LOS CABOS, Mexico -- This Baja California fishing destination has
broadened its appeal considerably since the rock band Van Halen
sang its praises in the 1988 song "Cabo Wabo."
Los Cabos' golf courses and luxury resorts emerged in the 1990s,
followed by inclusive resorts and direct flights from Atlanta,
Newark and Chicago in 2000.
Prior to becoming known as a golf hot spot, Los Cabos was
primarily known as a fishing destination, said Alfredo Rosas,
executive director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board in Santa Monica,
Deep-sea fishing remains the most attractive activity for Los
Cabos, he said, but it is no longer the only fish in the sea.
The region opened its first golf course in 1993 and will open
its ninth in February.
"Los Cabos has been able to position itself in an upscale
market" with construction of the courses, Rosas said, "and to
generate tourism from different regions -- not just the West Coast,
but [also] Texas, the Midwest and East Coast."
Rosas estimated that 65% of Los Cabos' visitors are from the
West Coast, compared with between 75% and 80% before the golf
courses and flights from new markets.
Room inventory is increasing at a rate of 12% per year, he said,
challenging the local government to keep up with the destination's
The broad appeal of Los Cabos also is due to the diversity of
its three main areas, Rosas said.
Cabo San Lucas, where most fishing enthusiasts stay, is known for
its marina, restaurants, nightclubs and party atmosphere.
The town's restaurants and nightclubs include Cabo Wabo Cantina,
owned by former Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar, and El Squid Roe.
Not that Cabo San Lucas is only about partying.
"You also have your very well-known hotels such as Finisterra,
where the fishermen go," said Elyse Elkin, senior director of
Mexico and Latin America for Travel Impressions, based in
"And certainly the fishermen who get up at 4 a.m. aren't party
animals," she said.
San Jose del Cabo, Rosas said, "is a more traditional Mexican
small town ... architecturally, a little more organized and
uniform," with a church, shops and restaurants around its main
The Tourist Corridor along the road between those towns, Rosas
said, is a 25-mile stretch where most of Los Cabos' luxury resorts
and golf courses are located.
The introduction of inclusive resorts was another significant
shift for Los Cabos, beginning with El Presidente Hotel in 1994,
the conversion of the Fiesta Inn in 1999 and the opening of the
Royal Solaris in August.
"[Inclusives] have brought in a newer, younger-type crowd,"
Activity-wise, how does Los Cabos compare with other Mexican
Operators agree Los Cabos is Mexico's leading destination for
world class golf as well as fishing, although some point out that,
as a desert peninsula, the regions lack of indigenous culture makes
it less attractive for families to explore than, for example, the
Others said they see Los Cabos' appeal extending beyond its
"Los Cabos' reputation as a destination has evolved over the
past couple of years," said George Hunter, director of product
development for Mexico at Classic Custom Vacations in San Jose,
"Initially, I think we saw it as a quick weekend getaway for
Californians," he said, adding that golf and restaurant
developments have made Los Cabos more of a resort destination for
"[Los Cabos] is marketable to every type of consumer and really
not an age-specific destination," said Colette Baruth, director of
marketing for Mexico and Latin America at Gogo Worldwide Vacations
in Ramsey, N.J.
"You have a sleepy town [San Jose del Cabo] and a town that's a
bit younger and livelier [Cabo San Lucas]."
Although Los Cabos spans a large geographic area, Baruth said,
"Somehow, it's not crowded and has managed to maintain its
Another way for retailers to earn pay
NEW YORK -- Besides fishing and golfing, clients visiting Los
Cabos can go snorkeling, sign up for a guided dune-buggy tour or
spot gray whales during their annual migration to the area, from
December through March.
Gogo Worldwide Vacations, Classic Custom Vacations and Travel
Impressions are three operators that pay commission on Los Cabos
excursions booked in advance.
For example, Classic clients can prebook deep-sea fishing aboard
a private boat for approximately $400 for up to four people,
including tackle, bait and beverages.
Four-hour whale-watching and snorkeling cruises are both $40 per
person. The latter includes snorkeling gear, a light lunch and open
Citing the likelihood of prebooked activities being canceled or
changed, other operators, such as Apple Vacations and Pleasant
Holidays, opt to let clients choose their activities only upon
arrival, and provide representatives at the destination to
For both Classic and Travel Impressions, no more than 10% of Los
Cabos clients prebook their activities in advance, company
"We put the optional tours in our brochures so [agents] can tell
their clients about it," said Elyse Elkin, senior director of
Mexico and Latin America at Travel Impressions.
"The thing we do more of [in advance] are golf tee-time
requests, because that is a bit more of a hassle for them once they
get down there."
George Hunter, director of product development for Mexico at
Classic Custom Vacations, suggests making advance reservations, in
particular for whale watching, because "it can be difficult to book
a quality tour if you don't book ahead."
From Classic's experience in selling prepurchased activities
with its Hawaii vacations, Hunter said, "there's a huge room for
growth in that area as a way for agents to help their customers
secure the vacation of their dreams in advance and maximize their
opportunity for commission."