President Obama may have visited Cabo for the G20 economic summit of world leaders, but the vast majority of high-profile celebrities who come to Cabo San Lucas are seeking weekend rest and relaxation away from the dream factories of Hollywood.
Cabo is a mere two-hour flight from California's entertainment capital, and proximity - as well as a winning combination of luxe seaside resorts, beautiful beaches, and world-class spas and golf courses - have helped make this resort city at the southernmost tip of the Baja California peninsula the de rigeur getaway destination for some of the world's most famous people.
Life at Land's End has proved an appealing option to some of the world's most famous actors, athletes and musicians. — Photo courtesy of Jamoker
Hotels and Resorts
It's relatively easy to share the same hotels and resorts as Hollywood royalty. All you need is enough money to stay at the sort of places where infinity pools, five-star restaurants and private butlers are considered standard amenities.
Capella Pedregal and Ridge Luxury Villas are among the most popular celebrity lodgings in the wealthy hillside enclave of Pedregal, while the golden sands of Médano Beach are home to two elegant A-list accommodations options, Hacienda Beach Club and Residences and Casa Dorada. The latter merits special attention for the range of its celebrity clientele, which includes socialite Paris Hilton, rocker Tommy Lee, and hip hop artist Lil Jon.
Spectacular Land's End views attract celebrities to Hacienda Beach Club and Residences. — Photo courtesy of Hacienda Beach Club and Residences
Bad boy types like Sean Penn, Charlie Sheen and Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash tend to favor Hotel El Ganzo–the name is a portmanteau of Hunter Thompson's gonzo journalism and the Spanish word for goose–the artsy boutique hotel at Puerto Los Cabos, a high-end development located just outside San José del Cabo (and the site of the region's first Ritz Carlton property, which is slated to open by the end of 2015).
Many of Los Cabos' most fame-friendly resorts, however, are found along the Tourist Corridor that connects cape cities Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. Hoops hall-of-famer Michael Jordan and funnyman Adam Sandler headline those that have stayed in the presidential suite at Westin Los Cabos Resort & Spa, and Jennifer Aniston and Gone With the Wind actor Clark Gable are among the many movie stars who've graced the elegantly manicured grounds of what has long been considered Los Cabos' benchmark resort, One&Only Palmilla.
Los Cabos' celebrity allure extends well beyond the area's collection of seaside luxury resorts. Local beaches like Playa del Amor, better known as Lover's Beach, are great spots for star sightings. Actor Eddie Cibrian famously surprised singer LeAnn Rimes with a romantic yachting excursion to Lover's Beach on the couples' honeymoon, one of many reasons Cabo San Lucas Bay is now a frequent lurking spot for boat-bound paparazzi seeking big-name bikini photos.
Beautiful beaches like Playa del Amor are good spots to sight visiting celebrities. — Photo courtesy of Solmar Hotels and Resorts
Cabo also boasts a well-earned reputation for world-class spas and golf courses. A-list actresses Cameron Diaz and Jessica Alba, as well as multitalented star Jennifer Lopez, have all enjoyed the pampering ministrations of the Spa at Las Ventanas. No word on whether the ladies and their beaus took advantage of the spa's highly regarded couples treatments (The Sea and Stars Pure Wellness for Two includes a rose petal bath, Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries).
Golf's greatest champion, Jack Nicklaus, is responsible for many of the best local seaside layouts, including a spectacular 18-hole championship course at El Dorado Golf and Beach Club. Casamigos, the recent tequila launch from George Clooney and nightlife impresario Rande Gerber is named for their neighboring villas at the exclusive El Dorado development, which hugs the coastline along the Tourist Corridor.
Restaurants and Nightlife
Cabo's biggest celebrity booster over the years has been rock star and former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar, who founded Cabo Wabo Cantina in 1990–there are now additional locations in Hollywood, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas–and introduced the ultra premium Cabo Wabo tequila line. The best time to see the Red Rocker and friends is during his annual birthday bashes in October. High-profile guests at parties past include musicians Kid Rock and Kenny Chesney, and celebrity chefs Emeril Lagasse and Guy Fieri.
Former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar is the celebrity most frequently associated with Cabo San Lucas. — Photo courtesy of Cabo Wabo Cantina
El Squid Roe has also seen its fair share of celebrity visitors. Johnny Manziel, soon to be a high-round NFL draft pick, celebrated his Heisman Trophy season at Texas A&M with a well-documented spring break session at the long-time nightlife fixture. (Johnny Football isn't the only big-time athlete to enjoy Cabo's good-time atmosphere. Tony Romo famously visited with then girlfriend Jessica Simpson before a play-off game in 2008, a vacation decision that led to widespread criticism when the quarterback's Dallas Cowboys team lost to the New York Giants 21-17).
Of course, Cabo's cachet with the celebrity crowd is nothing new. Fifty years ago, some of Hollywood's biggest stars were frequenting early fly-in fishing resorts on Baja California Sur's beautiful East Cape, and taking advantage of small town Santiago's airstrip to enjoy the region's superb white-winged dove hunting. Diners at the Palomar Restaurant in Santiago can still see photos of legendary figures like John Wayne and Bing Crosby, as well as more recent visitors like Susan Sarandon.
Nowadays the Santiago airstrip is gone and dove hunting has been prohibited, but the continued influx of A-list talent is proof positive that the celebrity appeal of Cabo San Lucas and the Los Cabos area has never been stronger.