As a first-time traveler to Los Cabos, Mexico, I spent my whole ride from the airport peering out the window, wondering when I would catch a glimpse of the iconic rock formations at Land's End that I'd seen in so many photos. Luckily for me, a stay at the Hotel Riu Palace Baja California, which opened in December, is like scoring a front-row seat to the Los Cabos show.
Although the 602-room, adults-only resort is Riu Hotels & Resorts' third hotel in Los Cabos, it marks a departure from the other properties with an innovative design that benefits travelers at every turn. Most of the hotel's public spaces, from restaurants and bars to pools and lounge areas, are elevated and positioned along the beach-facing side of the hotel so as to offer unobstructed views of golden El Medano Beach and the gorgeous rock formations that make this area so picturesque. The result is days spent basking in the glory of the environment, whether from the breakfast table, during a dip in the pool or over an evening cocktail.
The hotel's design also features a tiered pool complex, easily my favorite part of the property. Multiple infinity pools sit high above the beach, blending seamlessly with the ocean views as you gaze out at the horizon. Two of the four pools include swim-up bars, and multiple terraces provide plenty of shaded loungers and scenic backdrops.
Additional resort features include the Renova Spa and a range of dining options, from a main buffet and a poolside grill to five a la carte restaurants specializing in Indian, Japanese, Italian, steakhouse and fusion fare, each with its own stylish design to match the theme of the cuisine. I found the fusion spot, Krystal, to be a standout among the restaurants, serving especially refined dishes in a sophisticated setting.
Guestrooms are elegantly styled with pale hues and light wood and include much-appreciated amenities like soaking tubs, regularly refilled minibars and wall-mounted alcohol dispensers, free WiFi and balconies or terraces.
Guests at the Riu Palace Baja California also have access to Riu's other two properties along El Medano Beach, the Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas and the Riu Santa Fe, the latter of which offers facilities including a nightclub and a waterpark. Also available at the Riu Santa Fe is a new series of themed weekly pool parties, hosted in a dedicated area on specified afternoons and evenings. During my stay I attended the white party, where an energetic crowd had a blast partying to a soundtrack of hits from the '70s, '80s and '90s.
For travelers who want to head off property, the hotel is located within a short distance of the Cabo San Lucas Marina, which is packed with restaurants, bars and shops. The marina is also an easy jumping-off point for fishing, snorkeling and whale-watching. Activities can be arranged right from Riu's properties through operator Scuba Caribe, with whom I was lucky enough to have my first successful humpback whale sighting, an opportunity I can't recommend highly enough.
Rates for the Hotel Riu Palace Baja California start at $155 per night. Visit www.riu.com.