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The Art of Taste – Palate Pleasers Galore on Display at The Resort at Pedregal Food and Wine Festival

Benchmark Cabo San Lucas Property Hosts 4th Annua Food and Wine Showcase

July proved to be a banner month for food and wine lovers in Los Cabos.

After a memorable starter from Enrique Olvera – the acclaimed chef of Pujol in Mexico City, currently ranked as the 20th best restaurant in the world, opened his first Los Cabos restaurant, Manta at The Cape Hotel, on the first day of the month – The Resort at Pedregal provided the main course, offering fine food, wine and spirits from an array of internationally acclaimed chefs and beverage experts at its annual summer culinary fête.

Resort at Pedregal Food and Wine Festival

This year, for the first time, The Resort at Pedregal made tickets available to the general public for its celebrated summer food and wine festival.

Resort at Pedregal Food and Wine Festival

Delicious hors d’oeuvres were one of many highlights at the opening Art of Pairing reception, hosted against a backdrop of crashing Pacific Ocean waves.

The 4th iteration of the The Art of Taste Food and Wine Festival took place July 15 – 19, 2015, at various venues around The Resort at Pedregal, an 84-room boutique luxury property situated in the exclusive hillside neighborhood of Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas.

Accessible only through the longest privately owned tunnel in Mexico, the intimate, scenically set 24-acre resort has been considered one of the world’s best since it opened in 2009. But this year’s festival was a particularly notable one, since it was the first major event held at the property since it reopened following renovations post Hurricane Odile, and the first since it changed its name and declared independence from the Capella brand.

Resort at Pedregal Food and Wine Festival

To paraphrase Brillat-Savarin: An event without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.

Resort at Pedregal Food and Wine Festival

Highlights from El Mercado (The Market) included mariachis, margaritas, traditional Mexican food and wine, and custom rolled cigars from The Castle in Veracruz.

Also for the first time this year, event tickets were available to the general public as well as to guests at the resort, with the latter paying upwards of $1,290 U.S. per night for accommodations and complete access to food and wine related festivities. And the 2015 festival had a more international feel than in previous years, as European winemakers and mixologists showcased their skills alongside similarly esteemed brethren from Mexico and the U.S.

Master mixologist Ulysses Vidal of Employees Only in New York City, and tiki cocktail expert Danielle Dalla Pola of Nu Lounge in Bologna, Italy proved a popular bar pairing at nightly events like the opening Art of Pairing reception – where elegant and colorfully clad guests chatted amiably over cocktails as massive Pacific Ocean waves generated by an offshore storm exploded dramatically over the rocks below – and El Mercado, an upscale version of a traditional Mexican market, complete with food, wine, candy and cigar stalls, and music from wandering mariachis.

Resort at Pedregal Food and Wine Festival

Yvan Mucharraz, Executive Chef at The Resort at Pedregal, shows off his carving skills at El Mercado.

The lushly bearded Dalla Pola was an irrepressible force – from his 360 degree cocktail shaking spin moves to potent tropical quaffs served in hollowed out pineapples – while Vidal brought a cosmopolitan flair, and an encyclopedic knowledge of spirits, which he exhibited during a Saturday afternoon seminar on the history of American whiskey. Samples were provided, of course, both at the whiskey tasting, and at a tequila tasting featuring noted small batch distiller Casa Dragones, and attended by the country’s first female master tequilier, Bertha Gonzalez.

Fermented grape gurus from Champagne house Ruinart, and French wineries Chateau La Tour L’Eveque and Chateau Climens were on hand for the first time, pouring alongside North American colleagues. Jay Schuppert and Pete Pryzbylinski of Cuvaison and Duckhorn, respectively, shared regional knowledge and wine flights during their well-attended New Movements in Napa Valley tasting, as well as at nightly events. And Adobe Guadalupe, Hacienda La Lomita and Roganto were among several Mexican producers representing Baja’s wine country, Valle de Guadalupe near Ensenada.

Resort at Pedregal Food and Wine Festival

Flights of fine wines from Duckhorn and Cuvaison at The New Movement in Napa Valley tasting.

The French Laundry was also well represented, if not directly. Tim Hollingsworth of Barrel and Ashes, was formerly Chef de Cuisine at The French Laundry. And Devin McDavid, the newly appointed Executive Pastry Chef at Resort at Pedregal, also burnished his resume at the landmark Napa restaurant. Rory Herrman, of Barrel and Ashes and Sprout LA, and Brian Malarkey, of Searsucker and Herringbone, also joined Resort at Pedregal Executive Chef Yvan Mucharraz for four days of dinners, tastings, receptions and cooking seminars.

The festival highlight, as usual, was the concluding dinner, in which each of the five courses was prepared by a different chef, and custom pairing options were chosen by the all-star cast of visiting winemakers.

Resort at Pedregal Food and Wine Festival

Master mixologist Ulysses Vidal of Employees Only in New York leads an interactive tour of American whiskeys.

 

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

Southern Rock Stars to Headline Beachfront Music Festival in Cabo

Southern Rock Stars to Headline Beachfront Music Festival in Cabo

Fans of classic Southern rock n’ roll are in for a treat, with veterans of legendary outfits like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet and the Marshall Tucker Band slated to headline a beachfront music festival on Saturday, April 4, in Cabo San Lucas.

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Southern Rock Stars to Headline Beachfront Music Festival in Cabo

The festival proper kicks off at noon, with vendors selling beer and cocktails; comfort food favorites like hot dogs, burgers, and cotton candy; and face painting and other activities for kids. But the music itself does not begin until 4 p.m., with a few local performers – what better place to be a would-be Southern rocker than the southernmost point of the Baja California peninsula? – followed by Miguel Hill & the Cabo Cowboys, Strogeno (a long-time local draw as house band at the Jungle Bar), Jay Johnson, Mike Estes, and the Brian Flynn Band and Friends.

Flynn, of course, is a long-time fixture on the local music scene, but cut his teeth playing with bands like Molly Hatchet and The Marshall Tucker Band. Mike Estes and Jay Johnson currently front modern Southern rock standard bearer Skinny Molly, but Estes also performed with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackfoot, while Johnson had stints as vocalist for Blackfoot and member of the Southern Rock Allstars.

 

The festival is sponsored by local restaurant La Palapa – home to the best chili and chicken fried bacon in Los Cabos, as well as other Texas style favorites – and will take place on a gorgeous 300 acre property with a private beach and spectacular views of Land’s End. The property – dubbed La Palapa Beach for the duration of the event – is located behind Office Max in the tourist corridor (Km. 4.5). Free parking is available for the first 100 cars, with overflow slotted to a nearby lot.

For those interested in a sneak peek, La Palapa is hosting a meet and greet at 7 p.m. on Friday night with Johnson, Estes, and Flynn; and the headliners are expected to perform a few songs together. Flynn is a seasonal mainstay at La Palapa (located on Calle Ninos Heroes, behind El Squid Roe), and typically performs at the restaurant Thu. – Sat. nights.

Tickets for the festival are $20 in advance – call La Palapa at (624) 141-9569 – or $25 day of show, with a percentage of each ticket sale going to support medical costs for local bar owner Juan Tatemura Quesada, who is currently fighting cancer (The night following the festival – Sunday, April 5 – Cabo San Lucas bar Baja Maria will also host a fundraiser for the popular proprietor of Cabo Lounge. Call 624-105-0477 for details).

 

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

A Legacy of Luxury: The History of Hacienda Beach Club and Residences in Cabo San Lucas

A Legacy of Luxury: The History of Hacienda Beach Club and Residences in Cabo San Lucas

For generations, this property has played host to Hollywood royalty, from John Wayne and the Rat Pack to Raquel Welch and Reese Witherspoon. Its owners over the years have included three of the area’s most historically important figures. Its excelsior-like evolution – from palm-shaded retreat to five-star enclave – epitomizes the growth of Cabo San Lucas as a tourist destination. And more than 50 years after its birth, it remains the cynosure of luxury in Cabo San Lucas.

In the Duke’s day, it was called the Hotel Hacienda. It was the brainchild of Abelardo “Rod” Rodriguez, son of a Mexican president and husband to an actress who twice danced with Fred Astaire in films. Rodriguez built Baja California Sur’s first fly-in fishing resort, Rancho Las Cruces near La Paz, as well as Los Cabos’ first benchmark lodging, Hotel Palmilla (now One&Only Palmilla).

Hacienda Beach Club and Residences

An aerial view of Cabo San Lucas during the heyday of Hotel Hacienda (at the foot of Medano Beach).

But Hacienda may have been his masterwork, a gorgeous seaside getaway in the years when the hotels in Cabo San Lucas could be counted on one hand:  Finisterra, Hacienda, Mar de Cortez, Solmar Suites. That was the list. But there were two other resorts of note at that time, both located in what is now called the Tourist Corridor, the coastal stretch that connects cape cities San Lucas and San Jose. One was Rodriguez’s Hotel Pamilla, the other Bud Parr’s Hotel Cabo San Lucas.

Rodriguez, Parr, Luis Bulnes (Solmar Suites), Luis Coppola (Finisterra) and Don Koll were the faces of Cabo San Lucas development, the architects behind the transformation from fishing village to international tourist destination. Newport Beach-based developer Koll, among his many other accomplishments, was the man who brought links legend Jack Nicklaus to Cabo, spearheading the Los Cabos golf boom with world-class designs at Palmilla and Cabo del Sol.

Hacienda Beach Club and Residences

Looking out towards Land’s End from the infinity pool at Hacienda Beach Club and Residences.

Three of those five project pioneers, those titans of the local tourist age, helmed Hacienda during its first half-century as San Lucas’ luxury lodging non pareil. Rodriguez built the original hotel in 1963 and sold it to Parr in 1981. Koll bought it from Parr’s heirs in 2005, and transformed it from Hotel Hacienda to Hacienda Beach Club and Residences, from upscale seaside resort to a gated enclave of luxury villas.

What attracted so many important and influential people to this iconic property?

The answer is the first law of real estate:  location, location, location.

Simply put, there is no better address in Cabo San Lucas. Hacienda sits at the very foot of Medano Beach, presiding over a full quarter mile of golden sands, with commanding views of Bahia San Lucas and the evocatively shaped granitic monuments at Land’s End. Villas and residences are mere steps from acres of privacy on the area’s biggest and most popular beach, a stone’s throw from the marina – which terminates at Medano Beach – and a five minute walk from downtown shopping, dining and nightlife.

Hacienda Beach Club and Residences

Moonlight view of Hacienda Beach Club and Residences

Today, the five star service, accommodations and amenities synonymous with Hacienda Beach Club and Residences are available to owners, or as vacation rentals for those seeking the ultimate in resort style living. Two and three bedroom residences and expansive beachfront villas showcase fashionable contemporary décor in a seamless flow of elegant indoor and outdoor spaces.

The amenities, like the views, are world-class, and range from an infinity pool and kid’s club to concierge and catering services and spa and fitness facilities. And the onsite restaurant, Hacienda Cocina y Cantina, is considered one of the best in Los Cabos, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner menus filled with traditional regional Mexican specialty dishes and hand-crafted cocktails. Prefer a light nosh? The Spa Café serves up healthy snacks, espresso style coffee drinks and fresh fruit smoothies.

Hacienda Beach Club and Residences

Mastering the fine art of living at Hacienda Beach Club and Residences.

With its privileged and unparalleled location, Hacienda Beach Club and Residences is not just a favored hideaway for celebrities and captains of industry, but also a much sought after site for special events like weddings and renewal of vows ceremonies. Hacienda’s events specialist is on call for such occasions to help with floor plans that take advantage of the property’s wealth of picturesque places  – including elaborately manicured grounds and festively bedecked terrace, pool and beachside areas – as well as “day of” details.

The backdrop? It’s the same as it was 50 years ago. The Sea of Cortez framed by sun, sky and the southernmost point of the Baja California peninsula.

 

The restaurant and spa are open to the public, but require advance reservations. For more information, visit www.haciendacaboresort.com, email reservations@cabohacienda.com.mx, or call +52 (624) 163-3100.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

Christmas in Cabo San Lucas: Seasonal Cheer at Land’s End

Christmas in Cabo San Lucas: Seasonal Cheer at Land’s End

There is something very special about the holidays, particularly in Mexico, where the festive season persists for close to two months and includes many holy days that are not commonly celebrated in the U.S. It is a period of frequent fiestas – so much so that the month long holiday period between December 12, the day honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe, and January 6, the remembrance of Los Tres Reyes (the three wise men), is only half-jokingly referred to as the Guadalupe – Reyes marathon. But despite the plethora of parties that accompany holiday-themed events, the Christmas season in Mexico is in large part a time of devout observances and intimate gatherings with family and friends.

That will certainly be true this year, as Cabo San Lucas, and indeed much of Baja California Sur, rebounds from the worst storm ever to strike the peninsula. Although much of the damages inflicted by Hurricane Odile – the category 4 storm that made landfall on September 14, with winds ripping through Los Cabos at up to 165 miles per hour – have, thanks to the assistance of Mexican military, police and CFE (the national electric company) workers, been repaired, the Christmas season promises a much needed respite following months of rebuilding efforts.

For locals, this December offers a much needed time out for sober reflection and gratitude, affirmation of traditional religious values, and celebration of triumph over adversity. For visitors, it’s a perfect time to bask in the winter warmth and beauty of Los Cabos, and to see how the holidays are observed south of the border.

Christmas in Cabo San Lucas

Seeking warm seasonal cheer? Celebrate Christmas in Cabo San Lucas. Photo by John Schrantz.

The town square, Plaza Amelia Wilkes, is annually strung with enough holiday-themed ornaments and decorations to wrap the central gazebo in a veil of bright, carnivalesque colors. The plaza is also home to a large, lavishly bedecked Christmas tree, and a beautiful nativity scene (in Spanish, nacimiento) that is located near the natural  history musem’s whale skeleton exhibit (sadly short of bones post Odile). Sponsored programs and presentations are a holiday staple at the plaza, and include art, music, food tastings, and recreations of events surrounding the birth of Christ.

Nativity scenes are commonly displayed here, both publicly and privately, and in addition to the nacimiento at Plaza Amelia Wilkes, there is always an excellent display at Plaza Bonita near the Cabo San Lucas Marina. Beyond the lovely holiday decorations, however, the spirit of the season is expressed in the succession of holy days that stretch from the beginning of Las Posadas on December 16th through Candlemas on February 2nd. These religious holidays each have their own traditions and rituals, and for curious visitors, provide interesting insights into the Catholic core of Mexican culture.

Christmas in Cabo San Lucas

A nativity scene, or nacimiento, at Plaza Bonita in Cabo San Lucas.

Las Posadas

Las Posadas last for nine days, from December 16th through the 24th, and commemorate the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Each night there are candlelit processions and reenactments, which culminate in house parties after admittance has been granted at the “inn.” The most important day of the season in Mexico is not Christmas, but Christmas Eve (Nochebuena). This is the last night of the posadas, and the birth of Christ is celebrated at midnight. Traditionally, families then attend a midnight mass, followed by dinner and presents. Christmas Day is quite low-key and leisurely, with most feasting on the leftovers (called recalentado) from the previous night’s dinner.

El Dia de los Santos Inocentes

Holy Innocents Day, also known as Childermas, is on December 28th, and is a remembrance of King Herod’s decree that all male infants in Bethlehem should be killed in order to eliminate the threat to his throne posed by the baby Jesus, whose birth he had learned of from the three wise men. The day is also celebrated as a Mexican version of April Fool’s Day, with jokes, pranks, tall tales, and elaborate hoaxes. One should greet all statements made on this day with a healthy amount of skepticism, and under no circumstances should money be lent, as tradition holds that any debts incurred on this day do not have to be honored.

Nochevieja

The relationship of New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day is somewhat like that of Christmas Eve to Christmas, meaning the first day is given over to family dinners and celebrations, while the second day is for rest, relaxation and the enjoyment of leftovers.  After the dinner on New Year’s Eve, many people go out to enjoy the local parties and theme nights, which run the gamut from barefoot beachfront formals to masked carnivals. Fireworks are a staple of virtually every Mexican celebration, but the New Year in Cabo San Lucas is always greeted with a particularly dazzling display over Medano Beach. Once the clock strikes midnight, it is also traditional to eat twelve grapes, with the grapes representing good fortune for the next twelve months.

Christmas in Cabo San Lucas

Rosca de Reyes is a special bread made to celebrate Three Kings Day.

El Dia de los Tres Reyes

The three kings are better known to English speakers as the three wise men – Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar – who journeyed to Bethlehem with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  As with Christmas Eve, this is a day for children to open presents, and for gatherings of friends and family. One of the signature treats associated with this holiday is a sweet bread called rosca de reyes. There is a miniature figure of the baby Jesus hidden inside the bread, and the person who finds it is expected to have a tamales party on Candlemas, February 2nd.

Candlemas marks the end of the long Christmas season in Cabo San Lucas, but one of the heights of the tourist season, as snowbirds flee frigid temperatures north of the border for sunshine, beaches, whale watching, golf, and other activities not normally associated with wintry cheer.

 

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

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Water World: Cabo Marine Show Celebrates 5th Anniversary

Water World: Cabo Marine Show Celebrates 5th Anniversary

Cabo Marine Show

The Cabo San Lucas Marina has long been the heart and soul of the Land’s End city. It’s the first stop for incoming cruise ship passengers; home to hotels, restaurants, and tourist shopping meccas Puerto Paraiso and Luxury Avenue; a seasonal home to luxury yachts; and the launch point for fishing charters, whale watching excursions, snorkel and dive trips, sunset sails, and the rest of the area’s world-class, water-based activities tours. But rarely is the marina the official center of the city’s attention, as it was last weekend, May 15 – 17, when the 5th annual Cabo Marine Show drew thousands of locals and visitors to Docks L-M-N at the IGA Marina, behind the Wyndham Cabo San Lucas Resort.

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Although only five years old, the Cabo Marine Show is already the longest running boat show in Mexico, and the most important nautical expo on the country’s Pacific Coast. Each year, it features the latest goods and services from some of the top names in the maritime industry, with dozens of booths set up along the marina boardwalk. But five years in, the show continues to evolve, and this year’s event saw a subtle shift in focus, with much of the attention turning to the new and used boat market, and the 20 plus boats and yachts on display in the water beyond the booths.

A host of big-name yacht brokers were on hand to show off their top seagoing listings, including Otaduy Yachts, United Yacht Sales, Emerald Pacific Yachts, Hallmark Yachts, Picante Sportfishing, La Paz Yachts, and Pisces Group Cabo. And Cabo Marine Show organizers were clearly interested in expanding upon the expo’s early success as a social networking platform and showcase for the premier purveyors of offshore gadgets and playthings, and moving the boats themselves into the spotlight.

“We are pleased to see that our boat show has been taking a constant and natural evolution from the traditional exhibitors on the floor to a more pronounced in-water display of both new and used vessels — which is the purpose of any boat show, departing from the usual convention center format to an in-water exhibit more similar to boat shows of international stature,” said Oscar Avalos, Director of MAA+Eventos Meetings and Conventions, which partnered with show founder and organizer Sergio Igartua.

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10374103_10152076763972021_5979212319762831030_nDespite the millions of dollars worth of boat sales, however, the latest edition of Cabo Marine Show retained many of its familiar touches: live music enlivened the evening hours; VIP cocktail parties offered yacht club ambiance; wandering visitors made pit stops at marina drinking and dining landmarks like Solomon’s Landing, Baja Cantina and Tiki Bar; and of course a bevy of well-known vendors promoted their their latest products from booths set on prime waterfront real estate, from tropical sunglasses king Maui Jim to the Los Cabos Tourism Board and Bisbee’s, host of the world’s richest fishing tournament. Even a few local artists and artisans got in on the act, offering up nautical themed paintings and jewelry.

Five years is a significant anniversary, and the latest show was something of a landmark, not only in terms of Cabo Marine Show’s age and expanded focus, but its further entrenchment in the Los Cabos festival firmament. It’s now a fixture of the annual event calendar, and one of the key showcases of the the city’s de facto commercial center: the Cabo San Lucas Marina. Bisbee’s Black and Blue may still boast a higher profile, but the marlin tournament, at heart, is all about what’s lurking under the local waters. The Cabo Marine Show is about what floating on top, and where they call home.

 

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

Photos courtesy of Cabo Marine Show and Los Cabos Tourism.

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Cabo San Lucas and Destination Weddings Go Hand-in-Hand.

Cabo San Lucas and Destination Weddings Go Hand-in-Hand

Few places on earth can match Cabo San Lucas when it comes to spectacular seaside settings and year round sunshine, and over the past two decades this charming resort town situated at the Baja Peninsula’s southernmost point has become a mecca for destination weddings, honeymoons, and renewal of vows ceremonies.

But the popularity of Cabo San Lucas as a destination wedding site is not solely attributable to Land’s End monuments, golden sand beaches, and glorious sunsets. From wedding planners to photographers, catering companies to horse-drawn carriages, the Los Cabos area offers a rich array of first-class event service providers, as well as a generous collection of luxurious accommodations options.

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Secrets Marquis Los Cabos provides beautiful ceremony and reception sites on the shores of the Sea of Cortez.

Hotels & Resorts

Looking for a storybook wedding setting? Tourist Corridor resort Secrets Marquis Los Cabos offers couples the opportunity to say “I do” in a beautiful gazebo on a gorgeous private beach overlooking the crystal blue waters of the Sea of Cortez, Afterwards, guests may adjourn to the opulent onsite ballroom for drinks and dancing. Wedding and honeymoon packages at the luxe lodging include pampering accommodations, wedding cakes and other food and beverage options, many elegant extras, and the services of professional wedding coordinators.

For those who don’t want a big wedding, but would like a ceremony to remember, it’s hard to beat Medano Beach based Bahia Hotel and Beach Club, which recently became the first local property to offer underwater weddings and renewal of vows ceremonies. Wedding packages include dive training and rehearsal dives, underwater decorations such as arbors and railings, a seagoing minister, and signature touches like bow ties, boutonnieres, veils, white lace garters, stand-in rings, and of course a bouquet. The photos are priceless, and after surfacing, a bottle of Champagne is popped to toast the happy couple.

Bahia Hotel

Bahia Hotel and Beach Club is the first resort in Los Cabos to offer underwater wedding ceremonies.

Prefer a more traditional wedding experience? The boutique resort Casa Natalia boasts a central downtown location in San Jose del Cabo, and can host up to 100 guests for wedding services and receptions. Plus, with 16 rooms and suites, it is a perfect lodging for wedding parties. The onsite restaurant, Mi Cocina, is helmed by ace chef Loic Tenoux, and features custom menus for receptions.

Couples can honeymoon like royalty at Castillo Escondido near San Jose del Cabo.

Rental Properties

Private villas are always in high demand, not only for ceremonies, but as accommodations for the wedding party and guests. Want to feel like visiting royalty? Try Castillo Escondido, a magnificent architectural blend of Moorish castle and Mediterranean Villa located right on the beach at La Laguna. Home to stone turrets, heavy wooden gates, and Mission-style roofing, this expansive property has over 4,500 square feet spread across four levels, with exquisitely appointed suites and ample deck space. There is a pool, jacuzzi, and fire pit onsite, and plenty of room beachside for wedding services.

Baja Hacienda Surf is one of Los Cabos’ most spectacular vacation rentals, and can host up t0 100 guests  for weddings and receptions.

For a chic option that won’t break the budget, Baja Hacienda Surf is an excellent alternative. This superb beachfront rental property is blessed with high-end amenities, easy access to sea, sand, and surf, and prices that start as low as $50 per person, per night. Located on Playa Costa Azul near Zipper’s, Baja Hacienda Surf offers three suites with private kitchens and Sea of Cortez views, all within a private, walled compound. The site can host up to 100 guests, and the onsite property managers are happy to recommend wedding planners, caterers, and other vendors.

Don Sanchez in San Jose del Cabo is an excellent choice for large receptions and rehearsal dinners.

Restaurants

The best address in Cabo San Lucas belongs to Hacienda Beach Club & Residences, a benchmark property set at the juncture of Medano Beach and the Cabo San Lucas Marina. Sand, sea and romantic Land’s End backdrops are big draws at onsite Hacienda Cocina y Cantina, but the resort’s signature restaurant also serves up superb regional Mexican specialty dishes, and is a preferred site for weddings and receptions, honeymoon and anniversary dinners, and renewal of vows ceremonies. The scenic property boasts nearly a dozen separate event areas, and there is an onsite events specialist on hand to walk couples through venue, entertainment and menu options.

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Hacienda Cocina y Cantina specializes in regional Mexican cuisine, and wedding and reception venues with scenic Land’s End backdrops.

Don Sanchez is the top choice in San Jose del Cabo for larger reception dinners. This fine dining landmark is located in the heart of the city, and specializes in “Baja Contemporary” cuisine. Soak up the gorgeous courtyard ambience, dance the night away to an eight-piece Cuban orchestra, relax in the tapas lounge, or sample premium selections from the onsite wine bar. This spacious eatery has something for every taste, and provides excellent service for up to 300 guests.

For a touch of traditional elegance, horse drawn carriages are available from Cuadra San Francisco.

Wedding Services

Sunset Weddings is the best of the area’s full-service event providers, and handles every detail imaginable. Whether it’s legal documents, blood tests, floral arrangements, or transportation, the team at Sunset removes all stress and worry from the process. They offer several superb locations for ceremonies and receptions, including secluded beaches and private villas, and have custom-tailored packages available to suit every budget.

For that special touch of traditional Mexican elegance, master equestrian Francisco Barrena’s Cuadra San Francisco has a fleet of horse-drawn carriages to transport the bride and groom and other members of the wedding party to and from the ceremony or reception in the highest of Cabo style.

And to capture all the memorable moments on your special day, Cabo Pictures is one of the top local specialists in wedding photography. Noted photographers Camilla Fuchs and Stephanie Olveda excel at both candid shots and professional portraits.

 
Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from  Tijuana  to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

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The Best of Baja: Luxury Vacation Villas in Los Cabos

The Best of Baja: Luxury Vacation Villas in Los Cabos

If you’re one of the privileged few who demand the absolute best in service, style and extravagant surroundings, then forget about five-star hotels…You’re ready to enter the exclusive world of villa rentals in Mexico’s most spectacular setting, where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, and lavish Land’s End luxury lodgings overlook the dramatic coastline of Los Cabos at the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula.

Luxury Villas Collection

Luxury Villa Collections Vacation Rental and Property Management offers an elegant collection of private residences in some of Los Cabos’ most exclusive communities, including three stunning properties near Punta Ballena, an upscale neighborhood in the Tourist Corridor which connects cape cities Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. Access to world-class golf courses and spas may be arranged through your round the clock concierge, with optional amenities that include private chefs and private transportation services, like a driver to meet you at the Los Cabos International Airport and whisk you away to your seaside aerie.

Villa Victoria

Villa Victoria

Villa Victoria

Boasting a privileged location among the Auberge Private Residences at Esperanza near Punta Ballena, this immaculately appointed 3750 square foot, three bedroom villa sleeps up to eight at rates that belie the luxurious surroundings. Luxurious amenities include spectacular poolside views, temporary membership in the Auberge Private Residences at Esperanza Owners Club and Punta Ballena Beach Club, as well as convenient access to the Spa at Esperanza, which has been ranked the best spa in Mexico by Travel and Lesiure Magazine.

Villa Rendezvous

Villa Rendezvous

Villa Rendezvous

A nearby neighbor of Villa Victoria, the three bedroom penthouse at Villa Rendezvous offers many of the same Auberge Residences amenities: a fully equipped kitchen, luxurious living areas, jetted tubs and marble walk-in showers, and of course gorgeous views of the Sea of Cortez. Feel like a round of golf? You’re a stones throw from Jack Nicklaus’ stunning Cabo del Sol Ocean Course, which has been ranked among the world’s 100 best golf courses. Need a massage? Visit the Spa at Esperanza, or arrange for a visit from a highly-trained masseuse. Villa Rendezvous offers penthouse living at its opulent best.

Villa Las Arenas

Villa Las Arenas

Villa Las Arenas

Las Arenas means “the sands,” and this magnificent four bedroom, 3300 square foot villa is the perfect introduction to life at Land’s End. Watch the sunrise over the Sea of Cortez, or the sun sink into the sea beyond Cabo’s famous Arch, but by all means do so from the comfort of your Infinity pool, jacuzzi, or private, secluded cove. Everything at Villa Las Arenas is top of the line, from the furnishings and appliances to the the marble floors and floor-to-ceiling sliding doors which when opened blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living.

Cabo Villas

Los Cabos’ most exclusive addresses are found in the hillside enclave of Pedregal, the Cabo San Lucas community that is home to the seasonal residences of billionaires and movie stars. Cabo Villas’ Pedregal rental collection is non pareil, and includes breathtaking properties with sumptuous surroundings and awe-inspiring views of Land’s End, the Sea of Cortez, and the Pacific Ocean. Amenities include personal concierge service from onsite staff; private chefs, butlers and housekeepers; and customized event planning. Private jet charters are also available, of course.

Villa Joya del Mar

Villa Joya del Mar

Villa Joya del Mar

This roomy 3500 square foot, four bedroom villa is awash in elegant accents: classical stone columns, slate and marble floors, tile roofing, unique artwork, granite outcroppings that accentuate the pool and spa areas. Perched high above the Pacific Ocean, the panoramic vistas at Joya del Mar are to die for – during the winter migrating whales are visible as they head to their seasonal breeding grounds – and the expansive terrace is the perfect place for a cocktail party, or a romantic dinner for two.

Villa Marcella

Villa Marcella

Villa Marcella

Villa Marcella has played host to some of Los Cabos’ most elegant soirees, and it is the perfect villa rental for visiting royalty, or at the very least those with regal standards. The 10,000 square foot luxury estate opens directly onto Pedregal Beach, steps from the Pacific Ocean, and features a graceful mixture of amenities old and new: a massive marble fireplace and billiard room; a swimming pool, jacuzzi, and wet bar; state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems; and enough room to entertain up to 200 of your closest friends.

Villa Turquesa

Villa Turquesa

Villa Turquesa

The best of the best. For a mere $3500 per night you can enjoy the height of Land’s End luxury at Villa Turquesa, an incredible property perched 350 feet above the beach. Words like spacious and expansive are inadequate to describe the myriad comforts offered at this sprawling 10,000 square foot, four bedroom ne plus ultra dream estate. The main terrace includes a lap pool with a swim-up bar, and the outdoor dining area can accommodate up to 60 guests. With the addition of the lower lever, Villa Turquesa can be expanded to nine bedrooms, making it the ultimate destination wedding party accommodation option.

 

Planning a trip to Los Cabos? Talk to a travel agent at Baja.com.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula. We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotelsvacation rentals and activities, as well as guides, maps, complete event calendars and great stories about incredible travel destinations, from  Tijuana  to Cabo San Lucas.  We also provide free personal travel consulting, planning and booking services in Los Cabos, Todos Santos and La Paz, with prices that match or are below best advertised price. For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

 

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4th Annual Cabo Marine Show Set to Get Underway in May: All Aboard!

Cabo Marine Show Gets Underway in May:  All Aboard!

by Chris Sands

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Already the most popular boat show on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, the Cabo Marine Show has its sights set on becoming the biggest nautical-themed exhibition in Mexico. The 4th annual event is scheduled for May 1-4, and upwards of 4,000 visitors are expected this year to explore top nautical and marine products and services and enjoy nightly entertainment at IGY Marina in the heart of Cabo San Lucas.

Because of its increasing popularity, the show has expanded to four days and for the second straight year will be held on Docks K-M behind the Wyndham Los Cabos Resort, allowing for bigger crowds and bigger boats. Upwards of 50 local, national, and international companies will showcase more than a dozen new vessels at this year’s show, plus all the latest in gadgets, gear, and marine products and accessories. In addition to a stellar group of exhibitors that includes Azimut, Bertram, Beneteau, Fairline, Sea-Doo, Suzuki and Mercury Marine, there are two splashy new additions to the 2013 roster.

Black-and-Blue

Bisbee’s Black and Blue fishing tournament

Bisbee’s will be at the marine show taking early bird registrations for its Los Cabos Offshore and Black & Blue Tournaments. The latter is the world’s richest fishing tournament – last year’s winners took home over $2 million dollars – and is a boon to the local economy, drawing eager entrants each October to compete in the jackpot-laden event. In fact, all of Bisbee’s competitions, including the East Cape Offshore, draw large crowds of participants and spectators, and the fact that Bisbee’s and the Cabo Marine Show are teaming up signifies an ongoing commitment by both to continue promoting tourism and sport fishing in Los Cabos.

The other big splash is the presence of the mega-yacht Spirit of Two Thousand and Ten, a 120-foot, 4-story, state-of-the-art, $15 million motor vessel operated locally by Synergy. This is currently the largest yacht available for charter in all of Los Cabos, and visitors to the marine show will be able to get a feel for what these luxurious charters entail, from sunset visits to the Arch to three bay snorkel and kayak trips and even deep sea fishing.

Wyndham Los Cabos

The Cabo Marine Show will be held on the dock behind the Wyndham Los Cabos.

Additional important sponsors and exhibitors signing on for this year’s event include Earth, Sea & Sky Vacations, Cabo Riviera Golf & Marina, the Los Cabos Winery, Synergy Marketing & PR, Maui Jim Sunglasses, The Old Town Art Gallery by El Encanto, and Baja.com, plus FONATUR Port Authority and IGY Marinas. The inclusion of so many varied local businesses suggests the marine show is growing in scope and impact, something that comes as no surprise to founder Sergio Igartua.

“The Cabo Marine Show is much more than a nautical event,” asserts Igartua. “It’s also about creating a network between exhibitors and local business owners.”

Although the entertainment schedule for the Cabo Marine Show has not yet been released, visitors can expect plenty of great live music, and dozens of terrific restaurants within easy walking distance of the show’s central location in downtown Cabo San Lucas. Wyndham Los Cabos is the official resort for the Cabo Marine Show, and given its proximity – the hotel is right next door to Docks K-M, where all the festivities are occurring – is a perfect fit.

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The Cabo Marine Show is free to the general public, and is will be held from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on May 1-4. For more information, visit www.cabomarineshow.com. For exhibitor rates and information, email MAA+Eventos at info@maaseventos.com. Booth space is still available, but is expected to sell out well in advance of the show.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants,hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.

Photos courtesy of Synergy, Bisbee’s Black & Blue Tournaments, and Wyndham Los Cabos.

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Cabo’s Trendy Hot-spot is the ME Cabo Hotel

Cabo’s Trendy Hot-spot is the ME Cabo Hotel:  A Hipster Paradise

story and photos by Chris Sands

Cabo's trendy hot-spot is in full swing.

If asked to choose the most luxurious hotel or resort in Cabo San Lucas, few people could say with any degree of conviction. There are simply too many.

But which is the trendiest? That’s an easy one. It’s Melia’s ME Cabo Hotel, which offers an experience well beyond mere accommodation.

From the stunning Deco inspired lobby to the wraparound marble staircase that allows guests to make a Hollywood-style entrance to the expansive pool area, ME Cabo is equal parts upscale elegance and fashionista fantasia. The privileged property features spectacular room and suite views of Land’s End and the Sea of Cortez, with cruise ships often lying at anchor just beyond Medano Beach, and private beach access available to the hotel’s exclusive clientele.

Me Cabo is famed for its onsite club scene. This is the only hotel in Los Cabos with resident DJs. Nikki Beach Club hosts the top events in Los Cabos – such as the annual White Party, and the masked Venetian Carnival New Year’s Eve Gala – but the heart of the club’s appeal is the daily pool parties, with bikini-clad beauties reclining on white Bali daybeds while their consorts order cocktails at the swim-up pool bar, and resident mix-masters Sam Koen and Antonio Flores keeping up a steady stream of pulse-pounding house beats. If you’re feeling competitive, you can try to keep up with the interactive dancers as they shimmy and shake.

Live jazz and Cuban music are played on selected days, and there is a VIP fashion show on Fridays. Mexican and Mediterranean cuisine and high-quality tequila, meanwhile, are the house specialties at Tequila Fusion, one of the top onsite restaurants, and an oft used space for high-powered confabs and convocations. The resort also boasts an outdoor grill and fire pit, two bars, an enormous interconnected pool, and of course late night martinis and margaritas at the sexy and cosmopolitan Passion Club.

 

The rooms and suites maintain the maximum chic ethos, particularly on “The Level,” an adult-oriented VIP area which overlooks all the action on Nikki Beach. Depending on the suite type, guests have access to a host of plush amenities, including private balconies and terraces, private and shared whirlpools, private access to the Fire Pit and Passion Club, private sundecks with views of the ocean, lounge beds, and even outdoor rain showers.

Of course, if this sort of high-end hedonism starts to wear, you can always retire to the Yhi Spa for a hot-stone massage and an aromatic herb wrap, or take a tandem kayak trip to Lover’s Beach. If there is one thing you can count on at Melia’s ME Cabo, it’s that the party will still be there when you return.

 

Bikinis and giant champagne bottles at Cabo's trendy hot-spot, ME Cabo.

For more information about Cabo’s trendy hot-spot, ME Cabo Hotel, visit Baja.com.  Or email info@solmelia.com, or call (624) 145-7800.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com

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Whale Watching Season Opens in Cabo San Lucas

Whale Watching Season Opens in Cabo San Lucas

by Chris Sands

“They’re back.”

I hear that sentence several times every December, courtesy of friends who spend the better part of each day working on the water.  It signals the unofficial beginning of Cabo San Lucas‘ most celebrated season, when migrating whales make their way south from Alaska and the Bering Sea to breed in the warm waters off the Baja coast. Whale watching season officially stretches from mid-December through mid-April, and sees an estimated 10,000 gray, humpback, blue, fin, sperm, and pilot whales – even the occasional orcas – cruising majestically through the local waters.

They’re back: a humpback whale announces his presence in local waters.

Grays and humpbacks are the whales most commonly sighted. The breeding grounds for gray whales are centered around Magdalena Bay, off the Pacific Coast of Baja Sur, while the humpbacks continue on into the Sea of Cortez. Humpbacks are more flamboyant of the two species, prone to spectacular breaching – leaping almost completely out of the water and displacing large amounts of water upon splashdown – but both grays and humpbacks make their presence known through behaviors like sounding (waving an enormous fluke) and spy-hopping (raising the head out of the water to check out the surroundings). The whales send up a huge white spray before breaching, and the trick for tour captains is to anticipate where the whales will surface based upon the the preceding spray.

 

Although whales can occasionally be seen from shore, most visitors interested in up-close-and-personal looks at these gargantuan creatures sign up for one of the many local whale watching tours. From December through March, seemingly every commercial boat in San Lucas offers some sort of whale watching excursion, from small pangas (water taxis) and fast inflatables to fishing boats, sailboats, and luxury yachts. There are advantages and disadvantages associated with each variety of watercraft, but depending upon whether you prefer high-speed action and adventure or comfort and style, there is a tour type that will appeal to virtually every taste.

 

A spectacular sounding captured on one of Cabo Adventures’ whale watching safaris.

There are often brisk winds outside the protected bay – the best place to see the whales, particularly photogenic humpbacks, is beyond Land’s End, where they turn to enter the Sea of Cortez – which is why, for my money, the best way to whale watch in Cabo San Lucas is aboard a sailboat. Sailboats don’t have the same degree of maneuverability enjoyed by pangas and high-speed inflatables, but they offer a mores stylish, exhilarating, and amenity-laden experience. The area’s premier charter company, Cabo Sails, offers private whale watching cruises aboard their fleet of 28′ to 44′ sailboats, each of which boasts a bilingual crew, an open bar, and a selection of snacks that include appetizers and sandwiches. The charters can accommodate two to twenty guests, with morning, afternoon, and sunset cruises available.

 

For the high-speed inflatable experience, join Cabo Adventures for one of their whale watching photo safaris. Their Apex boats were designed for whale watching, and will get you as close to the deep-sea leviathans as is legally allowed – The whales were born in Mexican waters, and locals like to joke that they are therefore Mexican citizens. That may be stretching the point, but the whales are legally protected, and there are rules and laws designed to protect them from overzealous boaters – That said, these tours are as intimate as whale watching gets, with excellent vantages from which to see and photograph these magnificent mammals. The tour guides are experienced and knowledgeable, and hydrophone listening technology is available for those who would like to hear the “songs” of the whales.

Humpbacks can be a bit flamboyant. Just ask the guests aboard this Cabo Sails charter.

 

A little unsteady on your “sea legs?” For those seeking stability, a smooth ride, and plenty of service, sign up for one of the whale watching cruises aboard Caborey. The luxury triple-decked catamaran is best known for its dinner cruises – complete with five-star cuisine and a Las Vegas style floorshow – but the 144′ ship also offers seasonal whale watching excursions. Relax on the top deck with cocktails and sushi rolls, and keep an eye peeled for the cetacean crowd as they continue on course towards their traditional breeding grounds. This is without question the most luxurious way possible to whale watch, and considering the complimentary food and beverages, surprisingly affordable. The tours are offered at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., January through March, and cost $50 U.S. for adults, $25 for children.

Want to find out where to stay in Cabo San Lucas or San Jose del Cabo?  Visit Baja.com!

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants,hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us

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