CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico -- It's a good time to be in Cabo. Just ask the millions of tourists who go there or the folks who have built high-end golf resorts and communities like Quivira. Far removed from the recession of 2008 and with Hurricane Odile of 2014 in its review mirror, not only is tourism thriving in what might be Mexico's most American/Canadian-friendly destination, but they're building luxury million-dollar plus condos and homes that are increasing in value.
In the case of Quivira, a premier luxury residential resort community situated at Land's End on the Baja Peninsula, it centers around a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course with incredible views of the Pacific. This was also the impetus of my most recent trip to Mexico, where I not only got to enjoy this well manicured interesting layout, but also the Pueblo Bonita Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort at Quivira as well as a couple of other excursions around Cabo San Lucas.
I also took a tour of the rapidly developing 1,850-acre, master-planned community, which was founded by renowned resort developer Ernesto Coppel. With more than three miles of beaches, desert cliffs and panoramic ocean views, buyers are snagging these luxury townhomes and condos faster than they can build them.
"It's a great time to be investing in Cabo," said Jose Luis Mogollon, chief development officer at Pueblo Bonito Hotels and Resorts. "We have a 15-year build out. If things continue going the way they're going, it will be less than that."
While many of the homes and mid-rise townhomes have terrific ocean views, the best real estate, however, was saved for the golf course.
"We decided to devote some amazing beachfront property to the golf course," Mogollon said. "Because that's what creates a memorable experience."
Indeed, Quivira Golf Club, with its understated, but elegant clubhouse, three comfort stations and incredible vistas, is the big drawing card. And there are plans for more golf holes in the future. For now, though, Quivira Golf Club is a fun, quirky, roller-coaster ride.
Nothing like Quivira Golf Club -- anywhere
The all-paspulum course at Quivira Golf Club certainly wasn't easy to build. Carved out of the cliffs and rocks overlooking the Pacific, there are ocean views from the entire course. There are lots of really good to great holes, and one that's not so great.
So let's get the not-so-great hole out of the way first. It's the par-4 fifth, arguably the signature hole and the last hole to be built on the course, which opened in 2014. It was also the most difficult hole to construct and is certainly the most difficult to play.
At 310 yards from the back tees, the green is driveable, but you don't get a great look at it from the tee, and there's nothing but ocean on the left and trouble to the right. Hit the perfect tee shot, compensating for the ever-present wind, and you've got an eagle opportunity. Miss it to the left and you're re-teeing, or so I thought.
It turns out that there's a drop area about 100 yards or so out to the right of the green. In fact, Director of Golf Antonio Reynante says going for the green is the best way to play the hole. Why? Because playing it conservatively is anything but easy. It's a blind shot to the right and even if you execute the layup (most likely with a mid-iron or less), you're still left with a severe downhill lie to a green you can't most likely see. In fact, Quivira Golf Club has an attendant stationed at the hole to help golfers find not only their blind tee shots, but watch their approaches as well. So Reynante suggests going for it. The risk, with the drop zone, really isn't much higher than the layup, and the reward is potentially much larger.
Still, the fifth, which Quivira officials say will be modified in the future, is certainly the most talked about hole on the course, which isn't necessarily bad. Accept it for what it is -- an incredibly scenic hole that's not anything if it's not adventurous -- and enjoy the ride. In fact, it's a ride that begins by climbing the rocky hills between the fourth and fifth hole. And that lasts for (get this!) one mile. By the time you arrive near the fifth tee, you're hungry, which is perfect, because it's also the first of three comfort stations on the course.
This isn't any old comfort station either. Fully stocked with beverages of the first (water, coffee and sodas), second (beer) and third (cocktails) kind, the first two comfort stations are attended. The one by the fifth tee offers items such as fresh breakfast burritos (these are also offered at a station near the range), coffee, pastries, etc. At the second one located on the par-3 ninth, the ante is upped to sandwiches, quesadillas and delectable tacos. And the third one on the 16th tee isn't attended, but is stocked with snacks, beer, sodas and water.
So where are Quivira's good holes?
While the fifth is quirky and a little unfair, Quivira has plenty of great holes. The par 3s are particularly stunning, including the sixth, which is a good birdie hole (I played it 1-under in my two rounds on the course). The good holes continue for most of the course.
The 12th, for example, is a downhill, dogleg-right par 5. Pick the right line, and you can get there in two pretty easily if you play the right tees. And the short par-3 13th might be my favorite hole on the course because of the stunning rock formations that jet out of the sea below the green to the right.
The course also has a strong finishing stretch, ending with three lengthy par 4s that culminate behind the clubhouse and back to the ocean.
The par-72 layout also has five sets of tees, with a fairly women-friendly yardage of 4,763 from the front tees, which eliminate many of the forced carries to the tips at 7,139 yards (the course record is 66 by Estaban Toledo). Rack rates range from $212 to $345 at the semi-private Quivira Golf Club, but the best way to play there is book a golf package at the resort, where rooms start at around $300 a night.
Much more than golf at Quivira
There are four restaurants at the 154-room, all-adult Pacifica Resort and all of them are outstanding. I was surprised how good the poolside Aqua Bar Aire was when we arrived. There we had some of the freshest and tastiest fish tacos I've ever had. We also tried the resort's Pescados sushi restaurant, which in addition to nice selection of rolls, sashimi and nigiri, also offered a nice ceviche with an Asian twist. But the place that impressed me the most was the complimentary breakfast at Siempre, which is the resort's main restaurant. Breakfast items included outstanding omelets (green chile was my choice), fresh local fruit and a vast array of other morning pastries and breads.
The four restaurants are just the beginning, though, for guests at Pacifica. They also have access to restaurants at the other Pueblo Bonita resorts in the Cabo area. For example, we had dinner at the nearby Pueblo Bonito Sunset resort's LaFrida, where we enjoyed a chef's sampling that included local fish, beef and poultry and a stunning sunset. The next night is was dinner at Pueblo Bonito Los Cabos' Terraza Mar de Cortes, which included outstanding margaritas and tequilas to go with appetizers and a terrific main course of fresh sea bass. Finally, our culinary adventure ended on the third night with a dinner buffet of grilled vegetables, steaks and fish on the beach, complete with fire dancer entertainment.
Pacifica also has a full-service spa with some of the best therapists you'll find anywhere, offering deep tissue, Swedish massages, facials, manicures and pedicures as well as full locker-room facilities with hot and cold treatments, sauna and showers. In addition, guests can enjoy a number of other activities, including sunrise yoga, tennis and, of course, swimming in the resort's two pools.
Expansion ongoing at Pacifica
The resort was also undergoing an expansion while we were there. Ten years after its successful debut as the finest adults-only resort property in Los Cabos, Pacifica has entered its second phase of development with two new towers totaling 47 rooms. The works includes a Presidential Suite as well as six suites with private pools. These two Club Level buildings, named Quivira Club, will feature enhanced room amenities and first-class personalized service. Each floor will be staffed with a butler to attend to any and all guest needs.
As part of Pacifica's expansion, a third building will showcase a new restaurant on the first floor, an ocean-front gym on the second floor, and a VIP lounge on the third floor. The VIP lounge will be available exclusively to Quivira Club guests. The new restaurant, featuring indoor and outdoor oceanfront dining, will serve eclectic Mexican-Mediterranean fusion cuisine. The VIP lounge, accessible via a sky bridge from the Quivira Club buildings, will serve light breakfast, afternoon snacks, and pre- and after-dinner cocktails, all in a dramatic oceanfront setting.
The expected completion date of the new towers and amenities is October, 2016.
More to do in Cabo
If golf, spa and fine dining at the resort weren't enough, there's also nearby Cabo San Lucas with its shopping, dining and in our case, sailing. Courtesy of Cabo Adventures, we cruised aboard a 50-foot sailboat, taking in the sites the famous Cabo Arch, Lover's Beach and a colony of sea lions with an occasional shark sighting. Cabo Adventures also offers plenty of other activities in the area, including dolphin interactions, zip lining, hiking, biking and a camel safari (believe it or not).
What we didn't do this time around was sample the nightlife, of which there is plenty, including rock star Sammy Hagar's famous Cabo Wabo (which actually has an airport retail location).
Speaking of airports, it is easier than ever to get to Cabo. Recently Southwest Airlines started offering direct flights from Houston's Hobby Airport. It took us all of two and a half hours to get there, and customs was a breeze.
As a destination, Cabo has never been easier and if you're looking for a luxury golf experience for a few extras, Quivira might be just the ticket.