Saturday, January 9, 2010

Resort Review: Cabo Azul, Los Cabos, Mexico

The Cabo Azul resort & spa is the lap of luxury in Los Cabos, Mexico.

The Cabo Azul is one of nine Pacific Monarch resorts, a series of properties that caters mainly to Californians looking for fairly close and luxurious getaways. I haven't yet visited the other Monarch destinations, but I can say that the Cabo Azul does also attract vacation-goers from the East Coast and from as far north as Canada.

That being said, most of those that you'll run into will be from the Los Angeles area - where everyone is either a movie producer or an actor/actress.

With a spattering of resorts for the vacation-goer to choose from in Los Cabo, it's the luxury and comforts offered by the Cabo Azul that set this location above all the rest; and a stay here won't break the bank.

From the courteous staff that bends over backwards to ensure that your stay will be a pleasant one, to the completely stress-free and relaxing feel of elegance that surrounds every inch of the resort, the Cabo Azul is truly a vacation destination masterpiece designed by celebrated interior designer, Dodd Mitchell.

Mitchell used the elements to enhance the atmosphere of luxury and relaxation at the resort, with the sound of falling water always present and orange flames of fire rising from locations around the pool area at night.

There are three 'infinity' pools in the interior area of the resort, each one lower than the last and the bottom one quite cold, but very refreshing. In keeping with the theme of relaxation, the infinity pools flow into one another - the constant sound of water flowing - and the water from the bottom pool flows over the side into a basin on the ground; at that point, the sound of the ocean waves crashing against the beach take over.

Even inside 'Javier's' restaurant the sound of flowing water will not leave you, as water flows straight from the wall; and in the 'Flor de Noche' the pool-side restaurant, the water flows from a large 'well-shaped' centerpiece - always refreshing.

The villas are elegant, comfortable and expensive - when you consider that wifey will want the house designed to replicate the comforts of the villa when you get home.

The resort's theme of dark wood clashing with white is also pronounced inside the villas, with ceiling fans, mirrors and chandeliers adorning the walls and ceilings; with a thoughtful lighting arrangement that becomes somewhat of a nuisance when you're trying to shut everything off at night, but it sure makes the place look classy when it's all lit up; an appreciation that is mostly noted by the ladies, I'm sure.

Each one, two or three-bedroomed villa comes complete with a full kitchen and a very large jacuzzi tub.

Ah yeah.

There are also two hot-tubs built into the ground around the pool area, one strategically located right next to the 'cold-dip' pool, alleviating the need to go up to the spa to do the hot & cold-plunge routine.

There is, of course, a swim-up bar - fairly expensive (this resort is not all-inclusive), but the Plaza Marketplace in the hotel allows customers to purchase Corona for a more reasonable price.

There is also a 'Mega' supermarket within walking distance to stock up on food and drink for the week or two of your stay.

There's a fully fitted gym, even free weights, for those that enjoy a workout while on vacation and a spa, which just adds to the overall relaxing feel of the resort.

A great vacation destination cannot be perfect, however, without the people - and the staff at the Cabo Azul are tremendous. You'd think these people never had a bad day.

From the second that you're greeted by concierge upon check-in to the last-minute check-out, you'll never get greeted with a frown from anyone.

Of note, there's a guy named Iker who walks around the grounds throughout the day making sure that everyone is comfortable - he's got a clipboard in his hand that I'm sure has even the smallest details noted of what each customer likes for their particular comforts; Iker found my son's football twice when it went missing, and knew the color of his NintendoDS in case that also went missing.

The pool guys walk around and replace your towels once they're wet and the waiter from the poolside restaurant isn't a second to bring you a cold, refreshing, crisp and cool Corona - with a lime.

I fell asleep in one of the Vietnamese style baskets one day - when the rain came. It wasn't much of a downpour, but while I was asleep the staff moved three umbrellas over the basket and kept it dry inside - these guys don't stop in making sure that the clientele is comfortable.

I'm a big beach guy, and the beach in Cabo is the best - soft sand and big waves, although the current is too strong to let the little ones venture too far into the swells.

As is typical with beach vacations in Mexico, there's always a few locals looking to sell you hats, silver and knick-knacks (and some other pleasures) on the beach - and they just might have a Sony digital camera to sell you now; I took too long getting back to gather my belongings one day, after getting sidetracked at the pool bar on the way back from the room. It was dark when I made it back to the beach and, alas, no camera - and for that I apologize for not having photos to accompany this post.

The Cabo Azul is not all-inclusive, but that keeps away those looking to get away for the strict purpose of over-indulging in the food and drink; it's a much lower-key atmosphere than most all-inclusive resorts, and there is enough to do in the nearby town of San Jose that you'd rather get out and eat outside the resort anyway.

That's another reason why I love a vacation to Los Cabos, unlike many of the Caribbean vacation destinations, you can leave the resort in Cabos and venture into the surroundings with no worries.

The cab prices are set - five bucks gets you into town.

The resort itself holds enough activities to keep you entertained, whether it's a beach party (VFC beat wifey in the Limbo competition) or Mexican night, you're sure to be catered to by the staff and the food is magnificent.

This resort is one that you can truly say that they didn't spare any cost or consideration in ensuring that the Cabo Azul would truly become the lap of luxury in Cabo. They really thought of everything.

We found the Cabo Azul after staying next door at the Royal Solaris in 2008. The Solaris (all-inclusive) is nice enough - the kids club is the best, with water slides and the works - but the rooms are below-par for a Cabos vacation. The Cabo Azul and the Solaris aren't in the same discussion. In fact, this year we met people who were booked at the Solaris and switched to the Azul once they discovered the hidden paradise.

Pacific Monarch did it right.

If you're making it to Los Cabos, I highly recommend the four-diamond-rated Cabo Azul.

For luxury and a little spoiling - you won't be disappointed.

Also read: Los Cabos, 2008.

Cut your holiday budget in half

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