My husband & I spent 5 nights in late Sept 09 at the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar. We are well traveled throughout the US, Europe, Caribbean and South Pacific and this was one of the best vacations we have ever had. It was clearly off-season, a few weeks before high season kicked in with the fishing tournament, so it was very quiet at the hotel and in town. My only complaint is the way the hotel handled our upgrade, but everything else was great. The service at the hotel was top-notch, not one complaint. Everyone was very friendly.
We had an oceanfront room with a king bed. The only difference between Ocean Front and Ocean view is the OV may have some obstruction – not a total 180 degree view but still great. We went with Ocean Front because we wanted a king bed, and they supposedly only had doubles available at that time in Ocean View.
There are several pools on the property, 3 of them along the ocean, so you have great views when sitting by or swimming in the pool. One is an infinity pool.
There is free internet available in the lobby - they offer both connections as well as computers.
The food was very good at all the restaurants, and not that unreasonable for a hotel.
Upon check-in we did get roped into agreeing to go on their timeshare tour – I’m not even sure how it happened – but it actually turned out to be beneficial because of all the incentives they give you. It was worth it, but only if you take advantage of all the bonuses you get. We agreed to do it at 8am the next day, it takes about 90 minutes or so, but we were just chatting a lot with the rep we were assigned as he was from the same hometown as my husband, he was a retiree from California, so we were closer to 2 hours, but you could definitely keep it shorter. For our time, they fed us breakfast, gave us the cash ($45) for the taxi back to the airport, $100 gift certificate for Pitahayas (their fine dining restaurant), $100 gift certificate for the spa, VIP discount card that gave 25% of Pitahayas, 30% off Spa and 15% off Girasoles (their local cuisine), and unlimited discounts on activities, which were great savings. We knew we wanted to do an ATV tour and Snorkeling tour so I had researched companies/prices before we left. I’m glad I didn’t pre-book, because we saved a bundle after the timeshare tour. For instance, the ATV tour should have been $90 for a double. We paid $40 (+10 insurance & $6 park fee + tip, which everyone has to pay) – so we saved $50 plus they pick you up at the hotel, so no taxi fee. The snorkel trip should have been $49 each, but we only paid $15 each – saving $68. We were going to do the dolphin excursion, which listed for $99, but with the discount would have only been $70, but we just ran out of time. They have all activities available: fishing, sailing, diving, etc. When you are getting your activity vouchers, just avoid getting roped in with another pitch from one of the girls there, they try to get you to visit some activity center just say no thanks – that is very sketchy. We figured we saved about $350 + breakfast, which was well worth the 2 hours of our time, and you could always try to haggle for more.
We ate several times at Tomatoes and Girasoles. Both very good. The shrimp quesadilla at Tomatoes is excellent! They offer a limited breakfast buffet for $15 which includes fruits, toast, eggs/omelets, bacon, juice and coffee. It was the best deal on the menu – plenty of food. At Girasoles, ask for the Mexican Coffee for desert. It is not on the menu, and they won’t do it when they are busy, but they do a little show for you in making it and its yummy. They also offer breakfast – and is a good deal – for $15 it includes a mimosa or Bloody Mary. We also really enjoyed Pitahayas. The food was fantastic, as was the view. It is expensive, but after our $100 gift card, dinner only cost us $50, so see what I mean – take the timeshare tour. We had lunch and drinks twice with pool service (from Sirenas), which was also good. Unfortunately Delfines & de Cortez were closed for the off season while we were there, so I have no advice on those. The Sheraton has a shuttle which runs every 90 minutes to downtown for $10 r/t per person. It’s a good deal and very reliable, cheaper than a taxi. It drops off at the mall, which is in the middle of everything. We used it several times.
In Cabo, we ate at Cabo Wabo (strong margaritas!, good tacos), Desperados (great ribs!) and Jack’s. We had wanted to try Felix’s (for the salsas) but they were closed. Cabo is not cheap like other places in Mexico, expect to pay the same as if you were dining in the US.
Do the ATV tour at Migrino Beach with Amigos (www.amigosactivities.com) it was fantastic, one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. We went on the catamaran/snorkel cruise with La Princesa. The crew was really nice and accommodating. They take you past Lands End to see the arch and sea lion colony, though we didn’t get as close to the sea lions as I had hoped as there was a lot of boat traffic that day. Then you head to Santa Maria bay. The snorkeling was not very good. We had a storm come thru the day before so the visibility was a little murky and there didn’t seem to be a lot variety in the fish. Also, there were about 6 other catamaran tours in the bay, but I think that is really all that was available unless you take the trip up to Palumbo, which is a couple of hours away. After snorkeling the serve you some sandwiches, chips, salsa & guacamole. All along there are sodas, waters & beers available and they always make sure you have a drink in your hand if you want it. We had a mix of people on the boat. There was a family with 2 small girls, several honeymoon couples, ourselves (we are 40) and an older (60?) couple, so it is welcoming for everyone. The trip was very smooth and beautiful, I’m not the most comfortable on boats but it was fine. Again, for $15 each, it was well worth it. I may have been disappointed in the actual snorkel if I had paid $49 each. I had a friend who did the sunset cruise and that was extremely pleased with that, so if you just want to get out to see the arch, maybe take the sunset cruise and skip the snorkel. Also, because of the current, you can’t swim in the ocean right off the beach, so with the snorkel we were able to, so that was nice – the water was so warm and the color is spectacular.
Everyone takes US dollars, but be careful on the conversion, stores in town will sometimes screw you. Do the math in your head and give them as close to it as possible, otherwise they ask for more and most likely pocket it. If you have pesos, that would be best.
Most importantly - make your transportation arrangements before you travel – that is a must. We had read about the timeshare sharks at the airport so we knew to keep our eyes focused on the door. Once you get thru customs and claim your luggage, do not speak or make eye contact with anyone until you are outside and you see a sign for your specific transportation company. Do not let the vulchers inside distract you, they will say anything to get you – just keep walking. They try to trick you, asking for your paperwork so that you stop. Remember, don’t talk to anyone until you are outside. We arranged a shared van shuttle thru CaboSanLucastours.net. It was $12.50 each for the 1-way to the Sheraton ($25 total). They are very nice and easy to deal with. There are constantly changing issues with taxis in the area and at that time transportation companies could only drop off at the Sheraton – not pick up, you needed to take a taxi back to the airport, which was $45 for the two of us.
A great trip and highly recommend the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar.