Constructed of local white travertine and dark woods, the minimalist compound sits atop a wide-open beach directly next door to the just-opened Hard Rock Hotel. These are the only two resorts on the 1.5-mile coastline of this new development called Diamante, a gated community of luxury homes surrounded by several golf courses designed by Tiger Woods and Davis Love III.
Isolated six miles north of Cabo San Lucas — off the route to Todos Santos and La Paz — Diamante feels like a world away from the well-trodden tourist corridor on the Sea of Cortes. This is virgin territory.
Gorgeous but fierce, the ocean is not swimmable here (a common refrain in the region). And the temperature on the Pacific stays 10 degrees cooler than on the Sea of Cortes, so no matter what the forecast advises for Cabo, you’ll need to pack a few sweaters for this side of town. It gets chilly, and the winds blowing off the ocean don’t pull punches. Hold onto your hat.
My partner and I checked into a junior suite overlooking the main pool with a view of the waves crashing hard against the shore in the distance. The interior design by California-based Studio PCH is absolutely stunning. The room features a king bed, multiple sitting areas and a large balcony with a pair of arm chairs and chaise lounges. Two layers of remote-controlled drapes frame the floor-to-ceiling windows. An overhead skylight illuminates the wooden Japanese soaking tub in the bathroom. A teak shoe credenza and the walk-in closet are simply exquisite.
I’ve stayed at other resorts in Los Cabos over the years that charge triple or quadruple the rates of Nobu yet whose rooms can’t hold a candle to this junior suite. And there are plenty of others with larger decks and private plunge pools scattered around the premises, not to mention a three-bedroom presidential suite. You get more than you pay for.
The look channels Japan more than Mexico, which maybe shouldn’t be surprising for a resort named after one of the godfathers of modern sushi. Clever landscaping helps bring the destination into sharper focus. The architecture and landscape were carried out by Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo — the same global firm that designed the Four Seasons Mexico City and also renovated the Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad. They xeriscaped the grounds with a series of sand-filled Japanese-inspired zen gardens, but they planted native Mexican cactus, agave and flowering sotol, subtly reminding us that we are not in Kyoto but in the rugged wilds of the Baja Peninsula, just north of Lands End where the desert meets the beach.
The architecture incorporates water at every turn. There are several pools including two main swimming areas with polar opposite atmospheres. These are the yin and yang at the heart of Nobu. The more populous of the two, the Cortez Pool, emanates yang. This is party central. This is where everyone gathers to sun-worship and cabana-hop, to show off their bikinis and flaunt those hard-earned abs. It’s a festive, vibrant scene that spills onto the beach, where a deejay spins a throbbing, never-ending beat of electronic dance music that ranges from Emmanuel Jal to Michel Cleis.
Conversely the mellow Pacific Pool oozes yin. Designed like a meandering canal with dozens of lazy coves, this is where you go to chill, to canoodle and to get as far away from the party as possible. The soundtrack on this side favors soft, downtempo, luxurious vibrations — a true oasis.
One can eat extremely well here, but it’s important to note that this resort does not offer much in the way of Mexican food. Yes, you’ll enjoy wonderful guacamole topped with fresh crab, and ceviche that tastes as if the fish were just pulled from the ocean. There’s even a satisfying taco or two. But just like the overall theme, the menu at Pacific (the Mexican restaurant) skews more Asian than Mexican. The same goes for the poolside Playabar. So if you crave a deeper dive into Mexican cuisine while in Mexico, you’ll need to take a road trip around the cape.
For most guests, this is not an issue, as the namesake Nobu restaurant is undeniably superb. I’ve dined at several Nobu restaurants — West Hollywood, New York, Vail, Newport Beach, London — and this one is as good as any. Nobu Matsuhisa is brilliant.
The other nighttime dining option is Ardea, a contemporary American steakhouse reimagined inside a brutalist Japanese cube. Live deejays spin music during dinner at both Nobu and Ardea, moving the festival spirit from the pool to the indoors. The steaks, dry-aged in-house, are superb.
Additionally there’s an outpost of Malibu Farm, a small restaurant chain from California that specializes in healthy fare with a vegetarian bent (breakfast and lunch), including a creative roster of smoothies. If you’ve been to the original MF in Malibu, or the branch in Newport Beach, this will feel remarkably familiar. Also, in the lobby, there’s a cute little European style espresso bar with exceptional coffee and croissants.
The resort operates a large spa and gym. Although I dreamed about the former, I didn’t have time to visit. Meanwhile the latter is almost like a miniature Equinox, yet not so mini. The gym occupies nearly 4,000 square feet of real estate, including a spin studio and outdoor yoga terrace. There’s also a running trail around the property, plus a kids’ club. A little something for everyone.
Bottom line: Nobu is a vibe, not a place. It’s a siren song for the international jet-set. The food is delicious, the architecture is beautiful, and the Japanese-inspired rooms truly rate among the most luxurious in all of Los Cabos — yet it costs a fraction of what nearby legacy resorts charge for comparable accommodations.
Rates from about $360 if booked several weeks in advance; double that on short notice; Polígono 1, Fraccionamiento Diamante, Cabo San Lucas, BCS, Mexico, +52-624-689-0180, loscabos.nobuhotels.com
NOTE ABOUT TRAVELING DURING COVID: Tourism in Los Cabos is open to international travelers. However, COVID-19 is still a huge concern. You can monitor the local virus situation here. All things considered, Los Cabos feels safe. The local government mandates that all individuals continue to wear masks throughout the destination at all times when interacting with others who are not members of their household except for certain instances, such as when eating, drinking, swimming, etc. From what I witnessed, most hotels take the mitigation protocols very seriously, with strict social distancing, touchless menus, enhanced cleaning, etc. Note that U.S. and Canadian citizens are required to present a negative COVID-19 result within 48 hours prior to returning home, which you’ll need to show at the airport in order to get on the plane. All hotels in Los Cabos offer convenient testing on-site (a system that also allows them to routinely test their own staff). #getvaccinated and #stopthespread