My foot slips on the Union Station platform as I step gingerly toward the doorway of the A train, a small carry-on rolling along behind me. An October shower has turned into sleet and then into snow. I worry that United’s flight 1665, already running late, won’t escape DIA ahead of an impending storm.
About two hours behind schedule, the de-iced plane rises above the runway to a smattering of applause. Our full flight heads southwest for sunny Cabo San Lucas, where it’s an hour earlier and 60 degrees warmer. I’m too late for my massage at the Armonia Spa but will arrive just in time for cocktail hour on the terrace at Pueblo Bonito Rosé with a group of women from around the country, banding together to experience the range of the “Ultimate Girlfriends Getaway” at Pueblo Bonito’s all-inclusive resorts.
One of them is my friend of 30-some years Kelly, whose flight from Phoenix landed much earlier. Kelly, whom I met when I covered the Oakland A’s and she piled up innings watching Cactus League games, might have been the prototype for the Energizer bunny. An explorer, an athlete, a talker, she wasn’t going to lounge in a beach cabana waiting for me when Arturo was mixing free (but not flimsy) margaritas next door at Cilantro’s.
Luckily, we both have time to hit the refresh button before meeting the rest of the group over bubbly and wine. It includes other pairs of friends, as well as a mother and 20-ish daughter, and a Los Angeles writer who has brought her 80-something neighbor. The appeal of Pueblo Bonito’s resorts, we learn quickly, stems from an abundance of choices: Kelly and I both commit to sunrise yoga on Playa El Médano (where we learn from Pepe that perro hacia abajo means downward dog); then Kelly takes off on the stand-up paddleboard while I lounge in a beach parasol; then we reunite for a delightful cruise out to Cabo’s signature rock formation, El Arco.
So far so good, but now we’re going to go shopping, typically an enjoyable feminine pastime but not a hobby of my friend. I’m enamored with our first stop, La Coyota, a sprawling hacienda full of little rooms of locally crafted pillows, blankets, trinkets, dishware, and clothing in colors that evoke Frida Kahlo. At our second stop, the waterfront shops, Kelly ditches me to go have a $1 cerveza.
We are in sync again for the gourmet dinner of the trip, at LaFrida in Pueblo Bonito’s Sunset resort, high on the cliffs and within Quivira Los Cabos, a luxury residential community that contains the most upscale of Pueblo Bonito’s four Cabo resorts, Pacifica, and PB’s Montecristo Estates Luxury Villas. About a 15-minute shuttle ride from town, this is the southernmost point of the Baja Peninsula, where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean and swimming is so dangerous it is not permitted.
At Sunset, we’re drawn into The After, a sports bar where we could watch the sunset on the patio and then come inside to watch the World Series. Not a bad combination, we agree. But an exquisite meal awaits us. LaFrida requires a $30 upcharge from Pueblo Bonito guests, who otherwise may roam freely between all the resorts and their amenities (except the more upscale Pacifica). Here, surrounded by articles and art that depict the style and person of the famed artist, guests enjoy dishes such as Blue Corn Tlayuda and Cold Smoked Mackeral, Traditional Mole De Olla Sea Bass, and Pasilla Barbecue-Braised Short Ribs, with servers never far away. (Note: At Pueblo Bonito, “all-inclusive” includes tips, but we each left our servers $5 or so at dinner.)
Now we come to the highlight of the trip, for this girlfriend. I’m going to golf Jack Nicklaus-designed Quivira the next day with the charming director of golf, Antonio Reynante. Kelly does not play golf, although she has a talent for it. But she hears the other women talking about Antonio and, voila, she’s planning an outfit.
Quivira is worth pretending to play. A round here includes four “comfort stations,” each of them serving margaritas and beers, tacos and quesadillas. After four holes, one winds up the mountainside to the comfort station carved into the cliff, with a mirror over the sink reflecting Cabo. We stop for drinks and the view.
Antonio eagerly accepted our invitation to play the forward tees with us. This means he can drive some of the par-4 holes and hit the par-5s in two shots, so, he’s on his way to seven birdies. I, however, am the only one to birdie Nos. 5 and 6, the cliffhangers he describes as the “Corner of Death.” (Please don’t ask me how, or to repeat this feat.)
Kelly, meanwhile, is completely engaged, taking tips of all kinds from our generous host. (Sorry, this is not part of the regular “Girlfriends” package; it would be quite the upsell!) Antonio tells us about the most wonderful sushi place in Cabo called Koi, hiding in the back of the Walmart food court. “You will have a wonderful meal, for $40 for the two of you, food and drink,” he tells us.
“But you’ve seen us drink,” I point out, sipping my beer.
“Maybe $50,” he says. “No more than that.”
Ah, but we’re spending our last night at Pacifica, in the care of a butler named Aldo, and we cannot imagine leaving this glorious, quiet, adults-only property, my favorite of the PB resorts. We’ll take dinner at Peninsula, another of Pueblo Bonito’s premium restaurants. Then, two baseball fans catch Game 7 of the World Series in the Whale Watching VIP Lounge upstairs.
As our shuttle steers us toward the airport the next day, we see the Walmart. I’d like to say someday I’d try Koi. But, if I have access to the abundance that is Pueblo Bonito, probably not.