As travelers start planning their fall and winter escapes to the sun, Mexico looms large in imaginations. It’s so close, so sunny, and works equally well as a beach-bum getaway, a family vacation, a sporty adventure destination, a romantic resort escape, or a sophisticated foodies’ hot spot.
But just one year ago Baja California, and particularly Los Cabos, was facing something much more challenging than the usual busy tourist season: rebuilding after Hurricane Odile, a category 3 storm which made landfall on September 14 and decimated the area.
Amazingly, Los Cabos has rebounded with the speed of a superhero. The video below, put together by the Los Cabos Tourism Board, shows just how extensive the damage was — and how fast the rebuild was.
We checked in with Julie Byrd, Wendy’s Trusted Travel Expert for Los Cabos, to get her insider opinion on how her favorite spot on the Baja Peninsula has recovered. Julie specializes in villa rentals, and her company can also arrange fishing and yacht charters, ground transportation, celebrations, and guided tours. A foodie at heart, Byrd has strong opinions on everything from local taquerias to fine dining, so be sure to ask her for recommendations when you get in touch.
What’s the lay of the land now: Where is it okay to travel?
I am confident in saying that it is okay to travel to any of the resort areas and private housing communities of Los Cabos. The downtown area of Cabo San Lucas, the marina and luxury developments throughout the tourist corridor and extending to Puerto Los Cabos and the East Cape, are in excellent shape.
In fact, something very cool was uncovered as a result of Odile: the sunken cargo ship Lundenberg, which went down off the coast of Cabo San Lucas in 1954. You can watch an underwater video here.
Which hotels have reopened or are reopening? Are villa rentals an option now too? If so, where is best?
We’ve actually had a lot of villas available since shortly after the hurricane. In fact, we had very high occupancy during the winter holiday season last year. Only two of our properties were not ready for the December holidays. At this time, more than 100 Los Cabos rental villas are available.
As for hotels, the bulk of Cabo’s hotel inventory is back, with a few notable exceptions with reopening dates extending into 2016. Some resorts took the opportunity not only to repair after the storm but to undertake extensive remodels. I’m happy to see that the luxury boutique Hotel El Ganzo will be reopening soon at the Puerto Los Cabos marina—it is a personal favorite.
We have been maintaining a list of hotel reopening dates on our blog. The only hotels that have not reopened are:
Casa del Mar Resort – opening October 2015
El Ganzo – opening October 2015
Dreams Los Cabos – opening October 2015
Me Cabo – opening December 2015
Melia Cabo Real – tentatively opening April 1, 2016
Westin – July 1, 2016
I personally stayed at Villa Estero, located in the private development of Fundadores (in Puerto Los Cabos, San Jose), in May and found it to be among the best Los Cabos has to offer. It is an up-and-coming area, where celebs and the like are now staying for the luxury and privacy the community offers. It has a championship golf course, close access to the PLC Marina and great restaurants, a private beach club and—best of all—brand-new, amazing villas.
Are there any places travelers should avoid?
Visitors should be cognizant of construction projects taking place in areas such as Cabo Real, where they are building two new hotels, Solaz and LeBlanc Spa Resort.
When is the best time to visit?
The winter months are, by far, the most popular time of year. The migrating whales begin arriving in Cabo around December. Peak season for our private villas is Christmas/New Year’s. The region remains busy throughout the spring, with low-season deals starting in May and lasting throughout the hot summer months. Another good time is early November, when you have similar weather and thinner crowds, plus the big-game fishing is fantastic and the water is still warm.
What else do travelers need to know?
Our palm trees had some pretty extreme haircuts.