Last updated: 02:00 PM ET, Fri November 13 2015

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  • Greg Custer | November 13, 2015 2:00 PM ET

    Long Live Los Cabos

    Long Live Los Cabos

    Photos by Greg Custer

    Natural disasters can leave devastation and deep scars in their wake, sometimes recasting a destination’s future. Hurricane Odile's September 2014 direct hit on San José del Cabo and its adjacent corridor brought the resort to its knees, closing nearly every beachfront hotel. Now, 14 months later, a handful have yet to reopen. But a recent visit made it clear Cabo’s new face is certain to propel the destination to even greater resort renown.

    You see the change just minutes after boarding your airport shuttle. On Nov. 4, President Enrique Peña Nieto cut the ribbon opening a new highway bypass, connecting the fully operational airport with Cabo San Lucas. The two-lane 45 km long toll-road cuts the travel time in half, and shaves nearly an hour off the trip to Todos Santos, a small artisan community on Baja’s Pacific coast.

    Colonial San José del Cabo is fully back to its traditional Old Baja vibe, with new enhancements and heightened vitality. Its popular Art Walk has resumed, the town is bustling with new eateries and shops, and even the hotel zone is brimming with off-property commercial activity. This is a refreshing development. When San José “flipped” to the all-inclusive format some 10 years back, the town’s business community suffered. Not any more.

    The hip Plaza del Pescador runs across the street from the beach resorts and sees brisk activity at all hours of the day. Gelato, jazz, pasta, gourmet coffee and fitness lure vacationers to explore beyond resort walls. Construction here includes new condominium and hotel development such as Mar Adentro. Just down the coast (adjacent to Puerto Los Cabos) ground has been broken for a JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Reserve.

    San Lucas was largely spared from Odile's wrath. The once ramshackle town of dirt streets and dusty facades has now come full circle. Landscaped and swept clean, the resort’s party and recreation epicenter still prefers its sport fishing heritage. Only now the fishing fleet shares the spotlight with more and more ways to play. The marina is now completely surrounded by hotels, condos, Cabo dolphins, a cultural pavilion, even more shopping outlets and harbor-front dining.

    It’s the corridor where visitors will find the most change, with an army of workers pouring concrete in a half dozen locales. These new developments include (east to west) Villa Valencia, Solaz, LeBlanc, VieVase, Maravilla/Montage, and Park Hyatt.

    Completed in advance of November (re)opening festivities, is the fresh-faced, gleaming white Hilton Los Cabos. One of Cabo’s hardest hit hotels (Odile damaged or destroyed some 200 rooms), the Hilton Los Cabos is today a totally new, reimagined luxury option. In a sea of all-inclusive sameness, Hilton owners stuck to an EP plan. It’s sure to draw attention from buffet-weary vacationers and their agents.

    The 375-room hotel (including 65 new La Vista Club Suites) rises atop a bluff commanding sweeping views across the azure Sea of Cortés. At the foot of the bluff is the resort’s lovely, calm water beach. A rock jetty shelters swimmers from open ocean conditions, while more sedate Hilton guests relax beneath umbrellas sipping signature cocktails and fresh juices.

    Dining and bars were given particular scrutiny at the new Hilton Los Cabos. Four new dining and bar concepts are open, and significant improvements have been made to the resort’s previously existing restaurants, El Meson and Madero. Mexican wines, smoky mezcal and the ever-proud tequila are prominently featured, as are locally grown organic fruits and vegetables and fish pulled from the sea just hours before hitting the grill or sauté pan.

    Add to this the brand new La Vista Club Lounge, a Cabo Kids Club (ages 4-12), eForea Spa, El Sobrero (hat shopping while you check-in!), scenic wedding venues (Hilton Los Cabos hosts over 60 weddings a year), farm-to-fork breakfasts and sea-to-table dinners.  

    So while Los Cabos awaits a wave of 2016-17 luxury developments, the Hilton Los Cabos is Cabo’s most complete EP luxury experience, hands down. Thanks to Hilton, EP lovers like me can rejoice overlooking the Sea of Cortés, as we sip, slurp, savor, soak (and sign).

    Learn more about the Hilton Los Cabos at

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Greg Custer Magic of Mexico

Greg Custer Greg Custer is a California native with more than 35 years working in various international travel industry capacities. He spent 14 years in aviation (TWA, Mexicana, Aerocalifornia). With a love for studying all things Latin America, (BA/MA UCLA, Latin American Studies) he is a leading authority on travel agent educational programs for Latin American tourism boards. Greg is fluent in written and spoken Spanish and has conducted hundreds of training workshops for travel agents. He is an accomplished travel photographer and author (with wife Jane) of the “Magic of Mexico” travel agent study guide. He resides in Ajijic (Jalisco) Mexico, enjoying one foot in the modern world and the other in Mexican pueblo life.
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