, paragliders and other watercraft give them space.
A Korean artist has covered the tip of an iconic rock formation by painting a shiny robe as if a monk in prayer. Planet of the Apes was filmed on this beach, and who can ever forget that scene. Abraham is setting up the fishing rods for tuna fishing! Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not strong enough for this task. I just relax on the deck and watch in horror as some tourists who’ve climbed to the very tip of the highest rock formations pose for selfies. Don’t take a step backward! Please!
The façade of The Viceroy is bone-white. It looms starkly against a brilliant blue sky, shielding the magic inside from casual passers-by. Architect Miguel Angel Aragones has given us a “don’t judge a book by its cover” moment. The minutiae of registration complete, I step outside and am mesmerized by the scene. A series of infinity pools cover a vast area, separated by walkways that take guests to their rooms or condos in the surrounding buildings. We can stroll along to the white sand and the ocean or to a mysterious huge pod made of twigs. My Canadian sensibility goes immediately to a beaver dam. I follow the walkway to this structure and am delighted to enter El Nido just in time for lunch.
Sunshine through the twigs creates a quivering dappled pattern across the room as if it was alive. Local cuisine on the menu is enticing. Oysters that taste of the sea, with a splash of Scotch Bonnet ponzu or lemony sake. At this HQ of Tacos and Handmade Tortillas, I would be remiss if I didn’t indulge. Lamb Barbacoa with borracha sauce, cilantro, and habanero-onion ash rank as my most delicious taco—in my lifetime. And just to make sure, I order the same dish the next day.
My favorite meal of the day has always been breakfast. On the patio at Casero, with a view of the calming infinity pools, I virtuously order Tropical Bircher Muesli: a lovely dish prepared with coconut milk and topped with sweet coconut, green apple, almonds, bananas, and wild red fruits. My friend, on the other hand, goes all-out native with Short Rib Birria Chilaquiles with black beans, cotija cheese, sour cream and avocado capped by a froth of scrambled eggs.
I spend the afternoon “on vacation” at the Viceroy, contemplating the sea and the meaning of life, and appreciating the stillness.
Cielomar (sea and sky) the rooftop dining room seems to extend its reach into the fiery sunset over the blue of the sea. Flickering candles and the colored pastel lights of condo terraces illuminate the night. The way to start, they suggest, is potato gnocchi with sautéed chocolata clams, grilled foie gras, and beurre blanc. This show-off dish from the kitchen immediately gains our devotion and is followed by another spectacular dish: marinated rye-whiskey duck, with amarena cherries and applesauce. It’s a dizzying array of flavours worthy of nature’s spectacular backdrop. These are the moments we’ll remember.
Le Blanc Spa Resort impresses with its vast marble entrance and the friendliest staff one could ever hope for. This “all-inclusive” resort and spa ranks as one of the most luxurious of its genre. The mayordomo in office on every floor offers to draw an aromatherapy bath at our request and is prepared to deal with serious or even the most minimal needs. A surprise comes during his introduction to my suite and its amenities. Bottles of premium spirits line the bar, and the minibar is filled with goodies – all complimentary. Even long-distance phone calls to Canada, U.S.A., and Mexico are free. To check this out, I immediately phone home.
So comfortable is my room and terrace, I don’t want to leave, but the hydrotherapy area with its holistic ‘health through water’ treatment awaits. After a quick shower, we detox in the sauna, then enter the ice room, another shower, and relax in the swimming pool size whirlpool.
Time to revitalize with a massage and a refreshing glass of chlorophyll water. Relaxed and energized, I could take in Spanish lessons, Name That Tune, bocce ball, ping-pong or any number of exercise activities.
Decisions, decisions. There are eight unique restaurants and six bars to choose from: Blanc Café, Italia, Asia, International, Lumiere, Mezze, Ocean, Pizza, and afternoon tea in the Lobby Bar. I take a trip around the culinary world and find joy at every outpost.
You Must Eat Here…
Michel Zermeno has created his cucina artisanal Mexicana, as a living legacy to the values and cooking of his mother. Seeking authenticity, We find it here. I look up and see that we are open to the sky, enclosed in four walls. Rain would not dare intrude on this scene. Tortilla soup, a classic, offers a taste thrill in every spoonful. Fresh local fish is steam-grilled and sauced with a blend of white wine, garlic and chili, and leaves me breathless. Dessert? Absolutely, when it’s tres leches cake with a mini shot of tequila. Before we say goodnight, I wander through the vast restaurant and admire the display of multi-colored dried peppers that are used here to create the complex flavours. Alas, they are not for sale.
El Mirador in Los Cabos, Mexico
The path up the hill to El Mirador is lined with vibrant fuschia bougainvillia that gleams in the late day sun. With its pointy thatched roof, El Mirador looks like the Disney castle of the bad witch. But once inside, with windows open to sea and sky, the natural, hewn-wood architecture of the room gleams in the brilliant gold/red sunset. The mixologist’s cocktails are a portent of the delectable dishes to come. Everything on the menu is raised, grown and fished on the property. Proving once again that you can have both a magnificent view and exquisite cuisine. Cocktails with garden-grown ingredients are brilliant, and the generosity of portions of grilled fresh seafood and catch of the day in a luscious green sauce is surpassed only by the chef’s imaginative flavour profiles.
Today we’re going to a farm to have a mixology class, a cooking class, and lunch. The marble entrance to Acre leads into a forest of trees and foliage with clearings for a bar, an outdoor café, vast gardens and a gorgeous hotel. Some farm. At the bar, the mixologist uses ingredients grown and distilled right on the property, and the delicious freshness of the cocktails lulls me into forgetting their potency. My favorite is Perla de la Baja, a glorious concoction of mescal, reposado tequila, pineapple, lime, passion fruit, verbena, honey and Angostura bitters. Another? Yes, thank you. I’m not the one driving today.
In the café, Chef meets us at the service counter. He slaps a 15 lb. yellowtail tuna on the counter and whips out his Takeda Japanese knife. Off comes the head, which will turn up again in fish stock. With fastidious slicing and dicing, in minutes we’re presented with tuna crudo, which we’re invited to toss in lime-cured green papaya, watermelon, radish and avocado. Chef prepares tuna ceviche, curing it in citrus, cherry tomatoes and onion, with a side of burned tomato salsa. Fast food becomes luxurious eating.
Want to learn more about tequila? Read our Interview with a Patrón Brand Educator.
Artists have discovered this lovely village and have made it their own. Silversmiths, weavers, glass blowers, sculptors, and art galleries line the streets. Resistance is futile. I purchase silver earrings and two huge Mexican blankets.
A swing through the bar in Hotel California, made famous by The Eagles, includes a stroll through their gift shop crammed with unique designs in silver. I want to take it all home.
We stroll along, window-shopping to Patricia Mendoza Gallery, where tonight, she is hosting a dinner: Art to Table. The artist, and about two-dozen of Los Cabos’ most prominent citizens are in attendance. Red roses on white tablecloths set the tone, and this sophisticated, international group, might just as well have been congregating in any city in the world. Chef Larry Nicola created a menu with wine pairings, which includes duck confit, local seabass en papillote and chocolate pots de crème. Conversations float by in a half dozen languages.
Like the Gray whales that make their yearly migration in the months of January to March from Alaska to the Sea of Cortez, I include myself in the many visitors who feel the magnetism of this special peninsula.
Visit Los Cabos Travel to learn more.
Sara Waxman is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.