One & Only Palmilla has a modest mission: it aims to be the best five-star resort in the Mexican holiday destination of Los Cabos. Expect the full five-star bells and whistles, from a 2000 square metre spa and Jack Nicklaus golf course to 24-hour butler service.
The balmy climate of Baja California, the thin peninsula that runs parallel to the western coast of Mexico, has made it a favourite quick getaway for US west coasters. Party animals head for the town of Cabo San Lucas, while those seeking a calmer pace prefer nearby San Jose del Cabo. The most exclusive properties – including private villas owned by the likes of George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston and Michael Jordan, as well as One & Only Palmilla – lie somewhere between the two.
Baja California has a mostly arid landscape, which makes the resort's lush garden setting even more inviting, if not exactly eco-friendly. Guests are spread out over the resort's 100 hectares, with a choice of swimming pools and sandy beaches. The resort's most inviting attraction is its extraordinary spa, where the private treatment villas come complete with plunge pools and day beds. Start the day with a yoga class, then treat yourself to either an indulgent massage (try the two-hour Baja Deep Tissue Pindas Ritual) or the extraordinary Bastien Duo, a luxurious mani-pedi treatment that will leave you feeling transformed.
The interiors are done in luxe Mex style, with studded wooden doors, woven textiles and iron chandeliers juxtaposed with marble floors. My Ocean Front Junior Suite has a sprawling bathroom, spacious sleeping and living areas, and the piece de resistance: a sunny beachfront terrace with its own large plunge pool. Wi-Fi is free of charge.
Foodies take note: the resort has some of the best restaurants in the area. Seared, a steakhouse with a menu inspired by chef Jean-Georges Von Gerichten, delivers not just superb steaks (served with a selection of seven sauces, including chimichurri and chipotle), but also seafood and salads. The sushi and sashimi at the Asian-inflected Suviche are top notch, as is the cuisine at Aqua, where talented Moroccan chef Larbi blends Mexican and Mediterranean flavours. The seafood is particularly superb, but it is worth ordering the ceviche or the guacamole, both of which are made at your table.
Tempting as it is to hole up, take some time to go exploring. The charming town of San Jose hosts an Art Walk on the first Thursday of every month, and is also home to some lovely restaurants. Try La Lupita for its tacos, or head out of town to the beautiful Flora Farm. Another good option is the day trip to the sleepy town of La Paz, for the unforgettable experience of swimming with whale sharks.
Just two hours from LA, this is the perfect spoil-yourself add-on to a trip to the US west coast.
Carretera Transpeninsular Km 7.5, Centro, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. Rates from US$492, oneandonlyresorts.com/one-and-only-palmilla-los-cabos/about
The versatile pool concierge: when you're dozing by the pool, ask for a wake-up call so you don't sleep through your 4pm spa appointment.
The area's beaches are not great for swimming; however, One & Only Palmilla does have one sheltered cove where you can take a dip.
Ute Junker travelled courtesy of Los Cabos Tourism.