Diving and More at the Fiesta Americana
By Denise Mattia
Cabañas on a beach? There didn’t seem to be anything special about lounging on beds in little houses on the sand that had thatch for roofs and curtains for windows. As a mature woman alone, the idea didn’t appeal to me . . . until recently. What caused this change of attitude was an assignment at the Fiesta Americana Grand Los Cabos Golf and Spa Resort, in Baja, California, Mexico. I’d been wined and dined like a queen while there, and was offered a cabaña for the last day of my stay as well. That day proved to be one of the most enjoyable times of my life.
Located on the southernmost tip of the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico, Los Cabos is comprised of the primary tourist destinations of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose de Cabo, as well as the corridor, which joins both towns. The resort is about a ten-minute drive from Cabo San Lucas.
I hadn’t been to this area in 14 years and was happy to note during the transfer from the airport to the resort that the terrain hadn’t been destroyed by the extensive development. Most of the properties are constructed close to or along the mountainsides using the proportions, design and structural refinement reminiscent of Classical Mayan architecture. I settled in easily, taking advantage of a yacht race and a two-tank scuba dive, which the resort offers.
Some of the world’s richest waters are in the Sea of Cortez. The reefs consist of mounds and boulders of volcanic substrata blanketed with encrusting sponges, groups of flower corals and mollusks. Divers come for close encounters with whales, dolphins and sea lions; to swim among turtles, hammerheads and pacific mantas; and to see marlin, sailfish and schools of amberjacks and snappers. Diving here is like being hungry at a buffet banquet — one keeps going back for more. For my scuba jaunt I went with Manta Scuba. Their boat approached Los Islotes, two connecting islands that are permanent breeding grounds for hundreds of sea lions and a lesser count of pelicans, frigates and boobie birds, all of which created a din of protestation as we anchored close to the narrow, guano-covered islands. Below us are massive blocks of basalt, cleaved by weathering in a distant millennium, askew on the ocean floor. Diving in, I moved toward the shallow coast and into a thick school of amberjacks, which almost blocked my vision completely. On the second dive I waited for the sea lions without success. They were too busy sunning themselves on the rocks, and their dinner bell hadn’t gone off. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be another 14 years before seeing them frolic underwater again. Still, it was a great dive and I returned to the resort, happy, sated from diving, and hungry for food.
Back at Fiesta
Executive Chef at Fiesta Americana Grand Los Cabos Golf and Spa Resort Gerardo Rivera’s fusion cuisine consists of creations that are inspired by regional dishes alongside Asian and southern European specialties. He prepares courses and oversees the main restaurants. The vineyards from estates in the Valle de Guadalupe region in the northern part of Baja California Mexico produce world-class quality wines in limited quantities, which are selected by the Fiesta’s Resident Sommelier, Jonathan Verdusco, who pairs his wines with each dining experience. Jonathan told me the grapes and wines from Baja had been used for various rituals for centuries and that today they’re an integral part of the resort. The “Barefoot Elegant Dinner” uses wine in nearly every form. The experience includes a wine aperitif, a wine-stomping, foot exfoliant in grapes, a soporific foot and head and shoulder massage, an exceptional wine tasting and finally, dinner. In under a week I’d become a gourmand and, although I’m not sorry I didn’t turn down a single morsel or sip of wine, I thought it best on the last day to ease up on the calorie intake. Jonathan provided me with the means: a cabaña on the beach. I knew a couple of hours would be taken up by the Somma Wine Spa massage and facial, for which I’d been scheduled, and reasoned I could tolerate a cabana for a while. My camera and iPad would keep me company.
Ah: Life in the Cabana
I made myself at home, letting down the curtain in the rear. Since a couple occupied the cabana adjacent to mine, I drew the covering between us and purposely left the other side open to have a view of the wide beach and the sea, which looked like a crumpled sapphire blue tablecloth speckled with white lint – like what happens to fabric when an errant tissue is caught in the “colors” laundry.
The warm sun filtered through the thatch roof and provided luxurious warmth in contrast to the cool breezes. I could have moved to the shaded couch or the lounge chairs. Instead, I sat perched about three feet above the sand on the king-size bed in a yoga position and watched the world go by. A waiter appeared with a bottle of lemon-scented water attached to a portable fan — a refreshing spritzer — a tray of fruit and a platter of giant red and white grapes. Some were coated with sugar. An ice bucket with bottles of Perrier accompanied the gifts. A little while later, a masseuse appeared to give me a reflexology treatment, using grape seed extract and oils to exfoliate and soothe my feet and legs.
When she left, I ate the juicy fruits, drank the Perrier and felt very much like the sovereign ruler of a distant land. Although drowsy, I was enjoying this interlude alone. Having fallen asleep when I’d planned to keep my eyes peeled for humpback whales, I awakened in time to walk over to the spa. There I was cleansed, rubbed down, massaged and anointed from head to toe with fragrant wine products. Rejuvenated, I returned to my cabaña to watch the sun set and enjoy a light snack accompanied by an excellent Chardonnay. Since the Baja peninsula is one of the safest places in Mexico,
I don’t think anyone would have bothered me had I spent the night there. I didn’t, although tempted. The following morning, my little house hadn’t been cordoned off. I climbed the steps, sat perched on the bad and looked out to sea for the last time, thinking what a wonderful experience this had been. With luck, I might enjoy it again, all by myself.
A writer and photographer, Denise Mattia’s works are published nationally and internationally and include all aspects of leisure travel: art , culture, resorts, spas, food and wine and sports’ activities. She's the founder of the soon to be launched Yum-Yum-Traveler, a site devoted to reviewing restaurants in addition to her travel articles from around the world. She lives and works in Manhattan, where she was born.