When you pass the neon sign and walk into Hotel El Ganzo, with San José del Cabo’s picturesque marina spilling out before you, you’re entering a piece of Los Cabos history. The music serenading you was recorded just downstairs, the murals on the walls were painted by artists-in-residence, the restaurants serve seafood caught by the fishermen who dock in the marina, and the private beach club is home to one of the only swimmable beaches in the area. This trendy design hotel is the first (and only) of its kind here.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from $143.10, excluding tax at 29 per cent.
Rates do not usually include breakfast; Continental from $25. The resort fee covers drinks in the minibar (soda, beer and water, refreshed daily), beach club access and WiFi throughout.
Everywhere you go in the hotel, you’ll be treated to the dulcet sounds of El Ganzo Sessions – original work produced at the hotel’s very own underground recording studio, designed by artist-in-residence Mark Rudin. Ask nicely, and you might even get a tour. Many of the musicians who come to record also play live shows here.
At the hotel
Beach club, spa, two swimming pools, gym, recording studio, bicycles to borrow, WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV; iPad; minibar with two free sodas, beers and waters refreshed daily; locally made Rose Mary toiletries; bathrobes; coffee-making facilities.
Our favourite rooms
All rooms at Hotel El Ganzo have unobstructed, breath-taking water views, so it’s impossible to be disappointed. Given our druthers, though, we’d opt for a Large Suite; each is slightly different in size, layout and decor, but each has a living room, floor-to-ceiling windows lining the exterior and an oversized private terrace with a lounge bed looking out on the water. Suite 401 might be our favourite, with cow-hide rugs, a four-poster bed and a secret outdoor shower.
In addition to two swimming pools, heated using solar panels, the hotel also has a private beach club, accessed by boat across the marina and fully equipped with a café-bar, beach- and watersports and a swimming area. The 187-square-metre rooftop infinity pool overlooking the marina is surrounded by oversized day-beds and served by a swim-up bar. On the ground level, a more serene pool is a quieter place for a swim and some basking, with palm-trees shading loungers.
Your guitar – not only will you fit in with the rotating cast of musicians performing and recording, but you could even angle to get your own recording session in the studio.
In addition to a full range of treatments – from the detoxifying, agave-scrub-including Mezcal Ritual to a more traditional Swedish massage – Spa El Ganzo has a sauna, steam room, salon and marina-view gym with Kinesis machines. Ask about yoga classes.
Find a seat in the lounge and make friends with the myriad artists and musicians. While a more intimate experience can be had on the deck, the area transitions later to a music venue and service can be slow.
Artsy beach bash. Plaid button-ups, breezy skirts and straw fedoras lend just the right amount of urban chic to an otherwise laid-back scene.
The hotel’s culinary core, Ganzo Downstairs restaurant serves fresh, locally sourced dishes throughout the day – think chilaquiles and freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast, tacos and ceviche for lunch, gourmet Mexican favourites like lion paw scallops and tlacoyo de pollo for dinner. By night, it’s a buzzy local hotspot where tequila flows faster than water and the sounds of El Ganzo Sessions waft out onto the wrap-around deck as the hours wear on. Oh, and, whatever you do, don’t miss the churros.
For your daytime poolside snacks and a more international flavour, the rooftop Gachoo Sushi Bar specialises in the freshest of Peruvian and Japanese seafood preparations, including ceviche, tempura and sashimi. Spread out along a raw bar on one side of the roof, it offers the same far-reaching views as the pool; indeed, if you don’t want to give up your lounger, just ask to have your food brought over. When you’re spending your day out at Ganzo de Playa, the beach club, you can snack and lunch on equally fresh fish tacos, salads and other beach classics.
An extension of Ganzo Downstairs, the bar maintains the hotel’s convivial, well-soundtracked nature. Order a cerveza, Sangrita or straight-up margarita, pull up a beach chair by the outdoor deck’s firepit and enjoy the live music performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. On Wednesdays, the El Ganzo Film Club screens classic films to accompany your imbibing.
Order your last cerveza by midnight. Ganzo Downstairs serves breakfast from 7am to noon; lunch, noon to 5pm; dinner, 6 to 11pm. Gachoo Sushi Bar is open from 10am to 6pm, and the beach club serves food from 10am to 5pm.
A simplified version of the Ganzo Downstairs lunch menu is available 24 hours a day, with staples like salads, catch-of-the-day and a burger.
Set right on the mouth of San José del Cabo’s marina, Hotel El Ganzo has unobstructed Sea of Cortez views from nearly everywhere, and the charming town is just a quick drive away.
Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) is 16 miles north of town, and many major international airlines offer direct routes from most major US cities. There are plenty of taxis, along with a shuttle into town.
You’ll want to hire a car to properly explore Los Cabos, though do be aware that roads can be hard to navigate and drivers quite aggressive. Taxis are also readily available, if a bit pricey.
Worth getting out of bed for
Set on a tidy marina in the mellow village of San José del Cabo, El Ganzo is just a 30-minute drive from Cabo San Lucas, but it feels worlds away from that crowded beach scene. And for those seeking true peace and quiet, this is a very good thing. Tranquil and unspoilt, there are still plenty of diversions in Cabo’s sleepier sister town.
The concierge can arrange everything from strenuous 32-mile guided bike tours and ATV adventures to deep-sea fishing excursions. Local outfitters, Cabo Expeditions (+52 624 14 32700) lead whale-watching trips, kayak and snorkelling tours of pristine coves and marine-life rich shoreline and can even get you up to speed on SUP, too.
Back on land, reserve a tee time at the Puerto Los Cabos Golf Course: co-designed by Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman, the 18-hole course is dramatically set overlooking the Sea of Cortes.
El Ganzo is a dining destination in its own right, but should you motivate to venture beyond this culinary sanctuary, there are some tasty options. Stroll two blocks from the hotel to The Drunken Sailor (+52 624 164 9025), a thatched-roof beach hut with a limited but exceedingly fresh selection of ceviche, fish tacos and shrimp enchiladas. Pair your order with a tropical house made drink, such as the ginger mojito or horchatalada – a potent coconut, horchata and rum concoction.
Dine beneath fragrant fruit trees at Tequila restaurant (+52 624 142 3753) in downtown San José del Cabo on elegant takes on Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with a Mexican twist. Just outside of town is Floras Field Kitchen (+52 624 355 4564) set on a 10-acre organic farm dotted with swaying palm trees. All of the organic produce and humanely-raise beef served on the daily-changing menu comes directly from the farm or their ranch. Be sure to arrive before the sun has set, so you can wander the glorious grounds.
There’s a poignant line from Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sunday in the Park with George. It comes at the end of the show, where the protagonist, an artist, looks up towards the audience and says: ‘White. A blank page or canvas. His favourite. So many possibilities…’
Possibilities. They were all I could think of as I looked out over the glowing rooftop pool. Past the picturesque marina and beyond the Sea of Cortez into the East Cabo horizon. The sun was setting on 2 January, the sky painted in bright strokes of pink and orange, and I was looking ahead to a year of new beginnings.
And it wasn’t hard to feel hopeful. I was catching my first sunset at Hotel El Ganzo: a place built to inspire and foster creativity; a place where possibilities feel endless.
So much of El Ganzo’s magic is in its mission to engage musicians and artists from around the world. Over the course of week-long residencies, these creators are encouraged to produce new works onsite – a painting, an installation, a new song – each time adding not only to the hotel’s vibrancy, but also enriching the Los Cabos arts community.
Everywhere you turn, you discover a new work, a new sound, a new idea left behind to captivate. A colorful mural of two fishing boats, painted on the hotel’s white-washed walls, mirroring the adjacent Puerto Los Cabos marina. A wooden pillar transformed into an oversized Crayola crayon, colouring your wait for the hotel’s panga boat to take you across the channel to the private beach club. A giant Star Wars stormtrooper looming over you at the rooftop pool and bar, protecting you as you doze off on your daybed. There’s even a hidden underground recording studio, accessed through wooden trap doors on the lobby floor, luring you down below to catch a sneak peek of a new musical duo at work.
To feast at El Ganzo is another pursuit for enlightenment. Eating fresh ceviche at the hotel’s private beach club becomes almost a meditative experience. As for the fish tacos at the hotel’s Container restaurant (a shipping container converted into a restaurant hidden within the Puertos marina), well let’s just say there’s a whole new level of appreciation when you can envision your lunch being caught mere moments before you take a bite. Come sunset, one sip of your gin-infused Cu Cu Ba cocktail while perched in the hotel’s floating glass hot tub, and you could swear you were transported to heaven.
But back down on earth, it was awesome to discover that El Ganzo has their own herb garden, only steps from the lobby restaurant. Farm-to-table is not merely a trend in East Cabo, but a movement. I ventured off property only twice and both times were to nearby farm stays – Flora Farms and Acre Baja. Part farm, part market and part restaurant, these immersive culinary experiences pull directly from their harvest, creating a meaningful connection to the local Baja flavors.
Blame it on the time change (or my New Yorker energy), but I couldn’t resist waking up every morning before dawn and watching the sunrise from my seaside balcony. It made it easy to attend morning yoga classes, too, held on the rooftop with El Ganzo’s resident instructors. Looking over the mountains, your energy flows from head to heart, and when done, you’re left with only the deepest sense of balance and gratitude.
My last night at El Ganzo was spent sitting around the fire pit, listening to the hotel’s weekly Friday night music series, with a mezcal pina colada in hand. Two local singer-songwriters were performing some of their new works. When they asked the audience for any requests, I thought again about Stephen Sondheim, but instead screamed out ‘Hallelujah’.
As the song played on, I closed my eyes and thought again about possibilities realized amongst the creative minds at Hotel El Ganzo.
As Dot, George Seurat’s muse and lover, in Sunday in the Park with George sings: ‘Anything you do, let it come from you. Then it will be new. Give us more to see…’
Hotel El Ganzo: please continue giving us more to see.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Hotel El Ganzo’s Guestbook below.
The great service, quiet, amazing poolm killer view, and the art and music focus.
Stayed on 28 Mar 2018
We loved Hotel El Ganzo. Even though we visited during the high season, it didn't feel crowded at all. We loved the vibe, decor, and our room. Hotel slippers, turn down service, a welcome plate of fruit, bath salts, and a fridge with water and beer were all little touches that went a long way in making us feel welcomed and at home. We loved the videos of the music recordings playing in our room and the awesome rooftop concert on Saturday night. I also really enjoyed Saturday morning yoga and the gym.
The service in the restaurant was a little tricky and not great. We aren't Spanish speakers and that proved to be a challenge.