Mexico for Lovers: The Rebirth of Esperanza

A year after the hurricane, the Cabo San Lucas resort is redesigned, refreshed, and more romantic than ever

A palette of pale woods and understated textiles allows interiors to complement—yet not distract from—the seaside scenery.
A palette of pale woods and understated textiles allows interiors to complement—yet not distract from—the seaside scenery.

When you wake to the sight of the Sea of Cortez stretching out before you, chances are it will be a very good day indeed. Such is the promise of each morning at Esperanza, whose subtle yet stunning transformation is proof positive of Cabo San Lucas’s resurgence. If you had any doubts that the Baja California resort town would fully recover after last year’s Hurricane Odile, Esperanza is enough to dispel them.

A courtyard garden at the property's spa.
A courtyard garden at the property's spa.

There’s obvious pride at work here, from affable general manager Marc Rodriguez to the sincere and warm-hearted staff, and the mood is reflected in the surroundings. For its redesign, the Auberge Resorts property tapped Mary Alice Palmer of Dallas-based firm HKS Hospitality Group. Palmer’s interiors expertly balance showstopping moments and areas of restraint, an effect that parallels the sensibility of the landscape. You feel alternately lulled into serenity (the sea, the spa treatments, the excellent margaritas) and then startled into realizing the sheer beauty of your surroundings. As Palmer says, “It’s about melting into a more natural state.”

A multitiered dining area at Cocina del Mar, one of the property's restaurants, is set into the cliffs (and lit at night for the full effect).
A multitiered dining area at Cocina del Mar, one of the property's restaurants, is set into the cliffs (and lit at night for the full effect).

THE PUBLIC AREAS

Set on the cliffs known as Punta Ballena (“Whale Point”), the resort takes full advantage of the drama of its setting. The sound of wind chimes greets guests upon arrival, and the view unfolds in superbly calculated fashion: the washed-gray and sandstone hues of the hardscaping and the ceviche bar’s sun-bleached palapa roof direct the eye to the water. Center stage in the entry plaza: a minimalist fire feature of COR-TEN steel by Portland, Oregon artist Elena Colombo that calls to mind an elegant beach bonfire.

Esperanza's new ceviche bar, with a custom light fixture that evokes coastal flotsam.
Esperanza's new ceviche bar, with a custom light fixture that evokes coastal flotsam.
An initial sketch by designer Mary Alice Palmer, and (at right) the finished product.
An initial sketch by designer Mary Alice Palmer, and (at right) the finished product.

The understated decor of the property’s signature restaurant, Cocina del Mar, does justice to its water’s-edge location. Pesca Ceviche Bar, however, while staying in the same color family, is a bit more playful: the central light fixture, with its glowing orbs, evokes bits of beautiful flotsam and jetsam.

Woven leather headboards serve as focal points in guestrooms. 
Woven leather headboards serve as focal points in guestrooms. 
His-and-hers showers, and a hammock with a view.
His-and-hers showers, and a hammock with a view.

THE GUEST ROOMS

“Think of this as a reinterpretation of Mexican craft,” says Palmer of her interiors. “It can be quite different from the bright folkloric designs we’re used to; it can be done in a softer palette.” Natural materials, including woven leather headboards and driftwood-hued furnishings, create a sensuous backdrop for hand-embroidered Oaxacan textiles in soft blues, grays, and whites. Metal sconces and lanterns made in Guadalajara add to the all-important mood lighting. Thanks to expansive sliding doors and a private terrace, the delineation between room and landscape is a delicate nuance.

Extra-high ceilings allow for generous canopies.
Extra-high ceilings allow for generous canopies.

THE SPA

Down pebble-lined paths and past trickling fountains and heavy wood doors lies a secret garden filled with sculptural plants. The atmosphere is of a gracious hacienda; chairs are lined under the shade of a palapa, with healthy snacks and lemon-and-mint-infused waters within easy reach.

The relaxation garden at the resort spa.
The relaxation garden at the resort spa.

THE DETAILS

Working with some of the country’s most renowned artisans, Palmer and her team honed every element to a considered whole. At the heart of the ceviche bar, artist Adrián Guerrero of Guadalajara created an eye-catching wall installation inspired by barnacles on the rocks. Latilla-screen cabanas amid the palms are draped for extra privacy. And the multilevel pool, with its indigo tile and in-water chaise longues overlooking the beach, is what once-in-a-lifetime moments are made for.

A wall installation in the bar by ceramic artisan Adrian Guerrero brings to mind barnacles on the cliffs.
A wall installation in the bar by ceramic artisan Adrian Guerrero brings to mind barnacles on the cliffs.
The poolside cabana area as sketched by Mary Alice Palmer, and (at right) one of the latilla-screen cabanas.
The poolside cabana area as sketched by Mary Alice Palmer, and (at right) one of the latilla-screen cabanas.

Special offer for Lonny readers

Three-night package at Esperanza, including daily breakfast at Cocina del Mar; complimentary ceviche tasting; and two $50 spa credits. Upgrade at check-in if available. Call 855-803-3259 for information and booking.

In-water lounge chairs and an infinity-edge experience turn the Esperanza pool into a memorable design moment.
In-water lounge chairs and an infinity-edge experience turn the Esperanza pool into a memorable design moment.
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