“Practise, practise, practise.” This is the answer I get from the golf instructor at the Palmilla Golf Club in Los Cabos when I ask him what his top tip is for anyone learning the sport. “I can teach you four or five things today, but you have to go home and practise twice a week, or it’s all for nothing,” he says. He then asks how old my child is back home. “You need to buy your son a plastic golf club so he can start practising right now too.”
My son is not quite two years old, so I know this guy means business.
As Robert Regney takes me in a caddy for a tour of the course, practically everyone we pass calls out to him by his nickname, ‘Radio’. He’s a pro golfer who has rubbed shoulders on the greens with ‘more celebrities than he can count’, and he tells me, is comedian Steve Harvey’s personal golf coach (Steve, he says, is one of the nicest guys you could meet). But, it’s not just the celebrity connection that makes the Palmilla Golf Club what it is.
Its greens and fairways are nestled between the desert mountains and the royal blue Sea of Cortés. And while many PGA golfers are known to frequent the 27-hole course, amateurs need not be intimidated. The course is designed for pros, but with less challenging tee-off options available for those of us who have not mastered the Arnold Palmer swing.
This was also the first golf course to be built in Latin America by the legendary Jack Nicklaus, which helped propel Los Cabos to its status as the premier golf destination that it is now known as. Today, there are more than a dozen other world-class golf courses along this southern tip of the Baha California Sur peninsula. Combine these prestigious links with ultra-luxurious hotels, fine dining, and top-notch water activities such as sailing and deep-sea fishing – and you get a mecca for luxury tourism. I’m here for a short getaway, to get a taste of the high life and discover the best of the Baha; the Palmilla Golf Course seems like the right place to start.
My lesson starts at the driving range. I’m a bit shy to show a pro like Radio what my absolute-beginner swing looks like, but he encourages me with compliments about my speed and power (clearly, generous with his praise). A few swings later, and I know I’m hooked.
Back at the One&Only Palmilla, I finish the day off pool-side with a light Mexican lunch of sea bass ceviche and fish tacos. This famed ultra-luxurious resort lives up to its brand – you truly do feel like you are the one and only here. With fully-staffed villas tucked into the property’s luscious green landscape, this place is about as exclusive as they come. It’s this promise for privacy that has long made the One&Only Palmilla a top choice for the rich and famous.
The resort’s origins even began with a Hollywood connection in the 1950s; actress Lucille Bremer’s pilot husband bought the property and built the first resort. But, it wasn’t until 2004 that the One&Only Palmilla was firmly established as the Hollywood resort when the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Tom Cruise gathered here to surprise John Travolta for his 50th birthday.
The One&Only Palmilla is not the only celebrity hotspot in Los Cabos. Stars like George Clooney are known to frequent the Sunset Monalisa restaurant where Mediterranean fine dining is served at sunset overlooking Cabo’s most famous view: El Arco, a rock formation in the middle of the sea. The restaurant director here tells me the challenge is ensuring the food matches the view. I opt for a tasting menu that includes canapés, hand-made pasta with truffles, and tuna tartare – each morsel an explosion of flavour. The dinner is made complete with a dangerously delicious dessert of dark chocolate and fruit; the waiter pours rum over it, lighting it on fire to give it that finishing touch. And with that, I am sure the meal has matched the views.
On another night, I get to experience that perfect view from another angle next door at The Cape, a Thompson Hotel. On arrival, The Cape appears understated, painted black and grey – not the typical Mexican vibe. I visit the rooftop bar watching surfers catch waves along the coast, and the longer I stay, the more I realize that my first impression was wrong. This property does indeed suit the Cabo environment, almost blending completely into the rocky coast below. In many cases, the property was even built around massive boulders (rather than removing them) as is evident with jagged shape of the saltwater pool that seems to run right through rock. Inside, the décor is mid-century modern chic with metallic lights, tan leather furniture and hints of sophisticated Mexican art. It’s perfect.
I’m tempted to stay on the rooftop longer, but it’s time for dinner at the hotel’s acclaimed restaurant. At Manta, the food is not Mexican, as Chef Enrique Olvera has been known to say, but rather it is made by Mexicans. Dishes are inspired by the Pacific, a fusion of culinary techniques and ingredients from Mexico, Peru and Japan. My favourite is the octopus anticucho served with chorizo mayo and a salad of tomato, watermelon, raspberry, and hibiscus chamoy. Dinner is topped off with a classic Mexican dessert – tres leches cake.
I take my last bite, completely satisfied. It’s my final dinner in Cabo, and the perfect way to end an ultraluxe getaway. Cabo has definitely lived up to its reputation, and I’m already planning to return.
SIDEBAR – Family Fun
There’s no question that Cabo is a romantic getaway, but this destination also welcomes children and families. The Hyatt Ziva is a great family resort with its own kids’ area, complete with water slides, a wading pool and a kids’ club. There is also a teens’ club with a pool table and video games. Expect nightly entertainment for the entire family. The One&Only Palmilla also has a kids’ club and kids’ pool with mini lounge chairs fit for little ones.
Author: Karen Leiva