Loungers perched above the main stretch of beach rather than on it
Guests should expect to walk, and walk often
Some staff members might seem only motivated by gratuities
Room service trays are not always removed in a timely manner
This grandiose adult-only resort that opened in late 2014 outside of San Jose del Cabo is practically a destination unto itself. Manicured grounds are sprawling (expect to walk often) and offer great views of the Sea of Cortez, especially from the two pools and golf course. All-inclusive rates are among the highest in the area, even for a luxury hotel, but the six bars and eight restaurants provide guests with plenty of food and drink variety. The 500 suites have modern amenities and playful, romantic touches -- some are swim-out. Though most guests are couples the resort also attracts big and sometimes loud corporate groups who use the conference center. Those seeking slightly lower rates and closer proximity to Cabo San Lucas might want to consider sister resort Dreams Los Cabos.
Though this adult-only resort draws plenty of couples, there are also singles and corporate types.
Secrets is set on a whopping 18 acres of land, and guests arrive via a road that's more recently developed than those closer to San Jose del Cabo. The flag-lined path leads to a gate where a security guard will make sure arrivals are registered guests. Those who arrive after dusk will find the rectangular fountain aglow. Guests are greeted by valet service at the entrance who will trade their keys for a glass of bubbly before they are led to a seated desk for check-in. The low-lit lobby feels both elegant and sexy. Grounds are sprawling, so some guests are shuttled to their rooms via golf carts while others might be escorted down long, seemingly endless breezeways; even the porter might get confused and have to turn around. Once settled, many may want to stay in the rooms; thanks to free minibars and 24-hour room service late arrivals for romantic couples can easily spend the night in.
Secrets faced its biggest hurdle when Hurricane Odile hit a few months before its opening in December 2014. It recovered quickly, and this location is now a major player in the AMResorts group, which has several other properties in Mexico (mostly on the Yucatan Peninsula). The brand effectively creates an environment for both love and fun; couples are the majority for sure, but the young, adult-only, luxurious atmosphere also draws single travelers and corporate groups looking to let loose. Destination weddings are also common, so the vibe is anything but boring. There is a spacious main pool in the center of the resort with a bustling bar scene and loud music (sometimes a band plays) as well as daily activities. If couples prefer a more quiet setting, there is a smaller and more intimate infinity pool situated closer to the ocean. Servers come around both areas for drink and food orders, though timeframes may be differ -- tipping in general seems to generate quicker service so it helps to have some cash.
At night, tanned, dressed-up guests might wander the grounds with a glass of wine after dinner and have close conversations next to the fire pit. Partiers might be dancing and ordering premium liquors in the bar. Other guests might simply head back to the room and order room service. Sure, adults in any travel capacity are welcome here, but the resort will remain first and foremost a place for lovers, hence the suggestive name, "Secrets."
A peaceful and pristine spot outside of San Jose del Cabo, within a 45-minute drive of Cabo San Lucas
This large property is not located in the traditional resort area of San Jose del Cabo along the Paseo de Los Cabos but rather across the estuary on the east side of town (past a bridge) where development is more recent. Getting here means taking roads less traveled and following signs down some gravel pathways and turnarounds. It feels far less touristy, with extra space and fewer crowds. There's not a souvenir shop in sight -- only beautiful vistas of the sea, grounds with cacti and palms, a section of the area's golf course, and mountains in the distance.
Guests can either take a taxi or rent a car to get to the property. For those who choose the latter, free valet parking is provided. Many take advantage of the all-inclusive benefits and will not leave the property much (if at all), while others will want to get out and explore the region. There is virtually nothing within walking distance except a JW Marriott construction site and small marina, but a 15-minute drive leads to downtown San Jose del Cabo for shopping and dining. The quaint, historic section with its charming restaurants, bars, and art galleries is definitely worth a visit -- especially near the Town Square. Also worth a visit is Flora Farm in the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains, a truly standout 10-acre organic farm and restaurant that's a 10-minute drive from the property. Those who want a taste of Cabo San Lucas nightlife will find the trip takes 40 minutes -- but be forewarned, taxi fares from the hotel are quite high as it is, and this trip in particular will cost a bundle!
Rooms have understated local style influences and lack wow factor for the price -- though bathrooms with jetted tubs and balconies with loungers are upsides.
Though high-rise structures are common on the other side of the estuary, the 500 rooms here are spread across many attractive low-rise buildings. This makes for long walks to certain areas of the property -- though guests can request to be shuttled by golf cart.
The rooms themselves are not the highlight at this property. They have attractive modern decor with cheerful red and orange accents, as well as local influences (metal studs on headboards and wooden furniture call to mind the decor at Spanish Colonial era ranchos, and framed artwork feels Mayan-inspired). The overall effect is somewhat bland for this price point, however, and it's the amenities here that make the rooms truly luxurious. All rooms have either king-size or double beds, smallish bureau-style closets have plush bathrobes, large flat-screen TVs, and digital music players. Minibar items such as soda, beer and (sometimes) liquor are stocked daily and free; drinking water and coffeemakers are also provided. A private room service box and special exterior "Do Not Disturb" light setting are nice touches, but we found that even when the light was on the staff member delivering room service came inside -- perhaps seeking a tip. Slow removal of the room service items in the box might also occur. Wi-Fi is free, and turndown service is offered nightly.
Bathrooms are spacious with separate his and her sinks across from each other, generous toiletries, and an incense burner for ambience. There are a standalone jetted tub for two people and huge walk-in rain shower facing the bedroom (a barn-style sliding door can provide privacy). Balconies either face the garden, pool, or ocean, and are furnished with sun loungers and chairs. Those on the first floor of each building have swim-out access to a shared infinity pool. Guests practically have to swear an oath that they will not smoke on the balconies.
The Privilege Club upgrade guarantees prime positioning in the resort, and access to a plush lounge with all-day food and drink.
Beautiful grounds and fun, uncheesy outdoor activities
In addition to the shared swim-out pools (only available for guests in first-floor rooms) there are two public outdoor pools. The lively main pool is a huge, picture-worthy masterpiece that is visible from the lobby, with scattered palm trees, plenty of lounge chairs with orange towels, and umbrellas. Loud music plays here during peak hours, and some days, a live band. A quieter infinity pool is located closer to the main beach, with gorgeous sea views. Both pool areas have a large hot tub surrounded by more lounge chairs. For more sunbathing options, several loungers are set up along the lawn in front.
The Secrets Spa by Pevonia is truly a resort highlight, offering several couples treatment rooms and a hidden outdoor relaxation area with spa pools and fountains where guests can relax for 30 minutes before their treatment. Facials, massages, and a range of beauty treatments are available (wedding parties are common). After the service, guests can return back to the relaxation area where they are served apples, cookies, juice, water, and tea, as well as a special green juice. Next to the spa is a modern fitness center with big windows for natural light, though views are of the spa's exterior.
A section of the renowned Puerto Los Cabos Golf Course is on the property, visible from the resort and resting between the hotel and the water. There are 18 holes in all -- nine designed by Jack Nicklaus and nine designed by Greg Norman. Guests receive a 20 percent discount.
Plenty of daily activities are free of charge, and a weekly schedule is provided. These may include cooking classes, outdoor movie nights, yoga, Pilates, and water aerobics. The manicured grassy areas are set up with fire pits and areas for enjoying games like chess, corn hole, and croquet. Outside excursions can be arranged.
Six bars on the property serve premium liquors and decent wine and beer -- the one that opens earliest starts serving at 8 a.m. Some are romantic, some could be suited to business meetings, and there's a nightclub for dancing late. Bottles of liquor and wine cannot be ordered but guests are free to order as many drinks as they'd like. Drinks can also be ordered through room service, though again, there's no bottle service, so some guests may end up ordering several glasses at a time at the suggestion of the room service attendant.
Weddings can take place in the gazebo next to the waterfront.
Stunning for views and exercise, but not for swimming
The sea is a major highlight for the resort, providing consistent bright blue scenery against mountain views in the distance. While the sand stays out of view from most rooms (the shore is actually tucked underneath a natural overhang), those who make the trek along the walking path and down the stairwell will be rewarded with a wide stretch of clean sand, free of crowds. It's great for walks and the exercise classes that sometimes take place, but it is not always safe for swimming. Waves are either too big, or the current too strong. Those who venture down by foot can see the JW Marriott Hotel construction site next door, and a Ritz right next to it.
At the top of the beach stairwell are a nice wooden deck and a strip of sand for sunbathing, along with a beach bar offering swings instead of bar stools that is not to be missed. There are no loungers on the large stretch of beach below, though.
A wide range of excellent options -- many that are romantic, with slight dress codes
Meals and drinks are included in the room rate for all guests, meaning there is no need to wear a wristband. There are eight restaurants and six bars serving a wide variety of international food and drinks, including Hibachi (reservations are snagged early in the morning), Asian, Mexican and Italian cuisine. As far as quality is concerned, this resort is sure to impress. Before the extravagant buffet and Oceana restaurant opens in the morning, early birds can head to Coco Café for coffee, pastries, and smoothies and then enjoy them on the terrace while checking e-mails. Lunch is served a la carte, usually poolside, or at the main buffet which offers gourmet presentations that change daily. Dinner is when all of the other a la carte options come to life (some opening times vary). Staff members are happy to accommodate special requests and they do everything in their power to say yes (they seem to be heavily trained to make sure guests are having a good time). Tipping is also very much appreciated, so it helps to bring a slew of small bills.
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