Where to Stay (for an All-Inclusive Experience) in Cabo San Lucas: Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Resort
If you’ve been reading my blog awhile – especially my Where to Stay series – then you know I’m a sucker for boutique hotels. I love the intimacy, local feel and personalized attention that boutique hotels offer, and our boutique hotel stays tend to make our travels that much more memorable.
But after having my first all-inclusive resort experience during my first trip to Montego Bay with my girlfriends and my second all-inclusive resort experience during me and Jave’s short honeymoon to Ocho Rios, Jave and I had been longing for another all-inclusive experience. There’s just something so gratifying about paying your per person nightly rate and knowing that you don’t have to reach into your purse to pay for anything else during your stay whether it’s food, drinks (non-premium alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks), tips and certain activities. And while these costs are, of course, factored into the rate at all-inclusive resorts, being able to enjoy the resort without having to keep your wallet on hand makes travelers like me feel as if they’re truly on vacation.
So for Jave’s recent birthday getaway to Cabo San Lucas, I decided I wanted a true escape where we wouldn’t have to worry about much of anything except having a good time. I didn’t want to worry about not having certain conveniences at our hotel, I didn’t want to worry about getting around, and for once, I didn’t want to have to worry about where to eat and how to get there.
After weeding through several all-inclusive options in Cabo, I decided to book a stay at Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach because of all of Pueblo Bonito’s sister properties, its Sunset Beach property had the most affordable package on Expedia, and because a stay at any of Pueblo Bonito’s properties would give us exclusive access to Quivira Golf Club which was voted the best new international golf course of 2014 by Golf Digest.
Overall, we really enjoyed our stay at the Sunset Beach property although it wasn’t without its flaws. I’ll get to the negatives later on in this post, but for now, I’m going to highlight what the resort has working in its favor.
The Amenities & Activities
There are six swimming pools around the property, including the Sky View Pool that sits on a hill at the top of the property, all of which feature swim-up bars.
The resort features a fitness center although there’s a fee to use it. Since we were there to relax and eat our hearts out, the fitness center was the furthest thing from our minds, so I didn’t even bother asking how much the fee is.
The resort’s spa, Armonia Spa, was voted the #1 Top Hotel Spa in Mexico on the Travel + Leisure World’s Best list, and it was named by Condé Nast as one of the Top 20 Best Spas in Mexico and Central America. Too bad I didn’t have enough time to get a treatment!
Although we didn’t participate in any, Sunset Beach offers a variety of activities including Spanish lessons, water aerobics, dance classes, bingo and cooking classes for adults while kids can enjoy arts and crafts, board games, pool games, movies and more.
The property also features tennis and volleyball courts, a gift shop and a boutique for convenient shopping, a variety of classes, and yoga.
Sunset beach also features a deli and market (not part of the all-inclusive plan), a chapel where mass (and I imagine, weddings) are held, a medical clinic, and a business center.
The Sunset Beach property is huge, and since most of the buildings look alike, it’s easy to lose your way. Plus, the property is quite hilly which makes getting around difficult for those who aren’t able-bodied and for those who just don’t feel like walking up a bunch of hills.
Fortunately, there are several golf cart style vehicles that can fit multiple passengers at a time, that make their way to various stops around the resort to take guests anywhere they may need to go – to one of the pools, the lobby, restaurants, and even to the pickup location to catch the free shuttle that transports guests to Quivira and Pueblo Bonito’s sister properties.
I believe these carts run daily from 7am-11pm, so as long as you adhere to the schedule, you shouldn’t have any problems getting around.
The beautiful thing about Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach is that all of the rooms – whether you’re in a junior suite, executive suite, or super executive suite – have an ocean view, although it’s best to request a room on an upper floor so that you can enjoy an uninterrupted ocean view.
Due to a hiccup at check-in, we were originally assigned to an upper level junior suite with two queen beds. Although the view from our first room was spectacular, Jave had his heart set on a king bed, so we asked the front desk if they would honor our original request and assign us to an upper level room with a king bed. Instead, we ended up in a first floor room with a king bed that was next to the pool. It had an ocean view, albeit a peak-a-book ocean view, but there was no way that I was going to spend our relaxing vacation in a room by the somewhat noisy pool. Praying that our third time would be a charm, we once again asked the front desk to honor our original request, and they finally got it right when they assigned us to a top level junior suite with a king bed.
Our view wasn’t as uninterrupted as our view had been in the first top level room we’d been assigned to with the queen beds, but after nearly two hours spent trying to get checked into a room that matched our original request, there was no way we were going to make a fuss just because our view was slightly blocked by the roof of our building.
Overall, we were pleased with our room which included a small kitchenette area which we may have used if we hadn’t chosen the all-inclusive plan. In addition to ocean views, I believe all of the suites at Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach also feature kitchenettes.
Another great thing about our room was our large, private balcony. Jave got up before sunrise one morning and opened the sliding door leading to our balcony and climbed back in bed as we savored the sound of the crashing waves below. In general, we just really appreciated the fact that our room was so spacious and well-maintained.
In my opinion, the food is the best part of any all-inclusive stay. Although the food isn’t technically “free”, dining tends to be a much sweeter experience when you don’t have to pull out cash to pay for it when you’re done.
Given the fact that we only had two full nights to enjoy the resort, we didn’t get to eat at as many of the resort’s restaurants as I would’ve liked. I’m the kind of person who likes to get my money’s worth, so I was kind of bummed that we didn’t get to try all of the resort’s restaurants.
By far, the restaurant we ate at the most was The Bistro since it’s open 24/7 whereas most of the resort’s other restaurants only open for dinner. The Bisto offers a menu featuring an eclectic mix of Mexican and American dishes.
We also ate at La Nao twice – once for dinner and again for breakfast. La Nao is a great option for buffet-style meals, and it offers a variety of choices.
We realized that retired WNBA star, Lisa Leslie, and her family were staying at the property when we saw them both times we ate at La Nao; it’s kind of hard to miss a 6’5” black woman and her equally tall husband while vacationing in Cabo.
On the day we checked out, we actually dined at Manila Bar for lunch before heading to the airport. Although this meal wasn’t included since we’d already checked out, the price for a shared pizza, a beer, and an iced tea (a bit more than $20, I believe ) was quite reasonable.
The restaurants we didn’t get to try: Zao Shen (Asian fusion), Tazuna (a poolside sushi/Japanese-style restaurant that’s always busy), Burger Fest (serving gourmet burgers and entrees), and La Frida (a well-reviewed Mexican restaurant I’d originally planned to dine at for Jave’s birthday).
Only two of the resort’s restaurants require a surcharge: La Frida ($30/person surcharge) and Quivira Steakhouse ($35/person surcharge where Jave opted to have his birthday dinner instead).
Things to Keep in Mind
Overall, the customer service at Sunset Beach was pretty good. It would’ve been great if they’d honored our room type request from the very beginning so we could’ve avoided the whole room assignment debacle. But for the most part, staffers were quick to respond to our requests.
One of the resort’s greatest flaws is that its staff is quite aggressive about trying to convince people to sign up for the free time share presentation for the chance to win a $400 resort credit. We were first told about the presentation after checking in when a staffer walked up to us to ask whether we’d already signed up for the presentation which requires a $40 deposit. To ensure attendance, the deposit is returned to guests when they show up for the presentation. Since we’d just checked in and were tired from our flight, we told the staffer who approached us that we’d think about it and let her know later. We hadn’t taken more than a few steps before the bellman approached us to see whether we’d already signed up for the presentation, and once we turned him down, another staffer approached us about the presentation. It was just way too much!
Jave wisely decided to start telling anyone else who approached us about it that we’d already attended so they’d buzz off. I was tempted to actually attend the presentation because I misunderstood and thought that the $400 resort credit was a guarantee; I started picking out spa treatments and everything. But Jave gave me a reality check: “Carmel, do you really think they’re going to give every guest who attends the presentation $400 worth of credits?” He was right.
If swimming at the beach is a big deal for you, then Sunset Beach may not be the best choice for your all-inclusive stay because the tide is rough and the beach is completely unswimmable. In fact, we learned that a week before our visit, a huge wave swept away an elderly couple who were walking too close to the water. The man’s body eventually washed up, but his wife’s body was never found.
However, Sunset Beach guests are welcome to catch a free shuttle to swim at the beach at any of its sister properties.
Last but not least, when planning your stay at Sunset Beach or any other all-inclusive, be sure to give yourself at least 3-4 nights minimum to truly enjoy your stay. Trust me, two nights isn’t enough, especially if you plan on taking part in off-resort activities like we did. When staying at Sunset Beach, do yourself a favor and give yourself at least a full day to just enjoy the resort itself without the distraction of off-resort activities.