On past visits to Cabo San Lucas and Los Cabos, we’d driven by the lush grounds of the One&Only Palmilla – lusting to know why the fabled resort is so special that Hollywood royalty flock to it in droves.
We knew it was hailed as one of the top resorts in Cabo. But we didn’t know exactly why.
Now after staying here, we do.
And it really is, well, the “one and only” – making this One and Only Palmilla review easy to write!
(The hotel is officially named “One&Only Palmilla.” But the ampersand often gets turned into “and,” so the hotel is also known as the “One and Only Palmilla.”)
Introducing the One and Only Palmilla
Built in 1956, the resort was originally used as a 15-room vacation getaway for the son of the then Mexican president.
When it opened to guests, it could only be reached by yacht or helicopter, attracting such celebrities as John Wayne and Lucille Ball.
In 2004, the property was expanded and turned into the One and Only Palmilla resort. (One&Only Resorts is an exclusive collection of some of the world’s most deluxe hotels.)
Today, the Palmilla hotel lures such guests as Jennifer Aniston, Rihanna and Australian actress Rebel Wilson – who stay in the resort’s private Villa Cortez. (We’ll get to the Palmillas suites and villas in a jiff.)
One and Only Palmilla review: Exceptional service
Every Cabo travel guide worth its salt notes that service is beyond expectation. That’s the hallmark of this One and Only resort.
Chill by the adult-only pool and you get free 10-minute foot massages, sunglass cleaning and mini sorbets.
The family-friendly resort also offers complimentary laundry for kids under two.
And all 174 rooms, suites and villas have a private butler who unpacks and packs your clothes – meaning more of that pampered pool time.
One and Only Palmilla rooms
Rooms and suites reflect a colonial Mexican flavor. One and Only Palmilla reviews agree they’re all pretty dreamy!
Nestled in a setting of fountains, swaying palms and tropical flowers, they have red tile roofs, travertine floors, iron-studded doors, exposed wood beams and outdoor terraces.
Rooms and suites:
All rooms have a panoramic ocean view of the sparkling blue Sea of Cortez.
You can choose from Oceanfront Rooms with private terraces to one-bedroom Grand Suites (some with private plunge pools) to super spacious Casita Suites (1,465 square feet) with private outdoor infinity pools.
Many rooms are beachfront Junior Suites, with an indulgent 770 square feet of space. (We stayed in one of these.)
They feature a master bedroom with a king-size bed, a separate airy living room and a furnished terrace where you can lounge like a happy lizard.
Bathrooms have a separate pebbled rainfall shower plus a deep-soaking travertine bathtub.
When you first arrive, you’re welcomed with a tequila platter in your room.
Fruit and complimentary snacks (from spicy peanuts to cheese, crostinis and olives) are delivered daily.
At turndown, scented candles await.
As for the mod-cons, expect an ultra-HD flat screen TV with premium satellite service, Bose sound system and binoculars for stargazing and spotting breaching whales offshore.
One&Only Palmilla villas:
And then there are two villas.
For the ultimate stay, gather your friends and family and splash out like celebrities in Villa Cortez.
This four-bedroom residence by the beach is designed to look like a Mexican hacienda.
It has 10,500 square feet of space, a private pool and direct access to your own beach enclave – where you’re treated to top-of-the-line seaside service, of course!
The newest villa is Villa One.
Perched on a hilltop, this 14,950 square-foot retreat has four bedrooms and boasts a separate butler suite, screening room and an OMG private infinity pool.
Review of the One and Only Palmilla restaurants
You have a choice of several dining options.
Dining is a gourmet treat at Seared, a seafood and steakhouse restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Try the black truffle pizza appetizer – not a humble dish, by any means. Or start with classic caviar with crème fraiche and warm blinis.
For a main course, perhaps pick the spring pea guacamole and roasted cabrilla (grouper) with mushroom yuzu broth and crunchy rice?
Or go for the Kobe ribeye with a ginger-scallion flavored steak sauce.
Agua is the resort’s cliffside al fresco restaurant overlooking the sea.
Snag a “moonlight” oceanside table, and you’ll listen to the waves while noshing on farm-to-table Mexican cuisine and locally sourced seafood.
Other Palmilla One and Only restaurants include Suviche.
Think a mix of Mexican and Japanese dishes here, like salmon tartar guacamole and tuna ceviche with green apple and jalapeno.
Check out the sake menu too!
We’re not the only ones besotted with the food at this luxury San Jose del Cabo resort.
Other One and Only Cabo reviews also rave about its wonderful restaurants.
The One and Only in Cabo doesn’t lack for activities either.
Complimentary yoga is offered daily in the yoga garden, and the gym has free spinning classes.
There’s also a chapel onsite for destination weddings.
The resort has direct access to what it calls Pelican Beach, an almost-private beach cove.
What’s great about this beach is that it’s an extension of Playa Palmilla, a quiet public beach that’s one of the few swimmable beaches in Cabo. (Strong waves and currents mean many beaches in the whole region are unsafe).
Make it a beach day in your own private cabana with sun loungers and food-and-drinks service!
Or swim in the oceanfront Agua infinity pool or escape to the quiet adults-only Vista pool.
For golfers, the 27-hole Palmilla Golf Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, offers ocean views from every hole. And clay courts lure tennis fans to play a game.
Want to get out on the water? Cabo’s water activities are pretty special.
You can book the resort’s luxury 95-foot yacht for a day of snorkeling, kayaking, SUP and relaxation.
Just bring your credit card.
And down a stiff nip of that tequila before checking out and settling your bill.
One&Only Palmilla review: Last words
What we loved:
- Being surrounded by lush tropical gardens and grounds, filled with bougainvillea, jasmine and waving palm trees – that was heavenly!
- We could have lounged all day on the comfy daybeds on our room’s stone terrace, looking out at the Sea of Cortez.
- The privacy and exclusivity make you feel like a paparazzi-shy celebrity.
- If you’ve been doing some Cabo trip planning, you know accommodations here are expensive. This one is really pricey!
- And on top of your accommodation and dining costs, you pay an extra 29% in taxes, fees, surcharges and mandatory gratuities.
- There are no outside restaurants within walking distance.
One and Only Palmilla, Cabo
Location: Near the town of San Jose del Cabo
Planning your trip to Cabo?
Here are our favorite travel resources:
Resorts: Booking.com is great for scoring a “wow” hotel in Cabo – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!).
Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).
Tours: For the best local guided tours in Cabo, check out GetYourGuide and Viator.
Car rental: Renting a car in Los Cabos is one of the best ways to explore. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.
Travel insurance: World Nomads travel insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, with coverage for more than 150 activities, as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more.
Vaccines and meds: We follow CDC travel guidelines to see what medications and vaccines are needed for trips. You can get vaccines at your pharmacy, travel medical clinic or doctor’s office.
Need more help planning your trip? Check out our ultimate Cabo travel guide! It’s packed with crazy useful trip planning info.
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While the resort kindly provided us with media support for our stay, our One&Only Palmilla review is entirely our own. We follow the ethical codes of the travel writing professional associations to which we belong.
Photos: 17 © Janice and George Mucalov, Cabo Visitor | Other photos courtesy of the One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos
About the authors
Award-winning travel writers Janice and George Mucalov are frequent visitors to Los Cabos. Here on Cabo Visitor, they share their essential tips for discovering the best Cabo has to offer! See About.