Los Cabos 2018
November 7, 2017 12:01 PM   Subscribe

We've booked our flights to Los Cabos, Mexico. It was not our first choice but we had airline vouchers and this was one of the more reasonable options. Unfortunately, everything I am seeing online makes me think we are about to have a very bad vacation... any tips for salvaging it?

I've wasted an incredible amount of time on hotel websites, AirBNB, VRBO, etc. and I am not finding *any* good options. I think we have a reasonable hotel budget? We would prefer something in the $300 range but can go up to $500 per night if it's worth it. At this point I am desperate for any general or specific recommendations but here are some of my most pressing questions:

1) How do you get past flat-out lies? The entire Los Cabos seems like one big scam to me right now - if I see a 1-bedroom, it turns out to be a studio; if I see a price, it's never the price; if I see photos of beautiful pools, it turns out those pools are closed for construction; if I see free wifi, it turns out it's only in the lobby and it doesn't work anyway; and so on, ad nauseam.

2) Is there a way to search for housing within walking distance to a *swimmable* beach?

3) Are all Kids Clubs basically a scam? All the resorts advertise them but the reviews say that they are only open if enough kids sign up - but there is no way to sign up in advance so they are always closed.

4) Are we doomed to 1-star food at 5-star prices?

5) Do hotels ever turn on heat in their heated pools? This is a must for me, I really can't do freezing water. Reviews on this topic are bleak.

6) Spa rates look shocking to me. Most spas don't post a price list but the ones that do list express pedicures for 100+ USD and so on. Is that... normal?

7) Should we book our accommodations asap, or are we better off waiting until the last moment?

8) We can rent a car if that helps but don't want to spend half our vacation on long, bad commute. Any advice?

FYI we fly in December 30 and leave January 6 and we are a couple plus an 8-year old. We are not picky but we do need a place that's safe, comfortable and quiet, and close to a real beach, or else has a kick-ass *heated* pool.
posted by rada to Travel & Transportation around Mexico (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not at all familiar with what's been going on lately? We stayed at The Cape in June. It was nice, and accurate to what you see on the site. They're on a quiet stretch of beach away from the craziness of other resorts (the property is located in between cities). I was looking not to be in town.

It sounds like you have children? They're not exactly a family spot, in that your kids might be pretty bored. The food on site is... fine, despite my hopes and their claims of having a notable restaurant. I did not rent a car but I would recommend it--opens up dining options.

If you have more specific questions I'm happy to answer, but we did not feel unsafe or scammed at any point?
posted by danny the boy at 12:15 PM on November 7, 2017

Sorry I meant if you're NOT staying in one of the two cities, I would get a car, but you probably don't need one otherwise--unless you're specifically looking to go further afield.
posted by danny the boy at 12:18 PM on November 7, 2017

I just had a fantastic experience in Cabo so don't give up yet. First, I think you need a travel consultant working on your behalf to sift through the all of the contradictory information. More on that in a minute...

As far as swimmable beaches, there are few. Food at the resorts is pricey but it's also good quality. While you might get tired of hotel restaurant meals, there wasn't anything wrong or bad about them. Do not wait to book your accommodations. This is high season and Cabo is very hot (excuse the pun, I meant popular) in the last few years. I don't know anything about the kids' clubs because we left ours at home.

I learned all of this and more from my husband who is a travel consultant. He helps people sort through information and plan a trip that actually works for them. We've also traveled a ton and loved Cabo this past May. I am not trying to sell anything but if you would like to contact him as a resource, just PM me.
posted by rglass at 12:47 PM on November 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't know about Cabo per se, but in my experience when booking AirBnB or VRBO there's a magical price point above which the proprieters are professional and straightforward. After killing myself trying to book something in Paris, I went up by $100 per night and all of a sudden I was not getting that runaround you describe experiencing.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:50 PM on November 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Have you tried looking at all inclusive family resorts? That's a fairly common time for families with kids to be traveling, so most likely the kids clubs will be open. When we went to a family resort we put our kid in the kids club on the 2nd & 3rd day, and then after that he'd made enough friends that he just played with whoever was at the pool instead of at the kids club for the remaining days of our stay.

Where we stayed (PVR, not Cabo), the rates for the spa services were also obscene. But, on the street right outside the door to the resort there were spa services that were 25% of what the resort was charging.

All pools (5) were heated at our family resort. I've heard the same from friends who stayed in all inclusives in LC. Most of the ones I've heard of are on the beach. Be aware though, if there's a nice pool, I don't think I've heard of any families where the kids wanted to go to the beach, they all wanted to hang out at the pool.

If you're not sure of when to book, be sure to check out their cancellation policy. You might gain some peace of mind about booking now if you decide you find something better later and want to cancel. I think our resort only charged a set cancellation fee, it wasn't exhorbitant.

I'm sure you're tired of reading reviews, but if you're up to a little bit more, Yelp can help you out. I did a quick check; Cabo Azul has availability within your price range. So does the Playa Grande.

We have two small kids. It was my husband's idea to go to an all-inclusive last year, after years of staying at various hotels and AirBnB's. After that trip he tried to convince me that we could save some money this year by getting an AirBnB for our next trip. No way, I said. It is luxurious to not have to cook and clean for a whole week. For a true vacation, if you can swing it, I highly recommend the all-inclusive. We're actually going back to the same place this year, so we joined their preferred club or whatever they call it and booked early and got a good rate. A lot of resorts in MX have properties in multiple cities so it can be worth it to join their club. Oh, and ETA, all food, all alcohol (!), kids club, nightly entertainment, and transportation to/from the airport were included. We never left the property (and I skipped the spa services) so we literally did not pay anything above our booked room rate.
posted by vignettist at 12:52 PM on November 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

We just got back from a week in Todos Santos, and have spent time in Los Cabos in the past, and if I were you I’d rent a car and drive an hour up highway 19 and stay at Los Cerritos beach. It’s swimmable and way mellower than Los Cabos, and is near so much really good, reasonably priced food in Pescadero and Todos Santos. I haven’t stayed in Los Cerritos, but a quick check shows a lot of stuff right on the beach well below your mac price. Just know you’ll be doing a lot of driving on dirt roads to get to food, but it’s easy and worth it.
posted by outfielder at 1:19 PM on November 7, 2017

If it were me, I'd take a bus from the airport straight to La Paz. It's been a while since I was there, but it's a pretty nice town with a high ratio of ordinary people to resort-goers, surprisingly good food, and plenty of beaches and other scenic coastal stuff in every direction.

(But then, $300/night in Mexico is four times what I'd expect to pay for a special-occasion fancy resort hotel. . . so perhaps we're looking for different things.)
posted by eotvos at 4:12 PM on November 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Second what eotvos said. Get out of the Cabos and come to La Paz. Very laid back, only slightly touristy. You can swim off the malecón (boardwalk), but you really should go out to Balandra, or take a tour to dive with the sea lions. I have not entered the pricier restaurants, but I'm told they're excellent (I probably couldn't tell a one-star from a five-star).

Like eotvos, I don't think I fully grok what you're looking to spend $300/night for, so it's possible that La Paz is too laid back for you, but I'd at least do some quick research. I think the Seven Crowns hotels here are probably the most expensive; they certainly look nice from the outside...
posted by bricoleur at 8:32 PM on November 7, 2017

Response by poster: Guys, I don't think those of you wondering aloud what kind of princess wants to spend $300 or more per night in Mexico have looked at Los Cabos prices lately. The very first hotel recommended in this Ask starts at $960 per night for their smallest room before taxes and fees. Please, less judgement, more helpfulness - we are not looking for gilded toilets, we are just trying to find a relaxing and reasonably comfortable place near some water, or else why travel hundreds of miles to a beach town?

Also thank you for alternative suggestions but we don't want to travel to another part of Mexico. I mapped La Paz and it looks to be to be almost 3 hours by car... figure in flight times and another 1-2 hours to rent the car and shake off the timeshare salesmen and it will eat two whole days out of our 7-day trip.
posted by rada at 9:17 AM on November 8, 2017

I’m pretty sure that price for The Cape is for the week, not per night.
posted by outfielder at 5:26 PM on November 8, 2017

Wasn't being judgemental at all, it's just that $300 a night seems astronomical in my Mexican frame of reference. I still think you should consider La Paz, or outfielder's suggestion of Todos Santos, which is a lovely little town on the Pacific. Cabo San Lucas is not a relaxing place, it's a touristy, hustley place people go to to party all night long.

It's two hours and twenty minutes from SJD to La Paz by car. Buses and shuttles are available (Econaviera Tours runs the shuttle). It's a pleasant drive with some good scenery, and you can make a pit stop in Todos Santos for a delicious meal and, if you're so inclined, take in a gallery or two. If you're not looking for gilded toilets, a couple of very comfortable and very reasonable B&Bs in La Paz are Posada Lunasol and Casa Buena. Both of them have beautiful if smallish pools, outdoor shared kitchens, palapas, and on-site owners that can help you plan your days.
posted by bricoleur at 6:53 PM on November 8, 2017

I’m pretty sure that price for The Cape is for the week, not per night.

No, she is correct; it is $8,995.42 for the week for the smallest room. The issue is that the OP is looking for rooms at Winter Peak of New Years (same goes for Christmas) so everything is at a premium.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:50 AM on November 9, 2017

Response by poster: After much searching, we've secured a place, whew!

Lessons learned:

1) There is no truth in advertising when you are booking a resort in Mexico. Independent reviews are a must - Google and Trip Advisor have the most up-to-date, candid reviews and you *really* need to see them. I've almost booked a hotel that should have been shut down for construction (round-the-clock jack hammering, pools and beach closed), a hotel that charged $30 per day per guest (!) for in-room wifi that was advertised as free (we need wifi for our business), and even a hotel that was a different place altogether (photos showed their sister property at a totally different location).

2) AirBnB has the most options when it comes to condos - these are the best deal because they are at the same resort as the main hotel with the same amenities, except at half the price for twice the space plus a kitchen. We ended up booking a true 1-bedroom with a kitchen for $250/night while rooms at the same resort go for $500 for a studio without a kitchen.

3) AirBnB has a pretty constant number or properties - some get booked and some new ones pop up every day, so there isn't a huge urgency to book right away.

Thank you all who took the time answer my question!
posted by rada at 3:42 PM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

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