The new temptations of Los Cabos
It rained in Los Cabos while we were there early in 2009. We mention this because while rain is not so unusual elsewhere, however in the desert of Los Cabos Mexico, on the end of the Baja peninsula (with a 1000 more miles of desert to the north) it only rains less than 10 days a year. Everyone apologized for the one afternoon of bad weather, and even at 23 degrees Celsius, we saw local Mexicans bundled up in parkas as we walked down the beach in our bathing suits. The cacti bloomed, plants sprouted, hummingbirds flew, and the staff scurried to take the mattresses inside. Otherwise, you can expect bright, blue skies, along with amazing sunsets and sunrises guaranteed. You need to slather on the sunscreen – the UV rays aren’t to be taken lightly), and expect low to mid 20’s during the winter day (70’s Fahrenheit) and a few degrees cooler and windier at night. The spring, summer and fall temperatures, and brilliant sunny days only go up from there. Los Cabos is an upscale “ Palm Springs type Mexico” destination (as opposed to Cancun, or “Disney Mexico” where the other Temptations resort is located). Los Cabos is where the wealthy and sexy go to play, and the lowest priced real estate advertised is only a mere million USD for a bachelor condo. Temptations Los Cabos is in keeping with this elegant, fashionable holiday with both luxury and playtimes as part of their vision for this particular resort.
Having been huge fans of the Los Cabos Desire resort before it morphed into a Desire Lite” or the new Temptations Los Cabos, (which happened in February of 2009), we weren’t sure how the changes were going to effect this unique resort concept. Desire Resort is a couples-only, clothing-optional, public sexuality accepting, exclusive adult play vacation destination, and runs close to 100% occupancy in their expanding Cancun location. Desire has been Hedonism’s main competitor, only more up-market and without the single men hovering around. Desire, where you can be nude all day (nudity is accepted everywhere but in the restaurants) has changed to Temptations (at the Los Cabos location only) in response to a new behemoth of a hotel being built next door. We watched the construction workers take their breaks gawking at the naked women sunbathing or frolicking in the hot tub just before the Temptations take over. Most of the hot tub participants mooned and waived (we were afraid more than one of the workers might fall off the upper levels of the construction project when one 30 year old beauty did naked yoga). So in order to guarantee the privacy of their nude guests from leering patrons with telescopic cameras, Desire has become Temptations and has toned the nudity and sexuality way down. Compared to Temptations Cancun (read our review), Los Cabos is expected to be a much more up-market saucy escape as opposed to the “anything goes” aspect of Desire. Maybe it should be re-branded as something other than Temptations (Indulge? Sinful?) as this resort will take on a life of its own – a little bit of the original Temptations, a little bit of the previous Desire and become something new entirely. The plan for Temptation Los Cabos is to keep as much of the sensuality of Desire- without the overt sexual play. In Temptations Cancun, (we were there late in the fall of 2008), guests were primarily singles and some couples, primarily under 30. A little older than the typical Spring Break crowd, but singles in their 20’s ruled the pools in Cancun, and were bused out nightly to the hopping clubs on the Cancun strip. It felt like party central for the recently graduated college crowd. Temptations Los Cabos is insisting that it will be almost exclusively couples (with maybe small groups of single women). Desire had a minimum age of 25 posted on their website, and the age before the February 2009 change over to Temptations started from late 20’s, with the bulk of the guests between 30 and 50. Certainly a 60 year old plus couple wouldn’t have been out of place. Most of the bodies were better than average, and a large proportion had been surgically enhanced. The crowd was affluent, well-preserved, and well-groomed. The new crowd at Temptations will probably settle as more of an early 30’s crowd, primarily from the west coast of Canada and the United States It will be interesting if the 30% Latin visitors increase with the new change over from Desire to Temptations.
The hotel bas made an effort to keep the couples only aspect by having only one king size bed available in all of their rooms. This means that you won’t get the hoards of single men that flock to Temptations Cancun as they fill up a quad room (four single beds to a room and all-night drinking parties). Single men certainly change the dynamic of a resort, and have kept many couples from trying Hedonism for the first time. Single women may share a king size bed, but the single men in attendance would need to pay alone for the double occupancy. According to Silvia McNamara the Guest Services Manager, the other aspect in Los Cabos that doesn’t happen at Temptations Cancun is that they are covering the Jacuzzi lounge, (huge, swim up bar and hot tub) and keeping it clothing optional. Temptations Cancun has a few whirlpools alongside their pools (and the same temperature as the swimming water). Original resorts – the ownership group of Temptations and Desire are trying hard to keep their market share in the adult only resort destination. For guests lamenting the loss of the Desire concept in Los Cabos, management has made a deal with the neighboring hotel to clear out any potential gawkers for four weeks this year, and six weeks next year to have Desire “let’s get nude again” take over weeks at the lowest occupancy times during the year. These weeks are your chance to re-kindle friendships and be naked in guaranteed great weather once more.
So what’s changed now that it’s Temptations instead of Desire? The Desire “voyeuristic beds are gone” (where you could watch all the sex going on, or indulge in all your exhibitionist fantasies), and are to be replaced with more privately screened “cocoons” lounges beside the hot tub. The Jacuzzi is still open to 3 am with a private bartender, and is even more hidden. Expect it to get more than a little flirty later in the evening, with sexy noises coming from those covered lounges, but the relaxed open, sex that happened daily at Desire will be gone. This is very different from the Cancun Temptations, which has you sign a waiver at check in that will have you tossed out if there are any public displays of sexuality. Even as Desire, the guests were respectful of your privacy and space, with less than 30% in the “swinging” or Lifestyle movement. Most of the couples were just hoping for re-connecting romance from their partner, and the opportunity to pick up the sexual charge from their surrounding environment.
However if even the possibility of hearing sex might offend you, then you don’t ever need to go up top to the hot tub. Around the pool has changed to topless only, and while they still have sexy games the activity staff put on, just anticipate that the overall tone will be slightly subdued from the past. The flirty tequila water volleyball will still happen, dirty darts, and sexual trivia will still be engaged mid afternoons around the pool. The activity staff are fun, and good humored (a little too competitive on the volleyball court playing with out of shape tourists who had been drinking), but for the most part they offered lively and fun games as an alternative to those just wanting to bask in the rays and do nothing more strenuous than sit up to give their drink orders. The themed costume nights are dropped in the disco, (no more jungle or cowboy nights) and the playroom has been dismantled. They are also opening the disco up to locals and other resort guests in Los Cabos to come in for an evening of dance. It will be interesting to see if there are any takers in making the disco more vibrant due to outside influence and if there are any curiosity seekers willing to visit from outside the resort. Our big complaint about the resort is how late it is before the evening activities begin. With the hot tub opening at 3 pm, most of the guests make their way up for “happy hour” from 4 to 6 pm (we were pruny, overly heated, and had our fill of the strong drinks within an hour), the hot tub is a great place to socialize, but the pool bar shuts down and everyone doesn’t congregate again until 10 or 10:30 when the karaoke, live entertainment or outside fashion show gets started. Dinner never took longer than an hour, so we ended up back in our rooms after dinner, and most of the time couldn’t re-motivate to go back out after 10 pm. The disco doesn’t get hopping until after midnight, and with such spectacular weather you want to be able to be up with the sun.
The drop in price point from Desire of the posted rate of $300 a night, (there are deals to be had online if you are flexible on your travel weeks) and Temptations is at half of that. This means the menu has been simplified and Temptations is only offering the less costly options of food. Our favorite smoked salmon has been taken off the breakfast menu, and the food went from being good to merely mediocre. The poolside lunch buffet (the only food option during the day) had a daily sameness about it that became very unappetizing after a week. They have also dropped their 24 hour room service menu (now only breakfast is available as room service) although there is food and drink always available somewhere on the premises if you are hungry at 4 am and want to wander the grounds and find it. The resort is incredibly safe not to worry for even late night wanderings- fenced in with a security presence, and they have added extra security given the new night passes available. The nice thing about the location is the easy access to taxis and the town of San Jose del Cabos.
The facilities are beautiful – immaculately maintained and with loads of hot towels available everywhere. The beauty of the desert landscape and sand dunes leading out into the Pacific Ocean is every bit as nice as any resort in Los Cabos. There are no water sports and no swimming in the ocean given the lethal undertow and rip tide present. The swimming condition sign always flies black and there is absolutely no swimming in the ocean in front of the resort. There are public beaches down the road however. A real disadvantage if you like to swim in the coolish ocean – but an advantage if you like to meet people as everyone congregates around the heated swimming pool. This central congregation meant it was easier to meet everyone staying in the resort on a first name basis. The beach is great to walk, safe (provided you don’t venture more than ankle deep in the water), and we enjoyed watching the pelicans and other sea birds diving for fish right off the crashing waves. We watched whales breeching a little further offshore. Temptations is a small boutique hotel (150 rooms), and looks especially tiny compared to the mammoth Hilton’s and Riu hotels that grace the hotel strip in the twin cities of Cabos San Lucas and San Jose del Cabos where Temptations is located.
There is talk that Original Resorts (a small, four resort, family owned business, based in Mexico) is on the prowl for the prefect location for another Desire location. We can only hope. Now with only one Desire resort, there is a huge market for choice in the sexually charged adult resort business. The occupancy in Los Cabos is expected to increase given the lower price point, and it is still one of the few adult-only vacation options, and one of the few marketing sensuality. The challenge for Los Cabos Temptations in getting their guests numbers up in comparison to Cancun’s location is that Los Cabos can be difficult to get to. With daily flights running only from Dallas/Forth Worth, Phoenix and Los Angeles, the entire mid-west, and northern US and Canadian markets are largely inconvenienced to get to this desert paradise. We took an Air Canada Vacations flight from Toronto that flew once a week, and was $500 more expensive (and three hours longer) than the daily flights direct to Cancun.
Like any new change there were some bugs to be worked out. The resort will have a Desire feel for many months as they implement the complete change to Temptations. They had already geared the staff up for the handover with the new menus even during the Desire days in late 2008. By day four of our visit we were tired of the reduced choices on the menu. The dining alone will keep the age of guests down, and the possibility exists of grabbing a cab and taking in one of the restaurants that are no more than 15 minutes away from Temptations downtown location. There is a shopping center right across the street, and although the area is small, it is worth an afternoon bus ride to see the beauty of the buildings and the starkness of the surrounding desert. This also meant you had less of the “gilded cage” feel, as you could easily walk to new scenery (or to visit the local pub to watch a sports game) and leave the resort if you needed a change of scenery.
It will be interesting to watch how Temptations walks the line between flirty and sex and appeals to that huge middle group of 30 plus couples looking for a sensuous – but safe- adventure that spices up their relationship without leaving a bad taste in your mouth. We felt that the Desire concept was great if you had communicated as a couple about your limits, and were looking for a naked paradise with like-minded people for an escape. We thought Temptations Cancun was best suited for the under 30 single crowd. There is much to be said about vacations that don’t have unsupervised children splashing and spoiling an afternoon at the poolside. Maybe Temptations Los Cabos will be the half way point and be a better choice in adult only vacation than a Sandals or Breezes resort because it offers a sensuality to an open-minded culture looking to be (if only ever-so slightly) naughty.