To call or fax the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 52 (country code for Mexico), 624 (local code) and the local number.
Casa Natalia, 4 Blvd. Mijares, San José del Cabo; (888) 277-3814, fax 142-5110, www.casanatalia.com. In-season rates: rooms $240; suites with private Jacuzzis $375.
I left part of my heart in San José del Cabo, where proprietors Nathalie and Loic Tenoux (he's French, she's from Luxembourg) welcome guests to their luxury boutique hotel, Casa Natalia, an oasis behind massive wooden doors in a walled, palm-shaded courtyard near the town square.
No sooner had we checked in than someone brought complimentary chips, salsa, guacamole and cold beer to our private bougainvillea-covered terraces overlooking the half-moon-shaped swimming pool and splashing fountains. Flaming braziers add drama for dinner under the stars, prepared by chef Loic. Rooms, which are named rather than numbered, are accented with colorful Mexican arts and crafts. Complimentary continental breakfast is set outside the door on a little tray table with a bright cloth.
The Tenouxes opened Casa Natalia in the fall of 1999 as an intimate alternative to the mega-room resort hotels.
Pueblo Bonito, Sunset Beach, Cabo San Lucas; (800) 990-8250, fax (619) 267-6698, www.pueblobonito.com. In-season rates: $250-$1,600 (for penthouse suite for eight).
Pueblo Bonito -- up a long, long drive at Sunset Beach, about 10 minutes west of Cabo -- is a work in progress, with heavy machinery scooping away. Phase one has 118 suites; 500 more are planned.
The 50-acre site on the Pacific has lush landscaping, flamingos, parrots and fountains, and it slopes down to a quiet beach (where there are no vendors). Friendly, chatty drivers in red golf carts ferry guests up and down the narrow paths from lobby to oceanfront pool. There's a shuttle to the two other Pueblo Bonito hotels in Cabo but not to the town center; the last shuttle returns at 10:30 p.m.
All suites have kitchenettes and coffeemakers, though there's a charge for that little coffee packet. My junior suite ($250 published rate) was entered through the kitchenette and was spacious, with a balcony, partial ocean view and direct view of the hotel owner's mansion under construction on the beach. The bath was small, shower only.
Somehow the complex doesn't beckon to me. Perhaps, to be fair, it's because it is unfinished. Or maybe it was all the emphasis on time shares.
Esperanza, Carretera Transpeninsular, Km. 7, Cabo San Lucas; (310) 453-6212 or (866) 311-2226, fax (310) 453-4845, www.esperanzaresort.com. In-season rates $550 to $5,000 for a three-bedroom ocean-view luxury suite with private pool.
Auberge's luxurious 56-unit Esperanza, with its palapa-topped casitas and Mexican accents, is on the corridor between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. We were shown Casa Jazmin ($825), with its view of El Arco, balcony with cushioned banquette and Jacuzzi that guests can access directly from their stone and marble bath. Wood-framed sliding doors opened one wall to ocean breezes.
Stone steps over a lotus pond lead to the hotel's new spa, where private treatment sanctuaries with their own little gardens and pools open off a tranquil patio. Among options: seaweed baths, Corona beer face-lifts and couples' clay bakes. This is definitely high-end.
Before introducing ourselves, we lunched under a big palapa at Esperanza's seaside Signature Restaurant, where we were warmly welcomed by staff, who repeatedly thanked us for coming. The day was uncharacteristically cool and cloudy, and someone promptly appeared with two wool ponchos.