I first visited Los Cabos, at the southern tip of Baja, in 1980. My parents purchased a condo in Cabo San Lucas because it was the only place in Mexico that my mother had not gotten sick. Back then, coming from Seattle, we would overnight in Los Angeles before flying to the thatched roof airport in San Jose del Cabo. We would walk off the plane and hop into a taxi for the drive down the windy, dilapidated road that linked San Jose with Cabo - there was no highway back then, and I always got carsick. Our small condo development, one of the first in Cabo, was built by an American family who had ditched the States in search of the slow life in paradise. At that time, Cabo was tranquil; there was no marina, no stoplight, no pavement, few tourists, and definitely no Domino's Pizza. Cabo was a village fringed by empty beaches leading to the deep blue Pacific, and populated by fishermen bronzed by endless sunshine. Over the course of the 20 years that we spent time in Cabo, tourism grew faster than the infrastructure could be built. In what felt like no time at all, the village that I knew as a child became a mecca for tourists; the marina was dug, hotels were raised, and direct flights brought people en masse. My parents decided to sell their spot in 1999, during the height of the boom. In spite of that, I still go back to Baja every year. Either I hole up in a luxury resort along the corridor that connects San Jose with Cabo or I drive up the Pacific Coast to the towns of Pescadero and Todos Santos; make no mistake Baja is in my blood forever. This winter, I decided to stay put in San Jose. What was formerly the more commercial of the two Cabos, San Jose has become a haven for artists, foodies, and travelers looking for something a little more authentic than the glitz and glamour of Cabo. In the last couple of years, luxe accommodations and incredible restaurants have quietly started drawing sophisticated travelers to San Jose. While not to be misleading, there is a strip of resorts and cheesy tourist restaurants along the main road in San Jose. However, a short stroll into town takes you to the quaint center where colorful shops, galleries, and restaurants populate the streets around the main square. It is as lovely as it sounds; San Jose del Cabo's time is now.
Mar Adentro: Just opened, Mar Adentro brings a touch of high design and architecture to San Jose del Cabo. Designed by Mexican architect Miguel Angel Aragon, Mar Adentro's hypermodern white structures are built amid a landscape of huge reflecting pools and water features, all with an endless view of the horizon hanging over the Sea of Cortez. At night, the buildings are lit up in different colors, and a gaze into the pools brings infinity of reflection. Rooms at Mar Adentro are spacious, contemporary, and luxurious. While the hotel is open for occupancy, the property has not yet been completed. But don't worry, you won't hear the sound of construction, and barely notice the work being done on the villas and suites lining the beach below the pool. In the morning, wander into the "Nest" for coffee and a full Mexican breakfast. Chilaquiles, you say? Check. Breakfast burrito? For sure! Extra bacon? No problem. In the afternoon, once the breakfast food coma wears off, indulge in a light lunch by the pool. The kitchen at Mar Adentro turns out unbelievable ceviche and organic salads. Finish the day lounging in the fading sun with a few Pacificos and a swim. When the breeze carries the scent of coconut and pineapple from a piña colada across the pool you may consider never going home. $$$
April, 2018 Update: Mar Adentro is now under the management of Viceroy Hotels, and is expected to reopen as Viceroy Los Cabos in May 2018.
Drift San Jose: Located in the center of San Jose del Cabo, Drift is the perfect accommodation for the independent traveler who seeks peace, quiet, and comfort in a tranquil and private setting. The contemporary, industrial designed rooms are comfortable and beautifully furnished with minimalist decor. At Drift, guests are encouraged to make themselves at home, and to get to know one another. Definitely find time to visit Drift's Food Cart and Mezcal Bar on Thursday and Saturday evenings. If you are lucky, live music might be on the ticket tonight! Just another reason to never leave this little urban oasis. $
Flora Farms: Flora Farms is the magical place that brought organic farming to the foothills of the Sierra de Laguna Mountains just outside of San Jose. The drive from San Jose takes you into the desert and down a dirt road that ends at an oasis of palms that is Flora Farms. The series of structures that make up the farm community include several boutiques, a farm stand, the restaurant, and a series of privately owned culinary cottages. The property is imaginatively designed to accommodate a beautiful and expansive outdoor restaurant within the abundant fields of organic produce. If you visit during the day (yes, they are open for lunch and brunch), you have the opportunity to really see the farm and restaurant interact. In the evening, twinkling lights and lanterns light restaurant, and the smell of the field is a pleasant reminder that your dinner is grown on site. Yes, Flora Farms is a farm to table restaurant, but like no other. The landscape is otherworldly, the food is exceptional, and the cocktails are made from juiced pressed from the farm's fruit and vegetables. The extensive menu is the showcase for the bounty cultivated that day, with proteins focused on the catch of the day, pork and house made charcuterie. The pork chop is not to be missed. Should you visit and decide you never want to leave, there may just be one cottage still available for purchase. Rumor has it that a beach community is in the works. $$$
Acre: Just opened this winter, Acre is a 25-acre property outside of San Jose del Cabo. If Flora Farms is the mature old brother in the farm and food community of San Jose, Acre is the new, adventurous, younger brother. The first phase of Acre's development is complete, with a beautiful restaurant, bar, event space, and pool deck. 12 luxe tree houses are being constructed in the adjacent palm forest and are expected to be open for accommodation in the coming months. A tour of the property showcases the extensive installation of colorful concrete tiles and reveals the attention to detail that went into the design of this cool space. Beyond the pool deck, a large tiled patio is the perfect place for a private party or reception. If Chef Kevin is around, he will happily tell you that he dropped everything in Los Angeles to take the job at Acre, and has never looked back. Be sure to ask Kevin for some insider tips on eating in San Jose; he knows all the best taco spots. The menu at Acre represents contemporary Mexican cuisine, blending fresh seafood with vibrant produce. Be sure to order desert! $$$
La Revolución Comedor: This new restaurant in a beautifully restored and striking building in the heart of San Jose, is serving up some of the best food in town. The menu, which focuses on meats roasted in the brick oven, is reminiscent of a steak house, offering oysters, ceviche, salads, and rice to accompany the richness of the locally raised beef and chicken. The signature cocktails are an inventive mix of local ingredients with some of the best mezcal and tequilas around. $$$
La Panadería: This sweet little bakery in the back of a strip mall serves one of the best al fresco breakfasts in San Jose. Minimal design. Beautiful pastries. Amazing breakfast. Think avocado toast, eggs with chorizo, fresh squeezed juice, and french press coffee. $
La Lupita: When Chef Kevin from Acre wants tacos, he goes to the backyard bar at La Lupita. The tiny kitchen turns out incredible tacos made of handmade tortillas filled with the freshest, local ingredients. At Las Lupitas you aren't locked into an entre of three of the same tacos...pick and choose, and keep them coming. They are small after all. Don't shy away from the deep list of Mezcal. $
ON THE SIDE
Rent a car and experience the empty beaches and desert of the East Cape, just a 1-hour drive away. Take a bicycle for a spin through town; you are only a short ride from the town square. Stop and shop for Mexican textiles, or browse through the galleries showcasing incredible local art. When your feet are tired, head to the beach to body surf and laze in the sun. Or if you are feeling adventurous, an evening horseback ride is a wonderful way to take in the sunset, surf, and peacefulness of Baja.
Whats to Come:
Copenhagen ★ 05.17
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W A N D E R L U S T