A Taster's Journey is a newsletter on food, wine and travel. After 15 years of studying, tasting, teaching, and selling wine, I created this newsletter to not only share my passion about wine, but of food and travel as well. Each month I hope to share wines that I am drinking, food that is in season, restaurants that I have enjoyed, and places I have traveled. Enjoy!"

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Palmilla in Los Cabos

February 28th, 2005

Beach at Sunrise

Beach at Sunrise

The southern tip of the Baja peninsula in Mexico is breathtaking. It is a beautiful, natural coastline made up of jagged rock formations, long sandy beaches, and the azure colored Sea of Cortez. It is such a serene setting – palm trees swaying in the winds, pelicans coasting through the air, and the surf crashing over the rocks. To add further character to this landscape, large mountains studded with cactus form a majestic backdrop. I recently had the pleasure of enjoying this tranquil oasis at a real gem… Palmilla.

Palmilla is a gorgeous resort located about 20 minutes south of the airport, and 25 minutes north of the southern tip of the Baja, Cabo San Lucas. This area of the southern Baja is called Los Cabos, and it is known for abundant sunshine, gorgeous coastlines, superb fishing, first rate golf courses, and some five star resorts that are absolutely amazing. Palmilla just completed a massive $80 million upgrade last year, and the result will make you never want to leave.

Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise

The Palmilla resort is spread out over 900 acres, and overlooks the Sea of Cortez where it merges with the Pacific Ocean. The resort is classic Mexican-style architecture, with white washed stucco walls and red slate roofs. The buildings are a maximum height of 3 stories, and are strategically placed along the coastline to capitalize on the views without sacrificing privacy. There are 98 rooms and 17 suites, each of which has a spacious terrace with unobstructed views of the beach. Winding paths snake through the resort connecting the buildings, or casas as they are called. Traveling these footpaths is like walking through a botanical garden, this lush landscape is planted with several types of palm trees, and dozens of tropical flowers like bird of paradise and bougainvillea.

The rooms are all quite large and luxurious. Although larger suites are available, the standard room has a king size bed and a separate sitting area with a couch, chairs and a writing desk. Each room is also equipped with a flat screen television and a DVD player with Bose surround sound. There are sliding glass doors onto the terrace, which allows the sun to flood the room. A Nikon telescope is provided to watch the grey whales frolicking in the ocean. The bathroom is equally beautiful. The walls and floors are decorated with colorful Mexican tiles. There are two sinks, a large oval stone tub, and a huge open shower with a massive shower head. A private butler is on hand to see to your every whim. Although the rooms are luxurious and very comfortable, the outdoors screams for attention.

Gliding Pelican

Gliding Pelican

The beach fronting the resort is spectacular. Palm trees are scattered along the coastline, and the sight of them swaying in the wind will lull you to sleep. The shoreline is quite rocky, which limits swimming in certain areas, but the site of the water crashing over the rocks is majestic. Cabanas and hammocks are set up along the beach as a refuge from the sun. As you laze away, it is fun to watch the pelicans gliding inches above the water in search of their next meal.

The beach is not the only place to enjoy the constant sunshine, there are two equally magnificent pools. They are both large with a shape similar to that of an amoeba, and have an infinity edge that makes it appear that the pool continues to the horizon. The main pool has a bar with a thatch covered roof and three stools submerged in the water. Who says swimming and drinking margaritas can’t be enjoyed simultaneously? While sitting at the pool you are treated like a king. You’re offered two types of pillows, books to read, an ipod to listen to music, frozen fruit, an oxygen shot if you feel hung-over, and a cleaning service for your sunglasses. Yes, this may sound a bit over the top, but they do strive to please. The second pool has a section where the water depth is very low, making it perfect for small children. This pool also has a large Jacuzzi overlooking the ocean. Cocktails and lunch are served at both pools, therefore it is the perfect location to spend your afternoons.

Infinity Pool

Infinity Pool

Although the beach and pools are magnificent, there are many other activities. There is a full service spa with thirteen private treatment rooms. Services include manicures, facials, massages, hydro therapy, as well as all day escapes in tranquility. There are yoga classes held every morning, in addition to aerobic classes held in the adjoining fitness center. The gym has the latest in treadmills, bikes, elliptical machines, and weights. There is also a 27 hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus which features deep gullies, scenic ocean views, and 600 foot elevations offering a challenging game for every skill level.

Los Cabos is known for outstanding sport fishing of blue and striped marlin, yellow fin tuna, snapper, and wahoo. Fishing charters can be arranged through the concierge. During the winter, grey whales migrate to the Sea of Cortez from Alaska, and they can easily be seen breaching off the shore. To view these mammoth animals a little closer, whale watching excursions can be arranged.

The final ingredient that makes Pamilla so special is the culinary experience. The main restaurant “C” is by Charlie Trotter, the renowned chef from Chicago. The restaurant overlooks the main pool, and has three sections: the main indoor room which is very sleek with a modern design theme and a view of the kitchen, the second area is also indoors and overlooks the pool, and the third is an outdoor terrace overlooking the pool with heat lamps. The outdoor terrace was my favorite, listening to the ocean crash against the rocks is my idea of heaven. There is also a beautiful bar area that overlooks the ocean, and music is played there nightly. The food, however, is the main event, and it is spectacular. The tagliatelle with black trumpet mushroom and truffles was pure perfection, and the roasted squab was another starter that really excelled. The entrees were also outstanding. There were always several local fish offered on the menu: marlin, snapper and parrot fish being a few. They were typically prepared rather simply, but always served with an outrageous sauce. For the carnivore, braised short ribs, grilled bison, and venison were available. This restaurant also provides the lunch for the main pool, although a bit less fancy. The fish tacos were my favorite dish; the tangy salsa was a perfect compliment to the tender chunks of mild fish. The second restaurant located by the other pool, Agua, serves “Mexiterranean” cuisine, which is a blend of Mexican and Mediterranean. Fresh seafood with salsas, pork with a mole sauce, and several tagines (slow simmering Moroccan stews) were featured. I found it interesting that in addition to a nice wine list, Agua also had a water list with twelve choices. This may have been rather gimmicky, but it illustrates that the resort is trying to differentiate itself.

Beach Cabana

Beach Cabana

Pamilla was pure heaven. It is a first class resort in a beautiful, peaceful setting. The weather, location, cuisine and service would be very difficult to match. I hope to return next year, and would certainly highly recommend it to anyone needing a dose of sunshine and tranquility.

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