Fraccion Hotelera FH5-C1, Puerto Los Cabos, San Jose del Cabo, Baja Sur, Mexico
Above a quiet stretch of sand east of Puerto Los Cabos, this modernistic beachfront resort has stunning views, while offering a long list of ways to be pampered and eat well on a Los Cabos vacation.
While Marriott properties aren't always known for being artistic destination resorts, this striking JW Marriott near San Jose del Cabo is a delightful addition to the luxury lodging scene there. There are visual delights around every turn. The reveals as you move through the property show the work of a skilled architect with an eye for drama.
In a way this is a very boxy structure and if you check into the hotel-within-a-hotel Griffin Club, you may wonder what the architect had against curves. Once you start exploring, however, you find cascading curved swimming pools going down the far side and a lovely sculpture looking out to sea at P'yote Rooftop Bar on the top level. Even where the surfaces are all straight lines, they're broken up by a garden of cacti or trees, or a sloping lawn.
In specific spots or taken as a whole, it works. The effect as you walk from the lobby to the sea is like the ocean opening up in front of you, across a wide reflecting pool that's filled with clouds part of the day. There's a comfy library lounge on the way, as well as a bar serving a huge variety of tequila, mezcal, and Mexican wine. Several times a week there are tasting sessions here. There's also a rental car counter with that trades higher rates for more convenience in this gated planned community with premium taxi fares (and no Uber pickup).
To the right side of the complex when looking out at the sea is a built-in circular theater and then a series of pools going down toward Nak Grill and Bar at the bottom. One of the pools is for kids, near their club, while the others are open to all, with pool service by roaming attendants.
There are several other pools on the property, however. There's an adults-only one at the top of the cliff over the beach, with a swim-up bar, then another in the spa that's also long enough for laps. Griffin Club guests have automatic access to this one in the spa, including the hydrotherapy area adjacent, while they also have their own Griffin Club pool with keycard access that has views of whales going by in the months of December through March.
We got our best couples' massage ever at the Jasha Spa here, with some extra time in the steam room, whirlpool, sauna (all segregated) then the communal hydrotherapy area outside. The massage therapists are clearly well-trained, finding our kinks and knots without us needing to point them out. There's a long menu of other treatments, plus a salon for facials, manicures, or wedding day hairstyles.
The gym at this JW Marriott Los Cabos is large and well-equipped. They offer classes several times a day and there are video workout programs (including yoga) that you can pull up on a screen here or in your room.
The signature restaurant here is Café des Artistes, overseen by Thierry Blouet of Puerto Vallarta fame. The overall style is a mix of French and Mexican techniques, with a strong emphasis on visual flair. Even before we started eating, the Mexican cocktails were photo-worthy and the bread basket had four types of bread and two butter choices. Each course we received was presented with drama, starting with the signature cream of prawn soup ladled out of a giant pumpkin and a stacked salad that was bursting with flavors that hit every taste bud. My lobster main dish was sublime, while the other was a perfectly cooked octopus dish with grilled polenta and smoked organic beets, pea mousseline, crunchy garlic, beet vinaigrette, red wine sauce. The fig-blueberry cheesecake dessert was almost too pretty to eat. Almost. You can see the full menu here.
Úa Culinary Artisans restaurant facing the ocean is the main spot for buffet breakfast or lunch, or there's a deli and coffee shop in the lobby for something faster and simpler, with prices that are half those at the Montage and some other Los Cabos resorts. The poolside Nak outlet is also open for lunch, then becomes a romantic seafood restaurant at night with a good Mexican craft beer selection. Griffin Club guests have snacks rotating in throughout the day in their lounge, you can order tapas at the lobby bar, and room service is available 24 hours. If you have a car, there are a few well-regarded restaurants in the area, or dozens if you head into the center of San Jose del Cabo.
A welcome message with my name on it was displayed on the TV screen in my room and I had no trouble finding outlets to recharge the gadgets. There are 14 room classifications at this JW Marriott, so it's hard to generalize about them, but all come with a king or two double beds, a sitting area, work space, sliding doors to a furnished balcony, and ample marble bathroom with an array of quality toiletries. The color palate is mostly earth tones and creams, though if you have a room facing the sea-which most are-then you'll get plenty of blue in that direction. All have nightly turndown service, robes, slippers, electronic safes, and separate tubs and showers in the bathroom.
It's well worth an upgrade for more space and a better view, especially to get one directly facing the water. The "Umey" ones are suites with a separate living room, while Ambassador, Governor, and Presidential suites have a large outdoor terrace with whirlpool. The top suite has 3,400 square feet.
Paying extra to be in the Griffin Club is easy to justify since that comes with so many extras. There are snacks and drinks throughout the day, including beers by the pool, a happy hour with wine and cocktails, and delicious hot dishes at night-all served in a spacious private lounge. This club has its own pool, game room, and more perks that really make you feel like a VIP.
While the competition for luxury hotels in Los Cabos gets stiffer each year, and there's a Ritz-Carlton going up next door, the JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort and Spa is more than just a place to earn or use your Marriott Bonvoy points. It stands on its own as a property with its own unique personality. It is in a location that's not right beside a major highway like the corridor resorts, but with a great beach to stroll on for miles at sunset.
Web Address: www.marriott.com/
Total Number of Rooms: 299
Published rates: $215 - $4,400 plus taxes
Review and photos by Timothy Scott