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What’s New in Cabo and Cancún

A guide to Mexico’s glittering getaway gems, East and West

Travel by Brandon Schultz (From GayCalgary® Magazine, August 2018, page 48)
Krystal Grand Los Cabos Adult Pool
Krystal Grand Los Cabos Adult Pool
Image by: Krystal Grand Los Cabos
Towers at Pacifica presidential suite terrace
Towers at Pacifica presidential suite terrace
Image by: Pueblo Bonito Golf & Spa Resort
Whale Watching in Los Cabos
Whale Watching in Los Cabos
Image by: Los Cabos Tourism
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Unabashedly colorful and overflowing with culture, cuisine, and beaches, beaches, beaches, Mexico is a prime vacation destination, but with competing coastlines battling for your attention, exactly where to stay within the country is a tougher call. On the east coast, kissed by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, Cancún has been the Yucatan’s top choice for decades, drawing everyone from spring break revelers to stylish jetsetters. Not to be outdone, the west coast’s Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo ("Los Cabos") draw millions of visitors to the tip of the Baja Peninsula, where the deep blue Sea of Cortez and the powerful Pacific Ocean come together. Each city boasts sparkling seas along pristine shorelines, drawing a hefty hunk of Mexico’s nearly 40 million annual visitors and securing the nation’s consistent ranking among the ten most visited countries worldwide, and both offer plenty of adventure on land and sea along with world-class resorts for unwinding in style. Unless geography alone dictates your holiday preferences, it can be difficult to choose which coast to visit. So, to help you decide where to base yourself for a Mexican getaway, we visited both Cancún and Los Cabos to bring you an update of what’s new in each.

LOS CABOS

San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas are the sister cities collectively known as Los Cabos, and connected by roughly 10 kilometers of glittering coastline known as the Hotel Corridor, where top resorts perch along the most picturesque points of the capes. San José del Cabo has remained relatively quiet and more traditional in culture, closer in spirit to the early days of the region when these unknown spots were remote fishing villages. In stark contrast, Cabo San Lucas is now a party town bedecked in bars and nightclubs catering to the up-all-night crowd and the thrill seekers. The blue waters of Los Cabos are famous for the tremendous variety of marine life that inspired Jacques Cousteau to dub them "the aquarium of the world," and more than one impressive migration culminates in Los Cabos each year, drawing thousands of visitors for this reason alone. In late summer, five species of sea turtle return to their birthplaces to nest along the Baja Peninsula, but the true crowd pleasure is considerably larger, in more ways than one. From December through April, these waters are home to countless pods of whales, including blue, gray, and humpback, as they journey more than 6,000 miles from the frigid north to breed and raise their calves. It’s a spectacle not to be missed, and while whale-watching tours can bring you face-to-face with the largest mammals on the planet, you’ll also see them in the distance from the comfort your ocean-view rooms and even while driving along the Corridor.

Towers at Pacifica

The luxe residential and resort complex of Quivira Los Cabos in San José del Cabo recently unveiled The Towers at Pacifica within the Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort, introducing an ultra-exclusive resort-within-a-resort for those seeking the utmost in access and customized service. Private butlers, trained and certified by the British Butler Institute, offer packing/unpacking services, shoe shining, ironing, and just about anything imaginable while curating a personalized experience and navigating you through the many other luxuries that await you in The Towers.

New this year is an unparalleled star-gazing experience that includes a stay in the 3200 square-foot presidential suite at the top of The Towers and a private tequila and mescal tasting followed by a personally guided tour of the cosmos through a high-powered telescope, led by an expert astronomer on the rooftop terrace of The Towers. The "Astronomical Night" package can be made even more out-of-this-world by adding the "Star Party," which includes a champagne beach dinner, massages, and an evening wine tasting around a hand-dug firepit on the beach.

El Ganzo

El Ganzo is already the boutique hotel for the cultural elite visiting Los Cabos (yes, that means celebrities, too), but a recent addition to their in-residence program is creating new buzz for the chic property. The all-white hotel is a canvas for artists-in-residence who each create one large scale piece of art on or around the property while simultaneously embellishing their personal rooms throughout the length of their residency. The public art is preapproved by the property, but what will happen inside the artist’s room is anyone’s guess, making a future stay in any of these rooms unique experience for the lucky guest. Musicians-in-residence record in the property’s underground studio (reached by a trapdoor in the hotel’s bar) and perform at El Ganzo’s rooftop concert venue. New to El Ganzo is the chef-in-residence program, called Chef Intervention, which focuses on inspired Mexican cuisine using hyperlocal ingredients and culminates in a chef’s tasting dinner at Ganzo Downstairs, the property’s premier dining venue.

Krystal Grand Los Cabos

New to San José del Cabo as of November 2017 is Krystal Grand Los Cabos, a beachfront property catering to everyone from singles to families to groups. For those looking forward to a childless vacation, rest assured that a comprehensive children’s program keeps most of the hotel’s smaller guests occupied in a designated area of the resort featuring a kids’ pool with waterslides. Two larger pools with ocean views remain relatively peaceful, and an adults-only pool with a swim-up bar is secluded in a separate area of the property, conveniently situated by the property’s sports bar, Time Out. You’ll undoubtedly want to chow down on great Mexican food at El Mortero, but Krystal Grand Los Cabos also offers Asian and Italian fine dining options along with plenty of the bar and grill fare you expect from an all-inclusive vacation resort.

Cuisine

The Los Cabos region is becoming increasingly famous for it’s farm-to-table scene, bolstered by the acclaimed Flora Farms and now including Huerta Los Tamarindos and Acre, which recently expanded to include treehouse accommodations on site. Not only are Acre’s ingredients locally sourced (much of them from the property’s own farm), but most of the building materials also originated on the property. Also new in 2017 was the launch of Los Cabos’s first Michelin Star chef-led restaurant, Cocina de Autor, at the new Grand Velas Los Cabos resort. Helmed by chef Sidney Schutte (with two Michelin stars), the concept restaurant bills itself as a "sensorial dining experience of fine gastronomy."

CANCÚN

Where the mountains and impressive waters of Los Cabos offer more in the way of physical adventure, Cancún’s hospitable Caribbean beaches beckon the sun worshippers and swimmers alike while its legendary nightlife is irresistible to the true partiers. Home to the Yucatan’s massive network of underground waterways, the nearby Riviera Maya region is coveted for its nearly 7,000 cenotes—underground pools exposed when the limestone surfaces cave in, creating magical, almost mythical swimming spots that were sometimes given spiritual significance to the Ancient Maya who incorporated them into religious ritual. The area’s Mayan history brings with it impressive temple ruins, perfect for daytrips from Cancún’s swanky 13-mile Hotel Zone, where most of its resorts lie in exclusive seclusion from much of the region.

In the water, snorkelers will not be disappointed by Cancún’s impressive coral reef (it’s the second longest in the world behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef) or its underwater museum, the world’s largest, with more than 500 submerged sculptures. On land, Cancún is well known for its shopping scene with everything from high-end malls like Luxury Avenue to haggle-happy Market 28, but it’s certainly the nightlife that keeps Cancún on the map. Infamous for its spring break scene, Cancún’s countless clubs and bars are active year-round and see a diverse crowd of revelers, and many are located right in the Hotel Zone, remaining open until 5 AM.

Krystal Grand Punta Cancún

Continuing its recent introduction and expansion in Mexico, the Krystal Grand brand also unveiled the Altitude Tower at its Punta Cancún property in 2017. Ideally situated on the white sand beaches of the Hotel Zone, the 395-room resort’s most coveted accommodations are undeniably the 100 Altitude Tower rooms that add VIP service and personalization to the rest of the Krystal Grand experience. A stay here includes complimentary tequila tastings and a chef’s table experience. Luxury suites within the tower include panoramic ocean views, daily fruit and minibar service, and large terraces with outdoor Jacuzzis. Pro tip: don’t forget to utilize the sizable spa credit that comes with accommodation in these ultra deluxe suites.

Amikoo

Riviera Maya’s answer to Disney World, Amikoo is an $840 million dollar, multi-park extravaganza of amusement and Mexican heritage rolling out in three phases with the first (including a concert arena, convention center, and shopping complex) set to debut in autumn 2018. Amikoo will be Latin America’s largest theme park and expects to draw 4.5 million visitors annually. Future highlights will include a 1,200 room resort, a history and anthropological museum of the Maya people, the Extreme Maya theme park, a pirate history exhibit, and tons of entertaining Mexico-centric education.

Puerto Cancún

One of Cancún’s newest venture’s, Puerto Cancún is a resort town unto itself, with residences of all varieties, golf, fine dining, upscale shopping, a movie theater, a beach club, and a 600-slip marina all within a gated community inside Cancún. Currently more of an investment opportunity in the way of vacation homes or retirement properties, its many recreational amenities are open to the public, and hotels are the on the way, with the first scheduled to open in 2019. As a new destination within a destination, it’s a fun alternative to the Hotel Zone for a day of entertainment, and a hot spot worth checking out if you’re in the market for property in one of Mexico’s top regions.

Cuisine

The Rosa Negra family of restaurants recently opened their third location, bringing the swanky culinary experience to Cancún’s Hotel Zone. Fresh, locally sourced ingredients come together in refined dishes with museum-worthy presentation that you may forget to actually eat as you absorb yourself in photo-documenting the spectacle. The gastronomic influence here isn’t just Mexican, but casts a wider Latin American net including Brazilian, Colombian, Argentinian, and Peruvian, all cultures that also happen to share a love of music and dancing encouraged by Rosa Negra’s resident DJ. Rest assured the craft cocktails don’t disappoint, and Rosa Negra Cancún’s multi-level decks over Nichupte Lagoon set the stage for dramatic sundowners.

Whether you choose Los Cabos or Cancún, you’re going to find that neither is tired, both are experiencing as much popularity as ever and are exploding with future development, and either will give you that total escape you’re dreaming of. And if you just can’t decide, visit both and investigate for yourself. It’s research well worth undertaking!


Related Articles

Contributor Brandon Schultz |


Locale Cabo | Cancún | Mexico |


Topic Accommodation and Lodging | Food | Travel |


Photo Gallery Cabo | Cancún | Travel |


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El Arco in Los Cabos
Image by: Ben Horton

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