Whimsical Weekend: Whale Spotting, Art Walks and Toasted Grasshoppers at the Hilton Los Cabos
When city stress hits the breaking point, something always seems to draw us back to Los Cabos – mostly the exquisite weather, the pristine ocean, and now even the epicurean offerings. And philosophically, we like to keep our borders and minds open, so Mexico also calls to us now in an ideological way.
We made our way this time to the Baja California peninsula, where the Hilton Los Cabos Resort recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. The gorgeous property boasts one of the only private – and in our opinion prettiest – beaches in the region; it’s also set just back from the sizable sandy stretch – making it tough to justify going anywhere else along Cabo’s typically rocky shore. With the new La Vista Club lounge, 65 club-level suites, and the plush Eforea Spa – 7,000 square feet of pampering, holistic-minded bliss highlighting native Mexican wellness rituals (we recommend a massage, followed by a cleansing ritual in the Zen Garden) – there is indeed little reason to leave the property.
At the heart of the hotel, and inspired by Spanish haciendas, the Hilton’s open air lobby and palm-lined courtyard lead to a delectable lineup of eating and drinking establishments. Seriously, the food program is veritably unparalleled in the region, headed by internationally recognized Executive Chef Mauricio Lopez, who lords over three restaurants, two bars and coffee shop.
Infusing classic Latin fare with bold new flavors, he’s not only got a truly killer guacamole recipe, but has also created some impressively innovative dishes. Notably, Flora Farms supplies all of Chef Mauricio’s kitchens with its outstanding local produce, bringing a freshness to the menu offerings at Vela, El Meson and Madero Bar & Grill.
We started each day with the exceptional buffet-style breakfast on the Black Marlin Terrace, which includes traditional Mexican coffee – an ambrosial concoction of sweetness, with a jolt of caffeine that launched our mornings with gusto. The Terrace often provides a front row view to the whales that regularly pass through the Sea of Cortez; to be sure, the region’s waters are home to eight out of eleven of the world’s whale species. The hotel will even sort out your own whale watching adventure (plus scuba, snorkeling, sailing, etc).
We enjoyed taking leisurely post-breakfast strolls, checking out on the sunlit walls of the resort, and its original hand-painted mural by contemporary urban artist Jet Martinez – inspired by the embroidered floral designs found on Mexican tapestries and textiles. Originally from the small beach town of Tuxpan, Veracruz, Martinez draws from his native culture’s rich traditions of craftsmen, who prioritize technical skill and embrace the imperfections of handmade pottery, weaving and embroidery.
Martinez’ signature pointillistic murals at Hilton Los Cabos, in fact, were completed in just 2015. The rhythmic strokes with contrasted jewel-toned and pastel shades allow his floral patterns to perfectly pop off their solid backgrounds and mimic the tropical environment that surrounds the resort. The vibrant works celebrate contemporary reinterpretations of Mexico’s rich arts and crafts heritage; and in investigating various folk art techniques from different regions of Mexico, Martinez hopes to venerate Mexican traditions, while simultaneously acknowledging the universal elements of folk art forms from across the world. Beautiful stuff.
To be sure, there is a certain artiness to Cabo – which we experienced at the San Jose Art Walk, taking place every Thursday evening from 5pm to 9pm, between the months of November and June. Established, promoted and organized by the Gallery District Association in the hopes of drawing art lovers and tourists away from the main square and into the color-filled back streets of downtown San Jose, one can sip wine and chat with locals, while flitting between the many art openings and new exhibitions.
Between gallery hopping, a delicious break can be had at Acre’s natural cafe and shop in the neighborhood. But we took the very short drive to the Acre restaurant and organic farm in San Jose del Cabo (by Puerto Los Cabos Marina). Billed as “a taste of Baja’s bounty,” chef Kevin Luzande marries global influences and local ingredients that change with the seasons, and there’s also an innovative cocktail program.
Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains, we wandered the grounds of Acre, reveling in its cosmopolitan yet down-to-earth vibe. We even fit in a Mezcal tasting before our sumptuous dinner, which set the mood for an exploratory evening of regional tastes.
But it was back to the resort for a nightcap. Azul, Hilton Los Cabos’ sexy, stylish new lobby venue, was designed as a “subzero tequila and mezcal bar.” Against breathtaking ocean views, we sipped tasty signature drinks, such as the Chihuahua Sour, Tepache Collins and Rosemary Paloma (our favorite), complemented by light bites – tempura tacos, slow roasted pork sopes and “chapulines,” which are local grasshoppers. We didn’t partake of the latter, but the hotel insists the “Grasshoppers are carefully washed and toasted on a traditional clay cooking tool called ‘comal,’ then seasoned with lime juice and spices.” And, apparently, they’re great for dipping in guacamole.
Admittedly, we were content to just order up another Paloma, and then retreat one last time to the comforts of our lovely ocean view room.