Holiday like an A-lister in Mexico's Los Cabos region
Erica Bush samples the high life during a visit to Robert De Niro's latest property, Nobu Hotel Los Cabos
“A lot of important people come to Los Cabos,” Manuel says, as he pours himself another glass of red wine. It’s a balmy evening in Mexico and the European representative of Visit Los Cabos is weighing up which celebrities might favour this region the most.
Is it Jennifer Anniston, George Clooney or Enrique Iglesias, all of whom own properties in this sun-soaked corner of the world? Bill Gates and his permanently Cabo-moored yacht? Or is it Academy Award-winning actor Robert De Niro, who rates Los Cabos so highly he chose it as the destination for Nobu Hotels’ first property in Latin America?
Los Cabos has long been a premier destination for America’s elite, loved for its sleepy nature and strong golfing, fishing and arts scene. But the region’s popularity has sky-rocketed in recent years thanks to a large-scale regeneration project in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Odile in 2014. Nestled into the southernmost tip of the Baja California Peninsula and hugging the coastline from Cabo San Lucas to San Jose del Cabo, Los Cabos now boasts a 20-mile stretch of coastline rich in luxury hotels and glossy resorts.
Rising in popularity
Britons have been slower to wake up to Los Cabos’s merits, perhaps due to the 15-hour-plus journey time, with other Mexican destinations easier to reach.
Airlift improved briefly when Tui launched a weekly direct flight to Los Cabos last year; however, this has since been withdrawn due to the pandemic. The number of private jets on display at Los Cabos airport as we touchdown tells me the removal of the route won’t worry affluent travellers too much.
The effort to reach Los Cabos will be paid off instantly on arrival, with countless high-end hotels – the newest of which is Nobu Hotel Los Cabos.
The new property from De Niro’s hospitality company Nobu Hotels – founded in partnership with acclaimed chef Nobu Matsuhisa and film producer Meir Teper – was the region’s most-talked-about launch of 2019, with its opening party drawing celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio.
The beachfront property is set within a sprawling private complex, which houses a recently opened Hard Rock Hotel, private residences and two world-class golf courses designed by Tiger Woods.
Walking into the hotel’s achingly large lobby – a concrete-clad structure of clean lines and smooth curves that overlooks the rest of the resort – I feel like I’ve drifted into an Instragrammer’s dream. There are sleek firepits ringed by circular sofas and soaring palms; glass-panelled terraces dotted with oversized plant pots overflowing with bubblegum-pink flowers; and enormous stone sculptures set among manicured gardens and vegetable beds. Everything is designed in Nobu’s famed Japanese beach house aesthetic, said to be built with kokoro (‘heart’ in Japanese) and using local, Mexican materials.
It’s not long before I’m being whisked to my suite by my butler, who later adds me on WhatsApp to make it even easier to check up on me. The door clicks open and out stretches the most idyllic haven – a Pinterest-worthy bathroom complete with a free-standing timber tub, a river-stone paved wall and a cloud-like bed. The pièce de résistance? My very own infinity pool, lying just behind my electronically controlled curtains and offering views of the beach and beyond.
Nobu has location on its side too. The 14-acre complex lies a 20-minute drive away from the lively Cabo San Lucas, the oldest part of Los Cabos (often simply referred to as Cabo) situated at the southern tip of the peninsula where the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean meet. The former maritime village is well-known for its deep-sea fishing and marine life, including rays, sharks, mahi-mahi and striped marlin, bringing some of the world’s biggest sport fishing tournaments to the region.
Clients might not make it onto Bill Gates’ yacht but there are plenty of others available to take guests past the famous Cabo Arch, where sea lions sunbathe on jagged rocks and small boats mill about on the turquoise water.
Cabo also boasts a marina buzzing with restaurants, shops and bars, which transforms into a rollicking party land for the ultra-rich as the sun goes down.
In contrast, San Jose del Cabo – a 30-minute drive up the coast – is chilled and bohemian. Here you’ll find organic farms, art galleries, surf beaches and charming boutiques. This colourful, colonial town has an intriguing history too, with expeditions to the area recorded as early as 1535.
Once clients have had their fill of the two main towns, most flock to sleepier parts of Baja California Sur to unwind. The quiet coastal town of Todos Santos in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains – 40 miles from Nobu Hotel Los Cabos – is an apt example: it’s positively infused with Mexican soul and is home to retired celebrities and musicians including R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck.
We wander along the town’s deserted cobbled streets strung with multicoloured flags that flutter in the breeze. We pass hole-in-the-wall shops selling intricately designed Day of the Dead sugar skulls; churches with stained glass windows and gnarly old red doors; and glittering Aztec murals that line the walls.
“Do you want to drink a real margarita?” a broad man with tanned, leathery skin asks with a glint in his eye as we pull up a chair at Tequila’s Sunrise Bar. He’s known locally as Mr Margarita and, as he eyeballs alarmingly large measures of tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and local herbal spirit Damiana Guaycura (the secret ingredient, we’re told), I can see why. We sit and sip and watch the world go by – locals munching on corn chips and guacamole, horse and carts rolling past, and tourists flocking in and out of the iconic Hotel California, reportedly made famous by The Eagles.
Later, we make our way to La Casita Tapas & Wine Bar, where owner and head chef Sergio cooks up dishes his grandmother taught him from the age of eight. The region’s favourable climate makes farming fruit and vegetables like avocados, chillies, papayas and mangoes a breeze, so local, fresh ingredients are available by the bucket. Sergio brings us plates of homemade bread with goat’s cheese and wild honey and a spinach fettuccini dish he spontaneously concocted due to an unexpectedly large delivery of the green leaf that morning.
Woozy from the heat and tequila, we return to Nobu. It’s a sanctuary of shaded cabanas and cooling pools, comfy corners and leafy gardens filled with dragonflies. In the evening, a drinks cart will stop by my room offering me any cocktail I wish, before resident ‘tequilier’ (the equivalent of a sommelier) Don Julio gives us a masterclass in the Mexican spirit as a rust-coloured sun dips into the sea. If this is how celebrities spend their holidays, you can count me in every time.
Book it: Rooms start from £300 per night inclusive of taxes and charges based on a Deluxe King Room.
Ask the expert
Twin-centre trips, farm experiences and whale watching - Manuel Diaz C.brian of Visit Los Cabos offers three tips on what to recommend to affluent clients.
- Sell Los Cabos as a twin-centre trip, allowing UK clients to also visit nearby destinations such as Los Angeles or San Diego.
- Book clients on a farm-to-table experience at an organic farm like Los Tamarindos. The 17-acre working farm dates back to the 1800s and serves up family-style plates of slow-cooked pork shank and roasted farm vegetables.
- For nature enthusiasts, schedule a visit between late-November and the end of March for whale-watching season. Alternative marine activities include swimming with sea lions at Espiritu Santo Island and scuba diving at Cabo Pulmo Marine Reserve.