Camino de la Plaza 145, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico
It took two years to complete Capella’s first foray into Mexico. The resulting castle in the sand combines dramatic scenery and sublime service. Away from the lineup of luxury hotels in Cabo’s Corridor, this stylish hideaway is the undisputed star in Cabo San Lucas.
Capella Pedregal isn’t necessarily better than the other stellar properties in Los Cabos. The Corridor between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo is lined with standout hotels including Las Ventanas, Esperanza, the One&Only Palmilla and the Marquis Los Cabos. But San Lucas, with the area’s main marina and famed party scene, has sorely lacked a small, distinctive hotel with outstanding service and ammenities.
The Pedgregal locale, beneath a neighborhood of hilltop mansions, provides an enviable edge over the competition. The Pacific side of San Lucas claims spectacular views and cooler temps than in the steaming town, and Cabo’s restaurants, shops and activities are right on the other side of a private tunnel.
Not long ago, Cabo’s Pacific shore was a secluded secret with the Solmar Hotel anchoring the south end by Los Arcos and the Finesterra high above a cliff to the north. It’s now home to massive timeshare properties, including the garish Playa Grande. But the Diaz Rivera family, venerable Cabo residents and developers, own the quietest 24 acres on the oceanfront. They’d long been reluctant to develop their private pocket of sand, but were finally convinced by younger members of the dynasty who promised to maintain the style and class of the family’s prestigious Pedregal development, home to celebrities and wealthy vacationers.
Access was the biggest drawback, since the beach is framed by boulders and cliffs. The solution: a 300-meter-long private tunnel blasted through boulders and cliffs. Lit with chandeliers and torches, the tunnel opens to dramatic views of the wild sapphire Pacific against mild azure skies.
Private assistants and mayordomos greet guests at the open-air lobby with chilled towels and juices and escort them through a painless check-in process and on to their rooms. The luggage is perched on racks when guests arrive, and escorts point out the Don Julio tequila ammenity, the bowl of fresh fruit, the espresso machine, and the gas fireplace.
Naturally, I had trouble figuring out all the gadgets. I called housekeeping for help with the coffeemaker—it took two people to figure it out. The Capella was going through an extended soft opening (thanks to a midsummer drop in occupancy) and it sometimes felt as if the backup crew was on duty. Fortunately, the Personal Assistant handling my requests was a pro at everything, including delivering an afternoon snack with guacamole and chilled cervezas.
My room, the least expensive of all, had a balcony with a skinny horizon pool facing the ocean view. In all rooms and suites, the open bathrooms with heavy sliding pocket doors include rainshowers (with additional hand-held shower heads) and freestanding tubs, also with shower heads. Two Talavera sinks face a long mirror that sadly lacks good lighting and a makeup mirror—a drawback management insists will be resolved soon.
All rooms and suites are adorned with handcrafted Mexican furnishings and ornaments, including tooled leather lamps, embroidered pillows, and heavy distressed wood doors. Suites have everything from desks (sorely lacking in rooms) to separate bedrooms and living areas. The Estrella and Pedregal Suites at the far north end of the property are absolutely blissful for anyone seeking ultimate privacy. Terraces with firepits, pools and padded lounge chairs sit just above the sand; king beds take in the ocean view.
You might want to move into one of the three Beach Casitas permanently—they fit every criteria for an idyllic getaway by the sea. Bedrooms face the beach and kitchens are outfitted with Viking appliances and etched leather panels on the fridge doors. Bedrooms are much like those in the hotel’s other accommodations, but the terrace beats all balconies. You can splash into the pool from the doorway in the bedroom or from your patch of grass. A large firepit at the pool’s edge sets the stage for romantic dinners beside the sea.
The hotel’s restaurant service was limited during my stay—guests were so few I could practically name them all. The ceviche bar, which I’d been looking forward to, hadn’t yet opened, and hours were limited at the beachside restaurant. Don Manuel’s, the main restaurant, managed to fill the gaps nicely, however.
The breakfast buffet is served in an open kichen, tiled hacienda style. Behind one island, a juice-tender blends greens and fruits on request. Across another island laden with breads a chef prepares fabulous chilaquiles. Platters of mango slices and fresh berries, cheeses and meats, and every other buffet favorite cover tiled counters around the kitchen.
Mexican flavors dominate the dinner menu. The lobster pozole, empanadas stuffed with squash blossoms, and Sonoran rib eye were all winners, but some other dishes need rethinking. The restaurant’s interior includes several intimate dining nooks that open to a series of wine rooms. The service is impeccable and the ambience casually sophisicated.
Waterfalls splash into a sheltered pool outside the 10,000 square-foot Auriga Spa, where treatments were designed with input from a curandera (healer) to reflect Mexican healing traditions. Therapy rooms open to the spa pool and a smaller, warmer pool for water massages. Several of the expert therapists were hired away from other primo Cabo spas—employee poaching is a local sport.
Cabo regulars will surely want to compare the Capella to its mighty competition. The convenient location will delight anglers, boaters and nightlife fans. The setting will please nature lovers, especially when they sight migrating whales spouting offshore in winter. Rates are high, as befits pricey Los Cabos. Capella Hotels and Resorts, braindchild of ex-Ritz Carlton honcho Horst Schulze, has wowed guests in Ireland, Germany and Singapore. The company’s first foray into Mexico bodes well for its projected explansion into the Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit.
Web Address: www.capellapedregal.com
Total Number of Rooms: 66
Published rates: $475-$4500 per room or villa
Review and photos by Maribeth Mellin.
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