In the past I’ve had a silent motto about vacation—I have to be on an airplane for at least 10 hours, then have a car navigate through hills and valleys, then maybe have a boat sweep me to some ecologically perfect Zen-like destination for bliss and enlightenment. (Think: Koh Samui, Krabi, or Phuket, Thailand; Bora Bora or Taha’a, French Polynesia; Capri or anywhere on the Italian Riviera.) Well, that was the world pre-pandemic. Far away trips are on hold indefinitely, but getaways closer to California are still possible. The Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal has devised a way to make an escape as private as possible.
A Truly Private Experience
The award-winning five-star resort is a mere 2-hour-and-45-minute flight from the Bay Area. But, you’re not ready to fly commercial yet. To offer peace of mind the Pedregal team has created a unique package dubbed the “Private Passport to Pedregal”—thoughtfully considering the needs of travelers from the beginning to end of their journey. They have partnered with Schubach Aviation, a Southern California based private jet charter to offer private flights from anywhere in the U.S. for bubbles of 4 – 8 people. In addition to the privacy and security of your own aircraft, guests also enjoy private terminal aircraft boarding as well as private terminal and customs clearance upon arrival in Cabo. Luxury car service will also pick you up and whisk you to the stunning resort.
This sliver of paradise boasts pristine, white sandy beaches, warm hospitality, and great food and drink. It is located on Cabo San Lucas’ most prized land—a 24-acre site at the very tip of the Baja Peninsula—and is accessible through Mexico’s only privately owned tunnel Dos Mares (considered an engineering feat), making for a truly grand entrance to a view of the Pacific Ocean meeting the Sea of Cortez.
After being closed for several months due to coronavirus, the hotel reopened at the end of June, being well positioned to succeed with a vast open environment and natural physical distancing. Cautious travelers will be happy to note that in addition to receiving certifications from the Mexican government, the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal reopened with “Hilton Clean Stay,” a new program that delivers industry-defining standards of cleanliness and disinfection developed in partnership with RB, maker of Lysol and Dettol, in all public spaces, fitness rooms, and guest rooms.
Your Room Awaits You
The Private Passport package also includes a seven-night stay in a two-bedroom Ocean View Suite with a private plunge pool, terrace, personal concierge, and butler service. Guests may also opt for multi-bedroom casitas and suites. Mexican-inspired details abound in the suite’s elegant décor, including unique pieces by local artisans like hand-loomed bedding and pillows for a true sense of destination. All spacious rooms and suites are complimented by rainfall showerheads, a separate bathtub, LED high definition TV, complimentary internet, a soft drink and juice refreshment center, and binoculars for whale watching. And for a further sense of being in Los Cabos—a bottle of Clase Azul Tequila awaits. A fresh bowl of guacamole, chips, and chilled Coronitas beer are delivered to your door each afternoon. (Yes, I ate my incredibly tasty guacamole every afternoon when I stayed last year.)
Guests may order room service throughout their stay or enjoy dining at any of Pedregal’s four al fresco dining venues, which have been adapted to follow social distancing protocols. Famed executive chef Gustavo Pinet is at the helm of the traditional Baja- and Mexican-themed restaurants. On my first night, I visited Va y Viene Beach Bar, situated below the rock-embedded hotel and award-winning architecturally designed private homes. The hut is located directly on the beach, ideal for taking in the stunning Baja sunset, while sipping champagne and swinging in chairs, sand beneath your bare feet. A sumptuous private barbecue with multiple stations of fresh organic salads, grilled vegetables, heirloom tomatoes, artisan cheeses, grilled hearts of palm, fish, and meats beckoned. On the open fire pit, roasted red snappers (the best red snapper I have ever tasted), oysters, octopus, beef skewers, and roast pig—all accompanied by every imaginable condiment. Crisp New Zealand wines complemented this memorable dinner as the sun slowly set behind the rocks of Cabos. Dessert of corn cake, fruit cobbler, and triple chocolate parfait offered a festive closure to an incredible evening of visual and gourmet delights.
The resort’s signature Don Manuel restaurant serves breakfast, but guests on the Private Passport to Pedregal have breakfast in their suites included. The Crudo Bar offers a variety of ceviche and tiraditos and is located in the center of the resort’s highly Instagrammable main pool with a view of the Pacific Ocean. The Beach Club, a casual poolside dining venue, offers Baja grilled seafood, salads, panini sandwiches, and of course custom margaritas. At the far end of the Waldorf Astoria Pedregal property, El Farallon, reputed to be the premier restaurant in Los Cabos, is tucked into the cliffs and suspended over the ocean. A coveted table at the edge will guarantee you a refreshing splash of ocean spray. This go-to spot for weddings and celebratory events sources fresh fish from local fisherman. The romantic El Farallon Champagne Terrace encourages guests to explore 15 labels of champagne through “sensations linked to the earth.” Our champagne/salt tasting included Billencourt Salmon paired with black lava salt, Tattinger Rosé paired with red clay salt, and Nicolas Feuillatte with Hawaiian salts. The juxtaposition of the taste of the earthy salts and the divine bubbly offer a unique tasting experience.
Create Your Own Adventure
“Beyond the Beach” curated explorations are available through your personal concierge. “The Xanadu of Baja’s Sierra” allows you to explore the backroads of the Sierra de Laguna mountains in a 4×4, hike trailheads, and explore the giant boulders leading to hidden waterfalls. “Sunnyside Stand Up: Morning Paddle Boarding” takes place at Cabo’s iconic Land’s End, the final point of the Baja Peninsula. You can even “Swim with Whale Sharks” (an item for every bucket list) and get to know these 40-foot creatures—the world’s largest fish and harmless to humans. (I was told they don’t like the taste.) In “Deeper Dive,” snorkelers and divers are professionally navigated through the five thriving habitats of Baja’s Sea of Cortez.
A Toast to Tequila
If you’d prefer to indulge in an experience on property—consider an in-depth Tequila Tasting. Enthusiastic tequila aficionado and Bar Manager David Hernandez guided me through the history, production methods, and complexity of the iconic Mexican spirit. Tequila fans swear that blanco tequilas are the purest spirits in the world; they are the hangover-free alcoholic beverage. Of course, that’s if you don’t mix it into a margarita.
To make tequila, the heart of a blue agave plant is removed when the plant is 7 – 10 years old and weighs around 200 pounds. The heart is then cooked in stone clay ovens to extract sap that is fermented and distilled into tequila. Among the “top shelf” Tequilas (and one Mezcal) I tasted at Pedregal was Gran Patron Burdeos Añejo Tequila, a luxury añejo tequila aged in a combination of oak and finished in vintage Bordeaux wine barrels. I found it was smooth and a bit smoky, like a good scotch ($300-500 per bottle). Another stand out was Tequila Casa Dragones Joven, a small-batch, master blend of 100% Blue Agave silver and extra-aged tequila, that rests in new American oak barrels for five years. This tequila has the added distinction of being highly recommended by Oprah as her favorite, which made it impossible to purchase. Liquor stores everywhere were sold out (price about $300).
After my fabulous crash course in Tequila I said farewell to Pedregal aboard the Waldorf Astoria’s private Dos Mares yacht, watching the hues of the world-famous Los Cabos sunset—the skies painted with broad brush strokes of yellow, orange, and red with a touch of purple. We sailed from the harbor past the iconic El Arco, a sea lion colony, and Lovers Beach. Breathing in the beauty, I watched for that momentary flash before the sun joins the ocean to brighten another day in another world—a memory that should be etched into the consciousness of each soul sometime in their life.