Nursing a Barbie-pink bougainvillea lemonade garnished with a delicate magenta flower, I am in heaven. In coming to the newly opened Grand Velas Boutique Hotel Los Cabos, set in the southern tier of Baja, Mexico, I had anticipated the hotel’s stunning mountain-meets-aquamarine sea beauty. But I am unprepared for the oceans of fuschia-hued bougainvillea lining the rooftops, spilling off terraces, and framing narrow cobblestone walkways. Bougainvillea, I learn quickly, is a Velas signature. Originally chosen for its ability to enhance the landscape of the first Velas Resorts property — Velas Vallarta — the seemingly delicate but resilient flower flourished under the care of Toño, the gardening manager. Architect Ricardo Elias later integrated bougainvillea as an architectural feature across all seven Velas Resorts, establishing it as the brand’s hallmark flower and cherished emblem. At this newest (opened January 2024), adults-only, boutique hotel, the bougainvillea has gone wild — in the most dazzling and spectacular way. And — as I discover over the next 48 hours — is just one of many one-with-nature visuals.

One With Nature

grand Velas boutique hotel los Cabos overlooking the sea of cortez

“There’s a whale.” 

We are on our terrace, swathed in form-fitting white robes, still sipping coffee — ceremoniously delivered to our suite — when we spot the giant tale splashing playfully in the Sea of Cortez. It is still prime whale migration season so certainly, we were hopeful to see the majestic creatures. But sighting one — “wait, there are two more to the right” — from the comfort of our terrace (complete with plunge pool and fireplace) feels otherworldly. As does the craggy beachscape; cerulean water crashing onto giant boulders below us. 

During check in, our sweet personal butler, Brandon, had cautioned us: the sea here, while ridiculously beautiful, is not ideal for swimming; but better suited for wading ankle-to-knee deep (the hotel will shuttle guests to a calmer beach nearby). Still, white sun loungers and white umbrellas line the sand; wait staff serve margaritas with fresh-made guacamole and chips, as guests read books, scroll their phones, walk the water’s edge, or (in lieu of sandcastles) pile stones — smooth from the churning sea, into cairns — adding yet another dreamy sea dimension.

Cuisine is Equally Exotic

pink margarita at grand velas boutique los cabos

Void of children — and peppered with couples of varying sorts (honeymooners, lovers, long-marrieds, mothers with adult daughters, and best friends) — the tranquil, 79-room hotel is conducive for drinks and light bites by the pool, dinners served in-room overlooking the sea, or most exotically, at Loto Robata Grill, overseen by two Michelin Star Chef Sidney Scutte. Blending the essence of Japanese cuisine with the robata grill, a traditional slow–cooking method over an open fire, Loto offers an exotic and delicious small plate experience — intended to be shared. The experience begins at candlelit tables adorned with simple sprigs of rosemary, where guests share plates of Comondu oysters with kaffir lime, yellow aji chili, porchetta, and cilantro; surf & turf skewers with lobster and beef tenderloin; and truffle fries with parmesan cheese and parsley. 

End the evening with a Chocolate Tasting — a three-course pairing of regional chocolate bites and liquors — my personal favorite, the 1921 Crema de Tequila (Mexico’s version of Baileys) made with 100% agave, tequila spices, and cream, and paired with a bite-sized vanilla & caramel made with 50% cacao from Chiapas.  Other exclusive guest tasting experiences offered during their stay include a Mexican wine and artisanal cheese pairing — highlights include a a Cotija cheese paired with Tres Raices Rose from Guanajuato — and an agave/tequila tasting.

Boutique Hotel guests also have access to the restaurants at Grand Velas Los Cabos next door. Walk the well-lit pathway, under a canopy of palms, or hop in one of the chauffeured golf carts to Frida’s — a nod to famed Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo — serving classic Mexican dishes culled from dried chiles, wild herbs, and aromatic mole; or opt for Italian/Mediterranean cuisine at Lucca (home to the region’s largest wine selection — 2,500 bottles).  Foodies will definitely want to reserve a table at Cocina de Autor, helmed by two Michelin starred Chef Schutte, who dazzles with his eight-to-ten-course tasting menu. 

Intimate Spa Experience

pink bougainvillea spilling off a terrace at grand velas boutique hotel los cabos

Velas guests swear by the Resorts’ spas, and in particular the hot-cold, steam-sauna, water circuits. The SE Spa at Grand Velas Boutique Hotel Los Cabos is no exception — although it is much smaller and more intimate. When my (adult) daughter and I arrive, in elegant navy–on-white Japanese-style robes and water sandals, to partake in the seven-step “Water Ceremony,” we are the only ones here (sans our personal therapist who guides us through each segment). The intimacy of the experience is neither by luck nor chance, but by intentional design — ensuring guests’ privacy and proper use of the circuit. For the hour before our signature Fire & Ice massage treatments — deep-tissue massage complemented by warm obsidian stones (to relieve knots and tension) and cold marble stones (to invigorate blood circulation and balance chakras) — we move from hot to cold, warm to hot, back to cold stations.

Our first stop is the wooden sauna, where cold towels are placed over our foreheads; cucumbers cover our eyes. Time in the ice room follows, where in the enclosed, chilly-air space, we rub crushed ice and icy towels onto legs, arms, torso, face, then slather our skin  in an aloe masque. In the steam room, we apply an exfoliating scrub (body) and conditioner (hair). Deep breaths and more than one squeal emit as we work our way through seven pulsating, misty, pummeling, freezing, warming, rain showers, before finally landing in a temperate pool where swirling water jets massage our legs, shoulders, and back. The grand finale: a hot soaking pool to (albeit very briefly) relax before our treatments.

Hotel as Destination

suite with plunge pool and fireplace overlooking the sea of cortez at velas grand boutique hotel

Stumbling back to our suite, muscles relaxed, all thoughts of getting dressed, styling our hair (even with the high-glam Dyson hair dryer and flat iron provided), and heading into town (San Jose) to peruse art galleries completely dissipate. Instead we remain in our coveted robes and slippers, sink into cushy chairs in front of our outdoor fireplace, and gaze once more at the sea: the pelicans diving for fish; the turquoise waves churning against rocks. Doing nothing is apparently an art here, according to our butler. Very few guests leave the hotel; most stay put, he tells us. They come for a few days (many from California), leave their work, their children, their stress behind and move from beach to spa to restaurant to room to pool. Which is exactly what we do. 

After another half-hour or so of watching the waves and scanning for whales, we make our way past the koi pond teeming with fish, to the infinity pool — a colorful blend of adobe-red, yellow, green, and turquoise tiles overlooking the sea. White towels are handed in greeting, as an attendant carefully positions our umbrella ‘just so.’ Seemingly out of nowhere, a server appears with a tray of hot-from-the-oven churros and two pink-hued margaritas — garnished with a delicate magenta flower. Velas’ signature bougainvillea.

Photos, courtesy of Grand Velas Boutique Hotel Los Cabos

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