If you and your girlfriends are looking to relax, recharge, and rejuvenate but are not looking forward to spending thousands of dollars for a full-scale spa retreat, I have the perfect answer. The brand new Cabo San Lucas, Vista Encantada Spa Resort & Residences, located a short flight away in Baja, is just the spot for you to put together a fun-filled, girl-friend getaway with plenty of healthy options!
Although Cabo San Lucas isn’t exactly hurting for luxe properties, Vista Encantada Spa Resort & Residences, with its 37 stylish suites, ranging from 1-4 bedrooms, manages to stand out from the rest. Not only are their suites humongous (definitely spacious enough for a dry-land game of Marco Polo) every one of them overlooks the stunning, deep-blue Sea of Cortez. You get the best of both worlds when you stay here. While the resort is located in peaceful seclusion away from all the hustle bustle, there’s also a complimentary van that will whip you downtown in about 15 minutes, if you want to socialize, shop, or hop from one happy hour margarita bar to another.
But perhaps the most distinguishing feature of Vista Encantada is its exceedingly gracious service, which starts at check-in when your personal butler runs up to greet you. I’m still suffering withdrawal pains from not having Guillermo Justo, my adorable butler, answer my every whim. After showing me around the resort and making sure everything was to my liking, he asked for my cell phone. He then plugged in his number and told me to call him day or night if I needed anything at all. He didn’t bat an eyelash when I told him I might call him at 2:00 am for a bedtime story if I couldn’t fall asleep, which due to the incredibly comfy beds was not a problem.
If you have any special dietary needs or favorite snacks and beverages, simply call ahead and they will be happy to pre-stock your refrigerator.
Super Spacious Suites
The contemporary suites are all bright and cheerful, decorated with hand-made Oaxacan rugs, local pottery and colorful Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera paintings.
My 2,300+ sq. ft. two-bedroom suite featured a Master bedroom with a King bed and a second bedroom with two Queen beds, with two and a half bathrooms (generously stocked with Bulgari amenities).
There’s also a fully equipped kitchen, a sitting and dining area, cable/satellite TV, complimentary Wi-Fi, a mini-bar that’s stocked daily, espresso maker, and linen robes and slippers. I loved taking in the unobstructed view from my private balcony complete with a plunge pool at one end and a BBQ grill at the other-perfect for a romantic dinner for two or a gaggle of girlfriends ready to party.
More Resort Highlights:
Perfect Sky Pool
You can easily spend the day at their breath-taking, rooftop infinity pool, which is long enough for some serious lap swimming, sided by two outdoor Jacuzzi pools. Unlike many other resorts, there are plenty of sun and shade choices, including comfy cushioned lounge chairs, nesty sun teepees, private cabanas, plus a welcome assortment of paperbacks and free sunscreen.
Fabulous Rooftop Fitness Center
I swear I would join this at home, it was that good! It’s filled with state-of-the-art Technogym equipment (with a helpful instructor who is happy to show you how everything works) free weights, stretching aids.
But the best part is that the line-up of elliptical and treadmill cardio machines face floor-to-ceiling views of the sea.
Milagro Wellness Spa
Head here for some serious spa-spoiling. You’ll find five treatment rooms, a therapy pool where the overhead jets hit all the right sore spots, an immaculate sauna and steam room. The spa menu offers natural healing treatments based on four ancestral Mexican flowers: dahlia, cempasuchil (Mexican marigold), amaranth, sunflower.
These might be incorporated in one of their traditional treatments, such as their lava shell massage, tequila & salt exfoliation, or a calorie-free xocolatt (chocolate) body wrap. For the best anti-jetlag treatment book a session in the Temazcal, a pre-Hispanic steam bath with medicinal herbs.
Rehydrate at the Fresco Juice Bar & Natural Delights, for a freshly squeezed tropical juice best enjoyed on one of the relaxing swing chairs.
I opted for the Mayan Massage, which was a welcome fusion of traditional techniques, including delicious smells, cupping, smudging, rocking, and who knows what else. I was so profoundly; relaxed it was hard to tell. But I did remember to get you the name of my exceptional masseuse, Andrea!
Food, Glorious food!
While you can choose the European plan (room only-no meals) I’d strongly suggest you go for the unique Dine Out Privileges® Plan, their all-inclusive option that lets you choose from a myriad of dining options, from fine dining to let’s-just-grab-a-burger at the beach bar. Between all their properties, you have around 15 different dining choices in the all-inclusive dining plan, including both on-site resort dining options as well as a handful of downtown restaurants ranging from a Seafood & Oyster bar, Steakhouse and Sushi Bar.
After a day of sunbathing followed by a massage, I was too relaxed to leave the resort so happily ate at Vista Encantada or next door at Hacienda Encantada.
I’d start my day with an ala carte brekkie at their signature restaurant, Mestizo del Mar. If I were feeling virtuous, I’d order the Healthy Breakfast and choose a seat facing the lovely new Chapel on the hill. Another morning I’d go for authentic Mexican, chowing down on a hearty pile of chicken chilaquiles with green chili sauce and a mimosa.
Chef Oscar Rodriguez Garcia prepared a special tasting dinner for us one night at Mestizo. It opened with the most exquisite shrimp bisque with cognac foam and crab ravioli, followed by an organic baby lettuce salad topped with grilled octopus and freshly caught Totoaba fish served with creamy lime risotto.
The man has a golden touch when it comes to seafood, which is why we were excited to take his ceviche cooking class the following afternoon. It was super easy since the kitchen provided us with a mis-en-place of all the ingredients. All we had to do was mix them together.
Chef Oscar taught us two different sea bass preparations, one with cucumber, red onion, cilantro, avocado, and lots of lime juice for a classic ceviche and then a fruity version where we added tomato, watermelon, and roasted pineapple.
A tasty and highly educational Tequila tasting class led by Christopher, the charming sommelier, followed this. He talked us through the tequila making process starting with the harvesting (did you know it takes between 5-12 years for the agave plants to grow to just the right ripeness?) all the way to the distillation process.
Once we had the background down, Christopher led us on a guided tasting, where we learned to appreciate the nuances of the various styles, contrasting the variety of colors, scents, consistency, and flavors.
We ended with a taste of José Cuervo Reserva de La Familia, the world’s first extra-añejo tequila, made using only blue agave and aged in French and American oak barrels for a minimum of three years, which sells for about $150.
For our final dinner, we popped over to the Hacienda’s Los Riscos Mesquite Grill, for a lovely al fresco, wine-pairing dinner. I knew we were in for a treat after our gorgeous starter arrived, scallop toast with avocado mousse paired with Villa Sandi Prosecco. I was surprised by the quality of the Mexican wines that Christopher had selected for us, particularly the 2013 Tierra Adentro Merlot that paired beautifully with both the steak and duck breast.
If (and that’s a big “IF”) you can manage to tear yourself away from the resort, there’s a loooong list of activities for you to choose from. Simply give a shout-out to the concierge who will be more than happy to make arrangements.
Although I only left “home” once, for a private cruise around the Bay, next time I visit I want to try the Parasailing Adventure for a unique birds-eye view of the Bay, followed by the Jazz and Wine sunset cruise. Or for a really memorable adventure, I’d think it would be a blast to sign up to be a professional dolphin trainer for a day!
For more info and reservations contact Vista Encantada Resort.
Janice could be the love child of Indiana Jones and Julia Child. She was a specialty food consultant in NYC with a client list that included Tavern on the Green and Dean & Deluca. A culinary trendsetter, Janice has visited almost 100 countries searching out gastronomic adventures. She might be found sharing a smoked monkey dinner with Shuar Indians in the Amazon jungle or “running with the dogs” while truffle hunting in Marche, Italy.To keep things in balance, Janice also writes about her Girlfriend Getaways, including everything from luxurious city penthouses and Michelin starred meals to bespoke travel in remote destinations.You can follow her travels at www.janicenieder.com