Where: Tiburon Sin Numero, La Playita, San Jose Del Cabo, Los Cabos, Mexico 23403
Crowd: Young, creative hipsters and trendy singles
Vibe: Artsy, urban chic meets beachy bohemian
Price: From $320 per night
Prettily perched on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, we arrive at Hotel El Ganzo in Los Cabos after a 20-minute drive from San Jose del Cabo International Airport. Already it looks markedly different from the usual cookie-cutter hotels scattered around Cabo, greeted by some weird Willy Wonka artwork at the entrance, featuring Gene Wilder in different poses.
As we unload the car and check in, it seems quirky art isn't just reserved for the entrance. Contrasting the minimalist all-white exterior are colorful murals that brighten the walls, painted by artists in residence.
Once inside, friendly staff are quick to offer us a Papa Doble daiquiri, crafted out of tamarind and orange juice (and yes, it's as delicious as it sounds). In general, the lobby has a fun, creative vibe going on with no shortage of gritty street art covering the walls, including a floor-to-ceiling painting that looks like something out of Jaws. Painted by Ciler (a famed Mexican artist, FYI) it's a nod to the disaster caused by Hurricane Odile in 2014, which required a complete hotel renovation.
As I'm handed my room key, I ask what's through the big wooden entry. Turns out the hotel has it's own underground recording studio for artists in residence, and the music played overhead was recorded just downstairs.
Entering my room (one of only 69, so it's pretty small for a Mexican resort), my eyes are drawn to a massive bathtub — no prizes for guessing what I'll be doing later... In the middle of my third-floor room is a plush king-sized bed that faces the ocean. I step out on the balcony to take in the views and spot the hotel boat transporting guests to Ganzo de Playa, a private beach club and one of the only swimmable beaches in Cabo. Ahh yep, vacation mode has officially started.
First up, we address a critical element of any Mexican getaway; sunbathing. My travel buddies and I find a secluded spot on the hotel's own grassy island, which is adorned with palm trees and often used for special events. Our delightful server, Brandon, sees us baking in the sun (literally) and asks the magic question, “Can I get you ladies a drink?” — 10 minutes later our guava and hibiscus margaritas are in hand and life is good.
Having built up a monstrous appetite by doing, well, nothing at all, we head over to the deck for some foodie fun. Impressed by the wide selection, from salads and burgers to an epic list of seafood, I start with the guacamole (obvs), followed by two Ensenada-style beer battered fish tacos, and a serve of the Yucatan-style fish ceviche. The fish tacos are on point, but both the guac and ceviche could have used a touch more acidity.
Battling the inevitable food coma (the struggle is real), we take the 10-second boat ride back to the hotel. On our way to the rooftop pool, I stumble upon the most charming little veggie garden with rows of ready-to-pick vegetables and herbs. It's so frickin' cute, I can't help but send a pic to my mom (it's probably the only part of the hotel she'd get).
I take the elevators to the rooftop and when the doors open, a breathtaking infinity pool overlooking the ocean awaits. There's a walk-up bar one end, and a human fish tank perched on the other.
Note: Trying to swim around like The Little Mermaid with a belly full of tacos is not advisable. Trust me.
After my third shower of the day (it’s sweltering hot, okay?), I head downstairs for a sunset bike tour – bike rentals are complimentary for guests. We start with an easy, breezy ride along the marina and pass by a sculpture garden where we stop for a few photos and the obligatory FB check-in.
Veering off onto a dusty path, we reach a botanical desert garden with a surreal sea of cacti. As the sun begins to set, we start to ride back, past silhouetted palm trees around the marina, and the now illuminated hotel pool.
Despite our best efforts to race back in time for a treatment at the hotel spa, it just closed. Damn. They use exotic-sounding Baja desert flowers in their treatments too.
But all is not lost. Instead we sneak a peek at the recording studio downstairs that we've heard whispers about. As a 1700-square-foot state-of-the-art set up, it's decked out with a piano, bamboo floors and walls emblazoned with artist autographs and doodles. Not too shabby...
With bellies now rumbling (again), dinner time calls so we check out the hotel's Ganzo Downstairs restaurant. It's an alfresco setting, and under a string of fairy lights we’re presented with a prix fixe menu that's all locally sourced from nearby farm, Los Tamarindos. We begin with watermelon gazpacho followed by a mixed green salad with a truffle balsamic vinaigrette, then a generous fillet of salmon sitting on a bed of garlic eggplant caviar and creamy pesto. The dishes here are light and fresh, so you really can't go wrong, but do yourself a favor and try the opera cake with creamy mascarpone. Given this is such an arty hotel, it comes as no surprise that the dessert itself looks like quite the masterpiece.
Upstairs again we catch tonight’s live performance on the rooftop with performance duo, Shiro Schwarz. A sparse crowd of young beach-goers in flip-flops show up for the band, who look like they're stuck in a time warp with oversized coats, moustaches and gold chains. Frankly, their 80s synth pop sound makes me feel like I'm on the sidelines of an awkward prom. It's an interesting performance, but I'd probably prefer nearly any of the other sessions they have lined up, so we leave early and I dive into my super soft bed, sun-kissed and full.
Disclaimer: VIVA was a guest of Hotel El Ganzo, however opinions and comments made by the writer remain unbiased and independent.