Zadún is the opposite of 2020-2021. That comparison may seem like a stretch (Zadún is a physical resort in San José del Cabo; 2020-2021 is a now-infamous two-year period synonymous with apocalyptic dread and doom), but hear me out. Doing anything — from food shopping to finding any amount of relaxation — these past two years of COVID’s rule has been hard; everything at Zadún is easy. The pervasive tension between “essential” and “inessential” doesn’t exist at this oceanfront oasis. There are no lists or rules, only your whims and wishes and the accommodating staff to help you see them through.
Situated on the Puerto Los Cabos side of the city (the coast farther from party-ready Cabo San Lucas), serenity, peace, and quiet are easy to find. The Ritz-Carlton’s newest Reserve property (and first in Mexico), Zadún, has the fine details of an ultra-luxury resort with the small-scale touches that make the experience feel boutique and uniquely Mexican. Unlike other resorts that may separate themselves from the locales they’re in, Zadún is carved into the coastline and infused with local culture from the ground up. It’s truly a haven that could only exist in Mexico.
The country’s heritage is baked into the property’s design, with the work of Mexican artists on display in the guest rooms, which are also fitted with bedding made by regional weavers, and restaurant tableware handcrafted by artisans from areas like Oaxaca, Yucatán, Campeche, Mexico City, Jalisco, and Puebla. The resort’s name, inspired by the Spanish word “dunas,” meaning dunes, plays homage to the natural landscape of the property, which overlooks the Sea of Cortez.
Zadún’s aesthetic is appreciative of its surroundings, embracing the desert, sea, and sunny skies with sweeping open-concept spaces and by capitalizing on rugged (but refined) natural materials, like wood and stone. Even the subtlest details and smallest touches are thoroughly thought out and curated. Spa treatments feature ingredients grown nearby, snacks appear in your room that tell a nostalgic story — like watermelon slices to dip in a mix of salt and chile piquin, a favorite childhood snack of many of the country’s residents — and bars offer agave-based liquors you’d be hard-pressed to find outside the country, like Bacanora and Raicilla, as well as a traditional Mayan spirit called Pox.
The three restaurants, Humo, Equis, and El Barrio, are outside — a simple way to make sure guests enjoy, and are immersed in, the natural beauty of their destination.
The views from the restaurants are unobstructed. You’ll gaze over the cascading coastline and take in the ocean blues beneath a cloud-dotted horizon with your morning coffee and breakfast of chilaquiles, then watch pastels deepening into sunset shades alongside a dinner of tacos. If you wanted to incorporate some of these spots’ charming design elements into your own home, you’d be disappointed to learn each item is now made only for the resort — making the bright ceramic coffee mugs and coasters, cut-out placemats, and themed glasses and plateware all the more special.
It’s easy to miss some of the resort’s carefully planned features, but the same detailed threads carry through every offering: At Humo, the upscale meat and fish restaurant perched on one of the property’s highest points, the gradient of gray to black plates represents smoke at various stages, a nod to the grilling techniques used, and poolside ceviche restaurant Equis offers drinks in perfectly paired vessels, like the hombré-hued glass for the Jaguar cocktail.
Continuing to take advantage of and honoring the beauty of its natural surroundings, Zadún’s guest room infrastructure is more complimentary to the landscape than it is overpowering. Instead of rooms connected by corridors, guests have their own residences — even at the most basic level. There’s actually nothing basic about any of the rooms: Each features a plunge pool with invisible edges and transparent walls, the highlight of your private outdoor lounge area, where you’re gently sheltered under canvas drapes. With floor-to-ceiling sliding windows in suites and villas, visitors can open up an entire wall of their room to the balmy outdoors. Outside and inside elements are blended seamlessly, allowing a more freeform sense of comfort than most of us are accustomed to.
Spa Alkemia is perhaps the most ethereal aspect of Zadún and serves as a centerpiece of sorts, a secret garden camouflaged by natural foliage. The nearly-30,000-square-foot scene is white and airy, with translucent floor-to-ceiling curtains delicately grazing the white stone floors. Lounge chairs plump with cushions, pillows, and faux-fur blankets invite you to recline, so make sure you give yourself time to wander through and relax ahead of treatments, sipping fresh juices and sampling dried fruits, handmade energy bars, and cute cookies. The men’s and women’s sides each have their own heated plunge pool and cold counterpart as well as steam rooms, both outdoor and indoor showers, and a locker room. The heart of Alkemia Spa is a secluded pool shrouded by trees, scattered lounge areas, airy cabanas, vibrant flowers, and the sounds of birds softly playing from hidden speakers.
The spa offers treatments that incorporate both ancestral rituals and cutting-edge practices. Warmed herbal compresses, fruit-derived oils, and masks made of aloe and cucumber soothe and nourish, while LED light and O2 facial therapies revitalize and transform. In addition to signature treatments offered exclusively at Spa Akemia, you’ll find one-of-a-kind wellness offerings. Take a meditative rest in the Savasana Sound Room, where tonal vibrations pulse through your body as the small blue and yellow windows reflect on the walls around you as if you’re inside a kaleidoscope. Spend time in the Templo de Calor, a version of traditional Mexican healing huts, for 60-minute body detoxification sessions.
Of course, as a five-star global company, Ritz-Carlton is no stranger to international touches and tracking down the best of the best. Equis, for example, sources ingredients from Japan in addition to creating daily menus determined by the freshest local catches, marrying the best of the cuisine with uniquely Mexican elements. And while the beach isn’t swimmable, the hotel offers two main pools (and one in the spa), along with the private pools in the rooms, suites, and private villas.
Zadún presents more like a private community than a resort. You really have your own space: None of the guest rooms are connected, and they’re staggered on the hilly terrain so adjacent rooms aren’t even on the same level. You’re offered as much privacy and solitude as you want, enhanced by the awareness of a hospitality community dedicated to making you as content as possible. Your private butler, or Tosoani, is just a call away to assist you with reservations, excursion planning, and anything else that could make you enjoy your trip more. Rapid antigen tests are included in your reservation so you can get that checked off your travel list hassle-free before returning home.
Everywhere feels vast up on the hills of Zadún, overlooking so much. And after the past two years of indoor confinement and the stifled worries that our world is shrinking, there’s not much more satisfying than staring out into the open with your mind focused only on where the sky meets the sea.