Travel

Cabo: A Fresh Take on an Old Favorite

The perennial winter getaway has a few new tricks up its sleeve

CaboAFreshTake_16x9

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

Who, in the throes of Seattle’s dark wintery grip, doesn’t love Cabo? Whether renting a house in the Pedregal or a suite in Palmilla, Seattleites have been enjoying desperately needed sun and delectable Mexican food at the southern tip of Baja California for decades. But with consistency comes complacency. Old favorites become old has-beens.

The entire Los Cabos area is booming. The locals say that prices are higher and traffic is worse now than ever before. So on a recent visit, we decided to mix it up and do things we haven’t done before. Seek out new locations. What we discovered not only surprised us, it made us eager to return.

Luxury All-Inclusives Are Legit

One way to avoid traffic, as well as $22 USD margaritas, is to opt out. Just say no. Maximize your time and money at a luxury all-inclusive resort.

Similar to the words “cruise ship,” many people shun all-inclusives based on what they’ve heard. From the early days of Club Med to the rise of Sandals in the Caribbean, the complaints are the same: Too many people in a cookie-cutter setting, drinking too much, eating mediocre buffet, with indifferent service, and zero respect for the local culture. We tried one in Jamaica once and, well they weren’t wrong.

But last year we noticed that higher-end brands like Fairmont, Intercontinental, and Andaz were adding to their all-inclusive portfolios in deluxe destinations such as Bermuda and Barbados. Fellow travel bloggers we respect reported positive visits. Now it’s a full-blown trend.

All-inclusives may or may not be cheaper, it all depends. But the vibe is better. Ordering whatever you want whenever you want is the best mood enhancer since the cocktail. Multiply that feeling by a few hundred guests and the results are infectious.

Of course, quality still matters the most and Garza Blanca Resort & Spa embodies the new all-inclusive concept flawlessly. The interior design is bright, modern, and inviting. Checking in is a snap, with a hospitality suite waiting for early arrivals with changing rooms, refreshments, even a pool table. Rooms are spacious, luxurious, and well-appointed. A hammock on the balcony means vacation is happening. The sheer number of pools makes finding uncrowded environments easy. The gorgeous beach is even less crowded.

The first question many have regarding all-inclusives is: is the food any good? At Garza Blanca it is magnificent. Blanca Blue serves traditional Mexican cuisine with a twist, from regions all over the country. NOI offers Italian dining with an incredible rooftop view. Hiroshi was probably our favorite, with expertly prepared sushi and sashimi from the local waters.

Beverages are excelled too, with premium sips such as Siete Leguas tequila, Flor de Cana rum, and Montelobos mezcal included. Tips and taxes? Included. As is 24-hour room service.

The crowd at Garza Blanca is energetic, diverse, and young. Not Spring Break young, just pleasantly youthful. Swimming in the adults-only rooftop infinity pool was total bliss. Spotting multiple whales from the pool just offshore, frolicking and spouting with a friendly crowd of new best friends was even better.

It was hard to leave Garza Blanca, but for a deeper dive into the local culture it was important to get out and explore.

Rooftop pool at Garza Blanca Resort

Garza Blanca Resort’s bedroom suite

Photo courtesy of Garza Blanca Resort & Spa

 

Hiroshi restaurant at Garza Blanca Resort

Photo courtesy od Garza Blanca Resort & Spa

Explore San Jose del Cabo’s Charms

For many people, Cabo San Lucas is synonymous with Los Cabos. But unless you’re invited to a wedding there, or dead set on doing tequila shots at Cabo Wabo, it’s possible to avoid it entirely. Instead, plan on spending a couple of days ambling and idling in the culturally rich, airport adjacent town of San Jose del Cabo.

Stroll through the enchanting streets of the historic downtown, where colonial architecture meets lively boutiques and bustling tiendas. The galleries burst with exquisite local arts and crafts. Check out CaboKero, with its brightly colored masks and calaveras. The stores teem with stylish frocks from local designers and artisans.

Explore the charming plazas, such as Plaza Mijares, adorned with beautiful fountains and surrounded by quaint shops and restaurants. Visit historic landmarks like the Mission San Jose del Cabo, the stunning 18th-century church that recalls the town’s Spanish colonial heritage.

Hand-painted skulls at Cabokero

Photo courtesy of Cabokero

Mission San Jose del Cabo

Photo contributed by Arterra / Getty

Bienvenidos Distrito del Arte

The Art Walk, held every Thursday from November through June, is a quintessential San Jose experience. Stroll through the cobblestone streets of the historic Art District, where galleries and studios open their doors showcasing a diverse range of contemporary and traditional artwork. Immerse yourself in the local art scene, interact with artists, and discover unique pieces that capture the essence of Baja’s culture and landscapes.

When it’s time to eat and drink, San Jose is loaded with options just steps away. Cafe Calafia serves great breakfasts on an adorable outdoor terrace. La Lupita Taco & Mezcal is the place to satisfy those tacos and tequila cravings in a vibrant, albeit slightly gringo, atmosphere. For fine dining and a special night out, Lumbre is highly recommended.

San Jose del Cabo Art Walk

Photo courtesy of artcabo.com

La Lupita Taco & Mezcal in San Jose del Cabo

Photo courtesy of La Lupita Taco Mezcal

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