To enter this secluded piece of paradise at the extreme south end of Mexico’ s Baja California peninsula, visitors must pass through a 300 metre tunnel that’s lit by chandeliers and torches. Instead of a shark tank and 007 villain, the other side of the small mountain presents a unique 66-room luxury resort built on a narrow strip of sand and arid land between the granite cliff and the pounding Pacific surf.
The Capella Pedregal was completed just three years ago on a 24 acre site surrounded by the Pacific to the west and the Sea of Cortez to the east. This area has boomed in recent years as a safe and secluded playground for travellers from the US, Canada and overseas. We’ve visited many areas of Mexico but the Capella excels in its level of luxury and sophistication.
The resort is built in a series of one to four story gold and brown-toned stone and stucco buildings that blend perfectly into the rocky landscape. Instead of lush, tropical foliage, the property is dotted with gardens of desert cacti and tall grasses with several large infinity swimming pools and lots of comfortable loungers. Service is provided by a staff of 300 (including maintenance and groundskeepers) for a maximum of 200 guests. An amazing ratio, but service is never intrusive. The beach is wide and clean (the private access to the resort assures no peddlers) but unfortunately the heavy surf and dangerous undertow make it unsafe for swimming.
The oversized rooms at Capella Pedregal are particularly stunning. Each faces the broad Pacific Ocean and has a private plunge pool, gas fireplace, showers with both a rainfall head and traditional nozzle, a giant soaker tub, a small fridge with water and juices and free WiFi. Authentic Mexican touches like hand painted dual sinks, hand-tooled leather headboards, traditional lamps with leather shades and heavy mesquite doors add to the feeling of comfort and privacy. Every afternoon an attendant leaves an ice bucket with two Mexican beers and dishes of guacamole and salsa with homemade corn chips. Especially enjoyable while relaxing in the plunge pool and watching the surf thundering against the beach.
The town of Cabo San Lucas is just a short walk away (through that amazing tunnel) with excellent shopping (bargaining expected) and some fine restaurants. But the cuisine is so good at the Capella resort that we preferred to eat all our meals at one of the three restaurants. Executive Chef Marco Bustamante (a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and formerly of Per Se in New York) brings a modern twist to traditional Mexican cuisine.
“I want our food to have local, organic and sustainable ingredients,” he told us.
“It’s rustic but refined and I’m always looking for something new.”
Breakfast at the signature Don Manuel restaurant can be a la carte (the pecan waffles are extraordinary) or buffet style from a traditional hacienda at the back of the restaurant (that’s also the room for tequila tasting and where Chef Bustamante gives Mexican cooking lessons). Lunch and dinner at Don Manuel are special treats with cuisine and service at the highest levels. The fresh sea bass with a thick macadamia nut crust was the best restaurant seafood we’ve ever enjoyed.
The El Farallon restaurant (built on a cliff at the west end of the resort, it literally and accurately means, “a rock that comes out of the ocean”) is unique in its location just above the pounding Pacific and in its format. Guests choose their seafood (or beef) from a display of fresh fillets and then they’re cooked to order along with side dishes and brought to your table. We especially enjoyed the perfectly prepared amber jack and parrot fish, two of the choices that the chef receives daily from seven local fishermen.
The third dining option is the casual Beach Club for lunch. We couldn’t resist the sea bass tacos with spicy mango margaritas. The ceviche – bass, tuna or shrimp – are also outstanding.
For a small, secluded resort the Capella Pedregal has one of the biggest and most complete spas we’ve ever seen. Including the tradition of Mexican folk healing, the 12,000 square foot Auriga spa has eight treatment “pods” floating on a private pool along with couples suites and steam, sauna and ice rooms. The spa also has four unique signature treatments based on the phases of the moon. All treatments begin with a foot scrub using sea salt and fresh herbs.
The Capella Pedregal is not cheap but none of the guests we met felt it was overpriced. For Martha and Randy Cass of Toronto, this was their third stay at a Capella property. “We love the west coast of Mexico,” they said. “The property here beautifully reflects the rough and wild nature of the landscape. The private tunnel is fantastic and the service here makes us feel very special.”
Next month (July 11-15) the Capella Pedregal will be hosting its own Food and Wine Festival with several celebrity chefs on hand. Among them will be Iron Chef winner Kent Rathbun of Dallas and Johnny Iuzzini, New York City’s top pastry chef and, according to Forbes, “one of the 10 most influential chefs in the U.S.”. Guests will enjoy cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, gourmet dining and a barbeque party on the beach.