After an extensive refurbishment and renovation program, Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort has reopened in San Jose del Cabo. The AAA Five Diamond property was heavily damaged last October, when Hurricane Odile pummeled Los Cabos.
Travel Agent spoke with the resort’s managing director Frederic Vidal about the onsite work after Odile.
“It’s been quite a long exercise but we wanted it to be perfect. We didn’t want to open halfway or half-finished. We didn’t want any workers to be visible on the property,” said Vidal.
The hurricane affected every square foot of the property, from the “outside fence to the windows, electricity, phones, everything,” Vidal added.
Celebrating its 18th anniversary this Fourth of July, Las Ventanas is known for its loyal following. Many families and couples have returned more than a dozen times.
“We didn’t want to change anything in terms of the feeling you get when you walk on the property. We bought many new palm trees, but they look like the old ones. Doors and windows have been replaced and the garden redone, but it looks the same. Of course, we took advantage of the down time to upgrade technology. But that’s been behind the scenes. Our credo is everything is new but everything is the same,” said Vidal.
Returning guests are sure to appreciate that the resort staff is the same. In fact, the hotel owner paid them full salary during the closure. The time was used for additional training. For example, the spa staff learned new techniques and a team of “Villa Hosts” is in place. The hosts will look after guests in the 12 Signature Villas, offering everything from unpacking to child care to personalized cooking services.
The property has also introduced a series of Authentic Experiences that will change twice per year. For summer 2015 they include a customized tequila tasting and a dog butler for guests’ pampered pooches. A barbacoa experience lets guests help prepare local organic lamb for slow cooking in an outdoor pit. Several hours later, they can share savory lamb tacos at a common table.
There’s also an experience designed for romance travelers. It’s a Baja treasure hunt that serves as a backdrop for a surprise marriage proposal.
Lindsay Powers, a team leader with Liberty Travel in White Plains, NY, said that her business to Cabo was “iffy” for a considerable period after Odile.
“I always believed that the destination would redeem itself. In some cases it took resorts longer than anticipated. But it was right to not rush things. Putting properties back together was always going to take some time. Cabo is gorgeous and worth the wait,” said Powers.
Luis Palacios, commercial director for the Los Cabos Tourism Board, says the destination is very popular heading into the summer season. Moreover, the Los Cabos board has just been nominated by Virtuoso as Tourism Board of the Year.
“We’ve turned a page after Hurricane Odile. It was a very destructive event. But we all got some good out of it. We learned a lot about what we had to do during and after a storm to get everyone out safely,” said Palacios.
“We don’t know when something is going to affect us again. But we now have satellite phones and radios in airports and the hotel association. We can communicate more conveniently. We are now generating power. We’ve had lots of drills with the power companies to be better prepared,” he said.
Though a surprise June hurricane formed in the region last week, Palacios says sunshine remains Los Cabos’ top selling point.
“Geographically we are a desert. It’s very rare for it to rain here. Odile was a once in fifty years thing,” he said.