#TravelTuesday: Falling in Love with San Jose del Cabo

by Rusty Shelton on October 30, 2018 in Travels,
Omnia Cover Pool Bar e1540846932612

“How about Cabo?”

This suggestion is a common (and awesome) answer to a universal question: “Where should we go on our trip?” But, increasingly, another question should follow – “Which Cabo?” When most of us hear “Cabo,” we think “Cabo San Lucas” but Cabo’s neighbor to the north, San Jose del Cabo, is quickly earning the attention of travelers looking for a more luxurious, cultural option away from the “Cabo Wabo” club atmosphere found 20 miles to the south in Cabo San Lucas.

I admit – I wasn’t very familiar with San Jose del Cabo prior to our recent trip there with my wife, Paige. We didn’t know about the 18th century Spanish colonial architecture, laid-back vibe or the growing culinary, entertainment and resort scene there on the Sea of Cortés.

We began to find out what all the buzz was about almost immediately on arriving at the town’s newest luxury hotel, Viceroy Los Cabos. Water surrounds the entire 192-room hotel, wrapping around the stark white buildings which are connected by elevated walkways. It is one of the most unusual hotels we have ever stayed in – a perfect blend of modern amenities and minimalist design.

The rooms are as scenic as they are smart, combining a heavy emphasis on technology with encouragement to leave it behind via the Jacuzzi tubs on each balcony and short walk to the hotel’s two beach-front pools. General Manager Martin Kipping and his team have created a masterpiece that includes four restaurants and lounges, a rooftop bar, spa, kids club, world-class fitness center, movie theater, evocative local art and more.

Zedd & Calvin Harris played at OMNIA Los Cabos’ opening. The upscale day-club combines great energy and service with ambiance and awesome music. Courtesy photo

The next day we headed down the street from Viceroy to Vidanta Los Cabos, a bit closer to downtown San Jose del Cabo, where a familiar name in global luxury hospitality, Hakkasan Group, has transformed the experience to create a new entertainment and dining district as part of the launch of its first-ever venues in Mexico.

You may be familiar with OMNIA, which is one of the most famous nightclubs in Las Vegas, but you may not know that the OMNIA brand now extends around the world to a number of international day-clubs, including the latest to open, OMNIA Los Cabos. It is a beautifully-designed, state-of-the-art day-club built around a sparkling, central pool, featuring two-story VIP villas with private infinity plunge pools, private cabanas, and chaise lounges, not to mention a steady lineup of the world’s most in-demand DJ’s.

Sitting in the middle of the newly transformed interior at Vidanta, OMNIA Los Cabos was an absolute blast. It definitely has some Las Vegas in it; but in my experience, mostly the good parts – particularly elite service, great energy, ambiance and awesome music. (Zedd & Calvin Harris played at OMNIA Los Cabos’ opening.)

Although San Jose del Cabo has long been known for its culinary prowess, Hakkasan Group’s new entertainment district is aiming to raise the ante a bit on existing options with the addition of three new venues alongside OMNIA Los Cabos within Vidanta, Casa Calavera, SHOREBar and Herringbone Los Cabos.

The eye-catching artwork at the bar in Casa Calavera. Courtesy photo

We had an opportunity to visit each of these three venues during our trip, beginning with lunch at Casa Calavera, which is next to OMNIA Los Cabos.

The first thing to catch my eye was the artwork, which is playfully designed with colorful and modern décor that was probably the most unique design tribute to Día de los Muertos I’ve ever seen. The official approach is a “creative take on authentic Mexican cuisine,” but that almost doesn’t do justice to what Executive Chef Alex Branch and his team have done with this menu.

Casa Calavera’s Black Shrimp is one of the many unmissable dishes on the menu. Courtesy photo

It was fabulous, beginning with Black Shrimp and Crispy Baja Oysters and continuing with out-of-this-world tacos that begin with homemade tortillas made with homemade masa. The Carne Asada tacos were probably the best thing we had on the entire trip. Add to that spectacular, informed service, craft Mexican cocktails and a view of the Sea of Cortés and you start to understand why I can’t recommend this new venue highly enough.

We were so impressed with Casa Calavera that we decided to go back to Vidanta the next day to try out the other two new Hakkasan Group venues, beginning with SHOREbar, which is a more casual setting for cocktails, quick bites and even hand-rolled cigars. An open-air venue with expansive pool and ocean views, it’s a great pit-stop for drinks and shareable bites before heading to Herringbone.

SHOREbar is a casual setting for cocktails, quick bites and even hand-rolled cigars. Courtesy photo

This is the first international opening for the Herringbone restaurant brand, which touts a “Fish Meats Field” tagline and also has locations in Las Vegas, Waikiki, La Jolla and Santa Monica. As Chef Branch, who also oversees this kitchen, explained, “To spice up the menu with the unique culinary flair of Cabo, I incorporated Mexican influences with local ingredients and cooking techniques. The presentation and flavors are elevated, and the environment is sleek and modern.”

Looking for a higher-end dinner spot in San Jose del Cabo? Try the elevated flavors and sleek environment of Herringbone. Courtesy photo

If you’re looking for a higher-end dinner spot in San Jose del Cabo that hits every single note on key, Herringbone won’t disappoint. Make sure to ask for the cactus sorbet (and the backstory on it) for dessert.

Bluefin Tuna at Herringbone. Courtesy photo

We had a wonderful trip and anytime Cabo has come up in conversations since, I always inject that extra question – “Which Cabo?” We certainly know which one we’ll be visiting from here forward.

Cover photo: OMNIA Los Cabos, a beautifully-designed, state-of-the-art day-club built around a sparkling, central pool.

Rusty Shelton is an author and entrepreneur based in Spicewood, Texas. He’s the founder and CEO of Zilker Media and the publisher of ForbesBooks.