RIU Palace Cabo San Lucas

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Stepping into the lobby of the RIU Palace Cabo San Lucas and the neo-Moorish architecture complete with cupola domes and arched breezeways, gives new arrivals the wide-eyed feeling they’ve stepped unknowingly into the middle of an Agatha Christie novel. This time machine of mahogany-stained woodwork, wrought iron gas lights, ornate chandeliers, colored marble tiles, and upholstered renaissance-era arm chairs immediately transports guests back to the 1930s. Even the lobby bar, aptly called Las Ventanas (“the window”) is dramatic, with its open wall framing the grand verandah and Pacific Ocean.

“This is the first impression we like to give our guests,” says Victor Castellanos Riego, the resort’s sub-director, referring to Las Ventanas. “Coming here every day opens my heart and I feel like I’m in heaven,” he says without affectation. “Look at the sun hitting the rocks. There’s a magnetism to this place. I watch those rocks every day shine like diamonds.”

The 642-room RIU, the largest resort in Cabo, sits like a 4-tier, pale-yellow wedding cake on a half-mile stretch of Medano Beach, while grand staircases and long hallways beget allusions to European royal palaces with Hercule Poirot lurking in the shadows.

The jr. suite caps off the cinematic set piece with the same mahogany-stained woodwork, white walls and shiny marble floors. The curtains, bedspread, and loveseat pay homage to the red and yellow colors of the Spanish flag. The large bathroom tub and shower have fantastic water pressure and dual granite sinks. And then there’s the fully stocked, in-room mini-bar. Always a nice touch. It’s difficult not to smile and exhale deeply with an ice cold Dos Equis, while stepping through the sliding glass doors to the beachfront balcony and a long blue horizon of endless tranquility.

Clients will be enthralled by the glistening turquoise water, the cruise ships coming and going in the bay, and the famous El Arco cliffside arch of rock punctuating the end of the Baja. A chronic, gentle breeze brings in the salty smell of the sea.

This resort beckons to the more physical health-conscious vacationer who has more than ample time to swing a tennis racket or play volleyball. But most stake their claim to a lounge chair by one of the two huge infinity pools. Both pools have built-in lounge chairs, integrated jacuzzis, parasols and swim-up bars, and only one allows children. Guests will find it quite easy to settle in for a few hours in the warm dry air tempered with light sea breezes.

For those seeking even more relaxation, the Renova Spa offers new age music, soft soothing colors and aromatics, an ideal backdrop for a deftly performed 50-minute Swedish sport massage. Tell clients that because of the sheer size of the resort, it’s best to make reservations beforehand.

steppin’ up to the plate Two things standout in this RIU resort—the classic moody decor and the thematically inspired restaurants. For buffet fans, meals can be enjoyed at the main restaurant, El Medano. Dedicated stations and copious amounts of fresh buffet food from local fare to more international cuisines are offered. Other dining options include the Mar de Cortes steakhouse, and Japanese-, Italian-, and Mexican-themed restaurants. For the most refined experience, ensure a reservation at Krystal, with a fusion gourmet menu created by Spanish Michelin-star chefs.

White tablecloths, complimentary champagne and a palate-cleansing sorbet set the tone. The service is seamless in its choreography. Recommend an appetizer of smoked salmon and avocado mousse, beautifully presented and flavorful, followed by the sea bass entree. Seared and served atop a chick pea mash with tomatoes and herbed mayonnaise, it is flaky perfection.

hoist the sails Those who are lured by the surrounding waters may want to navigate them sailing aboard world-class America’s Cup racing yachts. It’s men in back and women in front as guests are recruited to man the winches in a mock race around an organized course. Under the supervision of highly trained racing crews, participants tack and jibe as the bow slices through the water. When the wind catches the sail and the boat tilts at crazy degrees, awkward footing gives way to exhilaration as the ocean rushes beneath. All in good fun, the crew rewards participants with a celebratory beer at the end of their 3-hour jaunt, no matter the outcome.