Areas labeled as Club Elite (for VIPs) might feel pretentious to some
Swimming in this section of the sea is not possible due to riptides!
Room service can be painfully slow
Boasting scenery in every direction, this 250-room cliffside resort has enjoyed icon status ever since Keith Richards wed Patti Hansen here in ’83. Sandos has undergone expansion and renovations since then, but one thing didn't change: the panoramic views of the sea, the bay, and rugged mountains in between. All guests have unlimited access to multiple bars and restaurants, 24-hour room service, and a kids club; there are also an expansive beach leading to El Arco and four gorgeous pools. Simple rooms come with minibars and balconies, but romantic couples should consider upgrading to the Finisterra Suites for modern decor and access to VIP areas. Rates are among the most competitive in the area for an upscale resort; the Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas is similarly priced but larger and more crowded.
A spacious property attracting a mature party crowd, though families are welcome
Sandos Finisterra is an engineering marvel with a stunning design: Half of the resort is built into the rugged cliff, and the other is situated along a huge sandy beach. Above the driveway is a walking bridge connecting both sections, or guests can hike up a steep set of stairs. At the top, guests are greeted with a structure that looks like a lighthouse where flagstone pathways lead to to the buffet restaurant, the spa, two bars, the suites, and the VIP pool (there are several terraces and outlooks along the way to stop and take in the scenery, which is outstanding). On the other side of the resort is where the lobby and the majority of the rooms are located -- these are not as modern as the suites built into the cliff, but many come with direct views of the Sea of Cortez. In front of the lobby, more flagstone pathways lead to the kids' club, the beach, and three modern outdoor pools. All of this to say: Be prepared to walk!
The action at the lower-level section starts early -- right after breakfast, really -- with pumping music and thirtysomething couples and parents enjoying poolside margaritas. Those who seek more solace can snag a beach palapa or pool chairs further away from the bar. At night, the mature party vibe continues and the resort's spacious layout helps ensure that one area never gets too crowded. For instance, guests can stick to the beach bar after dinner, or head to the top for the Rolling Stones-themed bar. Honeymooners can escape in the specialty restaurants, while families and older couples might head to the buffet and cupcake bar. Somehow the resort has found a way to appeal to all, while not losing any personality along the way (this is also a reason it is popular with weddings). With its combination of history and scenery, Sandos feels less cookie-cutter than other all-inclusive resorts in the area. The similarly priced Riu, for example, feels like the large mega-resort that it is and gets more crowded than the Sandos Finisterra.
Sandos is walking distance to town as well as the the famous El Arco rock formation, and has rare 360-degree views.
At the southern tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula is Cabo San Lucas -- a beach town and resort hub on the stretch of coastline collectively known as Los Cabos (The Capes). This has long been a popular vacation spot for sun-worshipping party seekers, as it is a base for restaurants, nightlife, golf courses, whale watching, and water sports. This hotel's particular location is unique for it has 360-degree views from many vantage points. Guests can take long walks along the beach towards El Arco, or walk toward downtown (and the marina) for a huge selection of restaurants, bars and excursions.
Sandos Finisterra can be reached via the Transpeninsular Highway that connects San Jose del Cabo to Cabo San Lucas. Guests arrive to Los Cabos International Airport, about 35 minutes away, and either take a taxi, use shuttle transportation (arranged with the hotel), or rent a car. For those who choose the latter, valet parking is free of charge and the resort is protected by a gated entrance and security guard.
Standard Junior Suites have balconies (many with ocean views) and free drinking water, but show some wear and tear.
The resort has 250 rooms, most of which are in the main section above the lobby. Though rooms show some age, they feel airy and bright. Expect terra-cotta color tile floors (with some dirty grout), white bedding with coral red accents, and unadorned white walls (with cheap popcorn stucco texture). They have either one king or two double beds, coffeemakers, flat-screen TVs, and balconies with white plastic patio furniture (many with views of the sea and pools). Mini-fridges are stocked with beer and soda, and each room has a jug of drinking water. Bathrooms have tub/shower combos with Bio brand toiletries, though fixtures show age.
A two-story section built into the cliff offers a newer section of suites. Finisterra Suites are the highest category, and they have much more modern decor -- distressed wood floors, sleek wood headboards, chic living areas, and upgraded amenities like Nespresso machines. Bathrooms have an open layout with standalone jetted tubs. Guests in these rooms have access to the VIP areas of the resort, such as the exclusive pool overlooking the bay.
Gorgeous beach (though rough waters), beautiful free-form pool complex with drink service, and a kids' club
Even though this section of sea is often too dangerous for swimming, the beach itself is a beauty to behold. A wide stretch of light beige sand separates the shoreline from the pools, and there are plenty of chairs and palapas for everyone to spread out. Guests here and at neighboring resorts may be found fishing, or simply going for a long stroll to the very end for views of the El Arco rock formation (especially beautiful at sunrise). Some stretches of sand within walking distance might have less of a current offshore. Keep an eye out for whale sightings, which occur from December through April, often signaled by the sounding of a bell.
The resort's recent expansion included major attention to the pool area, which boasts three distinct areas and waiter service for drinks. These pools have attractive rounded designs with newer lounge chairs and umbrellas; some areas are more party-focused and others are quieter. What they all share are views of palm trees, cacti, mountains, and glimpses of the Sea of Cortez.
The daily activities program includes aerobics classes, pool games, and stretching on the beach. A kids' club (ages 4 to 12) and baby club (ages 2 to 3) are offered (during our visit, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.).
There are two tennis courts (balls and racket rentals are included), and a large, modern fitness center with city and bay views. Wedding parties and honeymooners tend to use the spa, which has several couples treatment rooms, and a hair and nail salon.
Wi-Fi is free, though it is not always reliable in the rooms.
Great options for food and drink, including a main buffet with contemporary decor and stunning views
Everyone staying at the resort is on an all-inclusive package that covers unlimited food and drink. The main restaurant is Don Diego International Buffet (most meals will be here), which is decorated in contemporary style, sits at the top of a cliff, and offers indoor and outdoor seating. This is first come, first served and no reservations are required.
A la carte restaurants include Emiliano’s Osteria (for dinner only), Agave (Mexican cuisine for lunch and dinner) and Tortuga Beach (lunch and dinner). Reservations are made through the front desk.
CupCake Cafe is a casual outpost with a neat panoramic terrace serving cupcakes and other desserts, coffee drinks, and sandwiches.
Unlimited alcohol includes beer, wine, and cocktails (served from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. during out visit). La Palapa is the swim-up bar in the adult-only pool and The Stones Club is the late-night lounge on the cliff. This is a great place to come between meals (check out the Rolling Stones memorabilia). The Whale Watchers Lounge is great for pre-dinner cocktails during sunset, and Plaza Finisterra is a large terrace with bay views, which opens during theme nights and hosts entertainment.
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