Two of our great friends, Kiki and Gabe, were getting married in Cabo San Lucas at the Barcelo Los Cabos at the end of May 2013. We were originally going to stay there (at a cost of close to $1,000 for the long weekend), but before we put down a deposit, we researched our timeshares and hotel points to see what options we had. It is a really nice location, but if we don’t need to spend an extra $1,000, why do it?
Hotel & Timeshare Options in Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas is one city of the Los Cabos area. It has a sister city to the East called San Jose del Cabo that is shares a border with. Our wedding is in the smaller town of San Jose del Cabo, so we’ll be focusing our search there. Neither Club Carlson nor Hyatt had locations in the area. I previously wrote a teaser on a SUPER cheap weekend in Cabo, but here are the details to our research for hotels, flights, and our experience.
Worldmark by Wyndham Coral Baja
The Worldmark Coral Baja is in San Jose del Cabo, which is the sister city to Cabo San Lucas. It is a nice location, right on the beach, with great views from the balcony.
Looking only at this picture, this location seems like a place I’d want to visit. However, the furniture inside is really dated. The exterior of the property looks appealing, but the interior is in serious need of an update.
We wouldn’t be spending THAT much time in the room, and the location was relatively close to the Barcelo, where the wedding was, so we’ll keep this as a back-up plan. We would have probably stayed in a 1 Bedroom Deluxe room, so it would have been 5,000 points (Friday & Saturday nights are 1,800 each + 1,400 for Sunday night). It would have cost us 25% of our annual points for this Friday thru Monday vacation. Plus, Worldmark charges a housekeeping fee of $75 for a 1 bedroom unit.
Diamond Resorts Cabo Azul
Our other timeshare is with Diamond Resorts. Most of their prime locations are international, so Diamond was one of the first places we looked. I have to say, the pictures of the resort are Ah-May-Zing! And what makes Diamond Resorts Cabo Azul Resort & Spa so ideal is that it was a short walk down the beach (about 4-5 properties) from the Barcelo.
There are many options at Diamond Resorts Cabo Azul to choose from… 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, and Penthouse units. Garden View, Pool View, or Ocean View. To conserve points, we looked at a 1 bedroom Garden View, knowing that we’d be in our room very little over the weekend, so there’s no point in paying extra for the view. An Ocean View is 67% more points and a Pool View is 50% more points than a Garden View room. The 5,586 points would be 37% of our annual points and there are no additional fees to pay.
If we were to pay cash, the rates would start at $328.59 per night, assuming we used our AAA discount, for a total of $1,222.35.
So far, this location seems the most ideal… great pictures, an affordable amount of our annual points, a short walk down the beach to the wedding, and no additional out-of-pocket cash.
Living Social Escapes
LivingSocial currently is offering the Diamond Resorts Cabo Azul location (described above) for as little as $199 per night for a 1 bedroom or as little as $259 per night for a 2 bedroom. You must stay a minimum of 4 nights, and can book up to a maximum of 10 nights. You also are subject to paying 14% in taxes and 7% in gratuity. If you wanted to pursue this deal, the furthest out you can book is mid-November, and blackout dates apply. Be careful… Once you book, there are no refunds.
LivingSocial is also promoting the Barcelo Los Cabos (where the wedding was held) for 3 to 5 nights in a Family Deluxe Suite or Junior Suite. The great thing about this location is that 1) it is where the wedding was at, and 2) the resort is all-inclusive, which means that all of your food and drinks are included… including the mini-bar in your room!!! This deal is valid through December 23, 2013 and reservations are subject to availability. If cannot book the days you want, you get a full refund within 30 days of purchase. This is great flexibility! The deal is good for 2 adults, but children can be added for about $50 per night per child (essentially for the all-you-can-eat food). Taxes and fees are included.
- “Voucher is all-inclusive of meals, snacks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, mini bar access, use of beach towels and loungers, live entertainment, and includes, 30% off massages, a bottle of wine and cheese platter in-room upon arrival, and $550 in Resort Credit Coupons.
Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort
The Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort is a Category 8 hotel, which means that each night can be a lot of Hilton HHonors points. This is a beautiful hotel, as you can see in the pictures.
If you were to pay cash, a Deluxe King Room with Full Ocean View and Balcony, it would be $209 per night, or $786.26 after taxes for the long weekend. Using points, it would be 31,728 per night, or 95,304 for the long weekend. If you paid for one more night, then you would get the 5th night free with Hilton’s 5th Night Free promotion. To me, that is a great use of points, since you’re getting 2 nights for essentially 50% off!
Unfortunately, this location is over 7 miles away from the Barcelo. We weren’t planning on renting a car, so this option is a no-go for this trip. However, the Hilton is a place we would totally consider staying in the future!
Lawrence Welk Resorts Cabo San Lucas
If you want a really inexpensive option, and are willing to sit through a timeshare presentation, then this may be your option. For $99, you get a 2 night stay at the Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort. This is the same hotel that I just described above… but at a fraction of the out-of-pocket-cost. The trade-off is sitting through a timeshare presentation. If you have good willpower, then this may be a great option for you. For us, given that we needed a 3rd night (which I’m sure they’d sell you… or you could just use points or cash yourself) and the surety that the weekend we wanted would be available, this wasn’t the right option for us.
On the plus side, this package also includes:
- Parasailing for 2 – Experience the combined thrills of an Offshore Powerboat Ride, Parachuting, Ballooning and Gliding all in one “Action Packed Adventure” with complimentary parasailing for 2.
- 1 hour Jet Ski rental – If parasailing isn’t enough thrill, you will also receive a complimentary 1 hour Jet Ski rental to be used during your stay.
Marriott Fairfield Inn Los Cabos
I’m sure the Marriott Fairfield Inn Los Cabos is a decent place, but it is a Category 1 hotel. Based on the pictures, this Category 1 is far nicer than the Category 1s in the US. However, when going away for a luxurious weekend getaway for a friend’s wedding, we’re looking for something a little more upscale.
If money or points are a major concern, then this location is certainly affordable. The average daily rate is as low as $84.55 per night, or can be booked for 7,500 points per night, for a King bed with a City View.
For us, beyond the luxury factor, this hotel is located in Cabo San Lucas, whereas the wedding is in the sister city of San Jose del Cabo, so it would have been too far away.
Starwood Westin Resort & Spa Los Cabos
Starwood Hotels actually has two locations in Los Cabos — the Westin Resort & Spa Los Cabos and the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Golf & Spa Resort Los Cabos. The Westin is closer to our wedding, so we’ll focus on this one. Beyond that, I generally believe that the Westins are a nicer offering than Sheratons.
Both locations can be booked for 10,000 SPG points per night, or you can use the Points & Cash option for $75 and 5,000 points per night. The Sheraton is $225 per night, while the Westin is $182 per night.
I value SPG points more than the other points I have access to due to their ability to convert into airline miles with a 25% bonus when transferring in 20,000 point increments. So, unless I had no other options, or unless this hotel was so much more luxurious than other choices, I would hesitate to use SPG points for this weekend stay.
There are many, many options to choose from in Los Cabos. Overall, when possible, we prefer to use our timeshare points because they renew each year, the rooms are often much bigger than a hotel room, and most of the time they have a full kitchen, which is great when traveling with kids or if you prefer to save money by making some of your own meals. We try to save our hotel points for locations where there are no timeshare options, or if there is no availability during the times we want to travel.
Next, we’ll discuss the process of booking our flights to Cabo… and why it pays to have points with various airlines on hand to scoop up deals.