It was an international weather event easily overlooked by US residents. But in September 2014, the cataclysmic Hurricane Odile gutted the California Baja Peninsula, killing at least 15 people and causing more than $1 billion in damages. Cabo San Lucas was uniquely hard hit, as the resort area was taken surprise by a Category 4 monster forecasted to turn out to sea just 24 hours prior.
The Hilton Los Cabos Golf and Beach Resort, like so many other beach properties, suffered devastating and unanticipated losses; dozens of guests and staff sheltered in place during the storm and then helped clean up the property in the aftermath, sharing limited rations and spotty Wi-Fi over the coming days before guests were eventually able to be flown out.
A year later, the resort has reopened. But the Hilton didn’t just rebuild; it reinvented itself, turning tragedy into opportunity. Why should you head to the Hilton Los Cabos for your next Baja getaway? To support a property and a region still recovering from a hard hit, most certainly, but also to explore the surprising new features of a reimagined resort that maintains a shockingly reasonable price point. Which is to say, go now, not later, before the secret is completely out.
Here’s the case for the Hilton Los Cabos broken into ten:
1. On-site dining scene
You don’t always head to a beach resort expecting world-class dining. But Executive Chef Mauricio Lopez has made a unique commitment to sourcing fresh, local, seasonal ingredients for all seven of the dining and drinking experiences on the grounds, from the Italian-oriented Vela (homemade pasta!) to the health-oriented Mio to the al fresco Madero. How fresh and how local? Lopez will usually amble down to the property’s beach in the early afternoon to meet his favorite local fisherman as they hand off the day’s catch—which you’re likely to be eating grilled or sautéed a few hours later.
2. Infinity pool
A proper infinity pool must have a few things going for it: a water view, a swim-up bar, areas both shallow and deep, and poolside seating galore. The new Hilton pool checks off all these boxes, with the added bonuses of a hot tub and a concierge service that includes iPods on request. (Though much of the action and attendant people-watching take place here, the Dolphin Pool a few hundred yards away also has a swim-up bar and grants you a little more seclusion.)
3. Revamped rooms and suites
Rain and flood waters destroyed most of the hotel’s furniture, even in the upper level rooms. So the property owners took the opportunity to rethink the property’s interior design; the room aesthetics are now airier and nod more pointedly to the hotel’s Mexican setting, and the common areas are more grandly appointed, with custom artwork scattered throughout, including hand-painted wall murals. And while not a new amenity per se, an important reminder: Every room still boasts a view of the Sea of Cortes.
4. La Vista Club
The new collection of “hotel within the hotel” rooms and suites pretty much demands dignitary visits. The suites feel more like luxe condos, with balconies and bathrooms so grand that you’ll wonder why anyone leaves. Member-only amenities include a private food-and-drink suite where you can pop in for a frozen daiquiri or a little ceviche any time of day.
5. Tequila program
What was once a more run-of-the-mill lobby bar has morphed into a lavish tribute to all spirits agave-based (and then some). Azul boasts the largest tequila and mezcal collection in the entirety of Los Cabos, with a knowledgeable staff to match. And the space itself is a wonder of design, with hanging platform benches, stunning balcony views and wall sculptures that pay homage to the hurricane’s impact by repurposing shattered pieces of doors and furnitures.
Needless to say, the sunsets themselves are not new, although the vantage points for viewing them have shifted (we vote for the infinity pool, margarita in hand). But here’s the kicker: Tag the hotel in one of your Instagrammed sunset shots, and you’re now eligible to receive a free night of lodging. Go ahead, incite FOMO in your IG followers—and it might pay real dividends.
7. Eforea Spa
It’s easy to become jaded about on-site spas: Every hotel has them, but few rise to the ranks of memorable. The 7,000-square-foot Eforea, however, leaves a lasting impression with customized treatments—my massage was anything but cookie-cutter—and herbs grown on the premises that are incorporated into treatments. The waiting room can get a little crowded, but the relaxation lounge is a lovely postscript to your treatment.
8. Fitness program
How many Hiltons offer aerial yoga or TRX sessions as part of their class suite? The hotel’s revamped fitness lineup also includes two new lighted tennis courts and an upgrade to its cardio equipment, plus a little Zen garden for a post-workout meditation session. And this is on top of existing activities like paddleboarding, golfing and horseback riding (separate snorkeling and sailing trips can be arranged through Cabo Adventures). If the timing is right, property managers might haul the stationary bikes outside for a little sunrise al fresco spinning.
9. All the little things
A return visitor could get so caught up in the large-scale renovations that she’d miss the smaller changes. More hammocks scattered throughout the property. Luxury cabanas built for two. A new beach bar, all the better to enjoy one of the area’s few swimmable beaches. And lobby shop El Sombrero, where you can forgo the hassles of wearing your big sun hat on the plane and instead pick out the perfect topper on arrival.
One of the allures of this newly reopened property is that the staff itself is not new; the vast majority of the hotel’s employees stayed on after the hurricane, helping to clean and repair the property in the months following. But the hotel’s unveiling marks a rebirth of sorts for the local staff, some of whom still tear up when recalling Odile’s devastation. Their unwavering devotion and enthusiasm just further separates the Hilton Los Cabos from more run-of-the-mill getaways.