New hotels continue to open in Los Cabos, leading some to wonder whether supply will not soon exceed demand. That could start a price war as prohibitively expensive resorts trim their rates to lure in less affluent customers. The day may come when Los Cabos, playground for celebrities and tycoons, could become affordable.
To those on the Forbes list, of course, it already is affordable. That relatively few Mexican vacationers lounge around lavish Los Cabos pools, however, is not due merely to frugality. The tip of the Baja California peninsula sizzles during the summer, yet turns chilly when winter comes. The Sea of Cortes frequently is too cold to swim in, and even when it is not, tides and undertow make most of the beaches around Los Cabos dangerous.
Still, when you come to think about it, few vacationers actually venture into the ocean even at Ixtapa or Manzanillio. Most are quite happy to simply lounge around the pool, no more concerned about melanoma than are smokers about lung cancer.
Mexican vacationers have better places closer to home to enjoy the seashore, but for the denizens of Los Angeles, Los Cabos is the tropics less than three hours’ flying time from home. And while New Yorkers might disagree, Los Angeles determines where fashionable and chic North Americans will flock.
The trend started eight years ago when Rosewood Resorts opened Las Ventanas al Paraiso. One goal was to make it the most expensive hotel in Mexico. Another, no doubt an even more important one, was to make it the best hotel in the country.
Next came the Palmilla, now the One and Only Palmilla, reopened after investing a reported 100 million dollars in renovations. Management installed powerful telescopes in the rooms, as had been done at Ventanas. That way guests can watch the celebrities without starring.
In an effort to prevent uncontrolled growth and damage to the environment, a Coordinating Council has been established as an “Alliance for Successful Development.” Concern has been expressed not only about all the new resorts being built, but about the slums popping up in the hills to house those hoping to find employment in paradise. Crime has become enough of a problem that vigilance cameras are being installed both in the towns and along the corridor. Even so, some hotels are advising guests to avoid walking along the beaches after dark.
Los Cabos, in case you have not been there, is both somewhat sedate San José with just half-a-dozen resorts and swinging, lively Cabo San Lucas, with its marina bistros and boutiques, and more than twice as many hotels. Between them lies the 30 kilometer strip along which some of the most elaborate pleasure palaces have been built. No two-passenger cabs in these parts. Every taxi is ten-passenger van and fares are reasonable enough when shared by ten people. Cost of a trip to the airport is 850 pesos but the price probably will be quoted in dollars. Happily, pesos still are accepted in Los Cabos.
Golfers undeterred by stratospheric the fees can play at a different course in Los Cabos every day of the week. Indeed, it is golf that is credited for the growing popularity of the area. Nine airlines fly in from various points in Mexico and the United States, supplemented by countless charter airlines.
Back in the 1950s, visitors to Los Cabos arrived aboard their own aircraft. Even then the tip of Baja appealed to the rich and sometimes famous, former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower among them. They came to fish. Marlin always lurked in the sea, ready for a challenge. The Sea of Cortes long has been known for its abundance of game fish and other marine life, including whales that swim down from the frigid waters off Alaska on what some might call honeymoons.
In the early 1970s, the Transpeninsular Highway and then an international airport ended the isolation of Los Cabos. The Palmilla, Hacienda, Finisterra and other small hotels had been luxurious enough to have their own airstrips, but newer resorts strove to be more opulent still. And one of the first things newly arrived hoteliers discovered was that golfers are to be preferred over sports fishermen.
Sportsfishermen, especially those who first came to Los Cabos, tend to be wealthy, but not big spenders. Most show up without their wives, preferring a macho vacation when they can drink beer, forget about shaving, eat simple, hearty meals and sleep early in order to be up at dawn, the best hour for fishing. Golfers, on the other hand, travel with their wives and two spend more than one. Golfers dress more elegantly, order gourmet meals, fine wines and enjoy showing off their wealth. To please those wives who do not golf, spas have opened. Virtually every hotel in Los Cabos has its own spa. The ladies like to be pampered, and their golfing husbands are not about to quibble over the cost.
This has given Los Cabos the most sumptuous and well-appointed resorts in Mexico. But as new projects come on line, some wonder whether there will be enough millionaires around to keep them filled. Fashions change.