Chileno Bay Resort & Residences starts strong with Cabo’s only swimmable beach all to itself and just keeps getting mightier. Its serpentine pool has three tiers, floating bars and inflatable gaming tables; beachside tacos are taken with tequila and tots of snake-infused sotol; and you’ll be cleansed with copal and wrapped in a cactus mask in the immense spa. And, mansion-like villas, two tricked-out clubs and a private cinema await families. But, amid splashy fun and too many shots, a Bajan heart swells – just look at the dining options: fig empanadas and chilaquiles at breakfast, hibiscus ice pops to snack on, date nights over mezcal-soaked mussels and barbacoa Wagyu. Proof that there’s plenty of soul in the sur.
Get this when you book through us:
Two US$50 spa vouchers; GoldSmiths will also get a margarita each and chips and salsa delivered to their room on arrival
12 noon, but late check-out till 2pm is available, subject to availability; after this time charges apply. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £628.72 ($788), including tax at 20 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of $1.91 per room per night prior to arrival and an additional service charge of 15% per room per night prior to arrival.
Rates don’t include breakfast. A 15 per cent service charge is added to every stay.
The team have made every accommodation for disabled guests: public areas are easily navigated, there are elevators and many rooms and suites are ADA compliant. There are wheelchairs to borrow, portable hoists, roll-in showers, closed-captioning on TVs, visual fire alarms and doorbell or telephone notifications.
To celebrate Comal restaurant’s five year anniversary, a series of noted chefs – including Quintonil’s Jorge Vallejo and Daniela Soto-Innes of Cosme – will be taking over the kitchen for pop-up feasts until December. The teens’ club is currently being remodelled and a speakeasy bar is rumoured to be in the resort’s future. And, until 31 October 2022, kids under-five eat free and kids aged six to 12 get half-price meals.
At the hotel
Sports activity centre with free-to-borrow kit; spa and fitness centre; beauty parlour and barbershop; private cinema; indoor-outdoor lounging spaces; kids’ club; La Bodeguita and spa boutiques; art gallery; tropical gardens; a free Chilenito drink on arrival. In rooms: TV, tea- and coffee-making kit, air-conditioning, free bottled water. Some suites and villas have special extras, such as a pool or hot tub, full kitchen or butler service.
Our favourite rooms
The best of the suites here have a private pool or your very own spa treatment room (with other perks such as discounted massages) – but the villas are like beachy mansions, some with their own butlers.
The pool (open 7am to 6pm) is the siren song of the resort – a seductive Quetzalcoatl snaking its way through the centre with three tiers of joy: a shallow pool for kids, a playful pool for families and one adults-only, all of which tail off into the beachy sunset. You’ll spend a considerable amount of time wallowing within or prone by its side, so there’s an array of ways to do so – banks of shaded white sunloungers, ergonomic sun-beds set in the water, floating four-poster cabanas for couples (for an extra charge with prosecco, a mocktail jug, snacks and spa discounts), and – prime poolside real estate – a bungalow with a day-bed and fan, champagne, snacks, games and a free mini massage. And if – horrors – your drink should run out mid-swim, the barman will simply float the bar out to you and top you up, or you can call over the inflatable game table for some rounds of blackjack and Texas hold ’em.
Sometimes a journey of self discovery starts with one step; sometimes it starts with a refreshing misting, a spell in a salt-cabin and a soak in a mosaic-lined pool where mini waterfalls massage you. Treatments here aren’t just skin deep – of course, there’s a suite of massages (including specials for couples or gents), facials that va-va-voom your visage using tricks like a slick of bio-active oil or turning it all the way up to microcurrent toning; and beautifying with mani-pedis, blow-outs and waxes. But, Mayan, Aztec and Kayaumauri rituals take a more soulful approach using copal cleansings, jade-stone rubdowns, stretches using strips of traditional rebozo cloth, cactus body masks and petitions to Huichol fire deity Tatewari using indigenous dance. Acupuncture sessions re-harmonise your Qi, NuBody firms things up and the movement studio breaks you out in a sweat with Peloton bikes, Woodway Curve treadmills, Wattbikes and Tidalwave Water Exercise Bikes; personal trainers available on request, and a Peloton can be brought to your room on request.
Make the most of that swimmable beach and pose-by pool, and pack a different costume for every day of your stay, plus lounge-around kaftans and wraps. You’d think that in the middle of the desert souvenirs might be light on the ground, but this keeps-on-giving stay has two boutiques: La Bodeguita with clothes and sandals, locally made homewares (woven pillows, painted plates), jewellery and totes; and the spa boutique with potions from True Botanicals, Zents, Sachajuan and Gentlemen’s Tonic; bikinis and trunks; cover-ups and more.
The hotel’s private cinema has a high-definition screen, 12-speaker Dolby Atmos surround sound and intelligent Savant system. Tickets and popcorn are $15 for a different movie screened at 7pm each Wednesday and sporting events are screened, too.
Small pups are put on a paw-destal here. For $150 a pet, each night, they get ‘resort wear’ (a collar tag), bowls, all-natural chew toys, vegan soap made in Queretaro, and a kit with a map of relief areas and bags. A pet photoshoot can be arranged too. See more pet-friendly hotels in Los Cabos.
Lil’ Cabeños have a kids’ club and creche, huge villas to roam, customised meals and distractions for days – the concierge can craft itineraries. Babysitting can be arranged and highchairs can be borrowed.
Come one (two, three…) year-olds – come all.
Any of the villas will comfortably fit even several generations of your family. You’ll have a kitchen, roof terrace and private pool and some come with butler,s too. Baby cots and rollaway beds are free for children under 12.
It takes dedication to be bored here – when you’re little ones aren’t frolicking like fishies in the pools or sea, they can raid the H20 Cave for watersports equipment (snorkels, paddleboards, kayaks), see what’s playing at the cinema, compete over lawn games (foosball, giant chess, bocce, American football), or head off on camel or Jeep safaris. And, if they start to lag, there’s the Pescadito Kids’ Club (for four to 11 year olds) for full- or half-day sessions (with food if needed). Highly trained staff will entertain with seashell collecting, kite-flying, slime making, puppetry, piñata crafting, and special add-on treats, such as computer-game nights and pyjama parties. For tweens and teens, there’s a more grown-up club room with its own recording studio, photobooth, karaoke machine, Xbox and Playstation Pro, and other games.
There are two tiers of child-friendly pool – at the top, just outside Yaya, there’s a shallow area for very little ones to safely splash about in. Then the next level down is for more swim-confident kids. They’re not supervised, but loungers abound.
Comal’s menu might be for the more adventurous of palate, but some of the appetisers might appeal, and dedicated kids’ menus have American staples. Yaya is a bit more casual and has a pizza oven, and TnT’s tacos are tried-and-tested favourites. But, chefs are also very accommodating for mini-divas. And, you can request churro-flavoured popcorn and a Mexican-style hot chocolate for bedtime.
Babysitting can be arranged on request.
No need to pack
The hotel is fairly well-equipped, so you’ll only need to bring those can’t-live-without bits and bobs.
If you’re ‘WFP’ (working from paradise), the hotel can arrange daily tutoring and childcare.
Just call Chileno Bay Captain Planet. It makes a superhero-ic effort to keep things green onsite: all waste water flows into a treatment plant to be re-used in the grounds; a desalination plant provides fresh drinking water; low-water plants were used in landscaping, shade trees help to preserve buildings from bleaching; and energy-efficient air-conditioning units and eco-friendly foam insulation have been installed. The cuisine takes a gentle bite out of the surrounds, using home- and locally grown produce and is sourced from small suppliers. The freshest of catches comes in collaboration with the Coperativa Alvarez, which supports 20 of the region’s fishing families and buys up their entire hauls. And it’s socially conscientious too, with a Green Scholarship programme that covers the first year of university tuition (plus transport, books, psychological support, English lessons and learning visits to the Chileno Bay and nearby Esperanza resorts) to two female students studying tourism or marine biology.
Proa is an intimate clifftop dining deck at the ocean’s edge (for up to eight), or take your beloved to the sunset-facing Mirador for a tiki-torch-lit meal and beach bonfire. Add extra spice with fireworks, custom sand-writing, live music or flowers.
Go for glam in Comal – otherwise come as you are.
For those who observe it, taco Tuesday is given its due reverence at TnT, where the al pastors are a succulent slam-dunk, but we recommend lining them up and shooting them down with the excellent tequilas and mezcals served ice cold here. Try the shrimp with jicama coleslaw or the lobster with avo and chipotle mayo. Its antojitos (Mexican small plates) get the luxury treatment here too, with chicken tamales slathered in spicy Oaxacan mole, pambazos packed with chorizo and tomatillo sauce, and flautas rolled with fall-apart short rib. Sea of Cortez-edge eatery Comal’s menu reaches even higher, playing fast and loose with local flavours to delicious effect. Blue shrimp with a rich char, black garlic and shisito peppers are served swimming in mellow huancaina; Bajan mussels have a mezcal kick; Wagyu steaks come meltingly barbacoa style with a pulque glazing; and at the live-action raw bar chefs slice and dice crudo and ceviche. Don’t skimp on dessert – famed Mexican chocolatier Luis Robledo’s creations make Willy Wonka look like a hack. Yaya (‘grandma’ in Greek) is the result of chef Eliana Godinez’s Mediterranean travels. Its open-hearth approach (with the kitchen in full view), artisanal preparations and traditional recipes make it feel warmly welcoming. Check out which pizza of the day is being fired in the oven, gather mezze plates or try handmade pastas; and fill up on dishes of ember-fired musakhan, meatballs or steak. Round things off with s’mores in a skillet. El Molino is the hotel’s coffee shop, where Chiapaneco beans from small farms. Lecheros, cinnamon-spiced lattes and cortaditos are the main event, but hibiscus ice-pops or a vanilla and tomatillo ice-cream sandwich are tasty reasons to stop by, too.
What kind of drinking did you have in mind? For date nights, sway and sip in the swing chairs on Comal’s terrace – with views that track across the sur’s tip, it’s pure romance. It’s also perfected the art of the breakfast cocktail; here you can start your day with a very piquant Bloody Mary, or maybe a carrot and Drambuie mimosa or a vodka-infused ice tea. For lazy afternoons with a bit of a buzz or ‘just one more round while the kids are playing’ days, Yaya is your breezily Bajan best bet. The cervezas are craft and Mexico-brewed, the wines well chosen, and the cocktails wildly inventive: take the Hechizo Sambu with mandarin liqueur, vodka, green tea and capers. And, for sore heads and ‘yay, we’re on holiday’ drinking, head straight to TnT. This immensely fun beachside taco bar is a danger zone of tequila and mezcal shots, and bottles of sotol – ‘tequila’s crazy little brother’ – with snakes coiled inside. And if you get thirsty while swimming, the barkeeps here will float the bar out to you.
Breakfast at Comal is from 7am to 11am, dine from 6pm to 10.30pm. At Yaya, lunch is 12 noon to 4pm and dinner 5.30pm to 10pm. TnT serves food till 9pm, drinks till 10pm.
Dine in-room round the clock, or have a chef come man the kitchen and cook up a custom menu or host a barbecue (must be booked 24 hours in advance).
Set between the desert and the deep blue sea, Chileno Bay is a 20-minute drive from either the ‘shots, shots, shots’ call of party-hard Cabo San Lucas and historic milder child San José del Cabo.
Los Cabos International is handily a 30-minute drive away – a journey that moves from scrub to succulent tropicalia as you near the coast. Private transfers for up to four can be arranged from $185 each way (more for larger vehicles).
While the hotel will happily arrange for a car to chauffeur you about (must be booked in advance), self-driving gives you that bit more flexibility and car hire is easily sorted at the airport or resort. Chileno Bay’s remote locale might be part of its appeal, but you’ll likely want a bit more Baja, and it’ll be difficult to do without driving. If arriving from the airport, take the Carretera Transpeninsular; free parking is available onsite.
Worth getting out of bed for
Cabo might conjure up images of you emerging mermaid-like from the sea – but its choppy waters mean this isn’t always the case. However, here you can come right on in because the water’s fine…Chileno Bay sits beside the city’s only swimmable beach, a golden incline into the Sea of Cortez’s thrillingly lurid waters, within which you’ll find raves of coral gardens and equally colourful creatures (turtles, dolphins, migrating whales), with dramatic cliff buttresses on either side. The only trade off is that – set a short drive from both San José or San Lucas – it’s a little away from the action, but a roster of watersports, immersive workshops and more will keep you ocupado.
The H20 Cave is the Aladdin-esque, free-to-raid watersports-kit den with hobie cats, kayaks, boards of all sorts (elliptical, stand-up paddle, surf…); on request, guides will take you on a free snorkel, SupSquatch or kayak tour – or private lessons can be booked on request. Resort staff offer a free GoPro filming service too, where they’ll follow you along and make you look cool. And there’s a giant paddleboard for up to six, or the Schiller bike, on which you can pedal across the water. With desert all around, the water provides the (sea) lion’s share of the entertainment – head out early to catch dorado, yellowtail, yellowfin tuna, wahoo and more, then get the chef to prep it tiradito style for lunch (thinly sliced with cucumber, pickled onion and chilli ponzu). Go National Geographic with a whale photo safari (from December to April), sail out past the Arch and Lover’s Beach for romantic sundowners, and glide along the 33-kilometre Tourist Corridor on a glass-bottom boat followed by a demo at a glass-blowing factory and a tequila tasting. If you’re not quite ready for the real thing, or you want to explore space and meet dragons underwater – why not? – give virtual-reality snorkelling a whirl in the pool, or go on a lamp-lit night snorkel; and, if you want to throw a party befitting Baja, charter the Pelican floating beach club, a boat fitted with a bar and packed with toys: wave runners, jet packs, fly boards and water scooters.
Back on land, there’s a range of beachy bootcamps, golf on a scenic championship course, camel and horseback rides, bocce and giant chess, and desert-canyon drives or Jeep safaris into the outback. Whether or not you’d lose your mind over a sighting of Belding’s Yellowthroat (it’s endangered), the San José del Cabo Estuary has some soul-stirring aspects of the Sierra de la Laguna, El Picacho mountain and waterfalls. San José del Cabo is a 20-minute drive away, but it’s worth tearing yourself from your sunlounger for enlightening art walks and a meander through its historic monuments, before finishing strong on yet another tequila tasting. Back at the hotel, cultured pursuits include scoping out the local art scene – and picking up pieces to take home – at Raw Gallery, or checking out what’s on at the cinema.
The legion dining options onsite will keep you from straying, but just along Highway 1 is fellow Auberge resort Esperenza; a free shuttle runs between the two, so indulge your curiosity and your appetite with a visit to Cocina del Mar, an eatery romantically set on a rocky promontory. Under lantern light and to the whoosh of waves, you can get stuck into butter clams bobbing in charred-pineapple juice and chilli, husky lobsters with caramelised onion purée, pliant pork belly glazed with peach barbecue sauce, or a lofty seafood tower with passionfruit mignonette and fermented black lime sauce for the dipping. In Cabo proper, for that Bajan staple: tacos), go to Tacos Gardenias, which serves all the hits. And, Enrique Olvera – the Pujol creator and pretty much the king of Mexican fine-dining – has made a mark here with Manta. Again, the traditional takes a little trip around the world, resulting in fusion creations such as a fried-oyster burrito wrapped with teriyaki sauce, suckling pig cochinita in steamed buns, and catch of the day with fiery arbol chillies and take-the-edge-off miso.
On Medano Beach in Cabo, the Sand Bar is a breezy, hedonistic joint where you can chase cocktails with a massage. It may have started out with a service called ‘get hammered while you get nailed’ (with drinks and pedicures), but these days it's a little more refined, with Malbec- and agave-based sippers and top tacos for refuelling stops. Cabo Wabo Cantina was founded by Van Halen’s Sammy Hagar and offers rock-star approved setlists and drinks that don’t hold back – say the ‘Can’t Drive’ with tequila, rum, vodka and gin. For those nights you’d rather remember, try tropical-modern beauty Drift in San José del Cabo, which has a more grown-up attitude and some mighty mezcals.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this place of plenty at Baja’s beachy tip and unpacked their snuggly rainbow hoodies, clinking with bottles of tequilas, a full account of their waterworld break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Chileno Bay Resort in between Cabo and San José…
Chileno Bay Resort is like a genie without the rub, or the three-wishes clause, because you could go on wishing all day and they’ll be granted. A spa that nurtures your body with a circuit through a salt chamber, steam, ice and a pummelling hydrotherapy pool; and your soul through indigenous rituals? Done. A private cinema? Sure. A barman who floats the bar out to you? Why not? The ability to walk on water? Yeah, we can stretch to that (albeit via the power of a SUP-treadmill hybrid). But, perhaps the greatest bestowal is a swimmable beach – a surprising rarity in Cabo, and a spectacular one at that. But, when you’re not kicking it Jesus-style, asking the Huichol fire deity Tatewari for some inner peace via interpretive dance, or making the most of the free watersports kit, you might be imagining the Busby Berkeley-musical possibilities for the statement three-tiered pool that snakes through the resort, snapping whales or riding camels on a safari, or washing down al pastor tacos with snake-infused sotol (‘tequila’s crazy little brother’, as it’s affectionately known). And just when you maybe think you’ve pushed it with the wishes, in amid the bougainvillaea and cactus gardens, there’s the Comal and Yaya restaurants, where Chileno Bay once again distinguishes itself with dining respectful of the region. Say, blue-corn ‘sope’ (fried bases) with duck carnitas, jicama-radish slaw and orange-apple dressing; blackened shrimp with huancaina, Bajan mussels with chorizo and mezcal, and a live-action raw bar for cheek-puckeringly fresh ceviche. Now all you need to do is wish you were here.
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