Los Cabos and Cabo San Lucas has been recovering from the 2014 Hurricane for the last few seasons and hotels are finally reopened and travelers are returning! It is currently one of our top 10 Hotel Destinations for Incentive Travel in 2018 and the all-inclusive properties can be a great fit for most MICE travel. As we mentioned in our April blog growth is the story for Cabo currently so it will be very interesting to see what it will look like in 2020 once the hotel surge is completed. The Hard Rock Los Cabos will compete in the incentive space with approx 600 rooms and 26,000 square feet of meeting space expected. And don't forget for those looking for 5 star non-all inclusive options, the Ritz Reserve, the Four Seasons, Nobu, and Montage are all opening in Cabo sooner rather than later!
Hyatt Ziva, 591 Rooms, 35,000 Sq Feet Meeting Space
The positives: Overall we've had nothing but great experiences at the Hyatt Ziva property in Los Cabos. It's located close to the airport which is always a positive and also a quick walk to a few restaurants, bars, grocery stores, etc. It is all-inclusive so you don't have to leave as everything you need is on property but some like to get out and explore, and the small town is perfect for a night stroll. The biggest draw for this property is the size of the meeting space and number of rooms. For the MICE market this a perfect fit for many looking for an all-inclusive business meeting experience. They have an on site AV team, Encore, which is used to hosting large events and provides a long list of options for your AV needs, both indoor and outdoor.
For the cooler months the Adults-Only and Infinity Pool are both heated. There are 2 hot tubs located at the Infinity Pool and also over 10 firepits split between the beach and floating lounges. The firepits light up the property at night and is truly impressive from the minute you walk down the lobby stairs. This property truly has the Wow factor the minute you walk through the lobby.
For restaurants and bars, there are plenty of options on property. The Sports Bar is impressive and one of the best I've seen at an all-inclusive property, the martini bar is the perfect spot for a pre or post dinner cocktail, and the pool bar always exceeds expectations. The waiters at the pool area are constantly hustling to serve guests at their chair or even in the water. The daily pool food of the day and taco stands are always fresh and quick. The morning buffet has a great variety of options including fresh fruit, omelets bar, local cuisine, and a Bloody Mar/Mimosa bar. The lunch options range from the buffet restaurant to tacos and authentic at Baja Bar or Coco Loco, to lunch specials poolside from Paella to Steaks to Hot Dogs, etc. Also each day one of the outdoor beach side restaurants open with a small buffet and al la carte menu. At night there are 6-7 restaurants open in which all but 1 are al la carte specialty restaurants. The food is definitely a step up from most all-inclusives we have experienced in the past especially at the beach side steakhouse, Hibachi, and Italian restaurants. The Adults-Only section is relatively quiet but a great spot for pure rest and relaxation.
The negatives: There are three main negatives when looking at the Hyatt Ziva property. First, the contract process was not as smooth as you would hope for with lots of confusion and miscommunications. Hopefully that will continue to improve over the next year. Promises that were made in emails but not wanted to be included in the contract all of a sudden didn't exist.
Second, for those wanting to host meetings, everything is extra. Breaks, meeting room rental fees, etc. It's been a far cry from our experience in Cancun with Fiesta Americana properties. Their team bent over backward to work with you to throw the best possible event. At Hyatt Ziva, it's probably some of the most expensive add-ons we have ever seen. We asked for fresh fruit smoothies one afternoon and the pricing came back at $13.25 per smoothie. I understand Cabo is more expensive than the rest of Mexico but that pricing is worse than NYC prices.
Third is one category of rooms, the Ziva suites do not include full balconies. They are significantly different than the rest of the rooms on property and despite being pool/oceanview, are still a step down from the rest of the inventory. Unfortunately this room category is close to 20% of the hotel inventory.
The property itself is a great option for MICE events for companies both in the US and worldwide. You just need to be patient throughout the process from contract negotiation to planning. Everything seems to take at least two weeks to get an answer on and then another week to get clarity around.
Secrets Puerto, 500 Rooms, 17,000 Sq Ft Meeting Space
Unfortunately we have spent the least amount of time at this property but still was able to get a good feel from the experience. This property targets the leisure couple more than the MICE industry.
The positives: The biggest draw to this property is the golf course located right on hotel grounds. Also they just started a new renovation to replace tennis courts with an additional ballroom for meeting space. Once this happens they will increase their focus on MICE travel. Also there are no kids on property which keeps the focus on adult activities. The pool scene at this property is much more active and busy than the other properties visited in Cabo. For those looking for a party atmosphere with other couples, this is your property.
The negatives: The rooms are outdated with a musty smell and the balcony hot tubs didn't appear overly clean.
Based on the other two properties, Secrets Puerto Los Cabos seemed like a step down for the business traveler or MICE traveler. Unfortunately the two restaurants we attempted to try both had over an hour wait so we were forced into the one specialty restaurant without a long wait, which was pretty good. The breakfast wasn't anything impressive nor was the coffee shop. After coming from Grand Velas and Hyatt Ziva, it wasn't even enticing enough to eat anything.
One of the biggest things that stuck out was the service. Overall disappointing from every step. The one memory that sticks with us from this property. After our site visit, we arrived to the beach bar at literally 5:00 on the dot (based on an Iphone) and the bartender said sorry we close at 5pm. Perfect it's 5:00pm exactly, let's grab one drink before dinner. Unfortunately he refused to serve anything but beer and in a very non-friendly fashion (and we were not asking for frozen drinks or anything elaborate). If this happened at Grand Velas or Hyatt Ziva, I am 100% positive the bartenders would have served with a smile on their face. It appeared everywhere we went we were presented with No's. At dinner it was sorry we are full and the first restaurant wouldn't even present a wait time. After the turn down at the beach bar they sent us to the pool bar which was a spring break for adults scene except they had one bartender only working the pool with approximately 100 guests. There were 3 bartenders working the overall bar but the 2 bartenders from the top of the bar refused to come down and help the pool bartender despite 10 guests being at the top bar and 100 at the pool bar. Overall we were expecting better service from the Secrets property. The bellman were great and friendly as they were the shining stars for this property.
Grand Velas, 304 Rooms, 16,000 Sq Feet Meeting Space
Now this property is as impressive as they get for an all-inclusive but that does come with a high price tag. The hotel was currently operating under 10-15% capacity so the service was even more impressive given there were approximately 30 employees per hotel guest.
The positives: It started from the minute you arrived. First the service was 5 star from every aspect, bartenders, bellman, butlers, and gym staff. The rooms are brand new, amenities top of the line, and the balcony views are memorable. Did I mention your butler will unpack your suitcase and essentially do anything positive to make your experience memorable. The dinners are nothing like you've experienced at other all-inclusives, Velas 10 would compete with any high end steakhouse stateside plus add an oceanview and it doesn't get better than this restaurant. The Somlier Pedro provides a unique experience for those looking to try different wines. The spa is one of the best in Mexico. Live music each evening was a nice touch through the different bars. Lunch from the Cevicheria specifically was awesome. Pools are perfected heated, each a different temperature. The infinity pool is Adults-Only and has a swim up bar with barstools in the water. For adults in the evening there is a Sky Bar which had live music and friendly bartenders. Great spot for a nightcap or evening with friends or co-workers. For those looking to get in workout the gym has all brand new equipment and offers daily complimentary classes. It’s everything you need for a vacation gym with an ocean view for your workout. Also not extremely important for MICE travel but the teen club was one of the best I've seen at such a high end resort, light up dance floor and all.
Finally the breakfast… The breakfast rivals any of the Four Seasons spreads we have experienced in the past and I would challenge this was the top breakfast buffet we have ever experienced. The fruit was extremely fresh, the options limitless and the service impeccable. Despite the low occupancy they still provided an expansive breakfast experience that made you never want to leave.
Also one thing to note, the hotel does a great job with it's hotel scent throughout the property.
The meeting space is something limited for larger groups with breakouts but is perfect for the 100-120 attendee event or mid size ballroom only event. There's great outdoor rooftop space for an evening party and the small intimate property is perfect to keep everyone close to everything.
The negatives: There are three places that Grand Velas can improve on to make their hotel the perfect 5 star experience.
One spot they missed their mark is on the smaller decks within the pool areas. It's like stepping on hot coals trying to get from your chair into the pool the few shorts steps. Luckily Carlos the waiter at the pool deck was extremely nice and put down towels so guests could walk without burning their feet. Obviously something that will be changed sooner than later on the property.
Second, the lunch pool bar menu was disappointing. The Cevicheria put out incredible lunch items but the pool bar menu continued to disappoint each day compared to the rest of the food quality at the property.
Third, the price for both the hotel stay and spa is one of the highest you will find throughout the world for all-inclusive properties. If you can pick up this hotel for under $900 double occupancy per night, I would highly recommend. It's currently over $1,000 per night for the double occupancy which is just slightly too high for the value provided. Will be interesting to see if it comes down as they struggle to increase occupancy.