Just Checked Out…Capella Pedregal, Cabo San Lucas

After taking a summer break from my blog, its great to be back and start writing (although I feel a bit rusty and overwhelmed with all these new WordPress enhancements!). I have so many reviews and updates of new and exciting places, I almost don’t know where to start. But as I write this looking at the rain and overcast skies outside my window, I automatically know the perfect place…sunny Mexico!

I’m kicking off the school year with the 66-room Capella Pedregal set on 24 waterfront acres in the cliffs of Cabo San Lucas. Cabo is one of my favorite destinations, regardless if it’s with kids in tow or a romantic escape with my husband. The most well known luxury resorts  –Las Ventanas, Palmilla and Esperanza –  (to name a few) have been around awhile and you really can’t go wrong with any one of them. But it’s exciting when a new one comes along to shake things up. Capella celebrated it’s one year anniversary in September and I’m both lucky and appreciative to get a review of it from friends who were there for the anniversary celebration.  It’s definitely one to put on my wish list although personally I am waiting for the 2011 opening of the Montage Los Cabos (in construction on the former site of the Twin Dolphin hotel – may it RIP! a fabulous location on the cliffs).

But about that review – here you go:

On our recent 5-day trip to Baja, Mexico, my husband and I stayed at the newest hotel to hit the hot lists, Capella Pedregal. The hotel was celebrating its one-year anniversary (September) so the Capella Suite,  their signature accommodation, was offered at a tempting rate ($$$) and was well worth the splurge (Note: all rooms and suites have a private terrace and pool).  We were glad we rented a car at the airport because getting lost and road rage always adds excitement to any adventure.  After a 45-minute drive down Rte. 1, we saw the “Pedregal” sign on the mountain, like the “Hollywood” one, and knew that we were close, but finding the hotel took some asking around and driving in circles.  Once you arrive, the hotel is located within walking distance of the town center and marina.

Once found…. enormous black gates slide open.  A 100-foot chandelier-lit tunnel through the mountain and cliffs beckons.  You arrive at a magical destination where the mountains/desert meet the Sea of Cortez/Pacific and whales frolic freely (November thru March). Sea turtles are fond of the place too. Capella’s architectural design is man-made genius. The tunnel took two-and-a-half years to build. Its eco-consiousness and simplicity add to the uniqueness of the place. The natural desert landscape is planted with interesting cactuses, grasses, gigantic boulders and awesome turtle sculptures. Waves crash relentlessly over the cliffs that designate land’s end.

My husband and I loved our 1,400 sq. ft. suite with covered terrace and plunge pool. The rain shower was splendid and had doors that opened to full view of the sea.

The three restaurants served excellent food. We loved breakfast where traditional Mexican recipes were cooked to order in a Hacienda-style kitchen and was served on a terrace overlooking the coolest infinity pools ever. Best lunch:  Beach Club.  El Farallon is their outstanding cliffside seafood “market” restaurant. It sits on the coastal cliffs just above the sea and is lit up romantically for elegant dining.

We loved the 12,000 square-foot Aurigo Spa where they started us off with a couple’s foot bath before our two-hour “waxing moon” treatment. My husband who is not a massage lover hasn’t stopped talking about what a wonderful treatment he had. Plus the two for one rate.

Service was perfect. The people we met were charming and attentive to the right degree. We appreciated the warm hospitality.

It was sad to leave, but Palmilla was the next stop, and after hearing so much about what a wonderful hotel it is, we were eager to go there. Our first impression when we arrived was that this place is beautiful, but we felt like we’ve been to places similar. Palmilla is a more typical Mexican resort amid lush tropical jungle, bougainvilla, hibiscus and palms, colorful tile work and art. The grounds are spectacular. Our welcome was wonderful, especially since Capella made our reservations. A little competition got us a beachfront suite upgrade. Our room was beautiful, but over-decorated compared with the sleek minimalist ambiance of Capella.

We felt Palmilla is more family-oriented than Capella and a little worn around the edges in comparison. The pool area felt claustrophobic, lounge chairs too close for comfort. To be fair, we didn’t stay long enough to connect with the soul of the place.  But I think a return visit would make me a fan.

What not to miss:
– A boat ride out to the famous Arch and magnificent Pacific coastline
– Taking a winding mountain ride up thru the private estates of Pedregal to see amazing homes
– A day trip to Todos Santos, an artists’ village, and lunch at famous Hotel California. Pick up some Cuban cigars.
What to skip:  We missed what we should skip.

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