My most fond memories involve family vacations traveling in the R.V. or multi-day backpacking trips. Wild Adventures. Dirt under your nails, sun on your face, knotted hair kind of travels. Sleeping in a hammock attached to the face of a half ascended rock face in a billion star hotel, that’s how I was raised. When the opportunity arose, to stay at the Four Season’s newest resort in Cabo San Lucas, Costa Palmas, I jumped at the chance to see what a 5 star vacation was like. #FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) I was really interested to see how a resort style vacation compared to my usual outdoor, into the wild, escapes. When surrounded by nature, I am at peace. Everything is simple and I relax completely, releasing all tension; Happy and connected with my surroundings. I was about to learn you can experience nature and luxury simultaneously.
At 11 am, the girls and I landed in the Cabo San Lucas International Airport. It was a quick 90 minute flight from LAX, the duration of which I spent with my face buried in the latest Harry Potter book. When we landed, it was quite obvious that it was Mexican soil we were stepping onto. Two females greeted us with an assortment of top shelf tequilas, a few of which I sampled before we walked out the enormous sliding glass doors. The desert heat rose in visible waves off the pavement as speakers blasted Mexican pop music from two opposing bar cabanas packed with people who couldn’t wait to start their vacation. Thankfully two drivers from Costa Palmas intercepted us before the pack (women who rarely leave each others side even to go to the bathroom) decided we needed a Pacifico in one hand and a margarita in the other.
Looking out the window with the AC blasting, I watched the desert turn to mountains and back to flat land as we passed through two small farming communities. The scarcity of people and lack of traffic, aside from two stops due to goats in the road, was pleasant. After 30 minutes we turned down a private road that was gated and manned by a guard station, as were the other two entrances to the property. The anticipation was killing me as we passed more cows, cacti and occasional palms. Then, like a mirage, the resort appeared. One main dinning cabana was nestled between four hotel cabanas. The natural materials and architecture style combined to create a natural, chic, stylish ECO FRIENDLY vibe. The structures were constructed in such a way that your view of the ocean was never obscured; And what a view it was. Golden white sands sloped down gradually 500ft and dipped below the surface of the calm crystal blue waters. The shoreline glisten as the waves caressed the sand. This place was romantic without even trying.
The staff introduced themselves and put a fruity blue drink in our hands. We raised our glasses, said a few gracious words to our Four Season’s hosts and then headed to our rooms to unpack before lunch. As I walked up the wooden steps to a deck that wrapped all the way around the cabana, I slid open the floor to ceiling glass doors. My eyes adjusted as I removed my sunglasses and peered into the most beautiful hotel I have ever stayed in.
The living room area opened up to the deck, which had lounge chairs facing a view of the gorgeous private beach. The way it was designed, your view of the other cabanas was blocked by the architectural design of the deck and sunshade.
It felt like a nature retreat on my own private island. Up a few stairs, was the bedroom and closet area. Tyla and I found the fridge and popped a bottle. Champagne in hand, I explored the bathroom, which consisted of two vanity counters and an outdoor shower built for two. Hot showers under the stars anyone? There was also a door that opened from the deck directly into the tiled bathroom area for easy access to the showers when ultra sandy. Pretty smart for preventing a sandy mess in the room.
By the time I got to lunch, the girls were already digging in to the homemade tortilla chips, salsas and guacamole. Chef proceeded to bring out three amazingly scrumptious courses followed with a strawberry basil sorbet. The girls all had seared ahi tuna and fresh greens and I had a custom vegan creation of mashed cauliflower potatoes, asparagus, grilled peppers and a fresh salad. After lunch we had free time till dinner so I decided to check out the Costa Palmas “Adventura” Club. I was escorted to the activities area where staff members were ready to teach you how to use different pieces of equipment if you were unfamiliar or keep you safe if you overestimated your capabilities. I was informed that this part of the ocean is special. It is a protected inlet with sand bars and therefore one of the few places you can actually go into the ocean without fear of rip tides or rogue waves frequently produced in these turbulent waters. Everywhere except the beaches of Costa Palmas the lifeguards flew a black flag. Not for pirates; But to serve as warning of the hazardous conditions.
With that knowledge, I decided to go for a swim. When I finished swimming to the point and back, I grabbed a stand up paddle board. Though the best times to SUP board were in the morning and late afternoon to avoid the waves from the tropical afternoon breeze, it was a great workout and a lot of fun trying to keep my balance. I lasted 45 minutes before I headed back in and traded my paddle board for a bike. The super fat treaded tires allowed me to ride up and down the beach and even into the waves. Peddling as fast as I could and splashing through the water flinging sand and sea water everywhere… This rejuvenated me.
I grabbed a towel and a coconut water and headed back to my room to get ready for dinner.
I hadn’t walked more than 10 yards from the main cabana when I stopped walking and stared. Tiny sand avalanches cascaded around a sand crater that looked like it was bubbling. It was like a zombie movie only 50x more adorable. Little flippers reached up through the sand and slowly sea creatures emerged from their sandy womb. I yelped with excitement and Tyla and a few members of the staff came over. It was hard to use my words to communicate effectively. I was overwhelmed with emotions. I wasn’t prepared for this! The babies were hatching! RIGHT NOW!
I worked with the Humane Society when I lived in the Bahamas rescuing adult sea turtles and now I got to assist them in a more fragile and vulnerable stage of these majestic critters lives. We washed our hands with Dawn soap to avoid harming the baby turtles with the oils from our skin. Over several trips we carried nearly 120 sea turtles down to the shoreline where we watched as they dragged their bodies across the wet sand and into the ocean. With their eyes were still closed, the waves taunted them; Falling just short of turtles, they would pause and then charge again; the next wave engulfing them whole. They certainly didn’t waste time testing the waters. It was magical. Rafael, one of my favorite staff members, explained how the sea turtles are protected by Mexican law but Costa Palmas took it a step further and became a turtle sanctuary. The turtles are kept track of and nests are marked with the date the eggs were laid, how many eggs were laid, and the date they are projected to hatch. Some nests must be moved for their own protection and so a few of the staff members have taken on the responsibility and the honor of protecting the Sea Turtles of Costa Palmas.
I ran to my room and got dressed quickly so as not to be late for yet another beautiful three course meal. After dinner we took our glass of wine, champagne or tequila and sat around a beach bonfire. It was a new moon so each of us took a stick and said our “intentions;” goals, hopes and dreams and places them in the fire and watched them catch fire and go up into the universe as smoke. The embers danced the faces lit by the glowing flames were versions of my friends you rarely get to see. Free from stress. Free from obligations. Free from societal norms. They were completely at peace.
The next morning I woke up feeling so well rested I didn’t need a cup of coffee before someone spoke to me. After I got a quick sunrise beach run in, I headed to the dinning cabana for almond milk lattes and fresh fruit. I marveled at the colors the sunrise produced, enhanced by the silhouettes of the sailboat, jet skis, bikes, paddle boards, kayaks, beach volleyball… SO MANY ACTIVITIES! The waters were calm in the mornings, so I picked snorkeling for the day’s next activity. They turned me loose, at a coral reef down the beach from the resort, with a snorkel, mask and fins. I chased fish, squealed and chortled to myself completely entertained. Half an hour into my snorkeling trip I could hear the distinct high pitch sounds dolphins use to communicate. Sure enough, a few nosey wild dolphins stopped by to see what I was up too. They weren’t impressed and quickly lost interest in me as I practiced my mermaid moves. I watched the light from the sun’s rays ripple and strobe through the turquoise ocean. The scales of the fish glistening and reflecting the light. The sand beneath me was glowing and as I dove deeper. Reaching out, I scooped up a handful of sand. There were gold flakes mixed in with the white sand. Saving sea turtles at a 5 star resort with gold beaches that is only two hours from home? AMAZING!
On the way back from the reef, I got a tour of the relocated turtle nests I had learned about the previous day. After lunch, I went kayak surfing. The waves were pretty small so I took the kayak out for a spin but by the time I had worn myself out paddling up and down the coastline, the waves were a little bigger. I took the opportunity to kayak surf. The temperatures of the water and air were perfect so I didn’t have to stop playing till the tour of the grounds before dinner. Michael gave us a private tour of the marina, beaches and property accompanied with blueprints of the future Four Seasons Cabo resort. It was impressive to see the plans for the property and how they planned to not build any structures higher than three stories and spread out the developments to avoid any sense of crowding.
Michael took the time to answer all of our questions and went into detail about how nature plays a huge part in their construction. The structures were all made very eco friendly with natural materials. The fish that was served was all local and freshly caught. The water for the resort comes from an underground spring filled by rainwater runoff from the nearby mountain range. The estuaries and beaches would remain wild life sanctuaries… and then he paused. Pointing down from the three story scaffolding we stood atop, he brought to our attention the herd of wild horses that were galloping across the open land under the neon sunset. (The horses are also protected and will not be forced off the land and will continue to have access to the nearby mountain range which is also protected land.) It made me so happy to know that the wildlife was not only being considered and taken care of rather than being displaced and regarded as an inconvenience.
That night we had a special dinner further inland, near the marina. We weren’t told exactly what was occurring for dinner and we certainly didn’t realize how special it would be. We pulled up in an SUV and followed a dirt path lit by lanterns on either side. There
were hundreds of unplanted agaves on each side of the path with fairy lights strung over a beautiful dark wood table large enough to seat ten. To the left, deeper into the forrest of plants, was an full kitchen. The head chef made his way around the different stations sampling, approving, seasoning. To the right was a man strumming on a guitar, with the voice of an angel. He serenaded us as we stood, once again, in awe. I felt like I was on the Bachelor, about to be given a rose. Well hopefully given a rose. It was so incredibly romantic. The wait staff all greeted us by name and handed out glasses of wine and champagne as we wandered around that night’s dinning room.
Once we fulfilled our innate female instinct to take selfies and document everything, we sat down and the first round of appetizers were served. There were stuffed mushrooms, poached peaches basil and cheese, flat bread pizzas, asparagus and veggie mixes, crackers and marmalades… It was heavenly. The music was perfect, the food was delicious and the company was amazing. When I looked around the table, I saw beautiful people. My friends are always beautiful, but happy girls are beautiful girls and my girls were happy. They were interacting with each other with complete attentiveness. There full focus was in that moment. It was vivacious and I felt a connectedness with them. In that moment, our phones, lives, pasts and futures didn’t matter which freed us up to experience life with all of our senses.
Sitting there barefoot at the table drinking champagne as the chef presented his paella to the table. (He made a meatless paella for me which I have to say was incredible. But then again so was his ratatouille the previous night.) We were presented with dessert from his home country of Argentina. A macaroon style cookie with a strawberry marmalade. After dinner we got up and migrated towards the freestanding bar next to the singer. The staff started another bonfire for us and we danced barefoot under the fairy lights and twinkling stars. Around 2:00 am we still weren’t ready for bed so we headed back to the beach cabanas for another round. With drinks in hand, a few of us decided to head down to the water for a late night skinny dip.
With all the lights off, floating naked in 80 degree water, the absence of the moon allowed for a most stunning view of the star speckled night sky. In the darkness, I felt like my other senses became hyper sensitive. I slid my feet across the sandy bottom, felt the buoyancy of my body in the salty water, heard the waves gently rolling onto the beach. I got out and gathered my stuff before heading off to the cabana. I got to look up and appreciate the stars again as I took a shower washing of the sand and sea water from my hair. I put on my pjs hopped into the most comfortable bed. I turned on my white noise machine to “rainstorm” and lay in bed for a moment thinking about how fortunate I am to get to experience such incredible places and people, before quickly dozing off.
The next morning the personal trainer said she had a special workout planned for us. She
proceeded to lead an intense 90 minute workout on trampolines. I had never taken a class like this so I was excited to try something new. It was easy on the knees and ankles. It did require a little coordination, which I tend to lack, but eventually found my rhythm and broke a sweat. After that, an incredible woman stopped into each of our cabanas for a 90 minute private massage; Our choice of a Thai or Swedish massage. I am a bit of a baby and am NOT flexible so I went for the Swedish. After the massage, I was officially in vacation mode and I wasn’t sure they would be able to get me to leave.
The last morning in Cabo, I woke up early to go for a sunrise run, before the silk painting class. Watching the colors bleed into each other proved to be both artistic and therapeutic. Julio brought out mimosas and I sipped on one and chatted with him while the ladies packed their suitcases. I was fully adjusted to the laid back tropical vibe and wasn’t ready to go back to the hustle of Southern California living. I wanted to stay forever in this paradise. There was no need to ever leave the resort because everything I needed was right there. Plain and simple. Stress free.
Everyone said their goodbyes and thanked the hosts profusely. As we drove away and the beach and cabanas disappeared I felt like this place was so much more than just a place to visit. I had to come back. I want to bring my family. My mom and dad would love Costa Palmas. My brother and his girlfriend would love Costa Palmas. My friends obviously enjoyed themselves. My future husband and kids would love to vacation here. There is no way you would ever find yourself bored, hungry or unhappy when you stay at the Four Season’s Costa Palmas. Luxury without sacrificing the adventure happy nature vibe; Costa Palmas is literally perfect.