LOS CABOS, MEXICO.
“Go down that hole,” says the nice lady at the Mexican hotel. We’ve had a few margaritas over lunch – it’s Mexico and it doesn’t count as lunch unless there have been a few margaritas – and she’s pointing at a trap door in the middle of a very modern but very fancy lounge area that is apparently reserved for when a hurricane hits. And hurricanes do hit. I lift the flap, go down the steps and... it’s an entire recording studio.
We are at El Ganzo, a classic modern hotel at the proper Mexican end of Los Cabos, which anyone who ever watched The Hills or The Real Housetrouts of Beverly Hills will know is so handy for Los Angelinos that the place is sometimes lousy with them, from regular folk all the way down the social scale to the Kardashians. Luckily, they tend to play in Cabo San Lucas up the not-so-Mexican end on the other side of the bay. That bit’s fun and jumpy and clubby and gay-friendly but it doesn’t really feel like Mexico.
At El Ganzo you get your cleverer set, your Europeans, your smarty pants-es, your artists who are encouraged to record their stay with a bit of original work (they might sometimes get away with no bill if it’s good enough). And no wonder: the roof is a cool social spot with great wall art and a huge Jacuzzi that looks like an aquarium where rock stars have been known to throw parties. Over there is the marina and, a two-minute boat ride away, the beach club, all yours for the playing with.
The local town, San José del Cabo, is proper Mexico with brightly coloured buildings and squares and galleries and palm trees and pharmacies where you can pick up drugs you can only get on prescription in the UK. Fun, kicky, handy.
Los Cabos, the area that takes in San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas and the whole bit in between, is in Baja California, a Mexican continuation of the American California geography-wise. It has the Sea of Cortez separating it from the west coast of Mexico proper, the bit with gay playground Puerto Vallarta in it, and has been a resort for decades since the son of some Mexican president or other started luring the likes of Frank Sinatra and Clark Gable down.
Now it’s one of those places where the hotels are the star attraction. There’s The Cape, a slick concrete number, with its outdoor lobby splattered with modern art and furniture, rooms with freestanding baths and balconies with swings on and a couple of pools overlooking the sea. Rock star stuff.
Then there are the hotels where you get a whole suite that opens out onto your own beach and enough staff to start a football team – like Las Ventanas al Paraiso, where the likes of Bill Gates like to unwind or The One & Only, a very big, very American compound where Jennifer Aniston has been spotted using a golf buy to get around. There’s definitely money here.
But it’s not all about hotels (even if you can visit the actual Hotel California of Eagles fame if you have transport and a few hours). It’s also about wildlife, like whale sharks and regular whale whales, both a big draw for the adventurous.
To catch sight of the real whales, you hop on a speedboat so speedy that it actually has saddles rather than seats, then laze around in the Sea of Cortez, listen to the man with the plan, and sooner or later someone will catch sight of a jumper – though it’ll probably be a massive tail or a fin rather than the full frontal. It’s not clear what’s more exciting: the whale or the ride. Someone actually cried from fear on our trip. Which was funny.
For the whale shark, you can get an even closer encounter. This time you sit around in the Sea of Cortez but in a wetsuit with a snorkel and when the man with the plan – this m with a p has a huge scar up his arm, which makes you think – says jump, you jump. And the reason he’s said jump is that there’s a massive officially-biest-fish-in-the-world Jurassic Park-looking shark swimming under your boat and you’re going in with him. He’s harmless, apparently, which is tough to fathom as he glides past, his brown lumpy skin so close you could touch it.
Some people don’t want to do that, which is crazy talk. Some people just want to prop up the bars-in-pools (and no, not like in Benidorm) which is crazy fun. Some people want to finger the aisles down that funny Hypermarket the size of Germany for t-shirts that flatter and give you change from a peso. Loco! Some people want to be a Kardashian, which
is just crazy. Los Cabos just wants to give you it all, which is the smartest thing we heard all day.
Where to stay:
Hotel El Ganzo.
A laid-back almost hipster atmosphere and only 70 guest rooms make this the smart choice in San José del Cabo – just ask those rock stars who’ve stayed. Boutique, bijou and so many other things beginning with the letter ‘b’. elganzo.com
In case you thought Mexico meant things were always going to be a little on the homespun side, this beautiful modern hotel with views onto the Sea of Cortes has been created to put you right. Amazing restaurant, spa and a jumpy rooftop bar. thompsonhotels.com
Where to play:
We’re not saying this is going to be your favourite place to hang out but it’s the main LGBTQ hub, so it’s a good start. From there it’s on to any number of gay-friendly bars and beach clubs going from quaint to superstarry.
Vicente Guerrero, Cabo San Lucas
San Jose Town
The Cape by Thompson