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Under the Mexican Sun

Mexico’s epicenters of traditional and contemporary luxury are luring globe-trotters to revel in a glamorous renaissance of epic proportions.

Capella Pedregal’s dramatic lobby entrance 

El Farallón restaurant at night at Capella Pedregal 

The pool bar at Capella Pedregal 

The Auriga Spa pool at Capella Pedregal 

Luxe Cabos

The southern capes of the Baja Peninsula, or Los Cabos (visitloscabos.travel), are some of the world’s most fabled shorelines—and for good reason. The aquamarine crossroads of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez dazzle with astounding natural beauty and a handful of resorts that flawlessly capture an extraordinary union of desert, sea and modern opulence.

Between the 20-mile corridor uniting the towns of Cabo San Lucas to the west and San José del Cabo to the east, several exalted resorts battle for the title of Mexico’s “it” hotel, each delivering a bespoke incarnation of paradise. Stellar service, dreamy vistas, showstopping design and refined accoutrements are givens. It’s the fine details that set these juggernauts apart, leaving jet-setters and glitterati with multiple definitions of heaven on earth.

Near Cabo San Lucas’ iconic Land’s End, Capella Pedregal (capellahotels.com/cabosanlucas) is the newest of the ultraluxe hotels and embraces the apex of taste and style, while imparting an unwavering ambiance of utter romance. Cover to cover, a stay at Capella Pedregal reads like an epic fairy tale. The prologue: the grand entrance through Pedregal Mountain by way of tunnel, whereupon a vision of light reveals a postcard-perfect image of tropical paradise, while impeccable modern architecture mingles with sleek reflection ponds, and low-lying cacti flush towering date palms exposed to a brilliant blue sky and cerulean waters. The narrative: the potpourri of paths along swathes of virgin beach with Land’s End in the horizon, whale-watching by day and stargazing at night from the en-suite infinity pool, sipping guava margaritas and fine wines with new friends at the hotel’s larger swim spot, and enjoying unabashed pampering in a private over-water pavilion at the 100,000-square-foot ocean-view Auriga Spa.

The 66 rooms, suites and family villas in all nine of Capella’s rock-hewn low-rise structures overlook the ocean—there’s not a bad view anywhere in this high-design enclave. Intricately studded and etched, mesquite wood doors open up to elegantly designed Mexican sanctuaries. Framed by exposed wood trusses and panoramas of sea and sky, spaces are decorated with custom-made hardwood furnishings, exquisite candelabras, hand-embroidered lampshades and artistic textiles revealing colorful journeys through the country’s diverse regions.

You’ll spend far too much time at Auriga Spa, likely indulging in one of the cleansing or revitalizing signature treatments inspired by the lunar cycle. Despite its mammoth size, the spa intentionally keeps its number of treatments rooms to 10, each one is like a lily pad where you enter from land and can exit directly into the pool’s shallow ponds.

Experiential eats also add to the Capella Pedregal high. Tucked into the cliffs of the property’s western perimeter, El Farallón is a new take on an old-fashioned outdoor fish market, where selections of fresh-caught seafood change daily. At Crudo, lunch light on fresh sashimi, sushi and ceviche to save room for complimentary guacamole and chips delivered to your room every afternoon. At signature restaurant Don Manuel, a Mexican gastronomic tour de force may include octopus aguachile, lobster tamales, tamarind- and coconut-glazed duck breast, and macadamia-crusted sea bass. Or, amp up the romance factor and dine on the beach. Under starry skies, the resort transforms its stunning shore into a private open-air dining room (tiki torches and rose petals included), with Champagne at the ready and a decadent multicourse meal savored at your leisure. It’s just another example of how every whim is accomodated to perfection.

Facing Land’s End from the opposite vantage point, Esperanza, An Auberge Resort (esperanzaresort.com) offers a front-row seat to the desert-meets-the-sea majesty of Los Cabos. This hillside Relais & Châteaux property capitalizes on its natural surrounds, with view-heavy infinity pools along the ocean’s edge and a romantic outdoor hot tub, sheltered by vaulted palapa ceilings, on the terrace of each 1,200-square-foot unit. The resort’s two wings mark a clear division between the familycentric villas on one side of the property and the adults-only hotel on the other, ensuring that kids and honeymooners don’t mix.

Esperanza’s principal approach for distinguishing itself is an extensive roster of activities. The resort’s fitness mantra plays out through complimentary daily classes of beachside yoga, boot camp, TRX and Zumba. The Spa at Esperanza offers a bevy of Mexican- and Asian-inspired treatments, with a hydrotherapy circuit that includes steam caves, a warm spring soaking pool and a cool waterfall. Wildlife enthusiasts love the sea-life adventure experiences, which include swimming with whale sharks, watching humpback whales and releasing sea turtle hatchlings. Come evening, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a certified tequila aficionado after an informative (and intoxicating) tasting course with Master Tequilero Christian Moya. On Thursdays, Esperanza’s La Palapa restaurant transforms into an all-out fiesta under the stars during Mexicanisimo, featuring live music, fireworks, local vendors and taste sensations from around the country.

Further east, toward San José del Cabo, Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort (rosewoodhotels.com/en/lasventanas) dutifully merits the illustrious reputation it has gained the world over. At any moment, warm and smiling staff stands eager to deliver stellar service that never feels forced or required. The iconic, whitewashed buildings, enveloped by color-splashed cacti gardens and scintillating seascapes, exude a constant “wow” factor. In the alfresco lobby, handcrafted mirrors reflect ocean blues, while bare branches from Baja thirstlands spring to life with handblown red-and-pink glass hearts. Seven quieter boutique pools surface as resplendent oases from the core beachfront pool, where you’ll share far too many Micheladas and margaritas with fellow jet-setters.

This all-suite grande dame has remained at the top of her game, never forgoing utmost excellence in all facets of design and operation, or forgetting that a little nip and tuck never hurts. In 2011, Las Ventanas al Paraíso added a sumptuous new spa, replete with Zen-inspired indoor-outdoor treatment rooms. And earlier this year, the hotel announced a new chapter in its history. By the end of 2013, there will be a few more “windows to paradise,” as the resort unveils its new luxury beachfront villas.

Just down from Las Ventanas al Paraíso is celeb fave the One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos (palmilla.oneandonlyresorts.com)—where top-to-bottom bespoke treatment comes standard. However, it’s anything but a standard hotel. Threads that match your wardrobe appear in your closet; fresh fruit arrives daily, as does an afternoon snack; a bedside aromatherapy menu allows you to pick an evening scent to lull you to sleep; and that’s just the beginning of the seemingly endless parade of gratis hospitality menus provided.

Perched above the beach along the Baja peninsula’s edge, Palmilla boasts 172 guest accommodations housed in single- and three-story buildings with red-tiled roofs, whitewashed walls and breathtaking beach vistas. Unique in layout and design, guest rooms vary in category, but all are jaw-droppingly impressive: Think a spacious 1,100-square-foot one-bedroom suite, with separate living room, wet bar and huge outside terrace. In the bathroom, an immense picture window streams in sunlight, highlighting an open shower (with rainhead, naturally) and stand-alone tub. Here, extravagances include luxe trimmings, sumptuous “Mexiterranean” cuisine, an ESPA-stocked spa and exquisite service.

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