As the destination continues to grow in the new millennium, attractions and accommodation choices are also expanding, offering tremendously well-rounded vacations. The destination still tips towards the luxury side of the scale, but affordable all-inclusive resorts are also part of the mix.
If your client is contemplating a first visit to Mexico, Los Cabos is a great place to start. The destination has a stunning desert/ocean location, a hint of exotic Mexico, and much that makes it reassuringly familiar to visitors from the U.S., from its preponderance of locals who speak English, to its first-class infrastructure.
The typical visitor to Los Cabos has been described as an upscale and well-educated traveler between the ages of 25 and 49, college-educated with a household income of $75,000-plus who stays four nights. It's safe to say they also have a love of the outdoors, for Los Cabos is a destination that celebrates active exploration of its sea and desert, as well as leisurely enjoyment of its golf courses. Visitors are active nature lovers with an equal interest in creature comforts. They're the types who enjoy exploring the rugged desert terrain in a Land Rover by day and then returning to their five-star resort to dine in luxury.
Los Cabos has a lot of appeal for residents of the West Coast, being easily accessible with numerous direct flights. This may account for its popularity with the Hollywood set.
Getting There: Most visitors arrive by air, although Los Cabos is also a significant cruise port. It's important to remember that the institution of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative this past January requires U.S. visitors traveling by air to show a passport on their return to the U.S. This requirement will extend to cruise passengers in 2008 and land travelers in 2009.
The Los Cabos International Airport is slated for an $18,225,000 expansion that will ultimately increase its arrival and departure capacity by 50 percent. The 2005-2009 Master Development Plan announced by Aeroportuario del Pacifico includes the construction of a taxiway parallel to the existing runway, expansion of airplane parking platforms, and the construction of new gates. This will also give the airport extra facility in handling the arrivals of private jets; Los Cabos has the second-busiest airport for private jets in Mexico (the busiest is Mexico City).
Carriers flying into Los Cabos include Aero California, Aero-mexico, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, US Airways West (America West), Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Mexicana Airlines, and United Airlines.
Apple Vacations charters include USA3000 out of Detroit, Champion Airlines out of St. Louis and Sun Country out of Minneapolis and Dallas.
Silversea Cruises, Crystal Cruises and Seabourn call on Los Cabos.
Getting Around: A roundtrip taxi from Cabo San Lucas to Tourism Corridor resorts will run about $50. Many of the resorts operate their own shuttle service into town. For example, Dreams Los Cabos offers a shuttle that costs $12 roundtrip. There's a public bus that's simple and easy to use that only costs $1 each way. It's pretty much impossible to get lost, because Highway 1 shoots past all the major resorts and leads into both Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
Bestours Travel & Marketing (011-52-624-146-9616, www.bestours.com.mx) provides private cars and drivers and pays 10 percent commission. The agent liaison is Antonio Gonzalez Chavarin ([email protected]).
Hotels: The Tourism Corridor has 20 of the region's top resorts.
The Marquis Los Cabos Beach, Golf, Spa & Casitas Resort (877-238-9399, www.marquisloscabos.com) is a sophisticated property with an extensive Mexican art collection. The resort's director of sales, Frederique Naffrichoux, is also the travel agent liaison for the resort. She recommends booking one of the property's 28 Pool Casitas. These have their own private pool, are only steps from the beach, and are like renting a little house rather than staying in a suite.
Naffrichoux can be contacted at [email protected]
Las Ventanas al Paraiso (888-ROSEWOOD, www.lasventanas.com) is one of the peninsula's top-rated resorts. Best rooms to book are the Luxury Suites, numbers 101, 102, 801, and 802. These are oceanview, oceanfront suites with private pool and butler service. Agents can contact Karen Achio, sales coordinator, in the Las Ventanas Los Angeles office at [email protected]
All-inclusive resorts on the peninsula include Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa (866-2DREAMS, www.dreamsloscabos.com). Because Los Cabos is on a peninsula, some resorts are treated to a sunrise and others have sunset views. Dreams has views of the sunrise—the best rooms for observing the new day arrive are in Phase One and Phase Two of the resort. Dreams' travel agent liaison is Ankara Angulo, sales and marketing director. She can be reached at [email protected]
Earth Sea & Sky Vacations (800-PIK-CABO, www.cabovillas.com) has 70 private villas, houses and beachfront estates to choose from for rentals.
Tours: The majority of operators offering excursions are in Cabo San Lucas; many are set up along the Marina Boardwalk. Los Cabos cut its teeth on sportfishing, golf, whale watching tours (in season, January-March), glass bottom boat rides and scuba diving.
The big news in 2006 was the opening of Cabo Dolphins (888-303-2653, www.cabodolphins.com), the first attraction to offer this appealing activity. A 60-minute dolphin swim costs $165. Cabo Dolphins pays a hefty 20 percent commission. Make advance reservations for your clients to swim with dolphins by contacting Mark Watson, the company's sales director ([email protected]).
Desert tours have always been part of the Los Cabos experience, but now more and more operators are kicking it up a notch with desert caravans giving tour participants a chance to get behind the wheel of their own H2 Hummer. Baja Outback's (011-52-624-142-9215, www.bajaoutback.com) single-day tours average $220 per person. They pay agents a commission of 10 percent. Agents can make advance arrangements for Desert Hummer tours by contacting Brisa Lopez, Baja Outback's manager ([email protected]).
Restaurants: Most of Los Cabos' finest restaurants are in San Jose del Cabo. Mi Cocina at Casa Natalia (011-52-624-142-4041, www.casanatalia.com) serves Euro-Mexican fare, and La Panga Antigua (011-52-624-142-5100, www.lapanga.com) is a five-star restaurant offering contemporary Mexican cuisine. In Cabo San Lucas, the double-decker palapa beachside restaurant, Edith's (011-52-624-143-0801, www.edithscabo.com), serves seafood and a Cadillac Margarita, made with a dash of Grand Marnier.
Los Cabos is famous for its nightlife. E Entertainment's Wild On show dips regularly into Cabo San Lucas, highlighting high-octane, youth-oriented venues like The Giggling Marlin, Cabo Wabo, and Squid Roe.
In the Pipeline: Los Cabos has several new developments underway:
The Villa Group (877-845-5247, www.villagroupresorts.com) is preparing to open Los Cabos' largest spa facility at its enclave of villa-style resorts: Villa La Estancia, Villa del Arco and Villa del Palmar. The three-level, 31,000-square-foot spa will include perks such as two exclusive VIP suites and a full-service beauty salon
When the spa opens in late spring, advance bookings for appointments will be able to be made via the company's web site. The Villa Group's three Cabo San Lucas properties collectively offer 845 one-, two- and three-bedroom villas, studios and penthouse suites, available for rent, and commissionable to travel agents.
Insiders says that Starwood Hotels & Resorts is seriously looking at developing a resort on the East Cape. Mayan Palace, a brand from Mayan Resorts, is confirmed for construction on this comparatively undeveloped area.
Puerto Los Cabos (011-52-624-146-9656, www.puertoloscabos.com) is a 1,900-acre community comprised of three miles of beachfront property. This new development in San Jose del Cabo will include a 535-slip marina capable of handling boats ranging in size from 30 feet up to 240-foot mega yachts. This is significantly larger than the 300-slip marina in Cabo San Lucas, although Puerto Los Cabos won't be a port of call for cruise ships. The marina, shop, restaurants and two 18-hole golf courses (one by Jack Nicklaus and one by Greg Norman) are expected to be completed by mid-2008. The complex will also include four top-brand hotels expected to be completed by mid-2009.
Education and Fam Trips: The Los Cabos Tourism Board partners with Destination Ventures to offer travel agent seminars. It also participates with the airlines and wholesalers servicing the destination through trade shows and fam trips for agents that provide an in-depth view of the destination.
This year Los Cabos hosted its first annual Los Cabos VIP Summit, welcoming airline partners, wholesalers and top-performing agents to the destination. The exact date for the second VIP Summit hasn't been set, but it will be held sometime between December 7 and 15. The Los Cabos Tourism Board is seeking discounted air for invited agents who sell Los Cabos; hotel accommodations will be provided free of charge. —MR