CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico -- It's a frequent weekend getaway for such Hollywood celebrities as Jennifer Aniston, John Mayer and Gerard Butler. Eli Manning loved it enough to tie the knot there, and it was the honeymoon hideaway for hockey player Mike Comrie and former child star Hilary Duff. And despite the flurry of recent headlines regarding warring drug lords and violence along the U.S. border and other Mexican resort towns like Zihuatanejo, Acapulco and Mazatlan (all officially mentioned in the U.S. Department of State travel warning for July), Cabo San Lucas continues to thrive as an uber-luxury beach getaway.Questions about Cabo in Internet chat rooms and on Facebook walls -- especially for vacationers going for the first or second time -- aren't about violence, but more like: "Do I stay at Esperanza, Las Ventanas or One&Only Palmilla?" These are the three great luxury resorts of Los Cabos, the ones that brought the region onto the five-star tourism map, where the highest room rates vie with those in St. Bart's and Maui. If choosing alphabetically or just looking for the top luxury resort close enough to hit Cabo for a gourmet dinner, Esperanza is your best choice (even though the facilities will make you reluctant to leave). Located four miles outside the town, Esperanza Resort comes into view along a rocky shoreline with clusters of palm trees camouflaging earthy-colored stucco buildings, palapa roofs and heavy stone detailing. Esperanza is the smallest and most spa-like of Cabo's three great luxury resorts. The gated, fortified entrance and thatch-roof porte-cochere promises a private seaside residential experience, and the rest of the grounds bear out that promise. There are just 57 rooms and an array of private residences among wandering pathways adorned with gardens and an impressive art and sculpture collection. There are three oceanfront pools, including a main pool area with a bi-level infinity edge -- more modern than you'd expect -- descending onto a private sand beach wedged between dramatic rock outcroppings. Rows of preening sunbathers indulge almost year-round, especially since they are advised against swimming; those dramatic rocks are pretty to look at, but less than ideal to swim among in choppy waters. If the experience of Esperanza feels like a spa retreat you'd find along the Sonoma Coast, it's because it's owned and operated by Auberge Resorts, which also manages such properties as Auberge du Soleil, Calistoga Ranch and Solage Calistoga -- the top luxury resorts in the Napa Valley. Esperanza is a high-end spa concept in a Mexican landscape, a holistic retreat with freestanding spa that offers open-air treatment rooms and a beachside massage cabana only feet from crashing waves. Daily free yoga classes take place in a 1,000-square-foot studio, with outdoor showers and steam cave to follow. Food can be tailored for Hollywood dietary requirements, including raw or vegan options. After all that good health, visitors can go to the hotel's EL Bar to sample more than 100 tequilas and a cigar bar offering rare Cuban imports.
|One&Only Palmilla Resort's Cortez Suite is most frequented by Hollywood actors and biz execs.|
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