Friday, January 4, 2013

Flashback Friday: Cabo San Lucas 2011

Before Babymoon 2011, there was the other babymoon we took in 2011 to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. After spending most of my first trimester at home, literally bored-to-tears at times, I was in desperate need of an escape. I've lived on the west coast almost all of my life, yet still had never been to Baja. As I've mentioned before using miles to go to Mexico is one of the worst redemptions out there, but with a baby on the way and cash-hoarding in full effect, it sure beat the alternative of staying home.

Land's End, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
We had originally booked our tickets through United. It was a mixed award (half saver @17,500 + half standard @35,000) and not a good deal at all. What made it an even worse deal was when United cancelled our Mexico flights, didn't bother to tell me about it, so then one day I log into my account to find two 52,500-mile rountrip tickets to Los Angeles. WTF! I called.

So the official word from United was that they were cancelling all flights to Mexico...I'm not joking, that's what they told me. Daily service between LAX and SJD was going to be scaled back from daily, to 3-days a week, to once-a-week, to...nada for a period of several months. Same out of SFO and DEN. I didn't even bother asking about their Chicago and Houston flights. At that point, I just asked for my miles back. I then re-booked a Star Alliance Saver Award with US Airways via Phoenix and managed to even save 35,000 miles. So, why didn't I think of this earlier?!? I dunno, pregnancy does weird things to your brain.

Up until this trip I have to admit US Airways was not my favorite airline. The last time I decided to "go slumming" with them was on a trip to Maui, and as a United Premier/Star Alliance Silver they treated me like crap. They charged me for bags (which they weren't supposed to- I got my money back eventually), they stuck us in the last row of their dirty plane, and the final insult was when they were charging $4 for a cup of water. About the only thing I got out of the trip was a new line on my FlightMemory and the "life experience" of never wanting to do it again. That was in 2008.

This trip was a lot better, starting with check-in at the Sacramento airport. At first they didn't have our Mileage Plus numbers on the itinerary (probably United's fault), but as soon as we produced two Premier/Star Alliance Gold cards, the attitude changed. They were friendly, we got good seats, and there were no misguided attempts to charge for luggage. It also turns out they even serve free (non-alcoholic) drinks now! The planes were new(er), clean, and far more comfortable than what I remember. US Airways was actually, kinda, sorta, dare I say...nice.

We spent 3 days/nights at the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar, swimming around in the many pools, avoiding time-share presentations, and eating our way through a several-hundred-dollar resort credit that was part of the deal we booked. I typically don't like eating where I stay (I like to get out and explore) but the resort complex was a little far from town, so having otherwise exorbitantly-priced hotel meals covered was definitely a convenience. The food wasn't bad either. Unlike our previous trip to Mexico, this one didn't involve a lot of partying or binge drinking, and the closest we got to a night out on the town was a sunset dinner by the marina. This time it was all about relaxation. At 4 months pregnant I was just starting to experience the aches and pains "joys" of sharing my body with another person (I really had no idea) and nothing felt better at the time than bobbing around in the water all day. With an infinity pool overlooking the beach and the Gulf of California, this resort was the perfect place.

Sheraton Hacienda del Mar
I guess no trip to Mexico is complete without crappy reality TV references and/or a D-list celebrity sighting. We saw Ice-T and Coco (you know from "Ice Loves Coco" on E!) enjoying lunch at the Mango Deck during one of our excursions into Cabo San Lucas. It took a local pointing it out to us because we're just that cool. While in town that day, we also took a boat ride out to El Arco, swam in the Gulf, and then walked across the small stretch of sand to the Pacific Ocean. This was the closest we got to any "activities" while in Mexico. I wouldn't describe the beach at the Sheraton as swimmable due to some of the craziest shore break I've ever seen (if I wasn't pregnant, maybe), so this little excursion and having a chance to get in the ocean on our trip was a definite highlight.

4 Months Pregnant in Mexico

Our trip back on US Airways was surprisingly good too. The Arizona Cardinals A-320 we flew on was completely empty so it almost felt like we were riding on some rich team owner's private jet, instead of what I had thought was America's worst domestic carrier. We were originally scheduled to fly SJD-PHX-LAX-SMF, but then a nice agent in Phoenix helped us go standby on an earlier flight straight home to Sacramento. This involved calling United, waiting on hold (like we all do), and getting them to release the itinerary since it was booked using their miles. All said and done, it was not an easy task, and I really have to commend US for going above and beyond. My opinion about them being " a more ghetto version of United" has definitely changed. I'd fly US Airways again any time I'm glad I gave them another chance.

My Private Jet Experience on US Airways

Overall, I couldn't have asked for a more relaxing way to spend some random long weekend at the end of August...I almost forgot to mention that part. It turns out late summer is not the most popular time to visit Southern Baja. Who knew? I guess that kind of explains the empty (or non-existent) flights, the awesome hotel deal we got, and the fact that there were more iguanas lounging around our seemingly-private infinity pool than people. It was a little hot out, but certainly not any worse than Sacramento.

Getting away for a weekend in Mexico was exactly what the doctor ordered...except not our doctor because I'm pretty sure we didn't tell him where we were going...but you get the idea; it's a figure of speech. Cabo San Lucas was the exact right place at the right time. I needed to go somewhere, and it turned out there's this desert-meets-tropical-oasis-by-the-sea right in my backyard and just a short flight away. It's really beautiful there too, and going during the off-season meant having the whole place to ourselves. I've said it here before and I'll continue to advocate how I feel as long as I have an audience- miles are meant to be enjoyed! Who cares if its just Mexico. If there's a cause (like being pregnant and stir-crazy) why not donate to it, and consider taking that small vacation to somewhere not-that-exotic-or-too-far-away. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

Iguana by the pool
The Pacific Ocean

Sunset at the Marina


  1. We stayed at the Westin in Cabo. Nice little desert/Ocean environment. We enjoyed the trip as well.

  2. The Westin looks really nice as well and they have an infinity pool! It's definitely on the list for next time. :)