A perfect piece of paradise: 2 nights at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal
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No matter which hotel I’m staying in when I visit Los Cabos, Mexico, I always make sure to book dinner at El Farallon, the terraced oceanfront restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal.
Carved into a cliffside with the surf crashing below and dreamily lit by candles and lanterns, the experience truly feels like an evening out on the Mexican Riviera, complete with live music, fresh-caught fish prepared to order and a lively crowd celebrating everything from birthdays to anniversaries and even proposals.
It wasn’t until this past April, however, that I had the chance to actually stay at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal. That’s not to say I haven’t been a guest at this particular property before, though.
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You see, the hotel used to be part of the small, Asia-based luxury hotel group Capella, and I spent three nights there back in 2013. It was rebranded as a Waldorf Astoria in 2019, just before the pandemic.
Nearly a decade after my first stay, I had the opportunity once again to visit what has remained one of my favorite resorts in Mexico — and the experience was just as wonderful as I remembered.
The dates of my stay fell after spring break and Easter but before the summer holidays. Even during this momentary travel lull, however, I could only find award nights at the 115-key property for 120,000 Hiton Honors points apiece (the base rate) on a handful of days in April.
The reason base-level points rates might not be easily available is that the hotel has several different non-standard room types, as well as a large proportion of suites and multi-bedroom villas and casitas for which it charges some exorbitant prices (ranges during April and May ran from 364,000 to 1.9 million points per night).
I found two nights that worked for my plans and I booked a standard Pacific View – Plunge Pool King Bed Terrace room. Paid rates for the same nights would have cost a staggering $1,625 apiece, plus taxes and fees; my two-night total would have been $4,355.
Instead, I was able to take advantage of a Hilton Honors points purchase bonus of 100%, buying the 240,000 points for just $1,200. That saved me over $3,000 on the stay, and got me a per-point value of 1.8 cents apiece, three times TPG’s valuation of Hilton points at 0.6 cents each.
Had I booked a paid rate instead, I might have done so through American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts with The Platinum Card® from American Express since I still would have earned Hilton Honors points and credit toward elite status on the stay, plus extras like noon check-in based on availability, guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout, a room upgrade at check-in if available, daily breakfast for two and a $150 property credit to be used during my stay.
Los Cabos is a sprawling resort area that spans the entire southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, running from the Pacific along its western coast all the way to the Sea of Cortez on the eastern side.
Many of its hotels cluster around the cities of Cabo San Lucas, which is more of a party zone, and from whose marina many water-based activities like fishing and whale-watching depart, and San José del Cabo, which has a beautiful main square and colorful colonial-era buildings that now house art galleries, boutiques and restaurants.
The Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal is in a 24-acre residential and resort development quite close to Cabo San Lucas, and you must drive past the town’s bars and nightclubs to get there. However, to reach Pedregal, you then pass through a guarded tunnel and come out the other side on a stretch of coast facing due south and just to the west of the famous Los Arcos rock formation at the cape of Cabo San Lucas itself.
The ride from Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) takes around 45 minutes, partly along a toll highway, and costs around $45 in an Uber, which includes the toll and an airport tax.
Rides into Cabo San Lucas should cost well under $10 in an Uber, and the longer drive to San José del Cabo, which takes around 30-40 minutes, will cost anywhere from $25-$35.
Check-in and lobby
I arrived at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos around 12:30 p.m. from another hotel where I’d been staying. I gave my name at the tunnel gate, said I was checking in and my Uber was waved through.
When we pulled into the hotel’s driveway about 30 seconds later, I was greeted by name by one of the check-in agents and a bellman who took my carry-on bag from the trunk while another handed me a chilled glass of sweet hibiscus juice and asked me to take a seat on a terrace overlooking the resort.
The check-in agent took my passport and a credit card to the nearby office where she put a $500 hold on my account for incidentals and made a copy of my passport information page. She returned to let me know my room was not ready yet, but that the resort’s concierge service would text me when it was. I asked if I’d been upgraded due to my Hilton Honors Gold status, and she said that I had not been, unfortunately. She then invited me to have lunch at one of the restaurants.
I headed down to the poolside bar, Crudo Bar, where I spent a couple hours working on my laptop (Wi-Fi was free and worked well throughout the resort) until I got a text at around 3 p.m. asking for my location so that someone could find me and bring me to my room.
Funnily enough, the room I was given was in the same building, appropriately dubbed Vistamar for its sea views, that I had stayed in on my previous visit. It is located at the far eastern side of the property. The walk there is a bit longer to other parts of the resort, but that makes it feel more secluded and also gives you a chance to admire the desert landscaping, including some truly gorgeous succulents planted here and there.
The hotel sprawls along the shore, though some of the buildings are set farther up into the mountainside.
While those rooms might have more panoramic vistas of the resort and the ocean, I think I prefer one of the buildings closer to the sand, since you also won’t have to navigate quite so many stairs.
The building I was in also housed the casual Beach Club restaurant, which is open for lunch, as well as the Las Tortuguitas kids club.
My room, 921, was on the second floor near the stairs, behind one of the hotel’s distinctive carved wooden doors with a colonial-style metal sconce off to the side.
There was a small vestibule just inside the door and then a quasi-foyer with a pink, marble-topped table, two wall sconces and a mirror. There, I found a welcome amenity that included a bowl of apples and a hand-painted Clase Azul Reposado tequila decanter that I could take home with me (though its liquid volume was too big to go through security, so you’ll either need to drink it or take it in a checked bag).
Hotel staff members would also drop by each day between 4 and 5 p.m. with a complimentary tray of chips, guacamole, pico de gallo and a bucket with two small Coronas, which I thought was a nice touch.
Continuing into the main room itself, I was struck by its size, which the hotel lists as 865 square feet, thanks to the large bedroom and living area as well as an expansive terrace with its own plunge pool, all with shiny limestone floors.
Part of what I love about this hotel is that the décor was custom-made by local artisans and includes hand-carved mesquite furniture (not to mention those beautiful beamed ceilings), bed headboards of embossed leather with sculpted metal frames and colorful totem-like sculptures.
The pillow-top mattress was dressed simply in all-white linens embroidered with a signature WA for Waldorf Astoria. To either side was a nightstand with a reading lamp. There was also a pair of binoculars for guests to use for whale-watching and bird-spotting. I just wish there had been more plugs or USB ports so I didn’t have to go searching for some along the wall to keep my computer and phone charged.
In front of the bed, there were two armchairs with a side table and a standing lamp, all of which faced an in-wall gas fireplace.
To one side of that was the closet, which had drawers and a shelf as well as a rack for hanging clothes and a surface area that could have easily fit either a full-size suitcase or two carry-ons.
To the other side of the fireplace was a large, wall-mounted LCD TV and a stone-topped wooden counter. On the counter, I found an ice bucket and both wine and water glasses plus a Nespresso coffee machine.
Inside the cabinet, there were coffee cups and pods along with sugar. The minifridge was stocked with bottles of water and cans of soda water, Coca-Cola and Diet Coke plus two bottles of juice, all of which were complimentary. The other cabinet held the room safe.
The bathroom was next to the bed and could be closed off behind a heavy, sliding wooden door. To one side was a small separate room for the toilet.
The large vanity had a greenish granite top, a huge mirror and two ceramic sinks painted white with blue patterns. The hotel provides stylish amenity kits in case you forget anything at home, and mine contained a toothbrush and toothpaste, shower caps, a shoeshine mitt and a comb.
The biodegradable bath products provided were from artisanal Mexican brand Vervan and included green tea, mint and ginger body lotion, shampoo, conditioner and body wash.
Toward the back of the bathroom, which had beautiful yellow-green glazed ceramic tiling, was a separate alcove for the standalone, deep soaking tub. It was dramatically backlit and had a mirror hanging next to it , a tray with a loofah and a jar of bath oil, and a menu of in-room bath “soak rituals” you could order that ranged in price from $75-$100 per person.
Opposite the tub was an open shower, meaning there was no door and only a half-height wall, so you could just walk in and out of it. It had both a wall-mounted handheld shower head and an overhead one. On the other side of the shower wall was a curved bench with cushions where you could just hang out, I suppose. Next to it were the five switches to control all the bathroom lights, which I found confusing since you needed to figure out how to turn them on and off, versus just dimming or brightening them, as well as which switch controlled which lights.
Back in the bedroom, huge sliding glass doors opened up to the private outdoor terrace. Except for when I went to bed, I mostly left the windows open since there were delightful sea breezes and no insects, so I didn’t need the air conditioning.
The terrace had two low, cushioned benches, one with an oversize, cushioned stool and the other with a wooden table that functioned well as a desk when I wanted to work outside. The plunge pool was a small rectangle with rounded-off corners and a no-slip stone bottom and stairs, though its infinity edge was made of black, iridescent tiles. Beyond that was a small sandy area with little succulents planted for decorative purposes, and then one of the resort pools — with the ocean beyond that.
Overall, I loved the room thanks to its size, the beautiful decor touches with allusions to traditional Mexican arts and crafts and its large outdoor terrace, where I spent most of my time. It felt bright, breezy and relaxing.
That said, I think the rooms might be ready for a little refresh and perhaps a reconfiguration. The bed, bath bench, armchairs and outdoor furniture have all started to look a little worn. I also think there might be a better way to lay out the room’s lounge space by replacing the chairs and lamp that seem to be floating off on their own right now.
Food and beverage
As you probably guessed from the fact that I visit this resort every time I’m in Cabo because of one of its restaurants, the dining and drinking venues at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal are a big draw for me.
The main restaurant, Don Manuel’s, is located one level down from the reception area and open all day, with just an hour-long break between lunch and dinner service. The restaurant is adjacent to the curvy adult pool and has an alfresco bar area, an indoor dining room with glass doors that are generally left open and a patio area with tables where most of the guests seemed to dine during my visits.
My Hilton Honors Gold status entitled me to a complimentary continental breakfast, which would have cost $34 otherwise, and included coffee or tea, fresh juice and cold items at the buffet, such as pastries, fresh fruit, cereal and yogurt. The buffet was located in a temperature-controlled room just behind the bar and masks were required indoors at the time of my visit. I forgot mine one morning and was able to get a disposable one from the hostess stand.
For $10 more, I could also order an a la carte dish, so one of the mornings I was there, I treated myself to an enormous breakfast burrito with scrambled organic eggs, which were delicious, beans and avocado with guacamole, pico de gallo and dollops of sour cream on the side. I lingered over it while doing some work and even though the staff members were clearing the other tables for lunch service, they came by to offer to reheat my dish and pour fresh coffee and another glass of water whenever I wanted, which was just par for the course in terms of the elevated service levels.
I came to Don Manuel’s for dinner one of the evenings of my stay, too, for the nouvelle Baja Californian fare.
I started with a savory aguachile of bluefin tuna and grilled watermelon ($26) and had a filet of roasted totoaba (a local fish) with quinoa salad and a smoky chile cream sauce ($43) as my main. There were also vegetarian and vegan menus available.
For dessert, my server talked me into the signature “Apple & Caramel” confection ($14) of caramel mousse, apple compote, chocolate sea salt crumbs and honey-rosemary ice cream. It was like eating a Magritte-esque deconstruction of an apple in dessert form and I practically licked the plate clean. The barrel-aged Manhattan ($18) I tried, which had been steeped with wild cherry bitters, peach skins, plum and green apple, was also delicious.
As I mentioned, I had lunch my first day at Crudo Bar, which is sort of like one of those swim-up bars you find at other Mexican resorts with stools in the water, only there’s also a dry area sunken into the border of the pool, so you can dine there at a high table like any other beach bar.
It’s open for lunch and serves classics like guacamole and salsa with chips ($15), blue corn quesadillas — albeit with wild mushrooms, squash blossoms and homemade salsa verde ($18) — along with a variety of salads, sandwiches and tacos. Seafood seekers can order a variety of ceviches ($22), oysters ($7), various seafood and fish crudo preparations ($25-$29) and sushi-style rolls ($17-$31). I ordered the bluefin tuna tostada with onion compote, avocado, chipotle mayonnaise and cilantro ($16) and it was tangy and light but substantial enough to keep me satisfied until dinner.
The other lunch spot at the resort is the Beach Club, down toward the eastern end of the property and just below my room. Like Don Manuel’s, there are both indoor and outdoor dining areas, though the glass doors between the two were always open, so the entire space felt alfresco.
You can dine in, but you can also order from the menu from the staff at the family and adult pools and they will bring your meal to you. Dishes include build-your-own salads, various ceviches, sandwiches, quesadillas and tacos. I ordered from my lounger at the family pool and enjoyed the shrimp tacos with cheese, poblano peppers and onions along with a side salad ($29), which were delicious and hearty.
The main attraction for me was dinner at El Farallon. The restaurant is located at the very western end of the resort and you have to pass by almost the entire property and through one of the buildings with guestrooms then down a special walkway to get there.
I must have picked a popular time, because there was a line at the torchlit hostess stand, but the staff dispersed it quickly, taking parties of diners either directly to their tables or seating them at the cocktail tables in the bar area. I was one of the latter, but by the time I had ordered a drink, I was already being led to my table.
The restaurant is carved into the granite rock face of the cliffs, making for a truly spectacular setting as the surf crashes below you. Though I prefer the tables right by the wooden railings, in what I’d call a slight “splash zone,” the tables set back on a raised mezzanine under dimly glowing strung lights are also wonderful for a romantic repast.
The experience here feels old-school since diners are presented with a blackboard featuring the catch of the day and a variety of possible preparations. All you have to do is choose your main course and two sides, and then the rest of the meal is taken care of. You can also check out the ice cases by the open kitchen to examine the specimens in more detail.
I selected the flounder, grilled with sea salt and olive oil; then the meal began. The starter was a creamy broccoli soup with vanilla and shaved cauliflower, julienned peppers and a crouton. Next was a trio of tapas including papaya salad with carrots and peanuts in a balsamic vinaigrette, grilled amberjack skewers with teriyaki-sesame glaze and michelada-style seafood ceviche in a beer-Tabasco sauce with lime.
For my main, the flounder came out sizzling and succulent with sides of creamy seafood risotto in a sauce of melted butter, shallots and fines herbes. For dessert, I added on the churros with chocolate sauce. With one cocktail, one glass of wine and a bottle of water, dinner came to $153 for one person. So yes, this is a special occasion place. What, besides the excellent service and food made my night special? An unexpected fireworks display set off by one of the other resorts along the coast … and a chance sighting of Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel passing by my table on their way out from their own dinner at El Farallon.
There were two venues I didn’t have the chance to try during my visit. The first was Neutral Coffee Lab up on the reception level right next to the resort office. It has made-to-order espresso drinks and pour-over coffees and offers a selection of pastries and other bites.
The other was Agave Study at Peacock Alley. If you’re familiar with the Waldorf Astoria brand, the hotels usually have a lobby area that serves small menus throughout the day called Peacock Alley, though this one was unlike any I have encountered at other outposts.
It was just a small room overlooking the resort with its own little bar featuring a selection of dozens of agave-based spirits, including tequilas and mezcals, which you could enjoy in various tastings and flights along with accompanying bites. You could have your tasting either at the long table in the space or at one of the outdoor seating areas nearby.
Instead of a tequila tasting, I decided to splurge on a glass of Champagne at the resort’s beach Champagne bar, Va y Viene, which seems tailor-made for social media influencers. This little wooden structure had been added since my last stay here and is surrounded by swing seats — so be careful with that flute of bubbly! Glasses start at a whopping $33, though I went slightly more bougie with a $35 glass of Taittinger, which is one of my favorites.
That, plus the impromptu photo session another delightful patron and I indulged in, made the price tag well worth it.
Amenities and service
The resort lies on a strip of uneven land between a rocky mountain face and the beach, but it makes the most of its setting.
Directly below the reception area is a curvaceous pool with an infinity edge facing the ocean for adults. It is surrounded by umbrella-shaded lounge chairs and has a few loungers on a shallow step in the water, too. The vibe out here was consistently quiet and sleepy, making it the perfect spot for long afternoons napping in the sun and the shade.
Past the spa and some of the beachfront villas, the beach club family pool felt much the same, only with young ones jumping in and out from time to time. There was also a jacuzzi tub set within it that couples seemed to enjoy in the late afternoons and evenings.
I actually preferred this pool since it was closer to my room, and the families with children mostly stuck to the nearby rock pool, which was a shallow, circular pool perfect for splashing around with babies and toddlers.
Unfortunately, the beach here is not really swimmable unless you’re willing to take some big risks, but that’s the case throughout much of Cabo. It was, however, wonderful for dusky walks to the back side of the Los Arcos rock formation as lights at the other hotels along the strand came on and bands began to serenade diners at their oceanfront eateries.
Even going back to its days as a Capella, the resort has been renowned for its Luna y Mar (Moon and Sea) spa, where the treatments are predicated on your inner state, the current moon cycle and the healing properties of the sea, as well as traditional Mexican folk remedies. The facility is beautiful, with an airy lobby and its own private pool, to which several treatment rooms have direct access, which is fed by overhead fountains.
I wish I had been able to indulge in a treatment on this visit, but the timing and the pricing were both out of reach. Facials, including one that incorporates rose crystals, start at $250 for 50 minutes, while massages are $220-$230 for 50 minutes and body treatments such as a damiana flower and honey body scrub and wrap can cost a whopping $780 (though others are priced at $330).
Instead, I hit the gym, which is located in a series of rooms on the other side of the entrance from the office. At this point, the facilities are looking a little outdated, though you will find plenty of Technogym weight and cardio machines plus a separate studio for stretching and yoga.
On the other side of reception, there’s a small boutique called Almarte where you can find everything from beach essentials to local arts and crafts, though if it’s the latter you’re after, you’d be better off checking out one of the galleries in San Jose del Cabo for better prices and better quality.
During my visit, there was also a COVID testing clinic for international travelers with results ready within 24 hours for $30 per person, per test, which seemed really reasonable if you didn’t want to bring your own tests with you.
Gorgeous facilities aside, one of the things that truly sets this resort apart is the quality of its service. Many hotels in Los Cabos have excellent staffs, but the folks here truly excel in my experience, and that’s been the case even when I have just dropped by for dinner. Every server at every restaurant took a moment to introduce themselves to me, reconfirm if I had any food allergies, and asked if I preferred to be addressed in English or Spanish. Everyone took the time to explain in detail the dishes I ordered and to answer any questions I had about ingredients.
The folks out at the pools were only too happy to find me a seat anytime I appeared. They also set up my loungers with towels, adjusted umbrellas and immediately brought me ice buckets filled with bottles of water.
When I contacted them by text, the front office responded quickly to requests such as moving a dinner reservation later, confirming a late checkout and bringing my luggage to the Beach Club so I could shower and change in the restroom facilities there before my flight back home.
In short, they made me feel both right at home but also taken care of like a VIP, which is pretty much the apogee of hospitality in my book.
I’m not familiar with Mexico’s rules or regulations on accessibility at hotels, but it seems like they’re much more lax than here in the United States. For instance, the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal doesn’t post information on wheelchair-accessible rooms or those for guests with other needs on its site, so you’ll have to call in to ask for one specifically and price it out with an agent. The hotel does have some rooms that have been adjusted for wheelchair users with direct walkway access, wide hallways and specially configured bathrooms, according to an agent I spoke with.
Although there are elevators throughout the property, many are quite small and would not fit a wheelchair easily, so those with accessibility needs should ask for rooms in specific locations that will be easier to get to. The hotel does offer guests golf cart service if they require it, so that can help getting around the massive property. However, neither of the main pools, and certainly not my own private plunge pool, had any way for wheelchair users to enter easily since there was a step around the edges and no apparatus for entering otherwise.
I can only suggest that, if you do have any special requirements, call the hotel before booking and see what arrangements are possible and whether it can accommodate your needs.
Spending the last two days of my recent visit to Mexico at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal meant I ended my trip on a high note. The resort and its pools are just as beautiful as ever, the staff just as welcoming as I remember and the restaurants and bars just as delightful.
Prices at the spa and the restaurants, in particular, seem to have skyrocketed recently and the nightly rates are higher than I’ve ever seen them. Still, if you can take advantage of some savvy points redemptions, a stay here is well worthwhile. Give yourself at least three days, though, to settle into the laidback rhythm of the place, and budget a little extra for add-ons like a dinner at El Farallon, a tasting at the Agave Study or a treatment at the Luna y Mar spa.
Featured photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy.
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