“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking."
A few weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. Life had dealt us some pretty substantial blows over the past year and we felt like we were due for an extra-special celebration vacation. So off we went in search of that mythical, elusive creature with the legendary magical healing powers. Not a unicorn — a REALLY great hotel. The kind that brings you to tears when you have to leave. Neither of us had been to Cabo San Lucas, so we dusted off the passports and hung our hopes on the gleaming reputation of a little place called Esperanza.
ALMOST. I arrived with sky-high expectations, hoping for the best but subconsciously bracing myself for the let-down. And then this happened …
Esperanza is located close to the airport - no more than a 30 minute drive (which they did for us … in a nice, private car … with a friendly driver). Aces. Even better than the proximity to the airport is how/where the property is situated — it sits out on a picturesque little point all by itself in such a way that you can’t really see any other hotels and the beach is cut off from access by anyone outside of the hotel. Very private, and ultra-peaceful.
HOTEL FACILITIES — COMMON AREAS
Words can scarcely express how pleased I was with the common areas at Esperanza. This property was clean. I expect any hotel to be reasonably clean, but this place took it to the next level. We’re talking never-anything-in-the-wastebaskets, never-a-hand-towel-out-of-place, never-any-stray-water-droplets-on-the-sinks, never-any-used-drinking-glasses/towels/napkins-visble-anywhere, never-any-sticky-mystery-food/drink-spills-anywhere, clean. CLEAN. And I am picky. I swear they had an invisible person running along in front of me making sure everything was immaculate everywhere I went. Swoon.
This hotel has fewer than 60 rooms, but seemingly the same amount of common area space as hotels many times that size. Nothing ever seemed crowded, and all that breathing room felt impossibly luxurious.
Beyond being possibly the cleanest property I’ve ever visited, it was also really beautiful, inviting, comfortable and relaxed. The main restaurant, Cocina del Mar, offers breathtaking views and oh-so-romantic ambience from its rocky cliff perch jutting out over the ocean. The very best thing about the common areas of this hotel might be that they have about a million candles scattered all over the property, and they light all of them every night. Very twinkly, dreamy atmosphere. They also have a couple of large fire pits that they spark up at night - absolute perfection for chilly evenings. Also, the landscaping is lush (extra impressive considering the desert locale) and meticulously maintained. Also the (free!) wi-fi is strong and pretty fast all over the property.
HOTEL FACILITIES — ROOMS
This was one of my favorite hotel rooms of all time. It was so cozy and beautiful that it didn’t feel like a hotel room at all. I appreciate a great feng shui situation, and this room nailed it. The bed and linens were high-quality and super-comfy. There were giant glass doors we could slide open to transform the entire space into an indoor/outdoor sanctuary. The patio area was huge, private, shaded, protected from any wind and had its very own infinity hot tub (with plenty of enormous, ultra-luxurious bath sheets nearby, naturally). The furniture was high-quality and everything was done in a soothing, beachy, sun-kissed blue and cream color palette. Serenity now! Dual shower heads and vanities made for harmonious clean-up time when we decided to venture out of the room (we almost didn’t want to). Also, the lighting was just right. Sufficient, but not sterile or abrasive. They also did a nice job with some unique little touches — the turn-down service left tiny, colorful woven figurines on the bed instead of the standard chocolates, and they used a cute little gecko instead of a boring old “do-not-disturb” hanger for the door. Charming!
I haven’t stayed anywhere else in Cabo, so this may be true of every property, but the beach at Esperanza is rocky and the sea is angry. This is not a great place to go if you’re super into swimming in the ocean and/or walking barefoot in the sand. It didn’t matter to us, as we prefer the pool scene anyway. The pool at this hotel is fabulous! That angry sea looks (and sounds) AMAZING from the abundant oversized, generously-cushioned chairs (with neck and leg pillows too, of course) spaced comfortably far apart among neat rows of dramatically towering palm trees. Also, there is plenty of sun or shade — whatever you want. They have numerous umbrellas that they will kindly put up or down for you as often as you like. The pool itself is large, pleasantly warm (I don’t do cold pools!) and has a beautiful infinity edge looking out over the ocean. There were a few swimmers early in the morning every day, but mostly the pool was empty. So relaxing. This pool is adults-only, so it is very quiet and peaceful. No splashing, no screaming, no running. Magnificent. Rumor has it there are some family-friendly pools over on the “residences” side of the property, but we didn’t find it necessary to venture over there.
This might be the best spa I’ve been to in my life. EVER. The facility itself could not be more relaxing, and it smells like heaven (we seriously bought the room spray they were using). The co-ed relaxation area is in a quiet, shaded space outdoors. The robes were wonderfully snuggly, and the lounge chairs were divine. After our treatment, they brought us our choice of a handful of fresh, delicious aqua fresca drinks and yummy fruit and veggie snacks. The treatments were positively delightful — think sublime massage on a heated gel table with the door open enjoying the breeze and bird sounds from outside. I would go to Esperanza again just to visit the spa! It’s that good.
This is a big one for me. I love great food, and being vegan can make vacation food kind of tricky. At Esperanza, it wasn’t (well, mostly). A couple of people did try to serve us some dairy, but basically everyone understood what we meant by vegan and we had wonderful, fresh, delicious food the entire time … chilaquiles, guacamole (OMG the guacamole!!), flatbread, tortilla soup, green juice, chocolate-covered strawberries. The chef at Cocina del Mar even made us a custom multi-course dinner one night. We really appreciated that the food was not overly oily and there was a definite focus on fresh, healthy-leaning cuisine. There was even a basket of (complimentary!) fruit in our room — perfect for snacks in between guacamole binges.
If you aren’t yet convinced to make the trip down to this little gem, let it be the service that pushes you over the edge. Esperanza could write a book on the meaning of “hospitality”. We didn’t encounter a single surly staff member the entire time. I’ve stayed at plenty of hotels that claim to offer outstanding service (I’m looking at you Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons…) and none of them comes close. The staff-to-guest ratio was very generous, so there was always someone around to take care of anything we needed at any time. Upon arrival, they gave us a refreshing welcome drink (chia lemonade … don’t mind if I do!), and whisked us directly to our room. No waiting in line, no check-in rigmarole, no schlepping luggage. After a few minutes in our room, we decided to go out and get some guacamole but we didn’t have to because it showed up at our door instead!! Without having to ask for it!!! This is what dreams are made of. Well, my weird, avocado-filled dreams anyway. The housekeeping staff kept the room spotless and lit candles out on our patio every night. The pool guys wouldn’t let us lift a finger - they kept us fed, hydrated and swaddled in clean towels, and kept the umbrella exactly where we wanted it all day. Restaurant servers were attentive and friendly. Also, if they saw us getting a tad chilly they BROUGHT US WARM BLANKETS. Seriously. Few experiences in my life have been as lovely as sitting with my soulmate, wrapped in a warm blanket by a fire pit looking up at the stars while enjoying some super-chill live music (every night!) with waves crashing in the background. Bliss! We did have an issue with some noise one night, and the hotel staff took it very seriously and acted extremely quickly and generously to correct the problem and compensate us for the inconvenience. These people care - really, actually CARE - that you have a great, relaxing vacation.
In conclusion, if you’re into being treated like a celebrity as you bask in the sun sipping fresh-squeezed juice while lazily peering out at one of the most beautiful views on planet Earth, then this place is for you. Sound the alarm, people — I think we may have found ourselves a unicorn.