By Irene Fogarty


There’s something about ‘all-inclusive’ that just doesn’t sound exclusive to me. This ‘all you can eat’ idea is not my idea of a holiday. Sure it’s easier on your pocket, but it usually evokes images of overly well-fed families continually snacking on fatty food that I simply don’t eat. In fact, it turns me off my food which can be a good thing when you want to drop a few pounds in the sun etc. Fortunately all my generalizations about ‘all-inclusive’ resorts were literally thrown out the window when I went to Barcelo in San José del Cabo in Mexico recently.

Located at the tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, the Barcelo is one of several new resort developments in the area. It’s big – 619 rooms. It cost a lot to build – $85 million to be exact. And every single detail has been so well thought out, it defies everything you ever wanted to say about all-inclusives. For example, they’ve started a new trend. Innovatively designed specialty swim-up suites—the first and only in the destination of Los Cabos. You literally open your door and dive from the patio of your room directly into a swimming pool or relax in chaise lounges at water’s edge. How cool is that!

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All the rooms have sitting areas, terraces and beds with high-thread-count cotton sheets, jetted bathtubs and separate showers with “rain dance” showerheads. That’s not all. I loved the interactive “smart TV” – a 40-inch flat screen that can be used to control room temperature, order room service, move the curtain, and of course check email etc. And no internet charges. Very smart indeed.

But the most memorable feature of the Barcelo (and believe me there are many) for me was the quality of the service. The 350+ staff are there for your every whim. From the minute you go down to eat the most delicious breakfast, they greet you with warm smiles and serve you as much coffee as you want. They love to teach you another new word in Spanish and seem genuinely happy to be working for the Barcelo group. Nothing is a problem. It’s like they created a new level of customer service – one that completely spoils you guilt-free and lets you forget about everything or just focus on those important things, like which restaurant will you dine at this evening?

This is important because with 8 themed indoor restaurants you need to book your dinner by 1pm or you may not get a table. You can choose between Japanese, Spanish, French, Italian, steakhouse or seafood cuisine. If you think sushi in San José Del Cabo sounds a bit dodgy, think again. Their Japanese resto, Lotus, was actually one of our favourites. Just watching the chef throwing his big knives in the air and chopping veggies on the hibachi proved this is the real thing. And of course, you will be tempted to eat the delicious ‘guacamole and chips’ every lunch time but there’s also fresh fish just caught that day with only organically-grown vegetables and fruits for a healthier, lighter lunch. Not to mention the excellent white and red house wines that flow almost too easily at every table.

If you’re trying to lose a few pounds, I’d suggest to start your day in the gym. It’s air-conditioned,
well-equipped with all the mod-cons of New York gyms and it faces the sea as you work out, before indulging in the most delicious breakfast you’ve had in a long time. (Go for the fruit. The melons, pineapples, oranges…they taste fresher here.) Not a gym person? Try the pool for aerobic classes. The coach is very funny and after an hour of jumping up and down in the pool you’ll feel you deserve those endless pina coladas that are served all day!

I could go on and on about the Barcelo. It’s an incredible experience. And whether you go as a couple, a family, with friends, for a wedding or even a corporate trip (the 35,000 square feet of meetings space is the largest in Los Cabos!), you’ll discover that they have turned the concept of the ‘all-inclusive’ ‘up side down and inside out’. Better yet, when you see your bill at the end you realize nothing can beat the value, service and warmth of the people here.

Take a look at the gallery of photos my Italian photographer took. She captured all the unique details that show you how surprisingly breathtaking the Barcelo San José del Cabo is. Enjoy !

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Originally published April 2012



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