An elite Los Cabos seaside escape
174 Rooms / 111 Suites
The founder of what is today called the One&Only Palmilla resort, Don Abelardo Rodríguez, wasn’t originally a hotelier by trade or even employed in the tourism industry, but rather was the son of the president of Mexico and a flight instructor for the U.S. Air Force during World War II. It was during the war that Rodríguez was asked by the then governor of Baja California Sur to help organize the area’s exportation of agricultural products to the U.S. From that moment, Rodríguez had a vision to develop tourism in the area, specifically between the towns of San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, a region commonly known as Los Cabos.
In 1955, the construction of the Palmilla started. The hotel opened in March 1956 and was composed of 15 guest rooms and a little chapel, which still stands today. Because the Transpeninsular Highway would not be built until 1970, the hotel’s first guests arrived in their planes and yachts. And these weren’t just any guests. The luxury hotel attracted Hollywood´s elite, including, Bing Crosby, Desi Arnaz and John Wayne. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was also a frequent visitor.
By 1984, the Palmilla had 50 guest rooms with 20 more rooms added that year. In 1991, the Palmilla Golf Club, a 27-hole Jack Nicklaus signature championship course, was opened. Five years later, the hotel underwent a major renovation and expansion. Two new golf courses recently opened in Los Cabos: Quivira Los Cabos, an 18-hole Nicklaus signature course at the exclusive Quivira residential development, and the 18-hole Tiger Woods-designed El Cardonal at Diamante.
Today, the One&Only Palmilla sits on 55 acres and includes 174 guest rooms, including its signature four-bedroom Villa Cortez where celebrities like Jennifer Aniston overnight in the more than 10,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space.
The property’s other highlights include it having one of the few swimmable beaches in the region, a 20,000-square-foot spa, and four restaurants. Other new additions: the beauty salon’s brand-new collaboration with Amanda George from Beverly Hills; a fitness center update; and a 90-foot Catari yacht for day or overnight use.
Accommodations (which are in single- or three-story houses) encircle the One&Only Palmilla resort’s grounds along the Sea of Cortez. All rooms offer 24-hour butler service, choice of an evening cocktail and hors d'oeuvre, flat-screen television with DVD/CD player, surround sound Bose audio system, office desk, shower, twin vanity sinks, bathrobes and slippers, in-room tequila amenity, espresso coffee machine, choice of evening turndown aromatherapy “scent,” telescope for stargazing and seasonal whale watching, complimentary wireless Internet access, and a patio or balcony.
Most patios or balconies offer privacy and unobstructed ocean views, and rooms range in size from 500 square feet to 1,780 square feet. Other room niceties, depending on room type, include deluxe pool terrace with a Jacuzzi, daybed, chairs, and table; marble bathroom with a rain shower and oversized bathtub; handcrafted Mexican woodwork and decorative art; and walk-in closets.
One&Only Palmilla’s beachfront Villa Cortez is spacious and feels like a mini-resort of its own. The villa includes traditional hacienda interiors with stone patterned floors; Venetian plaster and handcarved wood beam ceilings; four bedrooms (two bedrooms featuring king-size beds and two bedrooms with two queen-size beds); private gym and spa; 12-person screening theater; infinity-edge pool; outdoor Jacuzzi and rain shower; full exterior and interior kitchen facilities; outdoor fire pits; and 24-hour private staff and chef.
Spend the afternoon at the 20,000-square-foot One&Only Spa at Palmilla, which has private treatment villas that come with outdoor beds and soaking tubs, air-conditioned massage pavilions and gardens. Women’s and men’s lounge areas include steam showers with eucalyptus; saunas; outdoor hot and cold plunge pools; and complimentary teas and coconut cookies.
One recommended service is the Secret Garden Remedy signature treatment that includes a body scrub, massage, and facial, all using organic herbs from the resort’s herb garden. The spa also offers daily exercise and yoga classes, and has a hair and nail salon.
The Los Cabos hotel has four restaurants, including Seared from chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The steakhouse is known for meats like Kobe and Wagyu A5 (you can see the cuts on display in the glass-walled curing room) along with local spiny lobster and red snapper.
Agua by Larbi, an indoor/outdoor restaurant (best seats are along the cliff overlooking the Sea of Cortez) serving “Mexiterranean” cuisine (try chef Larbi Dahrouch’s roasted sea bass with chermoula, green olives, and lemon preserve) comes complete with a fountain courtyard and festive tile décor. (There’s also the palapa-roofed Agua Bar where the Serrano margarita is the most popular cocktail on the menu.)
You will also enjoy the alfresco-style Suviche for fresh sushi, ceviches (the tuna tartare is a crowd pleaser), and live entertainment. And another outdoor lunch option is Breeze, which overlooks the adult-only infinity-edge pool.
Onsite amenities you can expect include housemade mango and strawberry popsicles served upon arrival; Lady Primrose in-room bath amenities; one of the most beautiful and swimmable beaches in Cabo at Pelican Beach; five tennis courts; a historic chapel for weddings; and two infinity-edge pools, one of which is for adults only.
At the pools, expect attentive attendants who will not only provide towels and cocktails, but also pillows to go underneath your knees; a mini-cooler with ice to keep sunscreen chilled (as the cool lotion is refreshing on a hot day); and flags to put out when you want service, otherwise, you are politely left alone. At night, the resort transforms into a candlelit oasis with candles lining the walkways between buildings and in-room candles lit by your butler.