If you’re visiting Los Cabos, plan a day of indulgence at the One&Only Palmilla spa.
People visit spas for many reasons: They are great places to relax, energize, de-stress, heal or unwind. But I’ll admit I go to spas to be pampered. If you are seeking the ultimate pampering experience in Los Cabos, Mexico, a visit to the sprawling 22,000-square-foot One & Only Palmilla spa will not disappoint.
Just walking along the footpaths on the grounds of the resort is much like visiting a lush botanical garden where you are surrounded by tropical greenery and colorful flowers, as birds and butterflies circle overhead. With the natural beauty of the setting and five-star service, the posh resort has become legendary as a getaway for celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Sheryl Crow, and Courtney Cox.
During a recent stay in Los Cabos, my friend Donna and I have decided to “gift” each other a day at the spa. We start our day of indulgence with a light lunch at Breeze, the resort’s casual bar and restaurant, created by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, which offers a selection of ceviches, sandwiches and salads. We dine on an alfresco terrace overlooking the pool, the beach and the Sea of Cortez as cool breezes wafted over the water. Then we poke into the carefully curated gift shop nearby, definitely worth a look.
As we begin to stroll towards the freestanding spa, a driver offers to take us there on his golf cart so we happily hop on board. The gracious spa, one of the most beautiful I’ve ever visited, wraps around an open-air courtyard (It is co-located beside the resort’s state-of-the-art gym and wellness center.)
Sign-in is efficient and friendly. We are soon led to a spacious locker room that offers every conceivable toiletry and amenity—from fruit to nuts (including fruits and nuts). The interior design is reminiscent of a hacienda with hand-painted ceramic sinks, dark wood furniture, and stucco walls that convey a sense of place. We couldn’t be anywhere else but Mexico.
Disposable underwear has become standard spa fare but this was the first time I have a plush terry robe with strategically placed buttons to prevent it from unfurling. A personal jewelry tray is waiting inside the locker, which has a hassle-free electronic locking system.
Once in our robes, we are led to an outdoor lounging area where the brilliant sunlight is filtered by giant palm trees. We begin to relax and unwind, resisting the temptation to chat. The climate in Baja California tends to be near perfect—as it is on this day—so we could have remained there for hours listening to the sounds of the running water from the nearby rock pool.
But soon Lucia comes and whisks me away to my private spa villa as another operator comes for Donna. The technician explains that the resort has 13 treatment rooms, seven of them open-air villas enclosed by curved stone walls and greenery for privacy. In addition to a climate-controlled massage pavilion outfitted with a private bathroom and shower, each spa villa has an outdoor whirlpool and queen-size Mexican day bed nestled among the trees.
From an exhaustive menu of services and different healing therapies, I signed up for a classic one-hour, 20-minute Swedish message. The experience begins outdoors with an indulgent foot message and scrub, during which time Lucia introduces herself, explains the treatment and asks me what type of pressure I want her to apply. “Gentle,” I reply.
The climate in the treatment room is perfect and it is hard to distinguish the music (ocean sounds and birds) from the outdoor sounds. The massage table is uber-comfortable with electronic controls so instead of having to raise my legs on a wedged piece of foam, Lucia is able to raise and lower the end of the table. The massage is so relaxing and soothing that I drift off to sleep before it is over.
Afterwards, I have access to my private outdoor patio surrounded by foliage. I shower, plunge into the Jacuzzi au natural, and get back into my robe to hydrate with bottled water, sip some tea, and savor fruit kabobs on my daybed. When Lucia comes to tell me that this experience has come to an end, I float out after her.
The bottom line
The One&Only Palmilla spa is truly unique because of its flawless service and the way it seamlessly flows between indoors and outside. As you might guess, prices at the spa are also for the rich and famous but when everything seems pitch perfect it is hard to complain. Every girl deserves a day of indulgence and pampering. Whether you visit with a girlfriend, spouse, or alone, soon after you leave, you’ll yearn to return to this special sanctuary for the body, mind and spirit.
IF YOU GO