Surviving the Storm: One&Only Palmilla

One&Only Palmilla via
Last September, the Category 3 Hurricane Odile walloped Los Cabos, Mexico, leaving widespread devastation in her wake. That included a number of top-shelf resorts, which were left shuttered during what should have been their busiest time of year. I made my first visit to Los Cabos in January 2010, during that sweet spot in the year when skies are clear, the air is crisp, and Humpback and Gray whales make their electrifying annual appearance offshore. Add to that experience the fact that the trip was my first-ever to Mexico and that it brought some respite during a personally trying time, and you can understand why Los Cabos holds a special place in my heart. It was painful to think of that little slice of paradise uprooted and overturned by the monster storm. So, five years and six return trips to Mexico later, I was ecstatic beyond measure when an opportunity came up last month to not only go back to Los Cabos but to stay at One&Only Palmilla, the famously posh resort at the tip of the Baja California peninsula. It had been on my bucket list since I first experienced—and fell in love with—Los Cabos. The resort re-opened on April 20 with a laundry list of post-storm upgrades, improvements, and additions, including a new Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, completely refurbished guest rooms and suites, and an all-new spa. This being my first stay at One&Only Palmilla, I had no frame of reference for pre- and post-storm comparisons, but I didn’t need one to know that this place was back and better than ever.One&Only Palmilla via
As a first-timer to One&Only Palmilla, had I not already known about Odile, I would’ve had no clue that a hurricane had ever roared through here. There was not a pebble, palm frond, or blade of grass out of place.IMG_6520 IMG_6521 IMG_6524 IMG_6525 IMG_6527 IMG_6539
Beaches in Los Cabos aren’t ideal for swimming. They’re rocky, and the waves are no joke. But at One&Only Palmilla, guests can take a dip at Pelican Beach. IMG_6544 IMG_6563 IMG_6576 IMG_6595
On the other side of the resort, these vendors sat patiently for ages on Turtle Beach, awaiting beachgoers to buy their wares. IMG_6597
They gave up on me quickly when they realized I was only trying to get close to the insane sea spray. IMG_6600 IMG_6601 IMG_6602 IMG_6606
Have you ever seen such chicness in your life?IMG_6610 IMG_6613
These cabanas on the very un-swimmable Turtle Beach quickly became my favorite spot on the property.
This woman was stopped in her tracks by the giant waves like I had been a few minutes before. I watched her watching them, which yielded a few of my favorite photos from the trip. IMG_6641 IMG_6644 IMG_6648 IMG_6666 One&Only Palmilla via
We didn’t have sunny weather the entire time, but even under cloud cover there were lots of colors to enjoy. These painted tiles were my favorite design touch at the resort. IMG_6348
Views of the Sea of Cortez from the lawn of Agua by Larbi, the resort’s Mexican restaurant, were, as you can see, bananas. IMG_6373 IMG_6375
The Sea of Cortez made for some of the best guest-room views I’ve seen in all my travels. IMG_6386
Mexico is home to some truly darling churches, like this tiny, pristine white one. It sits atop a hill overlooking the property and is used by locals.
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I happily checked in at a temple of a different kind—the spa. Its treatment villas were each tucked away behind an arched wooden door, Secret Garden-style.
One&Only Palmilla via IMG_6392
Tiny bouquet of flowers swirled around a copper sculpture in its courtyard. So. Much. Serenity.IMG_6504
The opening of Seared, a steakhouse by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, seemed like one of the highlights of the resort’s re-opening. And rightfully so. So attune to my melt-in-your-mouth yellowfin and buttery burrata was I that I almost missed seeing Joshua Jackson and Diane Kruger slink away from their table seconds after asking a server to pass their compliments to the chef.
Seared has its own display-style meat curing room, which, well, okay.  
One&Only Palmilla via
A few steps away is Suviche, which, as the name implies, serves sushi and ceviche. What it doesn’t imply is that it’ll ruin you for life. Don’t eat here until you’re ready to swear off everyone else’s sushi and ceviche. Forever.  IMG_6330 IMG_6332
Once in their rooms, guests are treated to a little tequila welcome amenity…IMG_6291
…which I appreciated from this spot on my balcony.IMG_6295
Details, details. Painted sinks, pebbled backsplashes, and intricate tiles were a few of my favorite in-room elements. They made the place feel like it was filled with love. IMG_6304 IMG_6303 IMG_6298 IMG_6309 IMG_6310
I’m always a little sad to see the sun rise on the last day of a trip, but never more so than on this one. I woke up early and headed straight for Turtle Beach for some more wave watching, followed by breakfast overlooking the pool.  IMG_6739 IMG_6745 IMG_6750 IMG_6754 IMG_6755 IMG_6758 IMG_6764 IMG_6765 IMG_6766 IMG_6769
Sipping coffee, savoring the view, and feeling pretty grateful for an amazing experience. Welcome back, One&Only Palmilla!  One&Only Palmilla via
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P.S. Stay tuned for a couple more posts about my stay at One&Only Palmilla, including an awesome yacht and an Eden-esque farm.

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