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|The Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Golf & Spa Resort Los Cabos sits right next door to Cabo del Sol G.C. (Courtesy of Sheraton Hacienda, Los Cabos)|
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, Baja California Sur, Mexico -- The Westin Resort & Spa Los Cabos and the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Golf & Spa Resort Los Cabos are so different.
One's a massive "futuristic" resort; the other is an intimate, traditional seaside Mexican village. What's amazing is they're both a part of the same family -- Starwood Hotels & Resorts -- and located just miles apart on the resort strip between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose.
Even with their different themes and architecture, they're still able to cater to the same wide audience: families, business travelers, couples, honeymooners, beach lovers and golfers. Either can deliver a dream vacation thanks to the attentive service of the staff and their stunning settings on the shores of the Sea of Cortez. Choosing where to stay might be the hardest part of a Cabo golf vacation.
This luxury 270-room escape takes pride in the authentic Mexican touches. Set on 28 acres, it was modeled after a Colonial seaside village. Walking along the brick-paved paths through jungle landscaping to the hacienda villas, guests can discover hidden fountains, plazas and hot tubs and infinity pools overlooking the sea. Single women are encouraged to write notes and leave them at an upside-down statue of a Catholic saint near the lobby, another Mexican tradition.
"We give them little touches so people feel a part of the Mexican culture. People like to experience the real country," said Nadezda Dodonova, the resort's tour and travel sales manager.
The Sheraton feels secluded and private, catering best to couples, golfers and corporate groups. It was chosen one of the six host hotels of the 2012 G20 Summit of world leaders because of its secure location and its conference center, the largest in Los Cabos, seating up to 1,200 people.
Couples will be blown away by the romantic vibes and ocean views -- not to mention the food -- at the resort's two five-diamond restaurants, Pitahayas and the D Cortez Grill and Restaurant. Pitahayas features a menu of Pacific Rim cuisine served under a sprawling multi-story hut. A rock picture frame overlooking the sea from the restaurant's patio was the perfect spot for some friends of mine to celebrate their engagement. To take a special meal to the next level, dine in the wine cellar at Pitahayas.
The resort has made strides to become more family friendly with a Kid's Club and a remodeled children's pool. The biggest draw for families takes place when the sea turtle eggs hatch on the beach. Children can name their tiny turtles and watch them swim away, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
There's no doubt the Westin is one of the most beautiful properties in Los Cabos. Its architecture celebrates the area's most recognizable landmark -- the rock Arch at Land's End at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean.
Architect Javier Sordo Madaleno's hotel, built in 1994, juts from the mountainside where the stunning scenery from the lobby is framed by an "arch" in the building, showcasing the sea, sandy beach and rocks offshore. The vibrant colors painted throughout the resort represent the natural environment with shades of brown (the desert), blue (the seas), yellow (the sun) and pink (the passion of the Mexican people).
Its unique shape does create some quirks. The lobby and spa are separated from the rooms by a large courtyard that requires plenty of walking. Reo Clements, visiting from England, called the property "a maze."
"An older lady asked me, 'Don't you feel like a mountain goat?'" said Carolyn Harries-Duncan, who was visiting from Canada. "There is a lot of controversy (if you read the online reviews), but we love it. If you walk down the beach, there is nothing like it. It is futuristic."
The best part of the design is that all 243 rooms, which were renovated in 2011, face the sea.
The dining isn't "five star" according to the critics, but I found it just as good as the Sheraton's two more celebrated restaurants. The menu of the four-diamond restaurant, Arrecifes, will be tweaked in 2013, and the nearby On the Rocks, a Civilized Bar, serves 25 flavors of martinis. El Ciruelo, another fine dining experience, flies high above the desert, mountains, beach and the El Dorado Golf & Beach Club.
The Spa, already a blissful escape honored by readers of Spa Magazine, will be renovated in 2013 to construct a more peaceful and convenient atmosphere for those seeking serenity. The staff is already one of the best in Los Cabos.
For golfers, the Westin is just minutes from Cabo Real Golf Club, Palmilla Golf Club and Club Campestre San Jose. Sun worshipers and golfers might like daytime best, but the resort really glows at sunset and at night.
"At sunset, the resort seems to come out of the mountain," said Pablo Gonzalez, the resort sales manager.
July 5, 2012
Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
There may not be a better stay-and-play combo in Cabo than Jack Nicklaus' new Quivira Golf Club and the next-door Pueblo Bonito Pacifica resort, and that's saying something. Jason Scott Deegan has more from Mexico.
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