The numbers don’t lie.
Several outstanding resorts in Los Cabos, including seven of the top 10 winners, have been recognized for excellence in Conde Nast Traveler’s 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards. Los Cabos placed more properties in the “Top Resorts in Western Mexico” category—half of the 20 resorts listed—than any other destination in the region. Golf is a prominent feature at three of the reader-selected resorts. Each venue partakes of Cabo’s inimitable mountain-desert-ocean ecosystem.
Chileno Bay Resort & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection (No. 2) reigns as a family-friendly getaway nestled in the sheltered cove and marine reserve of Chileno Bay, one of the finest swimming beaches in Los Cabos. The 92-key resort (60 hotel rooms and 32 multi-bedroom villas), which opened last year, occupies the site of the former Hotel Cabo San Lucas, a fabled retreat patronized by Hollywood stars in the 1960s.
Accented by natural wood, hand-cut local stone and traditional Mexican design elements, the resort’s focal point is a 450-foot-long, three-tiered swimming pool that resembles a river flowing to the sea. The resort was previously cited by Conde Nast Traveler for having “The Best Beachfront Bars and Restaurants in Mexico.”
Chileno Bay guests receive exclusive access to the club’s Tom Fazio-designed golf course. Reopened in 2016 after a major makeover, the 7,260-yard layout, manicured to perfection, is framed by hillsides of flowering shrubs and bunkers filled with bright white sand. Tawny arroyos weave through many of the holes, their elevated tees offering panoramic views of the sea.
Fazio created flowing landforms intended to simulate rolling ocean waves. Wide fairways create strategic options for good players while enhancing playability for average golfers. The two complimentary comfort stations on the course, serving Kobe beef sliders, homemade tamales, beer on draft and an array of sweets, are exceptional.
Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort (No. 8), an adults-only, all-inclusive hotel tucked in a secluded valley 10 minutes from Cabo San Lucas, commands a spectacular location at the place where the Sea of Cortes meets the Pacific Ocean. Fronting a 2.5-mile stretch of pristine beach, the resort has redefined the upscale Cabo vacation experience for couples. The hotel transitioned into the deluxe category in 2016 with the debut of The Towers at Pacifica, a “resort within a resort” featuring beautifully appointed accommodations with private terraces as well as 24-hour butler service. The hotel’s culinary jewel is Peninsula, a seaside restaurant featuring regional Baja cuisine.
Quivira Golf Club, an exclusive amenity for Pacifica guests, is an epic Land’s End layout grafted by Jack Nicklaus onto a jaw-dropping site marked by huge dunes, sheer cliffs and desert foothills. The drive to the fifth hole, which traces a switchback route up the side of a mountain, climbs to a vertigo-inducing tee 275 feet above the foaming surf. This short downhill par 4 can be driven, but it’s ‘hasta la vista’ if you miss the cliff-hanging green. Quivira is arguably the most daring, eclectic course Nicklaus has ever built.
One&Only Palmilla (No. 18) is deservedly known as the Grand Dame of Los Cabos. A legendary hideaway built in 1956 by the son of a former president of Mexico, the hotel, patronized by deep-sea fishing enthusiasts such as John Wayne and Dwight D. Eisenhower, was later transformed by One&Only into a world-class resort.
The retreat is set on a rocky promontory that juts into azure-blue waters calm enough for swimming. In the wake of a recent refurbishment, the hotel’s 173 oceanfront guest rooms and suites, embraced by lush tropical landscaping, have been enhanced. SEARED, an elegant steakhouse, is headed by long-time One&Only collaborator and Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Pamilla Golf Club, tucked into a box-shaped canyon backdropped by stony brown peaks, set the stage for top-shelf golf in Los Cabos when it opened in 1992. The original 18 (Arroyo and Mountain nines), the first Nicklaus Signature Design in Latin America, is a target-style test that skirts boulder-strewn arroyos, long waste bunkers and several ponds. A few holes call for heroic carries over raw desert from the back tees, though broad terraced fairways, generous bail-out areas and accessible greens accommodate players of lesser attainment.
The club’s Ocean nine, added by Nicklaus in 1999, features a 600-foot elevation change from the first tee to the sixth green, transporting players from the mountains to the sea. Recently treated to a $3.5 million refurbishment, Palmilla is better now than when Nicklaus first etched his core design into desert uplands high above the sea.
The additional resorts voted to Conde Nast Traveler’s 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards are convenient to numerous golf courses in and around the 20-mile corridor that links San Jose del Cabo, a charming colonial capital; and Cabo San Lucas, renowned for its bustling marina and nightlife. These properties include Viceroy Los Cabos (No. 1), The Resort at Pedregal (No. 3), Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort (No. 5), The Cape, A Thompson Hotel (No. 6), Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection (No. 9), Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa (No. 17), and Villa del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa (No. 20).
Feature photo: Quivira Golf Club