We stayed at Villa La Estancia for six days starting with December 9. We got the package through Costco Travel and for an ocean view apartment with one bdr/living room/kitchen/washer & dryer (unit 3305) we paid $3,031.59 which included the airline, transportation from/to the airport, and $150 credit to be used at the restaurant. The units are very nice, the view of the ocean is great and the grounds are kept immaculate BUT… I cannot rate the building only without taking in consideration other factors surrounding my stay there.
When we got out of the plane we had to stay in a line and have our passports looked at, but while in line we had to fill in another form besides the two forms they gave us already on the plane. So, it wasn’t very easy, for with one hand you had to move your luggage and with the other hand we had to fill in this new form. Why wasn't everything handled on the plane? After that we picked up our checked in luggage and then went through a gate where we had to press a button and a light would come up. If the light is green you go through toward the exit, but if the light is read then you have to stop and have your luggage manually checked by customs. Our light was green so we were lucky not to be stopped by customs.
Outside there was nobody with a “Costco” sign as we were told by Costco Travel but somehow we figured out the company which had to drive us to the hotel. Even so it took about 40 minutes until we left, for the driver had to wait for other people besides us to be picked up. This process was not very smooth.
The check-in was pretty smooth and nobody ever bothered us in the whole time we spent there with time share sales as other people complained in previous reviews.
I spoke to people who got very sick from the running water in Los Cabos. I’ve heard that La Estancia has its own filtering system, but the advice on Trip Advisor and from some of my friends who traveled to Los Cabos before me was “Do not drink or brush your teeth with running water and when you take a shower do not let water enter your mouth. Use only bottled water.” Well, I traveled a lot through the US and Canada and never had to worry about such things. And believe me, it is inconvenient to brush your teeth with bottled water!
Then the vendors on the beach are amusing the first day but they become a nuisance afterwards, for we were there to relax and on vacation and not to constantly hear “Amigos, amigos do you want to buy this or that” and having to again and again answer, “No, thank you.” At least there is a portion of the beach reserved just for the hotel and the vendors usually don’t cross the line (though there were a few exceptions when vendors ventured in the guests area) but they are allowed to shout at you from a few feet away and invade your privacy at any time with total disrespect for us as guests. I don't mind the vendors having small beach front fixed points where they can sell their stuff but to shout at you nonstop seems to me abusive. I could see that about 80% of the guests at the resort were sitting inside the hotel grounds around the swimming pools, and because of the vendors roaming the around they would avoid the beach in front of the hotel. But what’s then the purpose of paying a hefty price for a “hotel on the beach” if because of the “beach vendors” one cannot lay on the beach? Anyway, one day I got a pair of sunglasses from one of the vendors and I paid $7 for it. I wore it about a day and a half and some red irritations suddenly showed up on my face and around my eyes exactly where the frame touched my skin. I realized that the frame had some dangerous chemicals in it so I stopped wearing them and I even left them behind at the hotel. A day later my irritations disappeared. These beach vendors are selling all kind of stuff and though my bad experience was with sunglasses I have a feeling that the other items they sell are of the same poor quality and made with cheap dangerous chemicals. Those with kids should stay away from anything these vendors sell.
In town it’s nice but again there is a total lack of respect for tourists and everybody is shouting at you offering you trips, time shares and who knows what else.
We used once a local bus from downtown to Walmart and... was surprised to say the least. Buses are white and look like our school buses just smaller and much older. It was a very uncomfortable ride.
I want to mention one more thing. I spoke to the owners of a quarter of one of the condos and they pay (for a quarter of a year) $8,000 per year for maintenance. That means that all four owners pay a total of $32,000 per year maintenance fee just for one unit. I mentioned this detail and also the price we paid for our travel package in order to make a point. As a foreign guest in Mexico, one is expected to give tips at every corner and to everybody. Yes, Mexicans are very poorly paid. A cleaning woman makes about $4 per day. Waiters, the front desk people at the hotel, the taxi drivers make an average of $7 per day. The per night fees they charge the Americans and Canadians are relatively similar with what hotels charge in North America, so my question is why Mexican workers are paid 10 to 20 times less than their counterparts in the US or Canada? There is a huge rip-off which unfortunately affects not only their local workers but the tourists as well, for tourists are expected to pick up the tab and pay these poor people’s salaries through constant tipping.
We bought some food from Walmart (trip by cab $7). There is also a Costco store but did not get a chance to visit it. Walmart has a good food section. The pastries are inexpensive and very good but watch out for other food items. We bought some chicken and when we got back to the hotel we realized that one of the packages was completely rotten and had to throw it away. Also Walmart in Mexico looks more like one of our dollar stores here, but hey, Walmart and Costco may be your best option in getting safe food.
There was another small inconvenience related to the La Casona restaurant which is on the resort’s premises. They told me that a bottle of Pelegrino is 50 pesos, but after I came to the room I realized that they charged 85 pesos per bottle ($1 US= 12 pesos), went back to the restaurant, spoke to another guy asked again how much is a bottle, this time he said 45 pesos, showed him the receipt with the mistake but they refused to adjust it, so I had to go to the front desk and eventually they took care of it. Our package included a “pillow menu” and a “beach bag” but the hotel did not provide them to us. We had to ask a couple of days later for the beach bag and when we asked about the pillow the front desk guy wasn’t sure what that was and eventually we gave up on it.
Well, if you’re comfortable with the inconveniences of vacationing in a 3rd world country, then go ahead and book your trip. Otherwise think of Hawaii or Florida.
TIP: DO NOT buy a time share in Mexico. Buy it in Hawaii or Florida and then trade your points for a resort on Mexico if one year you want to go there. Mexico is very volatile because of the drug cartels and many people who bought in Acapulco for example some years ago now count their losses for nobody wants to go to Acapulco anymore.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.