New Los Cabos luxury resort, Grand Solmar Land’s End, celebrates grand opening


los cabos luxury resort

Located at the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula where the Sea of Cortes meets the Pacific Ocean, Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa Cabo San Lucas celebrates its official grand opening this weekend. The only new resort to open in Los Cabos this year, the resort was designed by the same architect who crafted the celebrity favorite Las Ventanas al Paraiso, HKS.

The most luxurious of the hotel chain’s five properties in Mexico, Land’s End resort is set on the site of the first Solmar Hotel built in the 1970s. 119 suites all offer views of the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez as well as amenities like two oceanfront restaurants, a full-service spa and beauty salon, a romance coordinator and more.

In celebration of the grand opening, stays of four nights or more are 50% for those traveling before July 31.
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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

Next Great Place launches, enters into the travel sale site melee

travel sale site - next great placeWe’ll admit, we’re getting a little sick of seeing flash sale travel sites enter the market – there’s another one every day, each with a slightly different concept. It seems like we have to do an awful lot of checking each time we want to book a vacation – can we get $100 off on one site, a free upgrade there, and oh, referral bonuses here?

Which is why we were initially drawn to take a look at Next Great Place, launching to for limited public beta today. Functioning sort of like a cross between E-Harmony and Match.com for travel, the travel sale site bills itself as an “online travel planning company” and pairs qualified travelers with pre-screened resorts (in Cabo San Lucas and Vail/Beaver Creek to start).

Founders Tom Fillipini (co-founder of Exclusive Resorts) and Erik Mitisek have extensive travel industry experience and know the ins and outs of the travel market, but they found it increasingly difficult to plan travel for themselves and their families and find qualified luxury lodgings without the use of a travel agent who may or may not be motivated more by commissions than by providing the best possible experience for the traveler.

Unlike other sale sites, where travelers themselves browse and choose their preferred resort, Next Great Place puts the planning into the hands of dedicated (and salary, not commission-based) employees who then vet the proposals through pre-selected suppliers. After generating a “vacation request,” travelers will have customized proposals waiting in their inbox within 48 hours.

Travelers then have 48 hours to purchase the trip and lock into the preferred pricing. While the site is certainly limited in terms of locations and properties available at the current moment (there are about 10 resorts and only two locations on board), we’re intrigued by the model. The competition for business gives suppliers the incentive to engage in price competition and transparency, and also allows travelers to “lock in” on preferred pricing for times when occupancy may be low.

In our brief trial, we found the sample process of selecting a resort to be easy – simply check the box on preferred amenities (spa, golf, babysitters, ect.) and the resort comparisons come back with a simple click. The entire process took under five minutes!

We’re happy to report that the site is free … for now (register at www.nextgreatplace.com and you’ll be approved within a day or so), but they’re considering adding a yearly subscription fee of around $1,000. Book once, and you’ll receive that in credit towards your stay. We understand the need for a business model, but we’re not sure that travelers who have so many free resources on their hands will want to pay that high of a price for the service that can essentially be replicated for free on a number of other platforms. The site promises to add up to 100 destinations in the next five years, which would certainly be an enticing prospect.

The resorts are pre-vetted by Next Great Place, and, with names like Capella Pedregal and Esperanza currently on board, we’re sure that the business is committed to partnering with resorts of the highest caliber.

Unlike other villa rental sites, Next Great Place guarantees a response and pricing within 48 hours – so there’s little uncertainty and waiting.

We’ll certainly be watching to see if this model is replicated by other sites and to see if Next Great Place continues to grow.

Breaking: Cruise crew member dead in Cozumel

cruise crew member dead in cozumelWhile foul play has not been ruled out, the drowning death of a Royal Caribbean crew member in Cozumel brings the safety of Mexican ports of call back into focus along with the broader issue of cruise passenger safety in general.

The body of Monika Markiewicz a musician on Royal Caribbean International’s Allure of the Seas. 32, was recovered from the ocean off the southern part of the island Saturday. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be drowning but Markiewicz also suffered a blow to the head. Police are investigating.


“Tragically, we recently became aware that the crew member was a victim of a violent crime while ashore in a remote area in Cozumel,” said Royal Caribbean spokesperson Cynthia Martinez. “We extend our most sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of our crew member.”

The topic of Mexican ports of call is a hot issue with cruise lines and Mexican government officials alike. The tragic death of a crew member in Mexican waters, regardless of the reason, brings safety back into the spotlight.

Cozumel is a popular port of call for cruise ships, far removed from the drug gang violence in Mazatlan, a center of Mexican drug cartels. Cruise lines, always vigilant regarding the safety of passengers and crew recently and dropped calls to Mazatlan due to crimes against passengers and crew members.

Disney Cruise Line, Princess and Holland America dropped Mazatlan as a port of call on Mexican Rivera cruises last month. Mexican government officials responded with a cry of “no fair” saying their ports were safe, meeting with cruise line officials and promising a safe experience for cruise passengers.

“We highly value our long-standing relationships within the cruise industry, and are dedicated to ensuring that Mazatlan remains among the top cruise destinations on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Mazatlan has hosted nearly 1.5 million cruise passengers since 2008 and is widely regarded as one of the safest destinations in Mexico.” said Julio Birrueta, spokesperson for the Mazatlan Tourism Trust.

Newly relocated Disney Wonder, bumped to the West coast when new Disney Dream took over in Florida was scheduled to visit Mazatlan on a series of seven-night sailings through April. Instead, that time will be spent in what is believed to be a safer Cabo San Lucas.

Just last week, cruise lines returned to Mazatlan after they believed safety issues had been addressed. The Mexican government bolstered its tourism police force with a special unit of plain-clothes security personnel in the main tourist areas, including shore excursion sites.

Still, crime involving tourists is an ongoing problem in Mexico. Tourism officials have been accused of attempting to minimize the issue. The US Department of State has urged caution visiting Mexico issuing a Travel Warning in September of last year saying “It is imperative that U.S. citizens understand the risks involved in travel to Mexico.”

A cruise line crew member being found dead, for whatever reason, is indeed cause for concern in an ongoing look at the safety of ports around the world.

Last week, chaos and demonstrations in Cairo, Egypt sent cruise lines sailing in a different directions and land tour operators cancelling booked tours.

Cruise lines are modified itineraries for ships calling in Egypt and Tunisia, canceling all port calls in these two countries. While unrest/chaos continues in the area, cruise lines are playing it safe by keeping ships and passengers out of harms way.

Most recently, citing a “changing political environment” Disney Cruise Line as well as land tour operator Adventures by Disney is dropped Tunisia from all land and sea tours. They are just the latest of a growing number of cruise lines and tour operators to pull out of the troubled region.

“We continually evaluate our itineraries, and the decision to modify this itinerary was made in part due to the changing political environment in Tunis and the recent Travel Alert issued by the U.S. Department of State for Tunisia,” Disney spokesperson Christi Erwin Donnan told USA TODAY.

Indeed, cruise lines constantly monitor the situation at every port they call on, most commonly skipping ports for weather related reasons. More difficult to monitor but equally important, changing political environments and crime ashore too are a cause of concern regarding the safety of passengers and crew.


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

Los CabosOne 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.

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