Baja California Hotels
Paseo Malecon s/n
San José del Cabo
Tel: 52 624 163 5100
This 332-room property just outside San Jose del Cabo somehow remains tasteful despite its large scale. The centerpiece is the vast courtyard with three massive pools (all kept at the temperature of a warm bath) that stretch down to the beach and are flanked by bamboo pods with mattresses big enough for two. The pool's proximity to the outdoor palapa-covered bar encourages guests to stay in the warm water, margaritas in hand, until well after dark. The large one- to three-bedroom villas mix Mexican touches such as dark-wood antiques and oversize lamps with amenities including flat-screen TVs, whirlpool baths, double sinks, and full kitchenseach room also comes with a sizable terrace. Other draws are the cushy spa and the romantic beachside restaurant, Javier's, with its gauzy curtains and simple but well-done local dishes. The resort's overall effect is a successful merging of form and function, and for now it remains a well-kept secret. One caveat: Watch out for the rather aggressive concierges who want to sell you everything from tours to time-shares before even showing you to your villa.
1 Camino del Mar
Cabo San Lucas
Tel: 877 247 6688
From the resort's entrance via a jaw-dropping 1,000-foot-long tunnel carved through the mountain, to the seafood restaurant El Farallón tucked into a cliff above the ocean, to the views of whales and dolphins splashing in the surf, the focus at Capella's new property on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula is on making the impossible feel routine. Eight contemporary buildings (some of which back right into the mountains) house 66 rooms on 24 acres of dramatic yet manicured bluffs. Huge stone vases, metal turtle sculptures, Jurassic-size shells, and dozens of varieties of cactus dot the property, while three curvy public poolstwo freshwater and one saltysnake through the grounds. Rooms, the smallest of which measure 820 square feet, take on a Mexican gothic look and, happily, include private plunge pools, stand-alone tubs, one-button fireplaces, and complimentary minibars. Personal assistants assigned to each guest will eagerly fulfill even the most self-indulgent request. Lunch options consist of upscale twists on the usual burgers-and-salads resort fare, but the breakfast buffet at Don Manual's is elevated to craft with bountiful fruits and fresh pastries and no fewer than five milk options, all presented in a warm, rustic kitchen.
4 Boulevard Mijares
San José del Cabo
Tel: 52 624 142 5100
It's nowhere near the beach, yet this affordable boutique hotel in a tranquil enclave of waterfalls, palm trees, and bougainvillea is among the most desirable hideaways in Los Cabos. Rooms, with wood beams and a palette of blue, yellow, and terra-cotta, have a contemporary Mexican feel. Sliding glass doors open onto terraces with hammocks and dining tables hidden behind aralia bushes and cacti. A breakfast of organic eggs, waffles, and homemade marmalades is served at Mi Cocina while lunch and dinner have a Mexican–European flair. Nights are especially lovely, with torches flickering around the dining area. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays, but breakfast can be delivered and served on your private terrace. The pool is a little small, but you don't have to worry about other people's rugrats splashing and shouting: Children under 13 are verboten. The chummy front-desk staff is helpful with recommendations and reservations.—Maribeth Mellin
Carretera Transpeninsular, Km. 7, Punta Ballena
Cabo San Lucas
Tel: 624 145 6400
"This is a place for a special occasion." On a bluff above the Sea of Cortés, this resort ensures that the water is "visible from all points." "Well-lit, inviting" haciendas have light-colored woods and custom textiles. El Restaurante, "with twinkling candles, perfect table settings, and Mediterranean food, is from a storybook." "Varied activities" include deep-sea fishing, off-roading, and zip-lining.
Legaspi at Topete
Tel: 52 612 468 6039
This 14-room inn faces the main plaza in historic Todos Santos and takes its name from one of Baja's indigenous groups. It's all about leaving your stress outside the door of the two-story redbrick building, a task helped by the complimentary margarita served at check-in. The sun-filled rooms have local touches like Saltillo tile floors along with four-poster beds dressed in Egyptian cotton. All of the rooms have different draws, like vintage copper tubs in the deluxe room and an ample desk in the Oasis suite that faces the palms and mango trees. The view from the Sky Deck takes in the contrast between views of the town's plaza and the lush green groves, with distant glimpses of the blue Pacific. There's also a pool and a bar where fresh mango, papaya, pineapple, and coconut are key ingredients in cocktails. Tropical fruits are also on the menu at the Guaycura Aena Spa, while local seafood is the main ingredient at the restaurant.—Maribeth Mellin
Rancho de la Cachora
Tel: 52 612 145 0099
True to its name, this affordable hotel is tiny. There are just four suites, with beds draped with canopies, and soft violet- and rose-colored walls framing freshly raked sand terraces and a 48-foot-long saltwater pool (there are hammocks and low-slung blue and pink loungers for sunny relaxation). Most of the guests congregate outside, but if you are feeling antisocial, there is an extensive book and DVD collection for entertainment. Both town and the beach are minutes away by car or foot. Use of bodyboards and beach umbrellas is complementary, and the hosts are happy to plan activities, including whale-watching, surfing, and attending gallery openings.—Maribeth Mellin
Carretera Transpeninsular, Km. 19.5
San José del Cabo
Tel: 52 624 144 2800
The modern Mediterranean rooms at this extravagant resort have huge beds and lavish bathrooms. A-list celebrities flock here for the unparalleled service. The nightly turn-down service includes your choice of aromatherapy oil, and the housekeeping staff tailors your sewing kit to match your wardrobe (although people who can afford to stay here never sew on their own buttons). The pool attendants, meanwhile, would rather die than let you adjust your own umbrella. The eateries include The Restaurant (which has a dress code), the oceanside Sea Grill, and a tequila and ceviche bar. The excellent spa uses products made from blends of Baja's plants, as well as various native remedies and healing rituals.
Cabo San Lucas
Tel: 52 624 143 4566
Inspired design and attention to detail needn't always mean a hefty price tag. Bougainvillea drapes over iron railings, brick walls support vines shading the small pool, and tiled fountains splash at this endearing budget hotel on a side street in San Lucas. Bright yellow shutters, woven straw headboards on wrought iron beds, and large bathrooms with tiled counters add a Mexican flair to the 12 large rooms. Guests gather with owner Sandra Scandibar around the courtyard table to exchange tips on taco stands and beaches. More solitary types stick to the rooftop terrace beside flowers blooming amid boulders. Film and band crews staying several weeks claim dibs on ground-floor rooms with kitchenettes while famed Cabo regulars hide out in the upstairs suite.
Playa El Médano
Cabo San Lucas
Tel: 52 624 145 7800
The young and the beautiful stride through the lobby at this newly renovated San Lucas fave at the center of all the nightlife action. Guests lounge on orange beach beds at the Nikki Beach club, dip into the multi-level pool, and nibble sushi with margaritas and beer. At night, local scenesters, DJ groupies, and hotel guests mingle as torches and fire pits blaze in the Passion Club Lounge—beware of rooms above the club unless you're planning on pulling all-nighters. Should you need further stimulation, the restaurants and clubs of San Lucas are a 10-minute walk away. However, with 150 rooms and suites, there's enough space for guests less intent on imbibing. And the rooms themselves are oases: Cream-colored walls; dark-wood furnishings with clean, simple lines; and splashes of orange art make for a sophisticated and relaxing space—though the low-slung couches and chairs aren't all that comfy. Rooms in The Level, the VIP floor, include pre-loaded iPods, espresso machines, and dedicated concierges; poolside suites have lounging beds on their above-it-all terraces.
Carretera Transpeninsular, Km. 7.5
San José del Cabo
Tel: 866 829 2977 (toll-free)
Tel: 52 624 146 7000
Revered Spanish mission buildings, a hilltop wedding chapel, and white-sand beaches lend old-world Mexican elegance to the postmodern makeover of one of Cabo's iconic hotels. Guest rooms have thoughtful details like rain showers with towels of varying sizes (so you don't have to wrap your hair in an enormous bath sheet), hand-sculpted marble tubs, personalized minibars and intuitive butler service. If your private terrace with its unobstructed view of the cerulean sea doesn't lure you outside, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course (hewn from a verdant mountain), an indoor-outdoor spa (composed of private villas), and a new shopping and dining plaza certainly will. Families gather around the meandering pool and manicured beach while couples go for the smaller infinity pool with a bar and fire pits. Dining options range from Jean-Georges Vongericthen's Asian-inspired Market to "Mexiterranean" dining at Agua on a windswept bluff overlooking the Sea of Cortez.
Colonia la Poza
Tel: 52 612 145 0400
Hummingbirds zip around plumeria, rose, and jasmine blossoms in gardens surrounding this seven-suite artsy eco-hotel on a roller coaster dirt road in Todos Santos. Guests are greeted with binoculars and CDs of their choice and settle into meticulously arranged living and sleeping areas with orangey plastered walls, fresh flowers, bowls of pistachios, and stocked bookshelves, or on terraces or balconies facing desert gardens, a soothing saltwater pool, a sea-grass framed lagoon, and the booming Pacific waves. Rowboats are available for excursions across the lagoon to a long deserted beach; more than 70 species of birds find refuge here and you can easily spot cormorants, egrets, herons, and pelicans. Delicious Euro-Mexican dinners are served in El Gusto! Restaurant, decorated with paintings by owner-artist Libusche Wiesendanger. She and her husband Juerg bring a Swiss formality and flavor to the service and cuisine. The menu always includes a selection of salads, soups, and hearty entrees with enough variety to keep guests from tackling the road to town (better to dip into the town's many excellent cafes for long lunches). If you're looking for action, stay in Cabo. But if you crave a completely serene getaway with ample pampering, you just might want to stay here forever.
Cabo Pacifica S/N
Cabo San Lucas
Tel: 52 624 142 9696
This adults-only retreat has a two-mile stretch of beach and lots of water and cactuses in the landscaping. The lobby is an "oasis of serenity with eucalyptus-infused air." "Spacious rooms" have handmade wood furniture and "gigantic showers with river rock inlaid floors." Breakfast includes the "fresh fruit 'Rubik's Cube,' made from colorful chunks of melon and papaya." Staff "treated us like family."
Predio Paraiso Escondido
Cabo San Lucas
Tel: 52 624 142 9999
"You'll think you've gone to heaven" at this private beachfront resort. Flowering gardens are dotted with waterfalls, while the "mission-style lobby has magnificent artwork." Hacienda-like hillside villas showcase ocean views, marble baths, and "beautiful tile work." For "music and camaraderie at sunset," stop by the cedar-and-onyx lobby bar for martinis, sushi, and tropical drinks.
Tel: 858 764 5500
Guests hardly realize they're in Mexico when splurging for a week at this legendary spa. Well, until they join the dawn hike on Pilgrim Way trail and watch the sun rise over distant Baja peaks and canyons. Celebs and high-energy execs mingle with regular folk eager to experience ultimate rejuvenation within the ranch's 3,000-acre cocoon. The low-cal menu pulls from the organic garden and is legendary for its flavors and creativity (though we won't tell if you bring a stash of snacks and alcohol). Exercise, from water-sport conditioning to postural therapy, is challenging, while the pampering easy. The spa offers acupuncture, aromatherapy, and acupressure, as well as more traditional massages. Specialty weeks focus on everything from memoir writing to Zen qigong. After a full day, return to your casita and relax in front of the fireplace.—Maribeth Mellin
Highway 19, Km. 62
Tel: 650 823 0815
A long trek over twisting roads filled with sudden perils (abrupt turns, steep drops, goats, cows) leads to Rancho Pescadero, a 12-room resort six miles south of laid-back Todos Santos, on a prime piece of the Pacific coast dotted with surfers, whales, and little else. Casual is the rule hereyou're greeted upon arrival by one of four "guard" dogs (which will likely lick your hand and roll over for a belly scratch). Manager Christine is the one-woman welcome wagon/bartender/yoga instructor/dog wrangler, who will provide free drinks and snacks in return for the latest Sunday New York Times or New Yorker. George, the de facto concierge, dispenses fishing advice as fast as he uncorks your Chilean cabernet franc. Beyond lounging by the pool, activities are few (yoga, stargazing, bike riding) and time moves slowly. The one thing not taken casually here is service: Staff dutifully accommodate every request, from surfing lessons to off-the-menu hankerings. Each of the sizable guest rooms is outfitted in a minimalist Mexican style that smartly blends into the surroundings while maintaining a sophistication with a canopied bed, soft colors, and floor-to-ceiling terrace doors that can slide entirely into the wall for sprawling ocean views. With the focus on unplugging, crowing roosters and the sound of the surf are your wake-up call.
Carretera Transpeninsular, Km 21.5
Tel: 52 624 144 2000
Soaring arches frame the Sea of Cortez view from the open-air lobby at this architectural stunner, formerly called the Marquis Los Cabos. Wide-winged bronze angels appear ready to fly from the lobby's edge above waterfalls cascading down three levels to the pool. Architect Jacobo Micha's thoughtful design carries through to the 235 suites as well: Original paintings and sculptures complement the open-air design, mattresses can be flipped from firm to soft, long entryway counters are perfect for holding beach gear, and whirlpool tubs are deep enough for soaking. Beach casitas are equally indulgent, with individual pools by the sand to please celebs and privacy-seekers. Sunlight streams through latticed wood ceilings above open-air hot tubs in the 1,200-square-foot spa, and the sinuous pool meanders above the beach. Under the Secrets Unlimited Luxury format, the Marquis is now an all-inclusive, adults-only property. The rate covers upscale meals at the six restaurants, which includes seafood at Dos Mares and six-course tasting menus at Canto del Mar (premium liquor is also covered at the bars). The change makes sense in Corridor hotels such as the Marquis, as transportation to the two towns can be very pricey.—Maribeth Mellin