Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
In a raffle, my wife won a timeshare to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I looked online and decided it wasn’t the kind of place I wanted to visit. It was too ritzy for my taste. Thus, we tried to give the condo away. To my brother-in-law and his wife, no takers. To other friends who daughter recently moved to San Diego, no takers. OK. Time to re-access. I looked online and decided that there was decent snorkeling to be had and that I could finally take the scuba lessons I had been wanting to take. We decided to go and invited two other friends to join us.
Cabo San Lucas had been devastated by Hurricane Odile in mid-September, 2014. There was some question as to whether they would be open for tourism. During September, 30,000 tourist had been stranded in Cabo as the international airport there had taken a direct hit. In fact, the airport only came back to full service the first of November. Our trip was scheduled for late November. They assured us they were eager for tourist. Our hotel had sustained little damage. So, off we went.
When most people go on vacation, they go to relax, to have fun, to put their cares away. I, of course, go to photograph. Because we were staying at a 5 star hotel, I had not done my due diligence concerning traveling to a third world country. Thus, we were not prepared for what followed.
Off the Plane-
Immediately after passing through customs, we passed through some large glass doors into a large room lined with, perhaps, fifteen or so men stationed at “help desk.” A man greeted us and asked us if we needed help. We said that, “yes, we would like to get the van that would take us to our hotel, Villa del Palmar.” He led us over to to a gentleman who right away started in on his sells pitch. We were caught off guard, not really sure what was happening. This was in the airport, after all, right outside of customs. The man was pitching a sale for some new hotel and offering us all these free benefits for accepting “this amazing deal.” We tried to free ourselves. I even at one point put my head down on his desk pleading, “Please we just want a van to our hotel. I just want to go swimming. It was a long flight.” We finally relented to his deal and gave him a small amount of money. We wanted to just begin our vacation. He warned us that there would be others offering deals, but be assured his was the best offer.
At that point, we didn’t care. We were finally getting the ride to the hotel. If someone would have alerted us, we would have known at the airport to just keep walking through the sales gamut outside of customs and walk directly to the waiting vans outside. But no one had alerted us, and we were caught in the web.
Villa del Palmar-
The Villa del Palmar is one of three connected resorts. The other resorts being the Villa L’Estancia and Villa d’Arco. The amenities at all these resorts are five star. There are numerous infinity pools, hot tubs, waterfalls, restaurants on site, and plenty of concierge help. So once again, we were unprepared for the fresh assault that greeted us at the resort. Right out of the van, a woman approached us with “even better deals.” The deals centered around signing up for a timeshare. After we settled in our rooms, and started to look around we were, again, approached by woman, Monica. She firmly attached herself to us. She was hard to shake and very persistent, following and talking to us, even as we tried to walk away. Monica was there again the next day, as well. She was impeccably dressed, as were all of the hotel concierge workers. Was Monica part of the hotel or just freelancing? Who knows.
It was exhausting. Really. Who would have expected a five star establishment to be so relentless in its pursuit of guest. I know many would say, just walk away, be rude. But even being rude is tiring and not what I wanted to do on vacation. So, in short, buyer beware. I just want you to know what you are walking in to.
I know that I am perhaps in the minority here, as evidenced by the many people enjoying the resort. My reason for traveling, however, is to see and experience the culture of the place I am visiting, not to separate myself from it. At the Villa del Palmar, beside the infinity pools, there was a fitness room with Jacuzzi, tennis courts, beach volleyball, Spa, Zumba, yoga, massages, and constant entertainment. As you headed to the freshly raked beach, you picked up a warm folded towel and a worker offered to take an umbrella and lounge chair down to the beach for you. On the beach, the workers came around frequently with trays bringing you alcoholic drinks or sodas. There is a white rope on the beach that separates the guest from the beach vendors. The vendors are all dressed in white, as a kind of uniform. They are not supposed to cross the rope line to interact with guest. This seems fine in theory. No one wants to be hassled on vacation, right? In practice though, it felt like all the Caucasians were being waited on on one side of the rope, while the local Mexicans were trying to make a living on the other side. Perhaps they were making a good living. It still didn’t feel comfortable for me. Even though by any measure, I am “a privileged American tourist,” I just try not flaunt it, as much as I can, when I travel. Am I being hypocritical? I don’t know. Maybe.
The Cabo water has that azure Caribbean color. The beaches are a ruddy gold color that is composed of crushed rock. It is not the easiest beach to walk on, with deep rough sand. The beach slopes down sharply to the water, where the water comes rushing in. When the water pulls back to sea, there is a strong undertow. Once past the undertow, the water is clear and blue, but colder than Atlantic beaches. You are offered free stand-up paddle boarding, compliments of the resort, and there are numerous rented jet skis zooming around. Large tour ships visit this harbor almost daily.
By walking twenty minute towards town or by taking a water taxi, you will be at the main snorkeling area. The prominent land form, that is a focal point for Cabo San Lucas, is the Lands End promontory. The water taxi will take you out to Lands End and around to the rougher Pacific Ocean. You are then dropped off at Lover’s Beach where you can snorkel around and down to Pelican Rock and the North Wall. The fish are numerous and colorful. Even though they are not juxtaposed against coral, they are still beautiful.
Waxing Lyrically Negative-
I am sorry to be waxing so lyrically negative. Many folks will fall in love with Cabo San Lucas. The weather IS nice and the sun does feel great. But, I knew from the the beginning that this was not my type of place to visit. If Cabo is your type of place, then do be on alert for the aggressive sells pitches that begins at the airport and follow you on through to the hotel. If you are prepared for that, and Cabo is your type of place, then you will have a fun-filled time. There are lots of activities for all your needs. For me, however, next time, I will trust and follow my first instincts.