Namale Fiji . . . Where The Livin’ Is Easy

In Fiji, so they say, there are many paradises but only one utopia.  “They” in this particular case are the authors of the online brochure for Namale Resort & Spa.  You have to love the audacious confidence of that tag line.  If I execute my assignment properly, by the time you finish reading this post that claim will sound less like hyperbolic exaggeration and more like honest evaluation.

Sunset at Namale FijiOne of the chief frustrations of writing about some of the world’s most breathtaking hotels and resorts is that there is never time to give them their full due.  That is particularly true here.  Elizabeth Barret Browning’s most famous sonnet is #43, admittedly better known as “How Do I Love Thee?”.  You recall that those opening words are followed by “Let Me Count The Ways.”

With that bit of literary inspiration, I offer my humble (or as close to humility as I ever get) version of “Namale, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.”  Let’s begin with a spectacular setting because absent that any resort is Deck at Namale Resort & Spaimmediately disqualified from a serious traveler’s short list.  Setting encompasses beauty and atmosphere of course but, if you are like me (heaven help you), you would likely add serenity as well.  This picture to the right suggests about as much separation from the maddening crowds as one can imagine.  If you are desperately seeking seclusion, this warm handshake between the emerald rainforest and the azure sea is the perfect rendezvous.

In addition to the setting, this resort is world-famous for its discriminating service.  I say discriminating because the true art of gracious service is unfailingly finding that thin line between a trifle neglectful and a tad too intrusive.  Try these numbers on for size:  the property hosts only 44 guests at any one time so that their needs may be anticipated and their wishes fulfilled by their staff of 140.  I suppose you could argue that the service pictured below is slightly over that line but I beg to differ.  After being a little over served, you have to get back to your villa somehow, right?

Scene from Namale FijiIn general, I have next to no use for the muddled opinions of the celebrity set with one exception:  I do value their seemingly natural instinct for sating their self-indulgence.  They say when driving through the mid-west, always choose a diner with lots of cars in the parking lot.  A corollary would be, when seeking a great resort, find out where the stars congregate.

So for what it’s worth, I am given to understand that the likes of NBA coach Pat Riley, actors Russell Crowe, Edward Norton (wasn’t he one of the characters with Jackie Gleason on The Honeymooners?), Meg Ryan and Mike Myers, and musician and producer Quincy Jones have found their way here, as well as many more “A listers”.  Donna Karen, who I am told has some fleeting familiarity with fashion, has said, “Namale is an ultimate escape . . experience its bliss!”

Namale, how else do I love thee?  Ah, there is always your sumptuous dining.  As the aforementioned brochure explains, “Private three-course lunches and five-course Dinner at Namale Fijidinners can be enjoyed anywhere you like — be it the twinkling main bure, your private bure or villa, in a romantic, seaside cave, or on the beach at sunset.”

Decisions, decisions! I think tonight I want to have my five course gourmet dinner in this exact spot to the left!  Should the gentle ocean breeze grow a bit nippy, I have no doubt that another glass of vintage Cabernet will suffice to warm me from the inside out.  In case you are wondering, I am sadly not at Namale as I pen these words.  That was a momentary flight of literary, not to mention holiday, fantasy.  Dreammakers are allowed to dream too!

Namale, I love thy refined accommodations.  Since we are running short of time, I will refer you to the online brochure for an explanation of the room distinctions between Bures, Garden Tropical, Ocean Tropical, Villas, Bula House, etc.  I shall also let the picture below do the job of a thousand words which, yikes, according to my word calculator, we are rapidly approaching.  I must scurry on!

Honeymoon room at Natale FijiLast, but certainly not least is the exposure one gains to authentic Fijian culture.  Below is a picture of a troupe of tribal dancers telling a traditional story through age old movements.  I Namale danceknow. to the uninitiated, i.e., folks like me, it  looks a little like the Hokey Pokey but rest assured it is not.  (Speaking of which, as a quick nod to the philosophically inclined, what if the Hokey Pokey really is what it’s all about? Hmmm.)

OK, I have managed to count down five ways I love the Namale Resort & Spa.  I have yet to mention the bowling alley and indoor golf (seriously), the incredible snorkeling, and the magnificent spa.  See why this is frustrating?

Namale bowling  Snorkling in Namale

I think we can all agree that it would be more than a little cruel to tantalize you with this exquisite haven of happiness without presenting a way to experience it for yourself.  As I check my back pocket, it just so happens . . . imagine that . . . I have a great offer from our partners at Travel2 for an all-inclusive 9 night stay.  Let’s leave the more mundane matters like price to a future conversation.  But if this post has whetted your appetite to know more about Namale Resort & Spa and how you too can experience its wonders, reach out to us through our website.  And if you are still not convinced, take a look at this video!

Crème de Cancun: The Top Five Resorts

A while back I wrote a blog post called Crème de Los Cabos:  The Top Five Resorts  which has proven to be one of my most popular posts ever.   Having been decidedly unpopular among the snootier cliques during my high school days (I’m not bitter, honest I’m not),  I now warmly embrace popularity wherever I stumble into it.

Seeing a golden opportunity to make those uppity, out-of-ballast cheerleaders eat their black little hearts out, I have decided to ride this “crème”  train all the way to the station, so to speak.  Thus, you can expect  in the days ahead, even more gangly siblings in this growing family of “crème” posts.

Some may wonder how I have arrived at my personal list of Cancun’s top five resorts.  Let’s just say that the polling was even less democratic than the recent election in Crimea where the populace voted with Russian boots firmly planted on their necks.  As was famously said by Putin’s diabolical predecessor, “In elections it doesn’t matter so much who votes as who counts the votes.”  In my case, I readily admit, I did both.

Excellence Playa Mujeres

Excellence ResortsYou have to admire the chutzpah of any hotel chain daring to call itself “Excellence”.  It is a lot less risky when you actually are excellent, or so I’m told. One of the things I like best about this property is its location.  As they describe it on their website “an all-inclusive Playa Mujeres Golf Courseoasis situated on an untouched peninsula between the Caribbean and a wetlands preserve”.  Even though it is a little out from Cancun proper, I have included it this grouping because it is the opposite direction from the Rivera Maya. Instead of south it is north and a little west.

Another great feature of this resort is both the quality and variety of dining options.  Suppose your busy schedule only permits a three night stay.  (The first order of business is to re-priortize your schedule!  Do you want to die young?)  In any case, imagine being able to savor the tangy herbs and spices of India’s North-West frontier your first night at Basmati,  sauntering (by the second night you have slowed your pace signficantly) over to Barcelona Mediterranean Restaurant for a variety of tapas followed by paella, veal or perhaps seafood.  By the third night the romantic juices are in full flow (remember those?) and nowhere else will do but Chez Isabelle, their signature French restaurant.  The resort claims you will forget for a moment that you are in Cancun and begin to imagine you have been transported to the Left Bank.  My guess is that by this time you will have been transported to an amorous place where geography is the last thing on your mind.

Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach

Fiesta Americana Grand Coral BeachIf “Excellence” was apropos of the previous resort, “Grand” certainly fits this hotel every bit as much. It begins with the location on what is arguably the nicest stretch of beach in Cancun.  If you are familiar with Cancun’s resemblance to the number seven, this property sits at the top of the seven just before it bends southward.  If you like to be in the heart of things, you can’t find a better location.

The entire hotel exudes an old-world charm that from the moment you enter delivers careful attention to detail.  If you are the sort who Le Basilicappreciates refined taste and gentile surroundings, you will immediately fall in love with this hotel.  You will not want to miss the incomparable dining experience afforded at the five diamond Le Basilic.

One of the lingering memories I carried away from my stay was how incredibly fresh and delicious were the breakfast pastries.  Every hotel, including Motel 6, offers pastries and in spite of the fact I have a sweet tooth that would shame a sabre tooth tiger, most of them are frankly not all that tasty.  It is a testament to the class of this resort that it maintains exacting standards even in a relatively small matter.

Hyatt Zilara (formally Royal Cancun)

Room at Hyatt Zilara CancunIn case you didn’t know (keep reading this blog and eventually you will know almost as much as the master), Hyatt Resorts has entered the all-inclusive market.  When a player the size of Hyatt makes a move, they don’t do anything by half-measures!  When they entered the Los Cabos market, they just went out and bought the Barcelo Los Cabos Palace Deluxe with one of the most stunning settings in that destination (see Hyatt Ziva).  In Cancun, they merely ponied up a few mil from their rainy day account and acquired the storied Royal Cancun and rebranded it the Hyatt Zilara.  (The Hyatt Zebra and Hyatt Zephyr can’t be far behind, can they?)

I want you to picture yourself coming home from work one evening, flashing the picture above to your life partner and saying this is the room where we will be staying next weekend.  If that Hyatt Zilara Cancundoesn’t get you around third and all the way home you have bigger problems than I have a clue how to solve.   I suppose if your beloved has an aversion to the color blue as in sky, ocean and pool, that could present a problem.

This stunning resort property is all adults, all -suite, all-inclusive and all your greedy little heart could covet.  There are seven specialty restaurants including Pelicanos which offers international cuisine in an oceanfront setting.  Catering to your refined palate will hardly be a problem here.  Check out this impressive new video!

Nizuc Resort And Spa

Nizuc Resort and SpaBy way of full disclosure, I have never been to Nizuc Resort and Spa.  This picture above is of the reflecting pond.  I find it has put me in a very reflective mood.  Right now I am reflecting on the question of why I have never stayed there.  Two reasons come to mind.  One, it only opened in March of 2013.  The second, and more important reason, I have never been invited.  Note to whom it may concern in Nizuc’s upper management.  My passport is up to date, my bags are perennially packed and my dance card is wide open!  (I know, not exactly subtle.)

By virtue of research, reputation and recommendation, I have definitely determined that it is a place I want to visit.   If you visit their website, take a little time to drool all over your Nizuc Resort and Spa. Cancunkeyboard in the “Gallery” section.

Once you get to Nizuc, you don’t even have to leave your room to enjoy spectacular views.  Not a bad place to enjoy your morning coffee, I would say.  The resort is located in the secluded enclave of Punta Nizuc.  I suspect you have to flash your American Express platinum card just to get past the gate which could potentially constitute a problem for me since my most exclusive credit card is made of balsa wood.  Since I am sure you don’t share that problem, should my pathetic hint above falls on deaf ears, promise me you will send me pictures!

All four of the properties I have mentioned so far deserve a much richer treatment than space permits here.  Should the Lord tarry and my body parts not collectively implode, I promise to write about each one of these gems separately.  That, however, is not a problem for my final selection below as you will shortly see.

Secrets the Vine

Secrets The Vine The Wine GlassOf these five properties, this is the only one I have already treated in detail.  Knock yourself out and read all three.  It’s not like you have anything else going on in your life, right?

At Secrets The Vine, The Wine’s Divine (1)

At Secrets The Vine, The Wine’s Divine (2)

At Secrets The Vine, The Wine’s Divine (3)

I know that many of you will have your own thoughts about which resorts should and should not be on this short list.  I invite you to use the comment section to weigh in.  I would love to hear your list.  All I ask is please don’t tell any of the other worthy candidates I didn’t select!

If you would like to visit one of these incredible resorts, reach out to us here.

Diving Into The Denton Gene Pool

My brother Rocky is blessed with literary genes too.  His are just a couple of sizes larger.  That’s the sort of joke you can Rocky Dentononly get away with when poking fun at a sibling.  I am pretty sure he will forgive me because I am about to plug his latest book.  (It is always nice when you can refer to your “latest” book.)  Besides, I know him well enough to know he will gladly trade a little self-respect for freshly minted currency any day.

Any of my readers fortunate enough not to suffer from short, medium and long-term memory loss as I do may recall that the second and third posts I ever wrote for this now world-famous blog were about a book my brother and I co-authored called “Never Say ‘Hi, Jack’ In An Airport”. I refer to Travel Tips With A Twist Of Denton and Travel Tips, Part Deux.

Rocky apparently felt the need to prove he can string two cogent and marginally comprehensible sentences together without leaning on the crutch of his immensely talented younger brother and has gone out and written a book on his own.  Well, sort of.Guy O. Denton  He actually got a tremendous amount of help from our father.  Now when you consider that our dear old Dad has been dead thirty-five years, that’s saying something.  Before you get all weirded out and start accusing us of holding séances around the Thanksgiving dinner table, I should probably explain.

Better yet, since it is his book, I will let him explain.  “Douglas G. “Rocky” Denton was born in Tallahassee, FL literally at the end of WWII, to a P-40 fighter pilot and a South Carolina belle. Before she died, that Southern lady offered to let him read his father’s love letters to her. He was enthralled. He knew his dad was quite the wordsmith, but here, in these carefully preserved epistles, was. . . .”  I have ended his explanation abruptly for two reasons.

1)  Mr. Google does not like extensive content to show up on two sites.  In fact, if you make a habit of that you get relegated to the rankings equivalent of hell’s outermost ring.

2)  You can read the rest for yourself by going here which just happens to be a page on Amazon where . . . you are never going to believe this part . . . you can actually purchase a copy of his book.

Guy O. DentonIt occurs to me that it might be helpful if I shared the title of said book.  It is called Warhawk: Letters From Out of the Blue: A True Story of Love and War, Tragedy  and Triumph”.  If you follow these links that I have spread rather liberally throughout this brief post, you can learn about the love letters, the significance of the “Blue” and so much more.  As Rocky eloquently says (note grudging respect), “From off the yellowed pages leapt romance and adventure, comedy and tragedy, sorrow and triumph.”

If you love history and human pathos, you will be doing yourself an immense favor by ordering a copy of this book . . .  for a mere pittance I might add. You will be doing my brother an immense favor because the more copies he sells Warhawk: Letters From Out of the Bluehe figures the more likely it is that one will fall into the hands of a Hollywood producer who will recognize what great potential the story has to become the next big blockbuster movie.  And finally, you will be doing me an immense favor because if I help him sell a few thousand copies he might forget about that money I owe him.

If I can be serious for just a moment, something I normally avoid like the bubonic plague, this is one incredibly gripping true story.  As Rocky describes it (Mr. Google, avert your eyes), “Anyone who has ever sighed at a love story or cried over the loss of a friend would surely want to read letters which opened a window into another time, another world. A world at war where brave men and women fought and died, waited and sacrificed to keep that world free.”

I normally do not stoop to begging on this blog (although I have done a bit of wheedling and cajoling from time to time) but should you find this remotely interesting, I would like to ask you to share this post through the social media buttons I have provided.  My brother and I would both love to see our Dad’s great legacy of service and sacrifice live on.  And it is a fun read!  You will quickly see from Dad’s letters where we got the humor gene!

Spontaneity, Sydney And The City2Surf Race

If you rummage through the section on this blog called “What Did I Miss?”, you will find a post entitled A Life Lesson Learned In London.  If you imagine for one moment that this was a singular pedagogical event in my travels, you couldn’t be more misguided.  Give the globe a little 180 degree spin and you will find that Sydney, Australia can be every bit as instructive in dispensing life lessons as London ever was.  What I am about to describe falls into the category of “I wouldn’t take a million bucks for the experience and wouldn’t repeat it for twice that!”

Sheraton on the Park Sydney AustraliaTo think it all started innocently enough over a hearty breakfast on the executive floor of the Sheraton On The Park in Sydney, Australia.  For a period of about fifteen years I escorted groups to Australia at least once a year.  On this occasion, I had brought along one my employees, Carey Rector, to assist.  We had just pushed aside the Vegemite in favor of the strawberry jam (I never did acquire a taste for that particular Aussie delicacy although I am pretty sure it would make a great axle grease.)  Carey and I were chatting amicably and gazing out the window at the park some thirty floors below.

“Why are all those people starting to gather and mill about in the park?” I asked the waiter.  “Oh, they are getting ready for the annual City2Surf race,” he replied.  “Can anyone participate?” I asked.  “Anyone with $10.00 Australian,”  he said.  “What time does it start?”  “10:00 am, I believe.”

At that moment we were only halfway through breakfast and it was just shy of 9 o’clock in the morning.  I looked across the table at Carey and asked (only an omniscient God knows why), “Would you like to run in it?”  To which Carey responded, “Sure, we aren’t doing anything else today.”  After reading this post, you can be the judge as to whether this impetuous decision should fairly be labeled inspiring spontaneity or temporary insanity.

City2Surf race in Sydney AustraliaIf you are not familiar, as I was not, the Sun-Herald City2Surf presented by Westpac has grown to be the world’s largest run with over 80,000 registered participants each year.  It is actually larger than the London and New York Marathons combined!

It began way back in 1971 with a mere 2,000 entrants.   It draws a combination of locals, affectionately known as Sydneysiders, and participants from all over the world.  Some are elite and others are dweebs like me who obviously could use a full-scale psychiatric analysis for taking such a rash and impetuous action.

I recall showing up in shorts, T-shirt and tennis shoes (not the least designed for running), paying my $10 Australian, pinning a number to my chest and finding a place toward the back of this mass of humanity.  It was only at this point that a rather important question occurred to me, heretofore overlooked.  Before I could even express the question to Carey, it was answered by an announcer on a loud speaker who welcomed us all to the annual City2Surf race where we would be running from Hyde Park in the central business district to Bondi Beach, a distance of 14 kilometers.  My mental acuity must have been heightened by the sudden rush of adrenalin because I was able to instantly calculate that 14 kilometers was 8.3 bleeping miles!

Another feature of the race which would become painfully apparent in just a few moments is that the entire first half of the race is pretty much uphill to the “Heads”, the towering cliffs The Heads, Sydney Harborthat bookend the two-kilometer-wide entrance to the harbor.   The route then mercifully starts the descent to Bondi Beach, which not too surprisingly I suppose, is at sea level.

I am going to spare you an agonizing play by play description of the race partly because it still stirs painful memories long since relegated to the recesses of my mind (and, trust me, my mind has lots of recesses).   When I finally staggered across the finish line . . . I would tell you my elapsed time but I wasn’t carrying a sundial at the moment . . . I was only thinking about limping on to one the motorcoaches provided to carry us back to the city.

One of the most disconcerting moments of my life came when I asked where the coaches were parked and a race official pointed a long, bony index finger to a car park a half-mile away up a steep hill.  We didn’t overuse the term “Really?” in a sardonic fashion back then as we do now but if we had, it would have been extremely appropriate.  What I did say though, while it may have lacked gentility, that was more than made up for in clarity.

Why Secrets Resorts Aren’t Such A Big Secret Anymore

If you need to get the word out quickly regarding some important matter throughout a club, organization or business, I know one foolproof method.  Just take two or three people aside individually and relay the information to them in whispered tones.  Then tell them to be sure and keep it under wraps because you are not ready to make the announcement public just yet.  At least one, and more likely all three of those people, will tell a handful of others and long before the sun sets it will be common knowledge.  Let’s face it, most of us suffer from the verbal version of a common urinary tract problem I like to call “lack of blather control”. Secrets Puerto Los CabosI suspect most folks returning from a stay at one of the Secrets Resorts have every intention of smugly keeping their little discovery all to themselves.  Notwithstanding their best efforts, they find themselves effusing all over the people sitting on either side of them . . . it is not quite as disgusting as it sounds . . . before their flight home even leaves the runway. I myself have written posts about several of the Secrets Resorts. Should you cast your eyes to the right rail, you will see I even have a category by that name where you can see all my Secrets postings.  I just recently returned from one of the brand’s newest offerings so, fair warning, grab a towel.  I am about to effuse all over you!

SECRETS PUERTO LOS CABOS

Puerto Los Cabos is an exciting new development in the eastern area of Los Cabos, Mexico.  You can get all those juicy details by clicking on this link to a post I wrote a few weeks back, Puerto Los Cabos And The Quest For the Best.  Situated in the heart of that new development on a very choice bit of real estate is Secrets Puerto Los Cabos.

Secrets Puerto Los CabosYou can have a beautiful setting and attractive facilities (which this property has in spades) but from vast experience I can tell you that unless they are blessed with outstanding personnel, it is all in vain.  The entire staff, from reception to restaurant, exude the kind of warmth and helpfulness that is the envy of many of their competitors.  A special shout out to Salvador Gutierrez who, as the resident manager, deserves a great deal of credit for selecting and training such a marvelous staff and Karla Ponce, the front desk manager, who oversees those employees who represent the all-important first impression to the guests.  Karla’s infectious smile seems to have spread to the entire reception staff.  It must be a case of staff infection!

When stopping by Rendezvous for a little pre-dinner libation, it is never a bad thing to Martini Cart at Secrets Puerto Los Cabosencounter a well-stocked martini cart as you walk in. Before you can say “¡Si Señor, por favor!” you might well find one of these sitting before you.  Rendezvous Secrets Resorts

 

Dining in general, I have always believed, is one part cuisine, one part ambiance and one part great companions.   Picture yourself with a small circle of friends dining out under the stars at El Patio Restaurant savoring your favorite ceviche, sipping a fine glass of Cabernet and conversing late into the night.

El Patio Secrets Puerto Los Cabos

At some point in the evening, no matter how convivial the company or smooth the after-dinner port, you are going to want to stumble back to your home away from home for a sound night’s sleep.  When that happens, if you are staying at Secrets Puerto Los Cabos, this welcoming sight is waiting to greet you when you enter the room.

Room at Secrets Puerto Los CabosThere is never enough time in one of these posts to tell you one-tenth of the wonderful features of such a stunning resort.  I haven’t even mentioned all the gourmet restaurants, the 24-hour room service, the 12,000 sq. ft. world-class Secrets spa by Pevonia,  the 18-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman, access to three miles of pristine beach and so much more.

Not to worry!  That is what great travel agents are for.  Our folks would be more than glad to drill down to the most minute detail to guarantee that your stay will exceed your expectations.

This concludes five posts under the category “Puerto Los Cabos”.  Let me know if you enjoyed this little glimpse into Los Cabos’ exciting new development.

El Ganzo Delivers A Gold Medal Experience

As I write these words, the Sochi Winter Olympics, like this modest trilogy on Hotel El Ganzo,  are winding down.  There is one commonality shared by every OlympicGold Medal participant regardless of the event, gender or nationality.  Not for weeks, nor months but for years they have lain in bed at night and dreamed of ascending the platform to the playing of their country’s national anthem and of bending forward so that a gold medal could be hung around their neck.

OK, granted most of us will never compete in an Olympics, be it summer or winter.  But that is not to say we don’t have our dreams.  For many of us, who labor all year to provide for our families, our dreams consist of imagining our next vacation.  Yet no sane person dreams of having a mediocre experience.  In our minds, our holiday should meet a gold medal standard.  Like those athletes mentioned above, we see ourselves returning home draped in glorious recollections and clutching unforgettable memories to our chests.

Hotel El Ganzo, unlike so many adequate but uninspired resort properties, possesses the rare qualities to deliver on those unspoken promises. In the prior two posts, I told you about the stunning art and haunting music of the Arts In Residence program.  In this final post I will acquaint you with just a few of the features that make El Ganzo literally one of a kind.

THE ROOFTOP

Would you be impressed if I told you the hotel had a swim-up bar?  Yawn.  Probably not.  But what if I told you El Ganzo’s swim-up bar was on the roof!

El Ganzo has a rooftop swim up bar.Not only that but what if I told you that the rooftop sported a transparent hot tub where you can not only see but be seen?  Perfect, I suppose, for the less inhibited among you.   In my case, I am afraid the other guests might mistake the tank for a “swim with a sea-lion” Transparent Hot Tub experience and try to pull on my moustache and throw me fish!

The rooftop also offers a  sushi bar where you can dine under the stars on a rainbow roll while imbibing your favorite libation.  That sounds a lot more like my speed.  Now that I think about it, I probably could win a gold medal when it comes to over-indulging and being over-served. After all,  I have been in training for decades.

THE BEACH CLUB

Ganzo de Playa Beach ClubOne of the criticisms you sometimes hear leveled against certain resorts in Los Cabos is that the beaches are not as swimmable as those on the eastern side of Mexico.  While that is admittedly true of some Los Cabos properties, it is patently untrue about El Ganzo.  Just a very short boat ride (one minute) away . .  or a fairly long swim if your free-style stroke, like mine, resembles a drunk thrashing an imaginary snake with a garden hoe . . . you will find the idyllic setting reflected in the image above.  Notice the long jettyies on both sides which guarantee the consistently placid waters you see in this picture.

There are many who define an awesome vacation as lying about all day on a beach chair lifting nothing heavier than a foo-foo drink with a tiny umbrella and catching up on all the unread blog posts on TravelByTerry (You missed some of them?).  OK, maybe a few people would prefer reading the latest best-selling mystery novel but I am sure they are in the minority.  If that describes you, you will love the Beach Club where the pace is leisurely and the service impeccable.

Wirikuta Gardens

One of the fun features of El Ganzo is that everything is nearby and within the confines of Bicycles at El Ganzoa secure gated community.  Everything you might want to see and experience is just a short bike ride away.  If only you had thought to pack a bicycle!  Not to worry.  El Ganzo anticipates everything.  Your chariot awaits!

One of the interesting things to do is to visit the Wirikuta Gardens, “Home to over 1500 varieties of desert plants from around the world.”

Gardens at Puerto Los CabosYou can get a complete explanation of this interesting facility on this page or by visiting page 13 of this online brochure.

There is so much more I would like to tell you about, such as the suite with the ping-pong table in the living room, the bowling alley lane for a table top in the dining room and the private elevator on the balcony that takes you to the roof.  No I have not been dipping into the elderberry wine again.  All true!

Time is pressing and I have “promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep”.  (I bet Robert Frost wishes he had thought of that line.)  One of these promises is the vow I made to give you a link to some incredible pictures and to an online brochure where you can fill in all the gaps that time and space have regrettably forced me to leave vacant.  Here you go:

1)  Pictures I took

2)  Pictures taken by someone who knows one end of a camera from the other.

3)  The El Ganzo website, Facebook page, YouTube site and online brochure.

This is the final post of this El Ganzo trilogy and I would like to leave you with this exhortation.  Do yourself an immense favor and venture to glorious Los Cabos and discover your own gold medal experience.  Speaking as one who can hear the not so faint swoosh of the reaper’s scythe in the distance, life is too short and vacations too few not to make the most of each and every one.  El Ganzo will not disappoint!

Come back soon to hear all about Secrets Puerto Los Cabos.

El Ganzo Lays More Golden Eggs

In some contexts, the American idiom “to lay an egg” has a quite negative connotation.  One example would be your humble scribe’s occasionally lame attempts at levity.  They have been known, albeit rarely, to fall a smidgen short of the mark. (Hey, they can’t all be winners!)  But if the layer in question is a goose and the layee is a egg made of solid gold, then that is a fowl of an entirely different sort. (See Aesop’s FablesThe Goose With The Golden Eggs)  As I hope you are discovering, Hotel El Ganzo has an entire roost full of golden eggs lying about to be gathered.

In case you are just catching up on this subject, I recently made a trip to Los Cabos, Mexico, a destination that never disappoints.  Since returning home, I have published a couple of posts about my experience which you can find either by simply scrolling down or . . . should scrolling sound way too grueling . . . by clicking here.  We pick up the thread by plucking a few more golden eggs from the El Ganzo nest (to soft scramble a few metaphors).

El Ganzo Studio doorWithout a doubt one of the most unique features of this hotel is the Artist in Residence program mentioned in the previous post.  One key aspect of that program is the musicalEl Ganzo Hotel - Door to Recording Studio  arts component.  When you walk in the main bar/restaurant area adjacent to the lobby, you might overlook this nondescript door built into the floor assuming it leads to some dank storage facility.  In actuality, it leads to a state of the art recording facility that is overseen by Mark Rudin who carries the twin titles of Music Director / Studio Manager.  Mark shoulders the weighty responsibility of vetting potential artists to ensure that the quality of their musicianship meets El Ganzo’s exacting standards.  (Speaking of musicality, I am what is known in Texas as a prison singer.  “I never can find the key and I’m always behind a few bars.”  See reference to “laying an egg” above.)

El Ganzo Hotel - Underground StudioAs I understand the program, invited artists arrive at the hotel’s doorstep at their own expense, whereupon they are afforded accommodations, airport transfers (or access to the dock if they came by fishing trawler) and a generous meal allowance  They have access to the studio as well as Mark’s talented assistance as needed.  In turn, they are expected to record music which El Ganzo has the right to upload on their YouTube site.

El Ganzo Sessions In addition, they are required to perform at a live concert on the hotel’s rooftop on a Saturday evening.  People flock like geese (what else were you expecting) to experience these concerts.  The hotel offers a cover charge that includes all the music, margaritas and mojitos you care to consume.  Mark has just created a “trailer” that gives you a sampling of the stunning work created by these talented and widely diverse artists which you can access here.  I highly recommend you pour yourself a cup of java or glass of wine (as you prefer), kick back and listen to this amazing assembly of versatile artists.  I should caution that this may well lead to you wanting to hear the collection in its entirety which you can do by clicking here.

DSC01703Before we conclude this segment, I thought you might enjoy seeing some more works from the visual arts side of the program which resides in the capable hands of well-known art and fashion curator Luzma Moctezuma.  No less an authority than the sales manager, Miriam Reuter, tells me that they are working on an inventory of all the art work.  You will be able to learn more online about the piece, as well as the artist who created it.

DSC01704I promise in the next post to provide you links both to my own library of pictures taken on my recent visit as well as a whole raft of pictures professionally done.  It shouldn’t prove too difficult to tell which are which! In the meantime, here is a link to a great promotional video.

If you are wondering why I don’t just post the links to the pictures now, it is because I am being very naughty and feeling the need to create a compelling reason for you to come back here again soon.  You have yet to visit the enchanted garden or to glide across the shimmering waters toward the shade-drenched oasis or to gaze out to sea from the towering ramparts.  All in due time, dear reader, all in due time.

El Ganzo Gives Me Goose Bumps

If brevity is the soul of wit, serendipity is the soul of travel!

Hotel El Ganzo, Los Cabos The absolute best aspect of travel is the unforseen twists and unpredictable turns that lead to such satisfying intellectual stimulation and emotional fulfillment.  The following sequence of events from last week is a wonderful example of precisely what I mean.

1)  I find out my advisory board meeting will be at Secrets Puerto Los Cabos.  Great, I have been wanting to learn more about that development.

2)  In the airport departure lounge, I decide spontaneously to reach out to a good friend and business contact Juan Carlos Del Rio, Managing Director of Epic Group Los Cabos and suggest to him we get together for a drink and chat.

3)  We meet one afternoon on the Secrets patio and Juan Carlos brings along Rafael Sanchez Navarro of Grupo Questro whose company owns and is developing Puerto Los Cabos.  He mentions offhandedly a boutique hotel they own located nearby at the marina.

4)  Later that evening, on a whim I email Rafael to see if I could do a site inspection the next morning before I catch my afternoon flight.  He readily agrees and sets it up.

Sitting in the airport at DFW, I was focused on my upcoming advisory board meeting agenda.  Stumbling upon one of the most interesting hotels I have every visited was the absolute farthest thing from my mind.  How could I possibly have known that El Ganzo was about to give me goose bumps!

El Ganzo logo

As you can tell from their logo, El Ganzo means “goose” in Spanish although the conventional spelling is el ganso with an “s”.  After I concluded my tour, I asked my intrepid guide Miriam Reuter about the spelling deviation.  She had the perfect explanation.  “As you have discovered for yourself, El Ganzo does things differently than other hotels.  As such, even the name demands its own flair.”   At the end of the next few posts, you can judge for yourself if indeed El Ganzo does not offer a unique travel experience.

El Ganzo Hotel in Los CabosNow, where to start?  For a boutique hotel with just 72 rooms, there is a lot to explain.  I know, let’s begin just as I did.  I arrived a little early so while I waited to meet Miriam, I walked out on the verandah, ordered a  cappuccino and sat gazing out at the marina.  Puerto Los Cabos marinaSome of you may know that just off the coast of Los Cabos are some of the world’s best sport fishing grounds and many boats harbor here.   Rather than trying to explain such niceties as the marina being a “4 S” with 400 slips and a drystock with a 150 ton lift . . . why parade my gross ignorance for all the world to see . . .just click here and read away.  Fortunately, one needn’t be a Fleet Admiral to sit and drink in the aesthetic beauty of the place.  Anyway, Miriam’s here to start our tour.

As we walked to the front entrance to the hotel, I asked Miriam to explain the basic concept of their signature Artist In Residence program.  Here is a brief synopsis with a fuller explanation and more examples to come later.  Artists and musicians from around the world are invited to come and experience the hotel while they create, interpret and record works of art.  No money changes hands.  This is all based on trade.  The artists are responsible for their own airfare but once they arrive they are provided airport transfers, accommodations and a generous meal allowance (since the property is not all-inclusive).  They in turn are expected to exercise their creative gifts leaving behind a permanent record of their visit.

As you can perhaps tell from the picture at the top of this page, the entrance to the hotel is on one end, giving the impression there couldn’t be more than a half-dozen rooms.  The wider shot above gives a very different perspective.  Now take a look at the pictures below.  The one on the left again shows the entrance.  The one on the right is a closer view of a magnificent piece of art by the Mexican graffiti artist SanerEntrance to Hotel El Ganzo   Art

I have barely scratched the surface and already it is time to wind down this post.  But I have oh so much more to tell you about El Ganzo.  In a later post I will give you links to some incredible pictures of this property.   When we next reconvene, I will take you by the hand and lead you down steep steps to secret chambers, on mysterious boat rides to a shady oasis and on a two-wheel journey through enchanted gardens.  Harry Potter, eat your heart out!

Puerto Los Cabos And The Quest For The Best

Being a consummate travel professional (no giggles, please), I admittedly approach my personal travel a little differently than the average vacationer.  Because a large percentage of the travel I do could be considered a combination of business and pleasure, I always travel with an eye out for the unique, the fascinating, the “New Next” to steal a phrase from Texas Monthly magazine.  It is my own relentless “quest for the best” to share with you.  Think of me as a sort of Indiana Jones searching for the Ark of the Covenant only without the chest hair and female entourage.

Marina at Puerto Los CabosThis past week was a perfect example.  I serve on the advisory board for the travel behemoth, Travel Leaders.  We had our quarterly meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, not exactly a shabby site for a business meeting. One thing I will say about the travel industry, we do meetings right!  I was especially pleased to discover that we were staying at the Secrets Puerto Los Cabos.  As the title above suggests, this post (and the next several) will introduce you to the newest, nicest and neatest development in one of my favorite destinations in all the world.

Google Map of Los CabosFirst a quick geography lesson. Did you ever stop to think about the fact that the destination is called Los Cabos and not El Cabo (cabo meaning cape or tip in Spanish)?  The reason is that at the very tip of the Baja Peninsula there are actually three capes: on the western side is the Cape of San Lucas where you find the town of Cabo San Lucas; the Cape of San Jose where the town of San Jose del Cabo is situated; and finally, there is an Eastern Cape.  Just east of San Jose del Cabo is Puerto Los Cabos sitting right on the border between these latter two capes.  In between the first two capes is the stretch of land known as The Corridor.  Are you starting to remember why you hated geography class so much!

Not to worry, for our purposes we are going to focus all our attention on Puerto Los Cabos.  This amazing development is the brain child of the Sanchez Navarro family comprised of a father, at least two or three sons involved in the business and a nephew.  To date I have only had the pleasure of meeting Rafael who directs the sales and marketing, a deficiency I hope to remedy soon.  I did Google the rest of the family and they all look like stars of a Mexican telenovela. I would love to meet the rest of the “cast” even though in their midst I would no doubt look like one of those character actors brought in for comic relief!  Their company is aptly enough named Grupo Questro and, as you will read below, the entire family obviously shares my passionate quest for the best.

Golf Course at Puerto Los CabosPuerto Los Cabos is a planned development nestled in the hills of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains with its own spectacular marina and 18-hole golf course.   The existing course is the only course I have every played where the front nine was designed by one world-class architect, Jack Nicklaus and the back nine by an equally famous luminary, Greg Norman.  This marriage made in heaven, alas, is temporary seeing that the Greg Norman half will become the front nine of his own eighteen hole signature course and the Jack Nicklaus half will become the back nine of his own 18-hole course.  Nothing like picking out your next spouse while still married!  And you thought geography was complicated.

With the time I have remaining, I am going to tell you about two incredible resorts currently in progress (J. W. Marriott and Ritz Carlton Reserve) and then invite you to come back soon and read about two magnificent resort properties you can book right now (Secrets Puerto Los Cabos and El Ganzo).  Over an ice-cold Negra Modelo (the best beer in Mexico, by the way), Rafael explained to me that the construction I could see next door from where we were sitting on the terrace was a J. W. Marriott that is slated to open late this year. The best I can offer you at the moment are the various artist renderings below. To read a news release about the property, click here.

JW Marriott Puerto Los CabosIn case you are not aware, apparently Ritz Carlton was just not quite ritzy enough for some folks so a few years back they launched the Ritz Carlton Reserve brand.  This new property is described in their news release which you can read here.  “Nestled along 800 feet of oceanfront along Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, 124 private, single-story, oceanfront villas will each have breathtaking panoramic views across the Sea of Cortez in an area of outstanding natural beauty.”  Again, here is an artist rendering.

Ritz Carlton Reserve Puerto Los CabosLest you assume the only option today for visiting Puerto Los Cabos is bringing along a pup tent from home along with a can of pork and beans and a few matches, in the next several posts I will tell you about two remarkable places you can book now.  By way of a tease, while both are magnificent, one of these two is perhaps the most unusual and intriguing hotel concept I have ever seen!  It may take a couple of blog posts to do it justice.

I’ll be back soon.  Why don’t you invite a few friends to join us next time as we continue our “quest for the best”?  This will be one time I can promise you won’t be disappointed.  In fact, why not sign up to follow this blog and you will never have to be disappointed again?  Cheers!

A Blue Diamond In A Silver Setting

Have you been struggling over what to give the light of your life this Valentine’s Day? If you are a man, just admit it:  you’ve been struggling.  (I’m giving you a huge benefit of the doubt by assuming Valentine’s has even crossed your mind more that three weeks out!)  You needn’t panic.  I have the perfect suggestion.

It was Carol Channing in the Broadway production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes who introduced the song that Marilyn Monroe shortly thereafter turned into a bit of enduring American lore:  “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”.   You could do the diamond thing, a safe if uninspired choice.  I, however, have a better idea.  Rather than handing her a rock this Valentine’s, why not rock her world with a stay at the unforgettable Blue Diamond Riviera Maya?

Blue Diamond Luxury Resort

Here are a few thoughts to ponder and they’re all very powerful.  This property is all-inclusive (thus you know exactly what you will spend), all suites (who isn’t impressed when throwing open the doors to a suite) and all adults (if you need this benefit explained, maybe you should just buy a diamond).  So are you all in?

I know, I’m treating this weighty matter in much too cavalier a fashion.  We both know the stakes are extremely high since your credibility for, say . . . the next twenty years or so . . .is on the line.  You don’t have to tell me that most lovely ladies, not matter how delicate, have memories like six ton elephants.  Have you ever seen an elephant turn on a trainer?  Not pretty.  So let’s see if I can assuage your concerns.

Blue Diamond ResortSETTING

As with any diamond, you must consider the setting.  This luxurious property is positioned in the midst of 36 acres of lush tropical jungle. It fronts the tranquil, azure waters of the Caribbean Sea.  It rests in the midst of manicured gardens and is linked to the lapping ocean waves by a broad band of silvery sand.

CUISINE

If you are truly going to impress, both the dining and imbibing must comport with this significant occasion.  Even one mediocre meal or dubious drink is unacceptable.  Fortunately, in neither case will quality or variety disappoint.  You can share an incomparable gilded sunset at Aguamarina which features international cuisine coupled with a panoramic ocean view.

The Cigar Lounge at the Blue Diamond Riviera MayaIf your companion fancies Nouvelle Fusion, than you have obviously partnered way above your station since I am pretty sure neither one of us has a clue what that is.  But here is the great part!  Blue Diamond has a restaurant called Ambar which is all over Nouvelle Fusion like a duck on a junebug (granted an unfortunate turn of phrase giving we are discussing haute cuisine at the moment).

As for libations,  a chic rooftop bar called the Cigar Bar is the perfect location to sample a wide assortment of wine and spirits.  When craving a cappuccino or a tasty hot tea, Café Brulé is perfecto mundo as we like to pretentiously say whenever we chill out down on the Riviera.

ACCOMMODATIONS

If this is a romantic getaway for just the two of you, you just might be spending more than the normal amount of time in your room . . . ahem.  If that sounds about right, then the accommodations are of critical importance.

Suite at Blue Diamond Rivieria MayaIs it just me or does this private plunge pool have midnight skinny dipping written all over it?  Take a moment and read this page to learn all about the floor-to-ceiling windows, the plasma flatscreen TVs and the soothing rain shower.  (I’m thinking after the midnight skinny dipping you might need the rain shower to cool down!)

ACTIVITIES

Maybe it’s best we just move on to discussing the structured activities offered by the resort.  Those activities range from wine tastings and cooking classes to Spanish and yoga classes.  If you prefer to soak up a little more sun there is windsurfing, kayaking, sailing and introductory scuba diving lessons.

I invite you, as the resort itself likes to say, to “Uncover a dream destination amid the waves!”  Or, as we prefer to say, “Lend us your dreams and we will repay you with memories.”  Are we agreed then?  This Valentine’s you are going to give her a Blue Diamond set in silver sands!  Or, as my waiter unfailingly remarks with transparent flummery, “Good choice!”