There were at least 15 private planes flying into the Los Cabos area the other day, bringing happy American families in for the New Year (Christmas with folks back home, then away for the real fun). Half of those were bringing guests to One&Only Palmilla, the luxury resort masterminded by Ed Steiner since its opening in 2004.
The whole 250-acre peninsula estate includes lots of private residences, and the original house built in 1956 by Abelardo Rodriguez, son of a former President of Mexico. This is now the hub of the sprawling resort.
Rodriguez bought the land for its location and views, overlooking the Sea of Cortez, and for the fact that a little hill in the middle of the estate is topped by an all-white chapel. Inside, its altar has been lovingly restored. Ideal for weddings, certainly, though others use some of the green-grass areas of Palmilla for their ceremony.
The gal was happy to be back at the 172-room resort (she was last here in 2007, in suite 1221 in Gardenia block, of which more anon). The driver was waiting with a Cadillac Escalade, a six-seat vehicle that is actually more agreeable than the four-seat Hummers that the resort also has.
There is a lot that is agreeable here. Ed Steiner, who was once a textile designer, has put all the 700 staff into local uniforms, hand-embroidered Fajillas with Jalisco Indian motifs – some of the men are in Charro outfits, as used at haciendas during colonial times.
Managers wear macramé tikita (lizard) motifs to indicate seniority. They greet you by putting their right hand on their heart, as Otomi Indians do in the Jalisco mountains.
Yes, you know you are in Mexico. Going back into suite 1221, you are greeted outside the door by a solid leather pouch used for message delivery. Inside, a Tequila set awaits, with instructions to make your own drink.
In the bathroom, tiled with local, slightly-uneven tiles, necessary supplies are in local ceramic holders. The bed has turned-wood foot posts matching the heavy headboard. Colourful cushions on the balcony await as you lie looking north over San Jose Bay.
You know you are in a thoughtful place. Rooms to the north of the original Rodriguez house are generally given to families, those to the south are for adults-only, romance and peace (and the pool there is kids-free). Lie by any pool and raise a leather belt for an attendant to bring, whatever. Turn a ceramic disk to face moon up, and you will definitely not be disturbed.
You know you are in an active place. The serious Technogym, with Kinesis, is not only well-supplied but well used. These hedge-funders, entertainment gurus and lawyers who rush to this idyllic resort keep fit. They play golf, over 27 holes designed by Jack Nicklaus.
They work out, in their own little groups, and they love the spa, where every one of the 12 rooms is a private villa in a private and lush garden – the wise ones of course book foot heaven, a pedicure and more by the one-and-only Bastien Gonzalez, as at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona and at other One&Only resorts, on Mauritius and in the Maldives.
And they eat and drink. Here you have Jean Georges Vongerichten-led cuisine, at Market and at a Suviche ceviche plus sushi bar. They learn to cook, at the Herb Garden outside culinary centre. They shop in the boutique that is ‘guarded’ by a lifesize ceramic hound (if he is outside, the shop is open). Wow, they need to go home for a rest…