The Mexican Rivera

Los Cabos

For some, the perception of Mexico is what they hear over party conversations of people back from endless rounds of frosty Margarita's and a week in the sun.

What the discerning traveler and discriminating investor now know is Los Cabos, in particular, is fast becoming the Riviera of Mexico, it is the fastest growing up-market resort destination in all of Mexico. It all started back in the late 50's when the Hollywood boys, Bing Crosby, and the Duke came down to what they called the Palm Springs of Mexico, Los Cabos for its big game fishing among the blue waters of the Pacific and Sea of Cortez. Not only does that tradition live on, from a Hollywood perspective, but add to that a world-class mix of seven Championship and Signature Golf Courses as designed by Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, Trent Jones and Tom Weiskopf, plus private homes, resorts and development projects, that make Robin Leaches old Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, look like tiddlywinks. After the 2002 APEC conference, Los Cabos will really be on the world map.

When you say Baja, most will think of desert dune buggy racing, if you say Lands End, it's the world famous landmark Arch and lovers Beach jutting out from the marina in party town Cabo San Lucas.

The hidden treasure is to be found in the area between the quaint and sleepy little town of San José del Cabo and Cabos San Lucas, called, Los Cabos (or known as 'the Corridor' by the locals). Here along a 25 mile stretch of Mediterranean-like coastline skirting the Sea of Cortez, you will find the most dramatic water and desert views anywhere on the Baja, with private homes and luxury resorts - for those seeking everything under the sun. You must visit some of these sites while captured in this Escapes article. As I always say, it never costs anything to dream and dreams sometimes do come true.

Esperanza Resort and Spa (Auberge owned and operated) at Punta Ballena, arguably one of the most beautiful hotels anywhere in the world Cabo del Sol home of the future Ritz Carlton and already exquisitely built private million dollar homes, this Robert Day (Group) / ICA 1,800 acre luxury development project rivals and in my opinion, exceeds some of the best Hawaii has to serve up, with it's Jack Nicklaus Ocean and Tom Weiskopf Desert courses, well you just have to see it to believe it. Palmilla Resort, owned by Goldman Sacs and operated by Troon out of Scottsdale and finally, Querencia, where they even grew the grass in Palm Springs for the exacting standards of the Tom Fazio course: As you might expect, there is a 'Small Luxury Hotels of the World' designation saved for one very special little hotel tucked away in old San José, namely Casa Natalia and their award-winning restaurant Mi Cocina. When Spanish architecture, the soft and charming Mexican culture, the ideal weather (average 82ºF / 28ºC) all blend together, it is sheer perfection. When your eyes feast on the landscape and the whales frolicking in the distance amid an orange, red and purple tequila sunrise or sunset... when all these elements come together, it is simply magical. Is it too late you might ask to get in on this new found bliss? Have you missed the BOOM? - no, but like Hawaii and Florida in the 50's and 60's, newly discovered pieces of paradise at seemingly low prices, never last forever, they just keep escalating. A sound investment, well you be the judge after a tour of some of these sites and ultimately a trip down to Los Cabos. I think you'll agree with this writer, along with those who have long since discovered this place before me and who now call Los Cabos - The Mexican Riviera - paradise found and for some - home... shhh, let's keep it an ESCAPE secret between friends.

PS: Baja Drive and Todo Santos

For the more adventurous - do the drive of a lifetime - do the Baja! It's rich with history, where the desert and sun kisses the sea and mission churches (some 300 years old) reach for the heavens. Yes, it is safe, truly - no worries, it's like driving a US two-lane blacktop. Don't drive after dark, it's hard to see free-roaming black cows even with a million stars of light in an ink blue sky. Some people blast down in 20 hours straight. We did it, taking in one of the 'Top 10 Drives of the World' (Conde Nast Traveler) in three awe-inspiring days. Over a 1,000 miles of desolate, wide open road from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas awaits you. Just be sure to stay well topped up with gas.

The first 10-hour leg will get you to San Ignacio, turn your watches ahead an hour, now you are in Baja California Sur and one of the only Oasis on the Baja. Stay in a unique Mongolian Yurt at the Oasis Springs B & B run by the friendliest of Canadians. The next day will have you traversing East over and through the mountains, stop briefly in Santa Rosalia and Mulegé and marvel at the deserted beaches and turquoise waters of Bahía Concepcíon, but make your way to Loreto and aim for the Iguana Inn, it's cool, clean and close to the beaches, shops, and restaurants. On your third day, expect another 4-6 hours of driving depending on whether or not you stop in La Paz or Todo Santos before arriving at your final destination, Land's End and a refreshing dip in the Sea of Cortez.

Whether driving the Baja or already there - Todo Santos is a must visit, if only to lower your blood pressure. One small main street & three blocks deep, dotted with artists and tiny curio shops along with as much love and spirit as you'll find anywhere. People gather from all four corners of the globe, some liken it to Carmel, others, Saltspring Island, or Murin County, wherever you come from you will go away having been touched by it's unique and special charm. It is a quiet, happy place to stop, maybe to even overnight and soak up the energy as located on the Tropic of Cancer. The Sante Fe restaurant is a very cool & even elegant place for a courtyard lunch or dinner. B&B's abound along with the peaceful Todo Santos Inn and the soon to open Hotel California (Yes of Eagles fame, myth or not, it's owner John Stewart will capture & stimulate your imagination for you to return home with stories of your own).

My favorite spot has to be Posada, La Poza on the edge of this palmed oasis sits a slice of heaven. It is where, 150 different variety of birds come to the nest by the lagoon and any who seek this hard to find a boutique hotel, imaginative restaurant & stunning gallery, will attest to three hypnotizing sounds, the birds, the waves of the Pacific and ahhhh yes... silence. Run like a well oiled but ever so inviting Swiss clock Juerg & Libusche Wiesendanger, provide a gracious welcome & honest retreat, a hideaway resort to truly escape and unwind. They will tempt you with superb dinners and a lunch like ours, where we sipped on a perfect Sangria, munched on homemade chips and super salsa, followed by smoked tuna flutes in mini tacos on a bed of organic greens and a velvety smooth fettuccini in truffle oil con Pollo, topped off by an ever so light Sabayon over fresh berries. One of seven simply designed rooms, ideal for spectacular sunset watching, with traditional Mexican furnishings which also include mini-bar, ice cold air conditioning & CD player, if you want your own choice of sounds, await you. Indulge in a soothing massage under the palms, have a siesta and dream of sweet nothings... Posada La Poza quietly beckons.

There are simply too many accommodation alternatives to list by name. Mexico is now a major international vacation destination, be it Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, Mazatlan or Los Cabos, so don't expect bargain basement prices of twenty years ago. If you are looking for a cheap and cheerful 'all-inclusive' holiday, call your travel agent for their best bets on air and hotel packages. US currency is readily accepted, at the time of this writing, was approximately 9.5 Peso to the dollar. Now you've been bitten by the Baja bug - the symptoms are painless, the memories will last a lifetime.


Charles Woollett

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