Hollywood stars such as Lucille Ball and Bing Crosby have been flocking to Los Cabos on Mexico’s Baja peninsula since the Fifties, thanks to the region’s old-school, Catch Me If You Can-style charm.
Even the airport is strangely glamorous, with its tiny tequila bar packed with tourists in panama hats. This is clearly a place where beautiful people go to in search of remote sandy beaches where they can sunbathe, skinny margarita in hand. As I step out into the balmy heat, I half expect to see Grace Kelly appearing from behind a palm tree.
The barren desert landscape soon opens up to reveal a coastline that’s unbelievably idyllic. Serene white sands stretch as far as the eye can see, dotted with whitewashed villas and purple bougainvillea. An unabashed sun-worshipper (armed with SPF50), I spy at least five perfect spots to soak up the rays; deserted stretches of sand with nothing but the crystal blue Sea of Cortez ahead. This majestic stretch of peninsula forms the heart of Cabos, with its discreet open-air bars dotted along the coastline. Fresh crab and lobster is available in abundance at the local restaurants, along with fine locally produced red wine. For the more daring drinkers, Mezcal – an eye-watering local spirit – will leave you spinning.
Why it’s hot
I stayed at One&Only Palmilla, a luxury resort set on the tip of the peninsula (Virgin America has only started doing flights to Los Cabos in the last year). A stone’s throw from California, it is perfectly located for a twinned trip with LA or San Francisco. I spent most of the time in the private ocean-facing infinity pool that came with my junior suite. When I could be lured away, it was to select a “mood” for the aromatherapy turndown service (scents designed to match your requested mood). And it’s this attention to detail that radiates indulgence. The rooms come with opulent throws and traditional Mexican furniture – not to mention chocolates and flowers which appear, as if by magic, every evening on my (kingsize) bed.
For ultimate relaxation, the hotel’s spa offers a range of ancient healing techniques and unique, cutting-edge therapies. I opted for Celebration of Life, a massage using salts from nearby lagoons. At night, the entire resort is transformed with hundreds of twinkling lanterns and giant fire pits, where guests gather for drinks overlooking one of the region’s few swimmable beaches.
Eating and drinking
Die-hard foodies will not want to miss the hotel’s Market restaurant, where Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten serves delicacies including watermelon and cherry tomato gazpacho and seared shrimp. Ceviche is a seafood dish beloved across Central America and tastes especially good in the newly opened herb garden. Here I whiled away a happy afternoon in the alfresco kitchen, watching the chef prepare raw swordfish with chilli salsa followed by red pepper snapper and papaya salad, using ingredients picked from the garden yards away.
Humpback whales can be spotted from the edge of the peninsula and boat tours enable you to get up close. If you prefer to stay on land, each room at the resort comes with its own telescope and grey whales can be spotted as they migrate up the resort’s coast in winter months.
Words: Anna Brech *Prices subject to change **Fares available for selected departures during 2012. Virgin America operates daily flights from San Francisco to Los Cabos (virginamerica.com)