Los Cabos becomes Mexico’s first destination for global entry and pre-clearance programs

Later this month, Los Cabos will become the first area in Mexico to offer Global Entry kiosks for international travelers arriving at the San Jose del Cabo International Airport (SJD).

Beginning on May 24, Global Entry kiosks will be stationed within the airport to allow pre-approved, low-risk travelers to avoid standing in line and proceed directly to the kiosk for expedited clearance upon arrival to Los Cabos. Additionally, Los Cabos is in the final stages of government approval to become the first destination in Mexico to offer border pre-clearance, which will provide added convenience for travelers upon arrival as well as departure. In the case of the latter, U.S. Customs Agents will be stationed at SJD to provide streamlined border and Customs procedures, significantly reducing the amount of time required to clear customs upon re-entry to the U.S. This new service, beginning later this year if approved, will also enhance ease of travel and expediency from regional gateways, where airports may not be equipped to process Customs directly.

“Los Cabos is proud to pioneer these exciting U.S. Customs and Border Protection programs in Mexico for international travelers,” said Gonzalo Franyutti, President of the Los Cabos Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The establishment of Global Entry kiosks at SJD confirms that Los Cabos is one of the most desirable tourism destinations in the world.”

Although this program is intended for frequent travelers, there is no minimum number of trips necessary to qualify.

While we’re thrilled to see it become faster and easier to visit one of our favorite vacation destinations, we can’t help but wonder if this is a good idea, given the violence in other areas of the country. Could making it easier for travelers to enter and exit Los Cabos open this heretofore safe area to problems? We surely hope not.

[Flickr via Brenda Blue]

Summer Travel: Seven great luxury beach getaways

The weather is warming and we’re itching to hit the sand (after a few more weeks in the gym, naturally). Summer travel stories are often full of suggestions for budget and family-friendly getaways … but what if you just want to splurge? Economy be damned. Play up the “luxe” factor at these great summer beach destinations for those seeking to see and be seen, enjoy world-class restaurants and nightlife and enjoy five-star service along the way.

The Hamptons
Long Island’s stretch of beach towns is sleepy from Labor Day to Memorial Day, but once the warm weather hits, the crowds descend. The truly wealthy helicopter in, while the rest of us will fly to Islip airport and drive or take the Long Island Railroad and Hamptons Jitney in from New York City. By day, relax on the white sand beaches, stroll the tony shops in East Hampton or South Hampton. By night, relax at a private estate rental or the posh lodging at The 1770 House or the Mill House Inn.

Martha’s Vineyard
Hie thee to the Vineyard and you just might have a famous neighbor – or four. Members of the Kennedy clan, Oprah, and even President Obama have spent vacations on this famous New England paradise. Much less flashy than The Hamptons, beach-seekers arrive via ferries from locations like New Bedford and Hyannis. A ferry boat from Manhattan operates seasonally, and select regional carriers offer flights from cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Providence and Washington. Rest your head at the island’s Relais & Chateaux property, The Charlotte Inn.

Relax in the sunshine amidst the shadows of America’s Castles – the summer homes of the country’s robber barons and wealthy elite, most of which are now museums open to the public for tours. Not sure you “know” Newport? Picture The Great Gatsby. In summer months, the harbor fills with yacht and sailboats and the well-heeled stroll the town. Fly to Providence (40) or Boston (70 miles) and enjoy the drive. Stay at Relais & Chateaux property Castle Hill inn & Resort, offering beautiful ocean views. Newly re-branded Grace hotel, Vanderbilt Grace, offers another option.

Just a short direct flight from many East Coast cities, Bermuda draws rave reviews from travelers seeking Caribbean-like beaches and a relaxed atmosphere without the long travel time. Lounge on pink sand beaches, sip a Dark n’ Stormy and frolic in the turquoise waters. By night, party in Hamilton, the island’s main city and popular cruise port. Rest your head at new Rosewood resort Tucker’s Point, Mandarin-managed Elbow Beach or intimate boutique property The Reefs. Bermuda’s closest land mass is North Carolina, meaning it enjoys a similarly temperate climate.

The French Riviera
Really need to get away? Try the French Riviera. Crowds descend as early as May for the Cannes Film Festival and then spend the summer flocking to the ritzy beach town of St. Tropez, where as many as 80,000 tourists visit each day. Marvel at the massive yachts docked in the harbor, sample a traditional Tarte Tropezienne, or browse the luxury goods at Louis Vuitton or Hermes. Then get out – even the three-star hotels are overrun this time of year.

Mackinac Island
Midwesterners spend summers on this grande dame of luxury island getaways. The car-free island transports visitors back to a more genteel time, where the island’s Grand Hotel is king and the pace is slower and more refined.

Los Cabos
Texans and Californians know that their home states are hot all summer long, so they often flee the confines of the United States for our friendly neighbor to the south, Mexico. Untouched by swine flu or drug wars, Los Cabos remains a paradise of the rich and famous, who come for the beaches, party life, and ultra-luxury hotels. Our favorites? Stay at Capella Pedregal, an intimate property with the country’s only private tunnel, the always-on-top Las Ventanas, a Rosewood property, celeb favorite One & Only Palmilla, or the ritzy Esperanza.

[Flickr via slgckgc]

Los Cabos’ famed Arch experiences infrequent natural phenomenon

Every four to seven years, the tide surrounding the iconic Arch of Los Cabos (El Arco) recedes to reveal a pristine, white sand beach. This natural phenomenon is happening today in Los Cabos. If you’re in the area, stop by and check it out!

Located in the region deemed “Lands End,” the southernmost tip of the Baja California peninsula, this arch is a popular destination for travelers looking to take scenic photographs. The swirling mix of blue and green waters mark the junction between the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez.

Photo Courtesy of Ale Delao

Daily Pampering: Celebration of Life spa services at One & Only Palmilla in Los Cabos

One of the most magical sightings of the Baja Penninsula is the annual migration of the gray whale, which takes place each January through March. Skillfully combining the idea of renewal and water therapy, luxe resort One&Only Palmilla, has crafted a new “Celebration of Life” spa treatment at the resort’s 22,000 square foot spa.

Utilizing local salts harvested from the rich lagoons of Los Cabos, the one hour and forty five minute “Celebration of Life” treatment is choreographed to natural whale songs to soothe the mind. The treatment begins with a calming head, neck and shoulder massage. Warm salt compresses are then placed on the body while healing salts rich in vital elements are massaged into the skin to re-mineralize, gently exfoliate and increase circulation. A therapeutic massage to the back and feet is then performed to release any further tension. To conclude, the ESPA therapist floats the client in a bath of warm saline water allowing the buoyancy and support to gently massage the body and joints while easing stiffness and nourishing the skin.

The resort, beloved by celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt and Eli Manning (just to name a few), is perched on the pristine cliffs of Los Cabos, halfway between the towns of Cabo San Lucas and Cabo San Jose.

Just don’t let the idea that Speidi has visited the property ruin your experience.

Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.

Virgin America announces nonstop flights to Los Cabos and Cancun from $129

Viva, Mexico!

Get your margaritas ready and toast to Virgin America’s new flight announcements. The airline announced today it will serve San Jose del Cabo International Airport (SJD) and Cancun International Airport (CUN) with nonstop flights from California starting this December.

The fights from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Los Cabos start Dec. 16, 2010, and flights from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Cancun will start Jan. 19, 2011. If you’re in San Francisco and want to go to Cancun, your nonstops will start Jan. 20, 2011. And lest you think you’ll have to spend your holiday money on flights, think again: the low-cost carrier is celebrating the new routes a three-day fare sale.

Put down the tequila and grab your credit card – flights start at just $109!

But there’s more…

If you’re in-the-social-media-know, and in desperate need of some time on the beaches of Mexico, you can score a two-for-one ticket offer by checking in on Loopt Star at SFO or LAX. (To be eligible, one must check-in using the Loopt Star iPhone app, which is available at the Apple iTunes store or at loopt.com /looptstar.)

Can’t get to the airport? No problem. You’ll get hungry at some point today so those of you in San Francisco and Los Angeles can head to select Virgin America taco trucks from 11:00am-3:00pm PT today. Proceeds from every taco purchased will benefit the City of San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control Chihuahua rescue efforts.

Here’s the breakdown of costs:

  • From $129 in Main Cabin for SFO-SJD, SFO-CUN and LAX-CUN
  • From $39 on LAX-SFO, SFO-Las Vegas (LAS) and SFO-San Diego (SAN) flights (so you can get to Mexico)
  • From $109 for LAX-Washington Dulles (IAD) and SFO-Fort Lauderdale (FLL)

Tickets are on sale today on Virgin America’s Web site (www.virginamerica.com)

For taco lovers in Los Angeles, Virgin America’s in-flight teammates can be found in uniform at the Border Grill taco truck at 7060 Hollywood Boulevard. Those in San Francisco can find their Virgin America representatives at Los Compadres, at 100 Folsom Street.