A little over a year ago the lower half of the Baja California peninsula was devastated by Hurricane Odile, a monstrous Category 4 cyclone that left thousands without power or water service for days, and caused millions of dollars worth of property damage – thankfully with only minimal loss of life. Odile was so powerful and wreaked so much havoc that the name has been retired by the World Meteorological Organization. Among the resorts in the area which suffered damage were Pueblo Bonito’s family of resorts: Los Cabos and Rosé in downtown Cabo San Lucas, and the Sunset Beach and Pacifica resorts just outside of town to the west, on the Pacific Ocean side of the cape.
Luckily the quick, and generous, response of the Mexican government to the havoc wreaked upon the region by Odile put this important tourism destination back on its feet. A recent visit to Pueblo Bonito Pacifica revealed a luxury resort at the peak of its powers, and for Northern Californians looking for a respite from what promises to be a colder and wetter winter than our region has seen in many years, a visit to Pueblo Bonito Pacifica – an easy flight from Bay Area airports – could be just the ticket for those wintertime blues.
Pueblo Bonito Pacifica is an all-inclusive adults-only resort which boasts five restaurants, a wellness-inspired spa, ocean view accommodations, meetings and event space, and a 2-½ -mile-long private beach. The resort’s five restaurants range from the poolside coffee shop, Bocados, to the upscale but beach-casual Horizons, featuring nightly torch-lit themed dinners right on the beach in front of the resort – no shoes required. The all-inclusive amenities guests enjoy during a stay at Pacifica include restaurant privileges at the other Pueblo Bonito properties – right next door at the Sunset Beach family resort, as well as at Los Cabos and Rosé, a short drive away in Cabo San Lucas.
The grounds and buildings of Pueblo Bonito Pacifica are well-matched to their surroundings, utilizing desert tones with ocean-palette accents that remind the visitor of the presence of the ocean. The inviting entry lobby is light-filled and open, flanked as you approach by a matched pair of architectural features – reflecting pools fronting free-standing “windows” that frame the sunset to the right and a large saguaro cactus to the left; perfect reminders of the dichotomy of the resort’s surroundings. Immaculate desert-themed landscaping graces the grounds within the resort – a well-groomed nod to the natural landscape which surrounds the resort area.
The on-site spa offers a full range of pampering services, from facials and manicure/pedicure to massage, body wraps, aromatherapy and more. Other services which are available on-site include fitness facilities, two tennis courts, yoga, and a jogging/walking path. Minutes away, Cabo San Lucas offers shopping and a full range of the regional attractions which one expects, including one attraction which is to be found only in Cabo San Lucas and in the Hawaiian Islands – whale-watching.
The Cabo San Lucas region is one of two spots in the northern Pacific where humpback whales come to mate and to give birth to their calves, the other being the waters between the Hawaiian islands of Maui, Lahaina and Molokai. The whale-watching season starts in mid-December and runs until mid-April. These magnificent creatures can be seen in the waters around the tip of Baja during this time, the evidence of their presence ranging from the feathery sprays that show against the deep blue Pacific waters when they blow to dramatic breaches, when they fling their entire 40-ton bulk free of the water. No trip to Cabo San Lucas during the whale-watching season is complete without a boat trip to view these magnificent creatures.
For golfers, Pueblo Bonito offers one of the most dramatically situated seaside golf courses you may ever see – Quivira Golf Club. Just a year old, this Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course features a mix of desert and ocean holes, broad inviting fairways and heroic carries, all winding across 240+ acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Five sets of tees allow players to select total yardages ranging from 4,763 yards from the red tees to the championship length of 7,139 yards from the blacks. Three “comfort stations” set about the course provide snacks and drinks, including, at the “Oasis” comfort station overlooking the 8th green, a selection of cigars, alcoholic beverages, and freshly prepared hot snacks.
The most talked-about feature on the course is easily the .7-mile cart ride from the fourth green to the fifth tee, mostly uphill, over a twin-arched stone bridge, with dramatic views back toward the 18th hole, the clubhouse, and Pueblo Bonita Pacifica.
The trip to the fifth hole has a fitting conclusion: #5 is a dramatic, cliff-hanging par-4 which plays 310 yards from the black tees – all carry – to a green that appears to be suspended almost magically above the crashing Pacific surf. It’s worth the near-inevitable loss of a golf ball to try a shot from the black tees before moving forward to the territory of mere mortals. Even taking the safer, more conventional route along the cliff-hugging fairway from the forward tees may still lead to a blind approach shot – the green is still hidden from view at the barber-pole 100-yard marker.
If simple relaxation is your goal, poolside and beach lounging are available mere steps from your room. Choose a chaise lounge near one of the resort’s swimming pools, or reserve a luxurious draped cabana on the beach for relaxation with a view of the deep blue Pacific, sheltered from the sun (if you wish) and caressed by ocean breezes.
The service, accommodations, and cuisine at Pacifica are exemplary, and the setting is stunning. The contrast between the sere desert landscape and the intense blue of the sea is as mesmerizing today, despite the encroachment of modernity, as it was in 1940 when John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts made the sea journey through the region which Steinbeck chronicled in The Sea of Cortez. Northern California vacationers, golfers and non-golfers alike, would do well to follow in their footsteps and experience Baja, from the comfort of Pueblo Bonita Pacifica, for themselves.