Great week in Cabo !
We have been coming to Cabo for many years now, and have stayed at several properties including the Pueblo Bonito Rose', Villa del Palmar, and with no question, Villa del Arco outshines all that we have stayed at. The grounds are under construction, but it posed no problem to our family. We loved our 2 bedroom unit in building 3. The service at the pool was fantastic, the servers were attentive and got food and beverages back to us in a speedy fashion. Although we do tend to eat our evening meals in town, we did enjoy the lunch menu at the pool. Cabo prices are no more expensive then most places we have travelled, including Jamaica, the Bahamas, Hawaii etc. We were never hassled about the time-share program, but as this is how many here make their living, a polite no should suffice. Bottom line in Cabo is treat the locals with respect and kindness, and it will be given back to you. We will be back in October, to enjoy all that Villa del Arco and Cabo has to offer.
Christmas in Cabo San Lucas
I booked our family Christmas vacation in March of 2006 with the intent of securing excellent accommodations early. Using Travelocity, I contracted for a 2 bedroom suite at Villa Estancia. All was fine until our arrival when we found Villa Estancia apparently overbooked. Management decided to switch us to the lesser property, Villa del Arco, which they also control. Del Arco is very nice, but it is not Villa Estancia. I had to "discover" their perfidy by which time it was too late to fight a battle.
Cabo is a beautiful setting. The positives are the following:
*Lots of potential activities
*Wonderfully friendly people
The negatives are the following:
*More expensive than Cancun and Maui
*Nothing is included unless it is specifically pointed out (not even beach sport activities with the hotel such as sea kayaks).
*No cultural activities (unless you consider beer and tequila cultural)
*Constant sales pitches by industrious street sellers who comb the beaches for potential customers
Having been to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Aruba, and Maui, I would recommend returning to Cabo only if sport fishing and drinking are on the agenda or if you do not plan on leaving the hotel enclosure.
Beautiful Properly, Nice Pool!!!
This review will be long as I’ll try to help you understand vacation in Cabo better.
We stayed here in Arco for 6 nights. Arrived on Dec 15, 2006. Overall the room was very satisfactory, spacious, beautiful, big balcony with ocean & pool view and clean. The construction is still in progress, like any other viewers said, you can still hear the sound of hammering and drilling but not too bad, looks like it will take few more months to complete. If you choose to be in the room during day time, switch on the TV and it will helps to cover the construction’s noise. If you’re out at the pool or at the beach, that noise will be covered by the sound of the ocean and waterfalls & fountains at the pool. The pool was really nice, big and kid’s friendly. The beach was nice too. Plenty of chairs at the pool and at the beach. We can see clearly the Land’s End from our room.
We took the one bedroom suite, which is really spacious with one king size bed in Master and one queen size bed in living, it has 2 bathrooms. The bathroom in the Master is the open concept with Jacuzzi. The queen size bed is not the sofa bed like any other hotel, this bed is the real bed that come out from the wall- you can fold it up during daytime. Dining table with 6 sittings. The beds are extra firm like the bed that you find when traveling to most part of the Asia (staying at 4-5 stars hotel). I see the reason why some of the other users said that they can’t sleep on it. My husband had a problem with the pillow which was too thick, he went out to buy his own Sealy pillow at Costco. I loved the fact that they have washer/dryer in the room, we came back to USA without any dirty laundry! It will be handy if you buy the travel size detergent, dryer sheets and bring some dishwasher soap like the convenient Cascade cube as you need your own soap and detergent for the machines. You can buy that in Cabo too, but everything is expensive here especially if you’re particular about the brand.
At Check In as told by other users, the Front Desk will asked you to go to Concierge for 'complimentary gifts', if you’re like us, doesn’t want to be bothered by Time Share people, just say NO. The Time Share person will come & greet you, as for us, we told them that we’re not interested & please don’t come & knock at our door, we’re glad that they respected our wish.
Electricity is just like US. So you can charge your cell phone, your laptop and your digital camera with no problem. We’re using T-Mobile with international roaming, it has roaming from 2 local providers here, one was Movistar the other one I forgot the name. Keep switching from one to another depending on the area that you’re in. The line was clear.
Toiletries are from Neutrogena. Plenty of towels in the room. Good water pressure in the shower. Nice water, not hard water that will make you have a bad day hair :-). We drink bottled water though.
Here in Mexico, everywhere you go you have to give tips to people, so bringing extra one dollar bill will be helpful. We went to Bahamas earlier this year and we don’t have to tip the Housekeeper. Here in Mexico, I did gave tips on the day that she came cleaning when we’re in the room. On our checkout day, the Housekeeper will leave an empty envelope under the door asking for more tips. So to make things easier, just wait until last day to give her the tips.
Spa is not ready yet. You have to go to Villa del Palmar next door for massage, which will be over US$130. There will be a Trolley (like in San Francisco) that transported to and fro between Arco and Palmar. I couldn’t get the appointment there so I went to downtown and get a better deal, you can get a Swedish Massage for about $$55-$60 for 1 hour and the massage was good too. My husband went for a haircut at one of the salon downtown, it only cost US$10, he gave tip another US$5, so all in was very cheap, US$15 for a haircut.
Beach, when we were there the ocean was calm, my kids enjoyed swimming in it. My husband & my son went on a Jet Ski, they really enjoyed it, it costs US$50 for 30 minutes and they require a credit card just in case you damage their equipment. If you wish to pay cash, they still will need the credit card info to hold on to. The sands, as said by other users, is a bit rough, with bigger granules, I thought it was a good source for exfoliation of the foot though :-) . If you like softer sands, go to the Bahamas or Hawaii because you cannot find it here in Cabo! There will be people selling handicraft items and hair braided service at the beach by locals, but they are harmless, just say NO nicely and they won’t bother you again.
Hotel staffs were friendly even though some of them didn’t speak English.
TV channel, they have mostly all the channel as our basic cable here in USA. TNT and Nickelodeon are all Spanish speaking, which my kids said sort of annoying to see Spongebob, Jimmy Neutron, Danny Phantom, Ned, Drake & Josh and all speaking Spanish. Cartoon Network is in English. Lots of movies were translated to Spanish too, kind of weird to see Tom Cruise, Sandra Bullock and all speak Spanish though :-). ABC channel like David Lettermen is in English. Sports channel like ESPN, Golf, Soccer are all in Spanish.
Free wireless only available at the lobby area, they have plenty of leather sofas there. You have to bring your own laptop down there. My husband did that almost everyday and sometimes it was crowded especially in the mid morning. Otherwise, there are plenty of Internet Café in downtown, you can get access for less than US$5 per half hour.
Hotel has a Security booth at the entrance, you’ll need to give them your room number every time you drive thru it. No visitors are allowed after 8 pm, so if you come with other family members or friends make sure they stay at the same property if you want to go back & forth to each other room.
There is one money changer at the airport. You can get 10.50 pesos for US$1. There is one money changer next to Tesoro, downtown, you can get about 10.55 pesos for a dollar. In downtown they accepted US Dollars almost anywhere, 10 pesos for a dollar. Credit Cards are widely accepted especially at downtown.
Book your car online before you get to SJD Airport. At the baggage claim, there are Car Rental agents, tell them that you’re there, they will call the shuttle. The shuttle will wait for you outside the terminal, Terminal 3, go out and walk to the left.
Check with your Credit Card company for Insurance coverage. We have Amex with International accident coverage, we checked with Amex, it covers up to $10,000 including in the Mexico if you enrolled for international accident coverage, providing that you didn’t take any other insurance that had been offered. So check the fact before you leave. We used Thrifty, they insisted on us taking the Mexican insurance, when we denied, they put $2000 hold on our Amex. You get back the $2000 on the day you send back the car without any damage.
Be prepared to pay toll, they collected toll both ways, to and from San Jose and Cabo. It costs 275 pesos one way. So get your money ready as you exited the airport, the toll booth is a few miles down the road, just before entering San Jose del Cabo.
Gas, only Pemex station that is available in San Jose and Cabo San Lucas. They only accept Pesos, no credit card and no US dollars. The busiest time to get the gas is Friday evening, the line will be long, like 20-30 cars ahead of you in the line. So if you’re flying out on Friday, make sure you filled the gas before that.
Parking, the Mexican people basically park their cars almost everywhere except for the no parking zone which is mark as “E” with a slash on it (like our no parking with the “P”). We were told that if you park in No Parking Zone, the Police will take out your plate number and to get back the plate number is a hassle.
The best and safe place to park the car in downtown is at the mall- a few levels of parking spaces, parking is free. They give you the card, keep it, give it to them when you go out at no charge.
Valet at the hotel, basically you can tip them just US$1 every time you send and collect your car. They just use one claim check during the stay, so be sure to keep the claim number safe.
Driving is on the same side as USA. Slight difference in the system, some of the junctions, if you want to turn left, you have to take right exit to smaller side road, then at the traffic lights you can turn left, looks complicated the first time we saw that. To get to the hotel, because it is a bigger junction, you can turn left from the main road.
You’re in Mexico, so all the signs are in Spanish. Basically all the bigger hotels are on the ocean side (on the left side of the roads), all have signboard pointing to them.
There is a mall at downtown, 5 minutes drive from the hotel. It is a pretty nice mall, you can find Lacoste Store, Tommy Bahamas and a few other designer labels.
There is Costco nearby. So bring your Costco card along. Costco has the same layout as in the USA, so you will find it is really convenient to shop. Things are a bit expensive here in Cabo, at Costco you only get one gallon of milk for the price of two gallons here in USA. Their croissant is better than in the USA though.
There is Home Depot too.
At downtown there will be locals selling handicrafts too. We did buy items from senior citizen and mom with small kids just to help them, because they look desperate and poor. Kind of sad to see mom with newborn baby selling things, we thought if they have choices surely they will not be out on the street selling things.
If you think the vacation in Mexico is cheap, think twice!! Cabo is a very expensive town. Food prices at the restaurant are the same price as high end restaurant in the USA. We ate at one of the restaurant by the Marina next to the mall, kind of open setting restaurant, it costs the same as eating at the Tao Restaurant in Venetian, Las Vegas. We also ate at the Seafood Restaurant on top of the mall next to the Italian Coffee Shop, one dish costs average $25-$30 for lunch. For a family of four expect to spent about $100-$150 for one meal. We ate at the Pirate ship by the pool at the hotel, simple menu like seafood salad, small cheese pizza, fish tacos- light foods for a family of 4, it costs us about US$80. To save some money, you can buy frozen food at Costco and prepare your own food at the room since the room is well equipped with cooking pots (T-Fal) and they have a combo Microwave and Convection Oven with a four range stove. Cook your own food once a day can help to save some money, or else expect to spend at least $300/day just for food for a family of 4 (2 Adult + 2 Kids).
Hotel do offer you All Inclusive, which I think $75 extra per person/day, but the choice of foods are limited to what they served at the hotel and kind of boring if you stay there for a week!
Fast food chain like Burger King, Mc Donald’s, Subway and probably a few others are available too. We didn’t eat there so no comment about the price.
No Starbucks here, but local coffee shops are available around the mall, the price of a Mocha will be around 350 pesos. At the Airport (Terminal 1) Mocha costs about 500 pesos.
I find it is weird that this airport (SJD) has no trolley at the claim luggage carousel, no chair except at the departure halls. Kind of inconvenient because it took too long to get your bags out. If you have a lot of luggage, you have to use porter service. The tip is about US$1 per bag, but they were really good at loading and unloading your bags especially at the x-ray machines. After the baggage claim upon arrival, you have to put the bags through the x-ray machine again and have to go thru airport security, you have to press a button, if the light turn red, they will open all your luggage for search which is really inconvenient. This is just your luck, after a few green, there will be one red. Alaska will arrive at Terminal 3. Other Airlines like America West, Continental and all, mostly arrived at Terminal 1. Car Rental is at Terminal 1 (not exactly in the Terminal, have to walk a bit over the open space parking), some of it like Alamo, Dollars are a bit further from the terminal. Time Share people are waiting for you as you exited from the security check point so be careful!!
Since we rented a car, we didn’t use taxi. The taxi over here is basically a van. It costs $70 one way from SJD to Cabo. At the hotel, there are plenty of taxis, at downtown also are plenty of taxis too. If only two of you traveling and not renting a car, probably cheaper to take Airport Busses to the hotel. You can buy the bus ticket online before getting there.
My husband played at Cabo del Sol. He was saying that the Green Fees here are more expensive than Bahamas, Hawaii or any other good courses in the states. The green fees is about US$300 and for twilight almost US$200, twilight starts at 2 pm, sunset at about 5.30 pm, so it is a bit rush to finish all the 18 holes! The rate on the website was an old rate so be sure to check with them before you go golfing. The Ocean course is beautiful though.
We went on the Whale watching cruise, taking a bigger boat called CoboRey. They served a simple buffet lunch. The trip is from 11:00 am to 1 pm (the website said 11-2 though). Kind of hard to spot the whale, we encountered only 2 sightings, both were only the tail parts of the whale. I think going to see Shamu at the Seaworld is a better way to see the whale. They said that you have to wear a swimsuit, we did that, but since this is a bigger boat, you’ll never get wet, so just wear casuals, such as shorts and T-shirt will be okay. The people that serve you sodas and drinks, will come around and collect tips before you leave the boat. There will be the boat photographer, your photo will cost 100 pesos a piece if you choose to buy from him. The boat departed from the Main Marina, not the one at downtown near the mall. They called it ‘le Marina’ (or something that sound like that), it is located about 5-10 minutes drive from downtown. There will be a parking space that costs 150 pesos an hour. When you’re there, there will be lots of people coming to you asking you to buy all kind of boat trips and water activities, they just keep following you around which is annoying sometimes. There will be a local market selling souvenirs at the marina, but one tourist that we met tell us that the prices there are way too high from Mazatlan (she just got back from there).
You’ll need a passport to enter Mexico beginning 2007. All USA Permanent Resident regardless Nationality, will need to show the Green Card together with the passport from their country and no Tourist Visa needed. Everybody have to fill up the landing form, and you have to keep it and have to hand it over on your departing day.
Cabo is basically a desert with lots of cactus trees, you‘ll see just that from the airport before entering the tourist corridor. Downtown is not very clean, public toilet also not as clean as in the USA. It is wiser to choose a nice hotels to stay because from our observation, nicer hotels will make your vacation better. You can just enjoy the vacation by staying in the hotel area most of the time. This particular hotel has a beautiful ground and clean, if you don’t mind of the construction noises (which is not really bothering us) than I think this is a great place to stay. Hotel area and downtown area are like 2 different planet, being in the hotel compound you can feel the luxurious of vacation but when you’re out in downtown is a totally different sight. Walking alone in downtown area during daytime was safe, I did just that a few times with no problem. Some of the people can speak English, if not just use sign language especially when buying something or want to ask for direction. Overall we think that all the things in Cabo are overpriced. To do Cabo again? May be not, we probably prefer Hawaii better.