Cabo San Lucas, MX - December 4 - 10, 2012
We decided for this year's winter trip we would try an area we've not been to. We have been to Pureto Vallarta once and to the Carribean side of Mexico several times over the last 12 years. Beware, this is very long and greatly detailed.
Flight - Against my better judgment, I booked American Airlines. After our horrid experience with them twice before I swore I would never book them again. However, when booking this trip, they came in so much cheaper than United, which are the only two carriers we can use from our departure airport, so we fussed and discussed and decided to take the gamble. Yep, we lost again. We had no problems getting to Cabo. Coming back was a whole different story. Our plane out of Cabo left an hour late, so of course we missed our connection in Dallas to get to Midland. No more flights to Midland that night so our choice was $50 for a Motel 6 for the night or spend the night in the airport for free. We chose the hotel. On the plus side, the room at the Motel 6 was pretty nice and very clean and included free airport shuttle coming and going. They rebooked us for a flight at 7:30am the next morning and provided us with boarding passes.
When we arrived at the airport the next morning, I noticed our names on the computer as stand-by passengers. I looked closer at our boarding pass and there was no assigned seat number on it. I talked to the represenative and she stated that all the flights to Midland that day were over booked so we would be placed on stand by for all flights and if someone didn't happen to show we would get their seat. I asked her how likely that was going to happen and she responded "not very". I asked her how were we supposed to get home, and she stated that we would just have to wait and see. I think not. I'm not sitting in the airport all day with no guarantee that we would ever get a flight. Her attitude was horrible. She was uncaring, unsympathetic and her whole demeanor was that she could care less if we got home or not. I told her that was absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable. She didn't care. It was not her problem. DH and I discussed our options and decided that we would just rent a car and drive home. I asked her to refund this portion of the ticket and she stated I would have to call America directly. I will NEVER book AA again and I mean it this time. The can rot in bankruptcy. Consistant issues such as this is one of the main reasons they have problems in the first place. Fortunately, Southwest Airlines will start flying to Mexico and the Caribbean out of Houston Hobby beginning in April, 2013, so this should no longer be an issue for us.
Rental Car - We took the shuttle to the rental car area, which is about 5 miles away from the airport. We got to talking with 2 other people on the bus and were advised that most of the cars have already been pre-booked. We never rent cars and had no idea that we might not even get one. Once we got to the car rental area, we just went down the line of agencies asking if a car was available. The 4th agency had 2 minivans left. $213 including insurance and gas. Since it appeared our only hope to get home, we took it. Took us 6 hours to make the drive from DFW to MAF to get our luggage that left without us the day before and to turn in the rental car. During the drive, I called AA from my cell. After discussion, they agreed to refund the unused portion of our tickets, $162 in 2 - 4 weeks, and gave me the address to write a formal compliant to see about them refunding the money I spent on the hotel and car rental since missing our connection was their fault. Scheduling departures without enough time in between to account for delays and not offering additional or the next flight out as well as bad service is not acceptable. I have sent the letter and we'll see what happens.
Marina Fiesta - I booked the Marina Fiesta Resort & Spa all inclusive. This was our 16th AI vacation to date. We really liked this hotel. The all-inclusive is optional and the included restaurants are located on the Marina in the Golden Zone, which can be enjoyed by anyone. The Papala restaurant was located next to the main swimming pool. I have always contended that hotels that offer an AI option that also provide food/drink to paying customers have the better food. This was no exception.
We were given room 315 over looking the main pool and the Marina. The room contained a Queen bed, sofa, mini kitchenette with 2 burner stove, microwave, dishes, utensils, coffee maker, toaster and small frig. The AI included drinks in the frig of 4 small bottled waters, 2 Tecate, 2 Tecate light, 2 Coca Cola, and 2 Diet Coca Cola. We were advised that they only refill the frig once per day and with only what was consumed. The balcony was a very generous size and contained two chairs and a small table.
The bathroom was standard with open sink and closet area and then the toilet and shower behind a door. The shower needed a shelf to hold our hygiene products. All it had was a small soap dish, so we had to put shampoo, etc. on the floor of the shower. It could have also used a handrail. The shower was pure tile, so the floor was slippery and needed something to make the tile on the floor a little rougher for safety purposes. Adding a seat in the shower would be a major plus.
Restaurants- I read several reports that the AI plan at the Golden Zone restaurants was limited. We did not experience that. Of course, cuts of steak and lobster were not included, and we didn't expect it to be, but there were plenty of choices for appetizer, soup, salad, entree and dessert.
It is imperative to actually read the information sheet that the hotel provides at check-in for the all inclusive. It gives the restaurants and what times they are available and what alcohol is included. A lot of misunderstandings can be avoided just by reading it. We found making reservations for dinner to be an unnecessary inconvenience as the restaurants always barely had anyone in them and the employees were consistently hawking at passers-byers to come on in. I included a copy of both the AI restaurant sheet and the AI alcohol sheet in our picture site.
Papala Restaurant - We ate several buffet breakfasts and ala cart lunches. We found the food to be very good. For breakfast they had real refried beans and not those yucky black beans and real flour tortillas that they grilled. They also provided real salsa and condiments of chopped onion and cilantro. Their pico contained jalapenos. All things we could never get on the Caribbean side of Mexico. Huge plus. The selection was small, but had all the basics.
For lunches we had the chips with guacamole, fish cerviche, salad, fish fingers, hamburger and shrimp tacos. All very fresh and good. I prefer shrimp cerviche, but their fish was very good. The meat on their hamburger did not taste funky like on the Caribbean side of Mexico.
Baja Lobster Company - Shrimp cerviche - I like the one at the Papala restaurant better because this one contained orange juice. I only want lime juice in my cerviche. But, it was still good and I ate it. Tortilla soup - good. Grilled Chicken - DH enjoyed it. Florentine Stuffed Chicken with cream sauce - actually the spinach was ground fine and mixed with the cream sauce and the chicken was not actually stuffed. It was good though. Both Chicken entrees were served with a mixture of rice with mashed potatoes on top and covered in grilled julienne carrots and zucchini.
Tequila Musem - Tortilla Soup - good. Club sandwich - DH liked. Shrimp Cocktail - good, but I prefer the ketchup/horseradish sauce over the spicy tomato sauce. Just a preference. Chicken Enchilada plate - good. The bad part about this restaurant is that the employees would not leave us alone to eat. They keep harping on us about going to the Marina Fiesta's sister resort time share presentation. Do you really think I'm going to want to buy in on a timeshare when you are interrupting my meal?
Jack's Bar and Grill - This restaurant offered ala cart breakfast, lunch and dinner. We ate breakfast there 3 mornings. Huevos rancheros, scrambled eggs, pancakes, french toast, and eggs florentine. All very good. The orange juice was like Sunny Delight. Did not like that.
When we arrived for dinner, a couple from the resort we met at the swim-up bar, was already their with another couple they met, and they were nice to asked us to join them. Caesar Salad with shrimp - the dressing was yummy as was the grilled shrimp. Grilled shrimp plate - also very good. Mixed salad - DH loved it. Tortilla Soup - good. Flank Steak with enchiladas - DH said it was good. We enjoyed the employee that acted as "Jack" the pirate. Very nice and personable. He really did look almost like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.
Presto Italian -
We enjoyed this restaurant the most. Carpaccio - Love it. It had a green tangy sauce on top instead of olive oil. Sliced chicken salad - DH loved it. Caprese salad - they quarter the tomatoes and added cube cheese and chopped basil - very good. Cream of mushroom soup - the best. Spaghetti - DH stated the best he has had anywhere. Cannoli - it was baked into a casserole smothered with cheese - excellent.
Imomo Sushi - Salmon sashimi - the sauce was so yummy. Had two servings. Surf and Turf roll with a breaded crust - yummy - DH had two servings. Miso soup - I do not like shakti mushrooms. The broth was good. Avocado roll with cucumber and shrimp - very good.
We did not eat at the included Fish and Chips Restaurant.
Des Medano - This is one of Marina Fiesta's Restaurants, but not included in the AI plan. We ate there anyway. Green Chili soup - very good. Green Chicken Enchiladas - DH enjoyed them. Tampiquena Steak with cheese enchilada - never had this dish made with flank steak. The meat was good though. No sauce over it. Served on the side were grilled onions and pablano peppers strips. The sauce on the enchilada was terrible. I didn't eat it. The guacamole and refried beans were good. Coconut flan - down right horrid. Beyond yuck. They are pushing this restaurant as an upgrade and including as a perk to their time share presentation. They should really reconsider. Of all their restaurants this one was the least favorite. $43.00 with 2 beers and 1 tea.
Other Resturants -
Sr. Sweets and Bistro - We went twice for desserts. It's a full restaurant that serves breakfast lunch and dinner. If we had more time, we would have tried their breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have TV's on the wall showing how they make all their food. Mouth watering. The desserts were absolutely to die for. The best desserts I have ever had anywhere on vacation. Creme Brulee - beyond excellant. Beat out my all time favorite at Red Sqaure in Las Vegas. DH had the ice cream sunday. It was huge. He is still raving about it. Also, had the vanilla and Bailey Irish Cream gelato - the best ever. Fruit tart - was yummy. Our first trip was $27. Our second trip was $38. Not cheap, but oh so good.
Hacienda Comida y Cantina - Did not realize this restaurant was in another resort. I got the impression from reviews it was on the beach, but instead is sits above the beach with a great view. It's located down the way from the beach bars on Medano Beach. The food was as all the reviews have stated - fabulous. DH had a green salad and the sea bass, which he throughly enjoyed. I had the hearts of palm salad - so yummy and the Chili Rellenos, which were absolutely wonderful. They had a bean sauce poored on the bottom of the plate and then the chilis were covered with a mango/tomatoe relish. Flan for dessert. It was so good. Not like anyother flan I ever had. It was served in a cup with a dollop of whip creme and a lemon flavored cookie. Food was $58. 3 rum and cokes and 3 Mojitos were $48. $106 total.
Cabo Wabo - Neat palce. We went for lunch after a city tour. They had 2-1 house margaritas and Corona. I'm a snob with margaritas and I didn't like these. DH did and drank 4. I had 2 Corona. He had the enchilada plate, which he liked and I had the shrimp cerviche, which was very good. Also had the stuff mushrooms, which were excellent. Flan for dessert - perfect in consistancy and flavor. Some of the best flan I've ever had. $58.
Giggling Marlin - After Cabo Wabo we went here. Cute place. They were playing old 80's videos on the TV's. We had 2 Coronas and 2 tequila shots for $8 total. I was shocked. Usually one shot is $8 alone. We would have loved to come back at night, but we ran out of time. Something for next trip.
Happy Endings Bar - Met up with a fellow Fodor's poster MichelleY and her husband for drinks. So nice to met them in person. We had a few drinks and talked. Hi Michelle! The next round is on us.
El Sqid Roe - Went for dinner and was able to watch the 4th quarter of the Monday night football game between the Lions and the Packers. DH had the signature tall glass with rum and coke. I had a Sol. DH had the ribs, which he said were really good. I had the shrimp cervich, which was hand made table side - very good. The meals included chips and hand made table side salsa, which was excellent. $35. The staff was so kind and funny. They took several pics of us with our camera and we bought the photo tequila bottle. I even danced with the waiter. Fun place and would definately return.
Medano Beach - One afternoon we went down to Medano Beach to check it out. We had drinks at the Office. 2 rum and cokes and 2-1 Sol was $18. The beach was crowded with vendors. Could not walk 2 feet without someone trying to sell us their wares. There were several boats and jet skies out in the water and the air smelled like gas/diesel. No one was swimming and I would be hesitatant to go into the water there. We didn't like having to walk on the sand to get to most everything. We were very glad we were staying at the marina. We are really pool people anyway.
I took pictures of everything we ate and posted on our picture site.
Activities - I booked all our activities on-line at Cabo San Lucas Tours before arriving. I have used this company many times as they also offer tours in Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Cancun.
Local Snorkeling Tour - We had to take a taxi from our hotel to the cruise ship marina. $10 each way. I did not read/comprehend the description of this tour correctly and it was not what we wanted. We took a small water taxi boat to see the Arch and other rock formations. Then we had the choice of being dropped off at Pelican Beach for snorkeling from the shore. The beach was overly crowded and has no facilities, chairs or umbrellas, so we opted to go back to the dock. What we wanted was a snorkel tour from a catamaran type boat that stopped at 2 or 3 places. Oh well, it was a good way to see the Arch and other areas, and next time I will book a different tour.
Wine & Jazz Sunset Cruise - We had to take a taxi from our hotel to the cruise ship marina. $10 each way. Very nice cruise with alcohol, h'ordeuvres and music on the Tropicat. They took us to the Arch and took photos. We bought 2 for $27.00. We saw a few whales, sea lions and tons of pelicans. The food consisted of a variety of meats, cheeses, fruits, crackers, crab and salmon dip. It was good. Unfortunately, that night it was overcast and cloudy, so no real sunset. There were lots of people and it felt a little crowded. Luckily, we were one of the first people on the boat so we got a table. I had originally wanted to book the martini and sunset cruise, but it was not available for our vacation time. This is not a party cruise. It was more romantic with lots of couples and a few groups of women. No children were on this cruise.
Los Cabos Photo Tour - This was an individual tour with just us. We were picked up from our hotel and we drove to Los Cabos. We went to the center square area, the church, the glass blowing factory and a store for tequila tasting. We were also give 45 minutes to walk around the area. There is an optional additional charge for a boat ride out to the Arch, which we opted not to do since we had already been there twice. At all stops professional pictures were taken of us with each site. We also stopped on the beach by the Desire Resort and took some beach pictures. The photos were uploaded to Photobucket and a link and password was e-mailed to me to access and download onto my computer. After our tour they were kind to drop us at Cabo Wabo. This was a really good tour as I love pictures.
Breakfast on the Bay - This is a morning boat tour that included a buffet breakfast and alcohol. Unfortunately, their were not enough people booked for this tour so it was canceled and refunded. Too bad. I hope the next time we go we can do this tour.
Since the money was refunded, I opted to book a massage at the Spa.
Marina Fiesta Spa - They run specials all during the week. I got a 80 minute Swedish full body massage for the price of a 50 minute massage. Regularly $130 for $95. I really enjoyed the massage. The girl did a very good job. They also have showers, a whirlpool and sauna included if you wanted to use those facilities.
Weather - The temp. was perfect. Not too hot and it really wasn't all that cool at night even on the sunset cruise. Wearing shorts and walking around it was perfect. We had 2 days of overcast, cloudy skies. The pool at the Marina Fiesta was heated and it was perfect. We never went into the ocean. The pools on the Caribbean side of Mexico are not heated and are way too cool for me to use. I will have a very hard time ever going back to that side of Mexico in a December again.
Summary- We love Cabo San Lucas and will be back. The food was wonderful compared to anything we ever got on 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen or the Caribbean side of Mexico. We loved the Marina Fiesta and would not hesitate booking there again. Though is it not necessary, I will definitely do the all inlcusive thing again. It did save us a ton of money on food and drinks especially at the hotel bars.
The only thing we didn't care for were the vendors and time share people. We could not walk 2 feet in the Mariana area without someone trying to sell us wares, activities and timeshares. It was beyond annoying. Most will not take a "no thank you" for an answer and followed us or yelled after us. They need to realize that harassing me makes me mad and more determined to not buy. If I want something I will come to you. I will never, ever, ever, ever buy a timeshare anywhere or go to a presentation. There is not enough money or items in the entire world they could offer.
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Cabo San Lucas, MX - December 4 - 10, 2012