I’m the type of guy that likes a really in-depth review. When a new macOS comes out, I enjoy the 10 – 15 page coverage some tech blogs give going over every detail rather than the 1 page summary that you get from others. This is my attempt to give that type of review to a vacation property: Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach. Hopefully you’ll get some answers that you won’t get from other types of reviews. Hopefully at least one person who reads this finds it useful.
There are some limitations however. Most good reviews compare a product to other products. When the new iPhone comes out, reviewers compare it to phones from Google and others. Sadly, in this case, that isn’t possible because I’ve only stayed at this one property. And when driving down the major beach road here, it is obvious there are other beautiful properties here. For that, you’re going to have to figure it out on your own or listen to a professional reviewer who has the privilege of staying at more than one.
With all that out of the way, I love Sunset Beach. It is a beautiful property with attentive, friendly staff. Read on for the details.
Overall: 5 out of 5
The Location: 5
The Property: 5
The Rooms: 5
Staff / Service: 4
All Inclusive: 3
The Spa: 5
The Beach: 2
For the rest of this review I’ll use SB for Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach.
Most of the resorts in Cabo are located on the Bay. This gives them a few advantages: they are walking distance from downtown, the beaches are swimmable and you feel like you’re more in the middle of the action.
SB is located on the southern most tip of Baja California and is on the other side of the ridge that separates the bay from the Pacific Ocean. This results in some trade offs. On the negative side, you’re about 15 minutes from downtown. The beaches are not swimmable because the currents are too strong.
However, the positives are really, really positive. If you want a beautiful view, this is your resort. SB is built into the side of a mountain and the buildings are all about 4 stories and staggered up the mountain. This means that every room as a beautiful view of the ocean.
Also, the resort is more secluded than other resorts. With resorts on the bay, basically all the properties have been developed and it is one hotel after another. With SB, there is no other resort on your immediate left or immediate right (PB Pacifica is down the beach on the right, but a decent distance away). I think this ends up feeling more peaceful and relaxing.
A note on maintenance: while the property is exceptionally well maintained, I’m not sure the building codes are up to American standards. You see little things like cracks in some walkway walls or a missing pool tile from time to time. Nothing that major and nothing to worry about, but I do notice it.
Score: 5 out of 5
In the lobby looking at the front desk
Chandelier in the main lobby
Interesting wicker figurines by the entrance to the lobby bar
Something biblical, but I forget exactly what
Another shot of the lobby
Decorations in the lobby
This is out on the lobby deck
The lobby deck looking out
The lobby deck looking back at the building and the fountains
View from the lobby deck looking right
View from the lobby deck looking left
Straight on view from the lobby deck
Fountain in driveway of main lobby
Agave plant in foyer of main lobby
The front desk
The front gates
SB seems to mainly attract couples and families. While I’m sure there are people from around the world there, I’ve mostly seen Americans and Mexicans. For families, there are lots of activities for kids including the Kids Club. Our kids are older, so we didn’t use that, but it seems this gives parents a break to be by themselves occasionally.
If I were young and single and hoping to party a lot, I’m not sure this would be the best resort. However, all of the action is a short bus ride away, so if you’re young and single and want to party, but want a quiet place to retreat to at times, then this would probably be a great option. Or if you just don’t want to get hit on while you’re at your resort.
The property is gorgeous. No qualifiers. No disclaimers. They’ve used high quality materials throughout. That includes the pools, restaurants, rooms, everywhere. You definitely get the feeling that you’re at a 5 star resort.
When you first approach the property, you go through an official front entrance with a guard or two. You then take a long, winding road (but not that bad; don’t worry about motion sickness or anything like that) and approach the main building through a big gate. You enter a courtyard with a big fountain in the center with the lobby on the right. This is also where the bell hops are located. There is a long covered patio with rocking chairs which is a great place to wait for taxis, shuttles to the airport, etc.
The main building with the lobby, concierge, the sales center, a bar, two restaurants, a general store and more is immaculately decorated. There are big chandeliers, paintings, statues, tapestries and more with ample seating in the middle. It is truly a great first impression. For a resort of this size, I expected the front desk to be a little bigger. It can get backed up there during main check-in and check-out times.
The landscaping is beautiful with plenty of palm trees, fresh flowers and other local fauna. No matter where you go, everything is well manicured. Every day we were there, there were gardeners tending to the property. If you look off the property to either the right or left, you see the natural habitat, which is a coastal desert with lots of rocks, cacti, etc. It is beautiful in its own right. When you look on the property itself, it has more of a tropical feel with lush plants, flowers, etc. With the water situation on the west coast of North America, I’m not sure how sustainable it is, but it is beautiful.
They also have a couple of interesting features in a flamingo habitat and a small aviary for some local birds. These are probably something that you won’t spend more than a couple of minutes looking at, but it is a nice touch.
Score: 5 out of 5
There was one lone flower on this bush and I took a picture of it
One of the bus stops
One of the golf cart / walking paths
Example of some of the landscaping
A small waterfall
Example of some of the stairs you could use if you didn’t want to use a golf cart
One of the many fountains on the property
The courtyard out in front of the spa, gym, gift store, chapel, etc.
Entrance to the chapel
Gates to the chapel
The front of the Gift shop
Another view of the courtyard
They have artwork on some of the outside walls. this is in the courtyard.
The main lobby building has a row of rocking chairs outside. This is where you can wait for a cab or your shuttle bus.
View from the lobby deck looking left
The front gates
Some of the grounds
You can see how lush and green everything is.
The rooms are outstanding. For starters, everything is very clean. The staff does a great job of cleaning everything and I’ve only walked into immaculate rooms. Even the smallest rooms (junior executive suites) have big beds, a dining room table with chairs, a chair, a kitchenette and private balcony with ocean views. The patio had two comfortable chairs and a table.
They all have tile floors, which I like sooooo much better than carpet. The rooms are well appointed with everything you need for your stay including the previously mentioned kitchenette.. I’m not sure how much cooking you’ll do while you’re there, but it is really nice to have a bigger than normal hotel refrigerator.
The bedding is great with night stands on either side. There are reading lights on both sides of the headboards and one alarm clock that has a lighting connected for charging iPhones (and a USB port for charging anything else). There is even a pillow menu that lets you choose between 4 types of pillows. We stayed with the default options and they were great.
The console that houses the TV also has 6 dresser drawers. That is in addition to his and hers closets that have 3 – 4 more drawers each in addition to space to hang clothes. I’m going to guess that the TV was either a 37″ or 42″ flat screen. There were probably about 30 channels available, but at least half of them were in Spanish. There were the main US channels (ABC, CBS, NBC & Fox), ESPN, Fox Sports, HBO and Cinemax. I think I remember USA Network, History Channel and a couple of others. Hopefully you’re not in Mexico to watch TV 🙂
I’m not sure if every room has a WiFi router mounted in the room, but ours did. The WiFI connection was strong. I think it was 802.11g rather than the newer .11n or .11ac, but that won’t be the limiting factor. That would be the internet connection itself. I measured the download and upload speeds via speedtest.net at roughly 1 Mbit up / 1 Mbit down. My 3G T-Mobile connection was actually faster. That said, it seemed to be able to handle everything no matter where I was in the resort and that included Facetime calls.
One complaint would be the overall lack of outlets and the ones that are there aren’t located very well.
The bathroom is a good size with a separate water closet with the toilet and a separate walk in shower. Like the rooms themselves, they are made from very nice materials and feel luxurious. There is no bathtub however and only one vanity, so you’re going to have to learn to share. My wife liked that they included a lighted makeup mirror and a blow dryer. The room also comes with a safe, iron and ironing board.
Overall, whatever they paid their interior designers was worth it.
Score: 5 out of 5
The standard king size bed in a junior suite. It was very comfortable.
The semi-private patio
View from the bed to the dining area
View from the patio out. We were in building #46.
Staff / Service
I’m going to break this down into two sections: attitude/friendliness and speed/efficiency.
My wife and I have no interacted with probably over 50 SB employees and they are all genuinely nice, caring people. They understand they are in the service industry and they’ve all been trained well. Everyone is helpful. Everyone will point you in the right direction or offer to make anything right. Simply put, we haven’t come across a single bad apple or malcontent. It adds so much to the vacation experience to know that the staff is there for you. I simply couldn’t be happier with that aspect of service.
Everyone tries to help with special requests, like avoiding certain foods or having your drinks made a particular way. This includes the concierge staff, waiters, bartenders, house cleaning, bell hops, the guys that drive the carts, everyone.
Score: 5 out of 5
Speed / Efficiency
While this never prevented us from having a good time, the first real fly in the ointment is service speed. And frankly, this was everywhere. It seems to take a long time to check-in or check-out. One person that was helping us blamed the computers and I have no reason not to believe them. In other cases, it can take a while for a waiter to greet you when you first sit down in a restaurant. Or to bring you your check at the pool. I get that you’re on vacation and don’t want to rush things, but this goes beyond that.
One exception to this is the kitchens. Once your food is ordered, it seems to come out in a timely manner.
I’m honestly not sure why this is the case, but one obvious, potential answer would be staffing, but I really don’t think that is the case. Everywhere you go there are tons of staff. And they all care once they are there. I also won’t say this is a deal breaker in any way. It is just something I noticed multiple times.
Score: 3 out of 5
Now for the next fly in the ointment: the all-inclusive. It is exactly what they say it is: you pay one price and all your food and beverages (including alcohol) are covered. This includes all the restaurants at this property and 3 others, food and drinks by the pool, room service, everything. It also includes WiFi and access to the gym and spa.
Now there are some up-charges. La Frida requires a $30 per person up-charge. While the house alcohol is all recognizable brands, if you want something premium, that is an up-charge. One example of this is that Johny Walker Red Label is included, but if you want Black Label you have to pay. The Quivira Steakhouse is an extra $35 per person and Fellini’s at Pueblo Bonito Rose is a $15 up-charge.
Tips are included for some things, but at most restaurants and bars you are expected to tip. Which brings me to three points that call me to label the all-inclusive a fly in the ointment. 1) the price doesn’t appear to be fixed and it almost feels like a car negotiation. As owners, we’re supposed to get a discount on the all-inclusive. I have no faith that this actually happens. Even as owners, we’re quoted one price before we arrive, one when we get there, another if we take advantage of specials, etc. List price for non-owners is $140 per day (as of Oct 2016), but there is no way I’d pay more than $70-$80 per day per person based on my experiences and you can definitely do better than that. 2) even though “some tips are included” I felt like I was tipping the entire time I was there. Now, many moons ago I worked in the restaurant industry, so I’m more than comfortable tipping, but this felt excessive. I’d rather pay more for the all-inclusive and know that the staff is taken care of. 3) I heard a rumor from another owner that the house takes 50% of the tips that are billed to the room and the remainder is divided by the staff. I HATE THIS. This owner explained that she always tips in cash so the staff can keep all the money. Now, in fairness, I have no way of knowing this is true. For all I know, a staff member lied to her so that she would tip in cash and then not have to share with their co-workers, but now I’m thinking about this and I don’t want to think about this. Maybe this is happening, maybe it isn’t, but overall it left me with a slightly bad taste in my mouth.
Next, you have to sign for everything. I’ve stayed at other all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and if you have your wristband, they just give you your food and/or drinks. At SB, you’re basically starting a check for every transaction and you have to sign for it. I get that this gives them more control, but I believe the real reason is they want you to add a tip. Again, I’m fine with tipping and even enjoy rewarding someone for great service, but I feel like I signed 100 times during my 8 days there.
My preferred solution would be to charge me whatever you need to charge me so the staff can be paid fairly. Don’t ask for a room number if I’m just asking for a beer by the pool. I don’t know how this compares to other resorts and may just be my thoughts about all-inclusive plans in general.
Finally, one of the wonderful things about going to Cabo is that the town itself is awesome and filled with wonderful restaurants. Once you commit to the all-inclusive, you feel like you are double paying if you leave the property to eat, which is a terrible feeling. I think the all-inclusive has its place, but not at the expense of going into town and experiencing the real Mexican culture. It would be great if SB offered a drinks only all-inclusive or a breakfast and lunch all-inclusive that included the gym, spa and Wifi, but they don’t, so you have to choose.
Score: 3 out of 5
Restaurants / Food
My first general comment is that they do Mexican food very, very well. I had a Chili Relleno that was simply excellent. Once they get away from Mexican food though, its not quite as good. I’m not saying it is bad, but you’re not going to confuse their pasta for a great quality pasta at a good Italian restaurant. New Yorkers aren’t going to rave about their pizza. If you stay in their wheelhouse though, you will be quite happy.
My second general comment is that they do a terrible job of labeling dishes. I hate mushrooms for example, and I ordered something that didn’t have mushrooms listed, but had it in the dish. In another instance, I thought I was eating a vegetarian lentil stew, but found out it had meat in it. This happened constantly. If you have specific dietary requirements, you’re going to have to ask about almost everything. The good news was that the staff seemed to know the answers to most questions and was willing to help with any special requests.
Also, if you want to consistently eat healthy, it is harder at SB than it needs to be. There will certainly be something for you and you won’t go hungry, but your options are much more limited than someone who will eat anything. This is particularly true in the bars and at the pool. And good luck if you’re a strict vegetarian or especially if you’re a vegan. The lack of options and ambiguity in labeling will drive you crazy.
There are 7 restaurants on the property with more food options going in. Here is a quick snippet on all of them.
La Frida: this is the best restaurant. It is really good Mexican fine dining and definitely worth an up-charge over the rest of the restaurants. According to TripAdvisor, it is one of the top 15 places to eat in Cabo out of over 500 restaurants. They have a great wine list, but of course, that is an up-charge too. That seems fair to me because, hey, if you want a great wine at any restaurant, you’re going to have to pay for it. They have a good menu with excellent modern takes on classic Mexican dishes. They even come around occasionally with the Amuse Busch or a cordial. There was a pianist playing and overall the atmosphere was fantastic.
Tazuna: they just opened a Japanese & Sushi restaurant and we quite liked it. They have the usual assortment of rolls, appetizers, soups, tempura, etc. Two disappointments were the lack of saki and japanese beer, but overall the food was very good. This was probably our second favorite restaurant.
Zap Shen: a Chinese themed restaurant located by the spa. Overall, this was pretty good. Pretty standard Chinese food offerings with the highlights being the sauces.
La Nao: this is where the breakfast buffet is located (in addition to one at the Bistro) as well as the dinner buffet and it is right by the main pool. It is a great location. The buffet itself is just okay. There is certainly a good selection of food, but nothing that was truly inspired. The dinner buffet is a rotating them night with, for example, Friday’s being Caribbean night, Saturday’s BBQ, etc. On a lot of nights they also brought in local vendors selling their wares like a mini art market. What makes this great is they are not allowed to be pushy the way you experience some markets in Mexico.
The Bistro: located in the main lobby one floor down from the front desk. La Frida is also located here. The Bistro also has a breakfast buffet, which makes it more convenient for people located higher on the hill. I would describe this as their “base level” restaurant. It is certainly better than the food you get by the pools, but not as good as La Frida or the specialty restaurants. This is a great spot for a quick, tasty lunch.
Steakhouse at Quivira: we didn’t get over there to eat. You need to take a van over to the golf course and it was a $35 up-charge. Pictures looked beautiful and we’ll definitely try it next time.
Taqueria: Didn’t try it, but just because it was located on the other side of the resort from our room. Normally I love tacos, so I’ll give that one a go next time.
Manila Bar: located by the main pool and La Nao. It has indoor and outdoor seating and lots of TVs. If there is an American sporting event that you’d like to watch, this is the place to do it. The food is limited and just ok.
Sunrise Coffee. They have a transportation terminal that is where you go to catch the free shuttle to the other resorts, bus to Quivira, etc. There is a coffee shop on the patio here that makes lattes, cappuccinos, etc. They also make smoothies, have some ice cream and have some baked goods. Coming Soon: they are building some more food options in the main building of the transportation hub. They’ve said it will be done in Dec 2016, but they haven’t said what is going there. I would anticipate that Sunrise Coffee will move back inside and that there will be other food options. It looks like it is going to be some sort of food court. (Note: if anyone reads this review after it opens, I’d love to know what they put in.)
The pools: you can order a limited menu at any of the pools. I really enjoyed the nachos and most of the stuff looked pretty decent.
Room service: pretty much the same food you can get at The Bistro with an additional pizza menu that looks pretty good.
I think one glaring omission is a smoothie bar considering how hot Mexico gets. Sunrise coffee and a couple of the restaurants offer basic smoothies, but they are lackluster compared to what you would expect at a good smoothie bar. Hopefully they put one in at the new food court.
And finally, a note on the bartenders. I mentioned already that everyone is friendly and cares deeply, but I never came across a great bartender. Someone that would make you a signature drink or something out of the ordinary. They mainly just pour what you ask and make simple cocktails. Considering the rest of the resort is pretty high end, it would be great to have an upscale bar with high quality cocktails.
Score: 4 out of 5 (but seriously, go into town)
The lobby bar
The bistro. You can see the desert display and the open kitchen in the background.
The bistro seating area
A tree in the middle of the outdoor dining at Tazuna
Foyer to La Frida
My wife and I both spent one afternoon at the spa and it was pretty great. Like the rest of the property, the materials used are great: stone, tile, glass, etc. Like the rest of the property, it felt luxurious. I got the deep tissue message and it was…painful, but exactly what I wanted. Rosa really got in there with her elbows and twisted me around like a pretzel. I left feeling very refreshed.
My wife got some sort of citrus wrap thing that she really liked, but that I don’t understand. I’ll leave it at that.
I believe men and women have access to the same amenities, but obviously in different sections. This included some chaise lounges to relax on, a hot tub, an ice bath, a steam room and private showers. Everyone is given a locker and they provide a robe, a towel and slippers.
The spa isn’t cheap, but on par with prices from other resorts in the US. There are a few spa/massage options downtown that are considerably cheaper, but I didn’t try them so I can comment if they were worth the money.
All in all, a pretty great way to spend an afternoon.
Score: 5 out of 5
The pools all have towel stands so you don’t have to bring towels down from the room. When you check-in, each person in your group is issued a towel card. When you go to the pool, give them a card and they give you a towel. When you’re done, give the towel back and they give you your card back.
I’m going to start this section in reverse order in the sense that some of the pools aren’t very special, but very nice. What I mean by that is they are all well appointed and have the same food and beverage options, but they are pools that you could find at any nice hotel. Mainly because they don’t have a view. What makes them useful is that they are in convenient locations so you don’t have to go to far to use them. If you want a quick soak, great, they are there for you. They also include hot tubs.
One of them is an adult only pool, which we found to be boring and a kid’s pool, which we avoided because we didn’t have any kids with us.
The Main Pool
The main pool is the biggest and it is located directly in front of the beach. And it is outstanding. It is huge. It has a swim up bar with bar seats and bar tables. It is two levels with an infinity look to it. It has a section with a pergola over it with more in water seating. There is access to the beach from this pool. They play good music at this pool. Overall, it is just a spectacular pool.
If you only went to this pool you’d be so happy, except…
The Sky Pool
Wow. Simply wow. I already told you this resort is built into the side of a mountain. What I haven’t told you is that at the absolute top of the property is the Sky Pool. The views are simply stunning. You have what I’m guessing is about a 270 degree view of the ocean and surrounding area with 180 degrees of that being ocean. You’re up high enough that you can see everything and it is breathtaking. Oh and stunning views of sunsets.
The pool itself is pretty great too. Two levels with the same infiniti feature. A hot tub up the stairs. Its own kitchen with a wood fired pizza oven. A swim up bar and they play the music loudest at this bar. It is the most fun and probably has the best food of any of the pools. There are plenty of chaise lounges, umbrellas and even covered cabanas facing the ocean.
And they have a pool party every Thursday from 5:00pm to 10:pm with a DJ and appetizers. I’d like to see the pool located anywhere in the world that is better than this one.
Score: 5 out of 5 (based purely on the Sky Pool and Main Pool)
The swim up bar at the main pool
A bridge over the main pool. This is how you get to the beach.
The main pool
One of the smaller pools. I think this is in front of building #42.
The main pool
The island in the middle of the hydro station in the main pool
The Hydro station. There are benches with jets under the pergola.
The main pool. This is from the upper pool level, looking over the infinity edge to the lower level.
A sunset from the Sky Pool
View from the Sky Pool
So you’re on vacation and you probably aren’t there to work out, but hey, maybe you are. If you are, the gym is very well appointed. Plenty of machines (treadmills, ellipticals, resistance, etc.) and free weights. They have classes every day that include yoga, Pilates, Crossfit and more. You might not be able to do every workout you do when you are at your local gym, but you can do most anything.
It is very well maintained, very clean, just like the rest of the property. They sell gatorade and other sports drinks here, but it is not part of the all-inclusive. This seems like such a small thing; you’d think they’d include that. They also have towels at the gym. I didn’t check for a locker room or showers, but it is adjacent to the spa, so you could always use those.
My biggest overall complaint is lack of space to do olympic or free lifting. While the gym is quite large, almost all of the space is taken up by machines.
Score: 4 out of 5
There are a few shops for your convenience. Let me just start by saying that almost nothing there was what you would consider a good value. These are convenience store pricing and then some. A quick rundown:
The Deli and Wine Shop: located in the main building, it offers a mini mart with a deli counter. You can get snacks, drinks, sandwiches, etc. If you want something for the kitchenette in your room, this is a great place to start. They also have a mini bakery or at least bakery items like bread, pastries and cakes. If someone in your party is celebrating a birthday while you’re there, this is the place to go. There is also a decent selection of wine and other alcohol.
The Gift Shop: tucked in the back in the courtyard by the spa, they have a small assortment of gift items and also doubles as the drug store. If you want pain killers, sun block, etc., this is a good place.
The Boutique: that isn’t the actual name, but located across the hall from the Deli, the boutique offers mainly women’s clothing items, with some men’s stuff.
The jewelry store: there is a silver store in the back of the courtyard by the entrance to the chapel. I have no idea if this place is any good, but my wife like the pieces, so there is that.
The mini deli: this is located by the main pool and La Nao restaurant. It is a combination of the gift shop and the deli. There is some food, some clothing (t-shirts, flip flops, hats, etc.) and some drug store stuff.
Score: 3 out of 5
Oh the beach. So great and so disappointing at the same time. First, the great stuff. It is beautiful. The sand is basically perfect. It is a very big beach and a lot of it is flat, so you can play volleyball, soccer or throw the football. There are cabanas and bathrooms so you don’t have to go all the way back up to the pool. There are chaise lounges.
Finally, one night we were there, there was a wedding party. The hotel dug a large circle into the sand, put cushions down and put a bon fire in the middle of the circle. They also brought a full bar down to the beach for the wedding party (about 10-15 people). This looked amazing. I don’t know if they do this for just anyone or if you have to get the wedding package, but I’m asking for it the next time I bring the whole family down.
So that seems great, right? What could the problem be? 1) the beach isn’t swimmable due to the currents. There are signs and the staff is constantly warning anyone that goes down to the beach to stay out of the water. This is such a shame because it looks so inviting. And 2) because the beach isn’t swimmable, hardly anyone goes down there. It is literally empty almost all of the time. I guess it can be nice to have some privacy, but I like to have a few people there enjoying themselves. The whole time we were there, we never thought of going there for these reasons.
Score: 2 out of 5 (it would be a 5 if it were swimmable and people went down there)
There is an airport shuttle that costs $25 per person each way. We’ve never used it, but the times seem somewhat limited. If I read it correctly, there are 3 times per day each way that the shuttle runs. Compared to private transportation companies, it is much cheaper to take the shuttle if you are 1-3 people. Any more than that, it is probably better to take a private car as they will get you at the exact right time and you don’t have to wait on anyone else.
SB is built into the side of a hill, so you can imagine that constantly walking up and down the hills can be tiring. And you’re right, it can be. SB realized this and designed the property to be serviced by golf style carts. They have carts to take people places (they fit 7 people at a time). They have carts to deliver pizza. They have carts to restock restaurants. They have carts for house keeping. The whole property is constantly buzzing with golf carts. It kind of reminds me of the kids book, “The Busy World of Richard Scary.” Overall it is very cool and I’ve never seen another place like it.
Now, this all depends on it working and this case, working is defined as there being a cart available when you need one. There are a lot of carts and it works really, really well a vast majority of the time, but now always. The two biggest issues are big lines at the major choke points like the lobby or the main pool and the second is there just not being a cart and it feels like you wait too long. The carts are supposed to come by every stop at least every 5 minutes and they usually do. There are also house phones at all the stops so you can call and request a cart.
I can’t emphasize enough though that it works almost all the time and it is awesome. The breeze when you’re riding feels great and you invariably meet other people in the carts.
The other half of the transportation equation is the free shuttles to the other properties. This makes it really easy to use all the amenities available to you. The main benefit is the free shuttle that goes between SB and Rose because this gives you free access to downtown. The shuttle leaves every hour on the hour from 10:00am to 10:00pm and comes back every hour on the half hour from 10:30am to 10:30pm. The shuttles require reservations and there are limited spaces, especially for the first couple and last couple shuttles. If you’re going to go over to Rose or Blanco for dinner, make sure you have a reservation to get back.
It is a little disappointing that the last shuttle back is at 10:30pm, when Cabo is such a great late night city, especially on Friday and Saturday. If you stay later, you’re forced to take a taxi back and that can be slightly expensive. In general, SB doesn’t really go out of there way to help you go downtown. It seems they would prefer you stay on the property, which is a shame.
Downtown is fairly close to Rose and Blanco and it is a comfortable 10-12 minute walk. The area you walk through is totally safe even though it doesn’t completely look like it at first. In fact, you walk by a police station at about the half way point. We’ve never had any problems with this walk. And do yourself a favor and go downtown.
Score: 4 out of 5 (would be a 5 if they operated later and operated every 30 minutes)
Our experience with the concierge has been really good. Need a reservation for anything, either on site or offsite, they are there to help. Need help planning an activity such as zip lining, snorkeling or riding ATVs, they are there to help. They’ve always been knowledgeable and helpful and I recommend using them whenever possible. Last time I was there, there were 5 guys behind the counter and they were all eager to help.
Score: 5 out of 5
Some random other stuff
Golf: I haven’t tried the Quivira golf course yet, but it looks really good. I heard one guy who golf’s a lot describe it as the best course he as ever played. It is a Jack Nicklaus designed course and if you’re into golf, looks to be one of the best courses in Cabo
Tennis: SB has two tennis courts and they look very well maintained. We didn’t play while we were there and I don’t know if they provide rackets and balls.
The Other Pueblo Bonito Properties
As a guest of SB, you get access to the other Pueblo Bonito Properties, which are Rose, Los Cabos (also called Blanco), Pacifica and Quivira golf course. We didn’t visit Pacifica (which I believe is adult only) or Quivira (definitely high on the list for next time). We have visited Rose and Blanco. Don’t go here for the pools. Why they are perfectly fine pools, the ones at SB are much better.
I would say there are four reasons to go here: 1) They have swimmable beaches and all the benefits that apply to SB apply here. 2) Access to additional restaurants. Our favorite is probably Cilantos over at Blanco, but Fellini’s Italian is good and there is sushi bar on the beach at Rose. 3) You simply want to meet some different people 4) They are a short walk to downtown. Overall, it is a very nice benefit to have access to these additional properties.
The Sales Pitch
From the moment you check-in at the front desk, they are going to try to get you to attend the time share sales pitch. In some of the restaurants they will approach the table to talk about the pitch. They will offer you a free breakfast or lunch. They will offer you credits towards activities (like the spa). And you will get all of these things, but you do have to sit through the pitch.
First, the food is just ordinary. It is not anything over an above what you would get at the restaurants, so I don’t see this as any kind of benefit, especially if you’re on the all-inclusive. If you want $100 (or more!) off a massage, then great.
Now for the pitch. The first thing they don’t mention is that this is an intimate one on one affair. You’re probably initially thinking this is a group presentation so you’ll be able to duck out when you want to leave or actually avoid the sales person. Nope. To start, you get a host. It will start with a personal tour and it is impressive, because the property is so impressive. You’ll be absolutely in love with the property at this point. You’ll start thinking, “hey, this place is pretty great and I would love to come here regularly.”
Then the host will bring you back to the salon and give your breakfast or lunch. And a drink if you want one. You’ll dine with your host and you will talk about anything other than buying at SB. Once you’re done eating, the salesman will make their first appearance and you’ll start to talk numbers.
The first number you’ll hear is for a ridiculous price, no matter what it is you’re willing to consider buying. So let’s say they want to sell you 100 or 150 points, which will get you 1 week per year in a junior suite. The first number will be like $75k for a one time payment and an annual maintenance fee of $1,000. This price will be good for 30 days. Then they’ll give you the price if you buy today. It will be significantly less, but there is almost no end to how much they will negotiate this number. If you buy today and pay cash, you can save another 5%. Mention another objection and they’ll knock $2k off. Before long they’re offering everything in the first package for like 80% off. Or more.
Then they’ll introduce the finance guy to you. He’ll explain the numbers to you and of course there is financing available. The rates aren’t good, but they’re not terrible. You can probably beat it with simply a good credit card. And then they’ll pressure you to close right there. If you say you want to think about it, they’ll start with, “that’s fine, but what is preventing you from purchasing right now?” They don’t want you to walk away. Every time you try to get up, the price goes down.
In general, they just use really good sales techniques. I don’t fault them for this at all and in fact, I respect them because they are good at it. I’m mentioning this because it will be high pressure sales and you should know that before you go in.
At the end of the day it was worth it to us as we decided to buy. In fact, after going back, we decided to upgrade. So it can definitely be worth it, but the process is tiring and its nearest equivalent is buying a car the old way. You have no idea if you’re getting a good deal or not. You have no idea if the guy next to you is paying $1k more or less. Or $5k more or less. Or even $10k more or less. It just doesn’t leaving you feeling reassured. You have to decide if the price they ultimately end up asking you is worth it to you.
I much prefer a system where there is a fixed price and everyone pays the same. It is kind of like the way Tesla does business versus the typical car dealer. You just feel way less dirty about the whole thing.
What building to request
There seem to be a lot of inquiries on various forums about which building to stay in. I don’t have a world of experience on this, but I have some general recommendations. Generally speaking, the closer you are to the beach, the better. The reason isn’t actually proximity to the beach, but rather you can walk on flat ground to get to the main pool, the main buffet, a gift shop, etc. Most of the action is down there. Also, if you are in the first row of buildings, there aren’t any other buildings in your way of the view. Now, no matter where you are, you’ll have a great view of the ocean, but they are even better down there. You’ll be closest to the tennis courts as well. Buildings #: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 36, 37, with 1, 2, 3 & 4 probably being best.
If you have kids, you’ll probably want to stay in buildings 17 or 18. They are closest to the kids pool and Kids Club. If you don’t bring kids, you’ll probably want to stay away from this area, unless you’re number one deciding factor is proximity to the taco bar.
If you want big sweeping views, stay up higher on the mountain. I’m told during whale watching season it is great to see the whales. Much better than being close to the beach, but I haven’t seen this for myself. Buildings #: 29, 30, 31 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46
If you’re main interest is the Sky Pool, it really doesn’t matter which building you stay in. You’re probably going to take the cart up there regardless because it is pretty steep.
I’ve never stayed or even visited the more hotel like structures which are buildings #: 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 and I don’t have an opinion on them.
The further west you stay, the newer the buildings. I think all the rooms are great, but it is something to consider if that is important. Bottom line, no matter where you stay, you’ll have a great room and access to everything. I believe building 46 is the newest building (as of Oct 2016). Not all of the buildings have all the room types or bed configurations (king vs. two queens).
It’s obvious I’m a pretty big fan of SB, but hopefully you’ll see I tried to be objective and point out where they have opportunities to improve. I’m thrilled with my purchase and look forward to going each and every year for many years.
The best parts of SB are the property and grounds, the quality of the rooms and the pools. The spa and gym are also excellent.
The biggest areas of improvement are speed of service, improving how the all-inclusive works and making the pricing more consistent and fair.
None of the weaknesses should be deal breakers for anyone. If you stay at SB, you’re going to have a great time at a beautiful resort in a wonderful city. If anyone has any questions, I’m happy to try to answer them.
Outdoor seating and fire pit tables outside the bar by the main pool
Looking up at La Nah restaurant.
A random bench with artwork.
This is how the property gets its name.
Seriously, it is like this every night.
Every. Single. Night.
A sunset from the Sky Pool
It never gets old.
A look back at the resort at night from the beach.