FGN Road Trip: Pueblo Bonito Pacifica & Quivira Golf Club

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I’d never before seen an email like the one I received 48 hours prior to our departure. It came from “Aldo, your Personal Butler throughout your stay with us at The Towers at Pacifica.” His message included a form where we were invited to indicate our personal preferences for everything from type of pillow to choice of in-room snacks and beverages. (Little did we know at the time, but everything on that pre-arrival list would soon begin to magically appear in our room each day.)

What was already an exciting adventure to a new destination for my wife and I suddenly became even more interesting. I knew we were bound for a gorgeous resort and a stunning Jack Nicklaus Signature Design golf course in Los Cabos, but there was a tiny part of me wondering if any place could truly match the images we saw leading up to the trip.

Spoiler alert: it was even better.

You’ve seen the brochures and websites for destinations where a few creatively staged photos produce a faux aura of excellence that quickly evaporates the moment your key slips in the door of a substandard room. This was not going to be one of those disappointments.

Right from the outset, before we even packed a suitcase, the stage had been set for excellence and personal service to a degree we’ve never before experienced. And it delivered in every conceivable way. Quivira’s Pueblo Bonita Pacifica Golf and Spa Resort is incredible.

From the moment we arrived and were warmly greeted by the aforementioned Aldo, to the sad moment we boarded the shuttle back to the airport (SJD), Pueblo Bonita Pacifica (PBP) hit one home run after another – quality of accommodations, dining, golf, spa, service, beauty, and unbeatable weather.

Since my wife Ellen and I were both able to enjoy different activities during our stay, we’ll team up to  dig into the various ingredients for a perfect PBP vacation. Hopefully, you’ll not just jealously live vicariously through our experience but will make your way to this slice of heaven located at the southernmost tip of Mexico.

GOLF

The majority of the Michigan Golf Live/Fore Golfers Network audience will be most closely attuned to the Quivira Golf Club (QGC), a Jack Nicklaus masterpiece sitting oceanside atop the very same dramatic cliffs that were featured in the movie Troy (starring Brad Pitt). This piece of property is vast and gorgeous, weaving through a combination of dunes, hugging the shoreline, moving near an historic lighthouse, all while offering a tremendous challenge.

QGC combines a unique mix of shortish Par 4s with lengthy Par 3s and 5s to put your game to the test. Depending on the prevailing winds of the day – and they are stout at times – QGC will have you hitting wedges 160 yards, soon followed by needing a 5-iron for the same distance. The directional changes and variety of elevation provides a unique and enjoyable rhythm that forces golfers to pay attention and do some thinking during the round.

I will long remember the incredible views from holes 5 and 6 along with the tauntingly short 13th hole that demands you hit a wedge accurately or bid a fond farewell to your ball as it careens down the massive boulder wall. The S-shaped 12th hole is a monster Par 5 that, for reasons I may never figure out, yielded a birdie to my card on consecutive days though none of the other holes were as generous.

QGC is also home to a feature I’ve never seen on another course anywhere on the planet – Comfort Stations. These amazing respites are located before the start of your round, before the 5th tee, after the 8th, and before 16. Each of them offers golfers complimentary hot food and drinks, but the 5th and 8th stops take the concept to a new level. At those stations, you’ll be stunned to find staff waiting to mix drinks and prepare food that you can enjoy while seated in a dining area overlooking the ocean!

You haven’t lived until you’ve stopped at a real Comfort Station

Author warning: Don’t you dare start lecturing me about the issue of the Comfort Stations negatively impacting pace of play. When you get to these on-course rest areas, take a peek at the view, discover the incredible cuisine ready for you to enjoy (or made to order upon request), rushing on to the next tee is the last thing on your agenda. You came to Cabo to relax and soak in the sun, ocean, golf, food, and fellowship…so slow down and enjoy it. Save your 3-hour round for the club at home. Bring a real camera, some extra golf balls (in case the boulder walls claim a few victims), and savor the privilege of playing Quivira Golf Club.

DINING

When we entered our room at Pacifica, I immediately noticed the details.  There were cards describing the unique ingredients of the different soaps and toiletry items (for example: “olive, coconut and shea oils with eucalyptus, arnica, lemon, marigold and moringa extracts”); there was a hand-blown glass heart from the San Miguel Blown Glass Factory located around the mountainside in the village of El Arenal.  (These glass hearts are made by Israel Bautista.  The resort sends him all of their empty glass bottles, and he cleans, crushes, and melts them down, then creates beautiful vases, fish, and hearts from them.  What a great way to recycle!)  I knew immediately that this destination took great pride in what they offered to their guests and would go to great lengths to prove that.

Nowhere was this more evident than in the exceptional dining!  I have never experienced anything even close to the attention to detail in each and every one of our meals enjoyed at this resort.  First of all, to call these experiences “meals” is a disservice.  Each one was an “event” and an “experience”.  Each one was artistry in motion and a feast for all of the senses.

Our evening dining experience would begin with cocktails and appetizers–each displayed and explained in detail and offered to us in a stunning venue with vast ocean views and the waning sunset coloring the sky.  The sommelier was intriguing as he explained how each of the flavors of the cuisine would pair with the nuances of the wine being served.  He would also regale us with stories of his experiences in learning his craft and the interesting situations in which he has found himself because of his expertise.  (Did you know that a bottle of wine can cost $25.000??!  And if the cork is compromised, the entire bottle must be thrown away.)

But this was only the beginning!  We would then travel to the location for the dinner.  We would be greeted with trays of “welcome drinks” as we were seated.  Chairs were pulled out for us, napkins were placed in our laps, little coat trees would appear to hold jackets, wraps, and purses.  The chef would describe the appetizer of the evening.  And these were not wings and cheese sticks!  Octopus, clams, shrimp, tuna, marlin; always with fresh herbs and sauces and a plate that was beautifully appointed.

The sommelier would also be on hand to provide details of the wine for the course and the reason for its choosing.  This pattern would follow for each course–salad, main course, dessert.  The servers would parade from the kitchen in a choreographed fashion, surround our table, and serve each person within seconds before returning to the kitchen.  Even the serving was an art form!   Every bite was an explosion of unique, exotic flavors.  Each experience ended with us believing we would never be hungry again.

The graduating students taking their Cooking Class final exam

I was able to get an “inside look” at the attention to detail during a cooking class that was held in the orchard of the resort.  Here they grow many of the vegetables and herbs that are used to make their dishes so unique.  We were able to cut the herbs and choose the vegetables to then wash, chop, and blend (in stone bowls using stones) to make the sauce for our smoked tuna appetizer.  The tuna was seared on large black stones that had been heated on the grill, sliced thinly, and placed on plates. We then added our sauce and garnished the plate with our herbs, placing our fresh salad on the side.  Amazing!  We also helped to create an authentic Mexican entree of chili relleno.  Chilies from the garden, stuffed with smoked marlin and fresh vegetables.  The chilies were seared in the fire to remove the skin, then stuffed, sauced, and garnished.  It was intriguing to watch the staff carefully prepare each and every plate with just the right swirl of sauce and the perfect touch of herbs, right down to the tiniest flower.  Always such attention to every little detail, every single time.

On our final night at Pacifica, there was an additional flair to our dining experience.  We were to dine that evening right on the beach with the ocean waves crashing beside us.  The staff at Pacifica had created a scene for us that reminded me of “The Bachelor”!  Tiki torches, a message in the sand that was literally on fire, a long table set with fine crystal, a guitar player quietly strumming alongside the bar, and a fire pit that had been dug into the sand earlier that day, forming by a circular bench with cushions and blankets.  It was stunning.  As our dining came to an end, we were entertained by a pair of fire artists. Torches, arrows, batons, twirling, dancing, balancing, music, juggling…it was enthralling and quite magical; typical of each day, each moment at Pacifica.

SPA

Each of the resorts that make up Pueblo Bonita have their own spa experience.  We were able to take advantage of the Armonia Spa at Pacifica.  Our service was an 80-minute massage, otherwise known as “heavenly”!  The masseuse used music, oils, heated towels and blankets, hot stones, tinkling bells, and a perfect touch to bring relaxation, soothing, and relief.  Before and after the massage, we were invited to indulge in the cold pool, the sauna, and whirlpool, the relaxation room, and the shower facilities.  The spa also offers a myriad of other services; manicures and pedicures, wraps and facials, skin treatments, etc. Wrapped in a comfy robe and drinking fruit-infused water, it was difficult to leave.

PERSONAL BUTLER

Aldo, our Personal Butler and keeper of the satchel

From the moment that original email from Aldo arrived, we were both wondering what it would really be like to have a Personal Butler at our disposal. Would he really be attentive and on call if we needed him…or would he be overbearing and hovering at times when we just wanted to relax and kick back?

You’ll be pleased to know that Aldo (and the other Personal Butlers) are the utmost professionals. Aldo was unfailingly polite, extremely efficient if asked for assistance, had an excellent sense of humor, and was ALWAYS on call.

At no point were we disappointed or frustrated with a lack of, or too much, attention. Best of all, Aldo was a joy to visit with as we sought to learn about his career path to becoming a Personal Butler at a relatively young age (under 30). When you see him in the VIDEO report from our visit, be sure to make a note that adding a Personal Butler to your PBP vacation will make your life markedly easier and more enjoyable.

 

CONCLUSIONS

After several years of being blessed with invitations to special places, it’s easy to get into a rhythm of missing the “small and special” things about a destination simply because you’ve seen similar amenities or activities on a prior trip. PBP is packed with special aspects both large and small, and it was a privilege to both notice and enjoy them all. This is a special place with a staff that has not only been trained in service excellence, but genuinely seems to enjoy what they do. Even when they didn’t know we were looking, they were smiling and always prepared to help in whatever way was needed.

In the unlikely event that this story is read by the staff at the Comfort Stations, Spa, Restaurants, Quivira Golf Club, Shuttle drivers, Guest Registration, and Housekeeping – we would like to specifically thank you for the work you do to make every guest feel special and welcome.

Friends, if we’re rating PBP on a 10-star scale, this special place is a 12.

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