The Return of One&Only Palmilla

Taos, New Mexico
Shutterstock/Josemaria Toscano
Beachfront Pool Casita Master Suite includes a wrap-around infinity-edge pool and a separate Jacuzzi.
Beachfront Pool Casita Master Suite includes a wrap-around infinity-edge pool and a separate Jacuzzi.

Hurricane Odile barreled through Los Cabos, Mexico, last September, leaving a trail of shuttered resorts in its wake. But just seven months after the storm, on April 20, One&Only Palmilla opened its doors to guests — and great fanfare — with its trademark hospitality, an updated look and a host of new, high-gloss offerings. We visited a few weeks after its opening and found a One&Only Palmilla that’s back and better than ever.

The most-anticipated addition to the 173-room resort is SEARED, a sleek steakhouse by Michelin-star Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, with a 550-label wine cellar and a glass-walled curing room. Standout menu items include melt-in-your-mouth Kobe beef and achingly fresh oysters, but if you don’t make a reservation when booking your room you might just miss out. Insiders anticipate tables filling up two months in advance. Ask Yun Dorado ([email protected]; 011-526-241-467-000), guest relations manager, to reserve a table when booking your room.

Fine dining doesn’t stop there. Steps from SEARED, Suviche, also run by Vongerichten, serves artful sushi — such as tuna and black truffle — and ceviche by Chef Yoshiaki Akaike, as well as sake pairings chosen by Wine Director and Sake Sommelier Sabrina Sanchez. The restaurant’s alabaster bar, or the adjacent One&Only Lounge overlooking the Sea of Cortez, are prime spots for pre-dinner cocktails. Beloved by guests and locals, the open-air Agua by Larbi got a new contemporary aesthetic by designer Adam D. Tihany (Per se, Restaurant Daniel, Mandarin Bar London). There, Chef Larbi Dahrouch and his team bring guests farm-to-table Mexican dishes and 50 Mexican wines. The trio of moles is heavenly. A nod to Dahrouch’s Moroccan heritage, guests will find dishes inspired by his home country, too, like fragrant vegetable and lamb tagines and a chickpea stew. If you’re dining with a sizable party, reserve Larbi’s Table, a circular setup by the Sea of Cortez that’s outfitted with a giant lazy susan and seats 15. Just taking a break from the beach? Grab a table at Breeze Café. It overlooks the resort’s main freeform pool and serves breakfast (try the Spicy Eggs, served over chilaquiles), light lunches, and all-day snacks to a soundtrack of thunderous waves.

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If you’re a tequila connoisseur, ask Dorado to arrange a private tequila tasting with Bar and Lounge Manager Emmanuel Ibarra. We found the Don Julio 1942 decadent enough to stand in for dessert.

Another recipient of a complete refresh during the resort’s recovery was its 22,000-square-foot spa, which is managed by Vanessa Infante ([email protected]; 011-526-241-467-000). The spa’s 13 villas are tucked away in private gardens behind arched wooden doors. Request one with a plunge pool and swinging day bed for lazy après-service lounging. At the refurbished modern fitness center, make way for evening indulgences with a core-conditioning, spin or Pilates reformer class.

Going straight from the spa to dinner? Book a blowout at the new OBO Salon by Jonathan & George, a salon concept by Beverly Hills hairstylists Jonathan Antin (of Bravo’s “Shear Genius”) and Amanda George. Follow it up with a Warm Paraffin mani/pedi at Pedi:Mani:Cure by Bastien Gonzalez, the French podiatrist renowned for his Podiatry & Pedicure Clinic in Paris.

Guys: Lose your out-of-office scruff — and toss back a G&T — with a hot shave at the new Barber & Blade men’s salon. You’ll relax in a handsome caramel-and-chrome 1920s barber chair as an impeccably dressed — and coiffed — barber sets to work on your stubble.

Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney and Charlize Theron are a few A-listers known to frequent One&Only Palmilla, which offers 24-hour butler service. We spotted actors Joshua Jackson and Diane Kruger during our visit and hear they stayed in a One-Bedroom Beachfront Pool Casita, a prime room category on the property’s southern side with private pools and uninterrupted views of breathtaking Turtle Beach. (Swimming isn’t allowed there, but its giant waves are marvelous to watch.) Here’s a tip: No. 2214, in Casa Sirena, and Nos. 2315 and 2318 (the Master Pool Casita Suite), both in Casa Playa, have the biggest pools and best views in that category, plus Jacuzzis. At the northernmost corner of the property, Beachfront One-Bedroom Suites in Casa Arena and Casa Gardenia have private plunge pools (lagoon-style in ground-floor rooms) and easy access to Pelican Beach, where swimming is allowed.

SEARED is a highly anticipated new steakhouse by Michelin-star Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
SEARED is a highly anticipated new steakhouse by Michelin-star Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

Casa Tres Palmas, an original structure from the property’s days as a private hacienda, houses entry-level Superior Rooms, which are among the best we’ve seen in the category. Their terraces have wide daybeds and 180-degree beach and pool views.

For completely uninterrupted alone time, book One&Only’s four-bedroom Villa Cortez on the resort’s southern side. It has 10,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor living space, a private beach and infinity-edge pool, a 12-person screening theater, a gym and a spa.

Reach out to Yun Dorado for room bookings. She’ll also bring special in-room requests to fruition (we hear celeb requests have included blackout blinds and treadmills on their terraces).

Thanks to a total refresh inside and out, you won’t want to venture far from the resort, but a couple of off-site experiences are too special to miss. Ask Dorado or Head Concierge Alejandro  Flores ([email protected] onlypalmilla.com; 011-526-241-467-000) to arrange an excursion to Los Tamarindos, an organic farm and restaurant in San José del Cabo. There, One&Only guests can harvest fresh vegetables, take a cooking class and have lunch alongside farmer and Chef Enrique Silva, who will welcome them warmly with homemade chilled lemongrass tea. 

And for an experience at sea you won’t soon forget, arrange a day of sailing the Sea of Cortez aboard One&Only Palmilla’s 95-foot yacht, Catari. It has four guest cabins, each with a private bath, a formal living and dining area, plus enough toys to keep your group entertained for days. Good thing, too, because One&Only will soon be offering a Land & Sea package that combines three nights aboard Catari and three at the hotel. If three nights at this Los Cabos legend doesn’t sound like enough, don’t worry. You’ll be back.