For most of our traveling parental leave, we were pretty frugal. We stayed with family and at cheap Airbnb’s. We ate from street vendors. Instead of drinking the overpriced minibar wine, we bought a bottle from CVS. We had a daily budget, and we (mostly) stuck to it. But when it came to our beach holiday in Mexico, we decided to splurge a little.
“Nothing toooo crazy” Richenda said.
“Keep it below $150/night” Richenda said.
“Don’t stay up all night researching hotels” Richenda said.
…But it was too late. I’d made it my mission to find the very best deals on accommodation in Cabo. And I tend to get a little obsessive on this sort of thing.
* * *
The “Presidential Suite” at Grand Solmar has two bedrooms, three bathrooms, four televisions, a full chef’s kitchen, an office, and a giant outdoor terrace with space for 20 people. Everything about it is luxurious. Marble countertops. A massive dining table. Giant glass windows facing the Pacific Ocean. At 2,945 square feet, it’s three times the size of our apartment in Melbourne.
The (retail) price tag is a whopping $21,000/week. And yet… this was our room. No, we didn’t win the lottery. And we definitely didn’t pay close to that.
In the end I went *slightly* over budget, spending an average of $166/per night. But the retail price of the places we stayed in Cabo was $1,451 (!!!!) a night.
If you’re heading to Cabo, I hope my ridiculous hours of research will help you snag a great deal. And tip #2 will help you save on hotels, no matter where you travel.
Three Ways to Save Money on Hotels in Cabo
- Ok, the first thing to know is because of the timeshare hustle in Cabo, the resorts are artificially priced super high. You’ll see 4-star hotel rooms that should go for $150/night, priced at $600/night. The resorts do this so they can sell you timeshare and make it seems like a good deal. The key for resorts is to rent from someone who owns the timeshare… and there’s a ton out there. I found flipkey.com, and the Vacation and House Rentals category on TripAdvisor to be the best for renting from timeshare owners.
Usually I love Airbnb, but it’s definitely not as good as FlipKey for timeshares. If you try to use Airbnb, make sure message the host before you book to find out the required check-in day. On many timeshares, you’ll need to stay from Sunday to Sunday, and only stay in 7-day increments.
- Get a last minute deal (with no last minute risk.) This trick works at hotels everywhere. If you book through a hotel discount website (like booking.com, agoda, orbitz, etc) often they’ll have free cancellations up to 48 hours before you check in (I’ve done this with booking.com. It’s super easy to cancel a reservation in just two clicks). So a week before your trip, check back and see what the prices are. Often they’re much lower! We made a second reservation (same hotel, same room) 3-months later and paid $300 less for the exact same room. Then you simply canceled the first (more expensive) reservation… $300 for 5 minutes of work!
- If you’re social, traveling with friends can take the sting out of the price of accommodation. Per person, a 3 bedroom mansion with a private pool can be a similar price as a standard hotel room. A few years ago we booked this ridiculously cool house with a group of friends. Not bad for $75/night per couple. (There’s a few similar ones available in Cabo.)
Below are the three places we stayed in Cabo, and the specific websites we used to find and book the deals. The crazy huge discount—the Grand Solmar Presidential Suite—is last.
Pueblo Bonito Rose, Junior Suite
Retail: $4,529/week (booking.com)
We paid: $750/week (via FlipKey.com)
Our first week we stayed in Pueblo Bonito Rose in a nice 4-star resort directly on the ocean, walking distance to the downtown center and marina. According to TripAdvisor rooms are between $284 – $830/night, but that top end price is with the all inclusive food and beverage packages (not worth it). The room is larger than most hotel rooms and has two queen beds, a small kitchen, and a balcony.
It’s a nice resort in the middle of everything, especially at $107/night.
Cabo Azul, Studio Deluxe
Retail: $1,745 for 5 days (expedia.com)
We paid: $822 for 5 days (via booking.com)
Cabo Azul is a stunningly beautiful 5-star resort. It’s young, hip, fancy, and at night, the entire resort is lit up with flaming torches. The restaurant is amazing, the swim up pool bar is giant. The resort is walking distance from the “old town” of San Jose Del Cabo, and a long way from the party epicenter of Cabo. I first made a reservation through booking.com for $1,022, but wisely checked back a week before check-in. Sure enough, the last minute price had dropped $300 to $822. So we booked again, cancelled the first reservation, and saved $300 in a hurry. I’d highly recommend a few days at Cabo Azul if you’re looking for a quiet place to relax.
Grand Solmar at Lands End, Presidential Suite
Retail: $21,103/week (expedia.com)
We paid: $1,425/week (via FlipKey.com, and split with friends)
Grand Solmar is a brand-new luxury resort located at the very tip of the Cabo peninsula, close to the famous Arch. Last year, Travel+Leasure named it one of the top 100 hotels in the world. It’s an amazing spot. The resort feels like it’s built into the mountainside, and the rooms are insanely nice. Including baby, six of us stayed in the room, and we had plenty of space. The hotel bathroom is is the size of our living room at home.
Grand Solmar is walkable to the Marina and downtown, yet feels far from the beach vendors that line most Cabo beaches.
I didn’t even consider staying here at first because of the, uh, $21,000 price tag. But then I stumbled across a FlipKey listing for one of the suites, from a current owner looking to rent their unit out. It was the most expensive place we stayed on this trip, but at least we got an enormous discount!
The guest are mostly cashed-up older families, so if you’re looking for a young beach party, this isn’t your place. But if you’re traveling with a crew and want channel your inner MTV-cribs, this is your place.
In the end, a holiday is a holiday. The important bit is the people you’re with, and the memories you make, not the hotel you stay at. But if you can book a 5-star hotel for the same price as a 3-star hotel… well, why not?!