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|Originally a private residence, the One&Only Palmilla on the Baja Peninsula represents a $110 million investment. (Mike Bailey/TravelGolf)|
SAN JOSE DEL CABO, Baja California Sur, Mexico -- You could find golf resorts more costly than the One&Only Palmilla on the Baja Peninsula, but you'd be hard-pressed to find anything with more pampering.
This relatively quaint retreat on the Sea of Cortez makes its guests feel like the resort's name -- its one and only. Pass by a staff member at the Palmilla, and you get a warm greeting with a hand on the heart. There's 24-hour butler service, incense in the rooms and around the resort, thousands of luminaries lit each night, complimentary amenities and twice-daily maid service. Add to that a premium 27-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course overlooking the sea, and staying at the One&Only Palmilla is, by all accounts, living large.
Once a private residence with just 15 rooms, the Palmilla has grown to 173, but guests won't see most of them, which are obscured by Palm trees, flowers and fountains. Winding paths lead them to their mostly private sanctuaries, all the while affording views of the beach and natural beauty this part of Mexico embodies. First-time arrivals will most certainly need the map given to them at check-in to navigate their way to the restaurants, spa and other amenities, but after a day or two, it really isn't that difficult.
Built in 1956, the One&Only Palmilla is the oldest resort on the Los Cabos Corridor. It was originally the home of Don Abelardo Rodriguez, the son of General (and former interim president) Abelardo Luis Rodriguez. When it was the Palmilla Hotel, it was so exclusive that only the rich and/or famous enjoyed its pleasures. Over the years, as the A-list of celebrities spent their vacations at Palmilla, more rooms were added. But the biggest expansion came in 2003 when the resort shut down for an $80 million renovation.
Restaurants, a world-class spa, pools and a pool bar, and dozens of luxury suites were added. Four years later, another $30 million was spent to bring it to its current configuration. The latter brought an additional 16 beachfront rooms with private infinity pools as well as the four-bedroom 10,000-square foot Villa Cortez beachfront home, where actor Jennifer Aniston reportedly celebrated her 41st birthday last year.
The 2007 renovation also included changes in the restaurants, most notably the switch from chef Charlie Trotter's "C" Restaurant to the highly ambient Suviche Restaurant and Lounge, which features changing colors, ocean views and the sushi-ceviche fusion creations of chef Jean-Gorges Vongerichten.
"We have a lot of repeat guests," said Cecilia Aragon-Bryant, director of public relations for the One&Only Palmilla. "So there's every effort to keep things fresh."
Just a short shuttle ride from the hotel lobby is the 27-hole Palmilla Golf Club, which opened in 2000. Like the resort, you can expect personalized service and impeccable conditions.
Any two-course combination of the three nines adds up to a par 72 playing from around 6,900 yards to nearly 7,200 yards. The names of the golf courses, the Mountain, the Arroyo and the Ocean, describe the views and terrains you get from each, and the views are certainly memorable.
Rated among the world's top golf resorts, Palmilla Golf Club is still considered one of the finest layouts on the Los Cabos Corridor. There are five sets of tees, two lakes, plenty of majestic giant cardon cacti, and interesting doglegs and sea views to keep any level golfer entertained and challenged.
In addition to golf, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy at the One&Only Palmilla. The resort is one of the few on the Corridor to have its own private swimmable beach, and guests can scuba and snorkel, ride horses, sail, surf, fish and go on adventure tours. The resort also has books, videos and iPad computers available for its vacationers, who can enjoy them near the pools, in a hammock or on a chair perched above the sea. Guests can even get an iPod on loan, programmed with personal relaxing music, perfect for playing on the Bose entertainment system in the rooms and suites.
The resort is also one of the most popular wedding spots in Mexico. A 50-year-old white chapel on a hill above the resort can be seen for miles outside of the property, and the spa has a VIP salon, which can be reserved for bridal parties.
Speaking of the spa, guests can get massages, facials and a variety of salon treatments. There are private couples facilities among the 13 treatment rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness center and a tropical garden. And now the spa offers yoga for golf and massages designed specifically for golfers.
The Palmilla is the standard by which all other resorts in the Los Cabos area are measured. No detail is overlooked, from the rooms to the restaurants to the spa.
With four outstanding restaurants, there is no shortage of great dining and tropical atmosphere. Breakfast at the Market or Agua restaurants is a great way to start a morning; lunch on the Breeze is just as it sounds; and dinner at Suviche is as good as it gets.
While the Los Cabos area has plenty of other great golf and resort options, some more expensive and some less, it's hard to beat the original.
January 17, 2011
Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in the Houston area. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 20 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @Accidentlgolfer.
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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