Great Finds, Los Cabos, Mexico
By Candyce H. Stapen
Even if your last memory of Cabo was upchucking on the sidewalk, a result of too many Tequila shooters on spring break, come back again. Both you and Los Cabos have grown up. Although bars and bikinis abound, the prime Baja peninsula vacation destination also offers great food, interesting boutiques and upscale resorts. And now you’re ready.
Los Cabos (“the capes”) consists of, at one end, Cabo San Lucas, still a magnet for college students in March and April, and at the other end, San Jose del Cabo, the quieter, Spanish colonial city. Connecting them is the hotel corridor.
Although cheap eats and cafes, including the Hard Rock, dot the streets, Cabo’s better restaurants use locally grown produce. Chef Fabrice Guisset serves Baja- Mediterranean cuisine at the Restaurant, his domain at the AAA Five Diamond Las Ventanas al Parasio resort. Chef Fabrice also leads cooking classes. The charming chef teaches you how to make a simple but sensational guacamole as well as the more complicated beef Mixiote with chickpeas. Cooking lessons are open to non-resort guests.
Enrique Silva, co-owner of notable San Jose restaurant Tequila, begins cooking classes at Los Tamarindos, his organic farm, December 1. Start with coffee and snacks in the arbor, tour the farm’s rows of vegetables and then roll your sleeves up for lessons in his 100 year old farmhouse. Learn how to grill tortillas and create chicken and meat dishes Mexican-style but with a contemporary flare.
For take home finds, better than the T-shirts and hammocks you last stuffed into your duffle bag, check-out the Pineda Covalin boutique in the Luxury Avenue shopping mall. The colorful swirls and patterns on the scarves, shawls, ties, handbags and other items created by this Mexican design house are eye-catching, contemporary re-interpretations of classic Mexican traditions and native designs. The piñata scarves, sprays of blue, lavender and purple shapes, come with a tag explaining the real meaning of breaking piñatas. The Monarch butterfly shawls capture the fluttering, dynamism of thousands of butterfly wings. After all, each year the Monarch butterflies flock to Mexico by the millions.
Where to stay? For luxury and pampering befitting a work-weary urbanite, book the One & Only Palmilla. All rooms come with balconies or patios, a butler to take care of your needs, a telescope for star-gazing and complimentary Tequila to get you in the mood. Dine at the resort’s Market, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, his first west coast venue.
Be sure to book a massage at the One & Only Palmilla. Although you can opt for a mere 60-minute treatment, many spa choices take longer. With the Aztec Aromatic Ritual, a therapist kneads and strokes you with ginger and cinnamon for 60 or 90 minutes, and then gives you another half-an-hour to soak outdoors in an oversized Kohler waterfall Jacuzzi tub, drink herbal tea and stretch out amid the greenery on a palapa shaded daybed. Tubbed, rubbed, smoothed and totally soothed, we didn’t want to leave. After this experience, a plain treatment room will feel ever so “manqué”.
Aren’t you glad you’re not on spring break anymore?