Km 19.5 Carretera Transpeninsular, San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico
As the first luxury resort opening in Los Cabos, Las Ventanas set the tone for a new standard here in the nineties and has remained at the top as a Rosewood property despite plenty of new competition. With international billionaires and A—list celebrities among its guests, privacy and specialized service is ingrained into the culture of the staff.
The moment you arrive at Las Ventanas al Paraiso, you know you've entered a unique retreat. With only 71 suites and villas, Las Ventanas makes certain it maintains its top-tier status by constantly creating unique ways to cater to guests. Privacy is paramount here as not even the entrance to the resort is marked. Underground tunnels keep the staff unobtrusive yet always at the ready. With customized items waiting in your room, a choice of aromatherapy options at turndown, and staffers seemingly knowing what you want even before you have thought of it, a stay at Las Ventanas is guaranteed to be all about you.
This starts right after arrival when "How was your flight?" is followed by a 10-minute neck and shoulder massage in the spa relaxation area then some tequila and fresh sashimi as you get the lay of the land from your butler. In the hospitality industry of Latin America this intimate resort is known as a training ground for future leaders. It has around five staff members for every guest and those staffers have gone through what may be the most extensive training in the Americas. Managers who have come through this system are now in key positions from Canada through the Caribbean and down to the Southern Cone.
Many worried when Hurricane Odile hit the region in late 2014 and this storied resort—like many—had to close down for an extended period. In this case nine months (but the employees continued to get paid). Las Ventanas gets a lot of repeat business, so management didn't want to mess with a good thing. Now everything looks much as it did before, but with new bedding, furniture, and fabrics.
Located on the Tourist Corridor halfway between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, a palapa protects the lobby. It opens up to panoramic views of the azure Sea of Cortez and colorful desert landscaping incorporating the terrain with sand and earth tones. Instead of a check-in desk and computer, you are personally received and escorted through Mediterranean-Mexican style architecture to your suite.
The colorful tiled corridors (some covered, others not) are walkways reminiscent of Mediterranean pathways. The corridors weave toward the rooms and beach and are strategically decorated with custom artwork, pottery, and pillars. A full-time artist on staff creates and maintains the murals and wall paintings. Meandering waterways begin in the lobby area and spill through to a series of ponds and the twisting network of infinity pools, swim-up bars, and patios overlooking the sea. At night, open-flame torches illuminate your way through the hotel and the seven swimming pools are illuminated. A lone tree sculpture hung with hand-blown red glass hearts is lit up at night and flanked by flaming pots.
The accommodations are located in several buildings scattered throughout the resort, and you step through a hand-carved cedar door to your suite after touching a small electronic key fob to the lock. Airy floor plans range from 960 to 3,893 square feet including one, two and three-bedroom suites with private pools and terraces. All décor is handcrafted with raised bed platforms, hand-inlaid pebble headboards, oversized throw pillows, and floors of stone and again in-laid pebble work, and a private terrace or balcony with cushioned lounge chairs. Most have separate sitting areas and some kind of soaking pool or whirlpool with a view. An oversized dressing area with basin leads into a large bathroom with separate toilet and shower rooms with talavera pottery, high-end amenities, and Bvlgari toiletries. All suites at Las Ventanas include personal butlers at your 24/7 service and extensive turndown service at night. (When the maid saw my laptop sitting on top a love seat, she had a small desk brought in and set up so I could have a better work space.)
Special touches in each room include the kiva-style, wood-burning terracotta fireplace and your own personal telescope, computerized to view the constellations and planets or for a glimpse of the whales migrating just offshore. Upstair suites have a private rooftop patio for sunbathing, romantic meals, or enjoying the perfect Cabo nights. Special amenities are in place in the room upon arrival or just after, with a note from the manager, and this may include a small bottle of one of the best and most attractive bottles of tequila you could wish for: Clase Azul in a hand-painted porcelain bottle.
Two of the oceanfront buildings and their associated pools are adults-only, but others are open to children and there's a Rose Buds program catering to them with special activities and amenities. The large signature oceanfront villas constructed a few years back are great choices for families and you can even bring your pooches. A dog butler will take them for a walk each morning. A new 18,000 square foot master villa will open in 2016, like a mansion on the beach but with all the hotel services. If you need something large and the villas are sold out, there are also owned residences in a rental pool that are available further back.
Several on-site dining choices are available, all expectedly pricey but consistently excellent. The menus evolve as chefs from around Mexico bring their own regional recipes and the toughest part of the stay here is figuring out what to order from all the tantalizing options. If you're the type that likes to post photos of beautiful plates of food, you'll be starting at breakfast and continuing into the night. Try a tasty combination at Tequila & Ceviche, seafood or prime rib from a cart looking out at the ocean at The Sea Grill, or settle in for a night of fine outdoor or air-conditioned dining and live music at The Restaurant. Naturally you can occupy your afternoon with cooking classes or tequila tasting classes if you want to learn more about Mexican cuisine.
La Cava wine room—with thousands of bottles at the ready—serves up to 14 and hosts a once-weekly chef's table.
Las Ventanas is known for constantly thinking up new ways to delight its guests. This can range from a bath butler who gets your room set up with a hot bath and candles while you have dinner to poolside butlers who will set you up with an iPad, advance copies of books on a Kindle, or a spritz of cold water just as you start sweating. Naturally they'll set you up with tee times, send you to the best scuba diving spots, or put you on a private jet and helicopter for a Baja "whale safari" where you try to spot three different kind of whales. The resort also has its own 60-foot yacht that you can charter for a special occasion or company event.
The Spa at Las Ventanas has won a long list of awards every year since its opening. It offers a "four elements" treatment menu that takes advantage of a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces meant to soothe, relax, and erase the stresses of the outside world.
This superlative luxury beach resort is truly one of the best in North America and is priced to match. There's plenty of generosity and personal service baked into these rates though and if you have an ample budget, at stay as Las Ventanas al Paraiso could even be called a great value. It's definitely an unforgettable experience.
Web Address: www.lasventanas.com
Total Number of Rooms: 71
Published rates: $650 to $10,000 plus 34% in taxes and service charges.
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.