Have Cards, Will Travel

My return to resorting on rewards

Here's what you might expect if you plan to travel internationally in 2020


Resident travel writer Stephanie Zito dusted off her passport and made her way to Mexico for a birthday celebration. Here’s what she found when she got there.

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Today, I’m writing you from the balcony of a resort villa overlooking the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean, from the tip of Baja in Cabo San Lucas.

From my vista, I’m watching surfers in the waves and a handful of guests drinking piña coladas in an infinity pool. Someone turned down my bedsheets last night and left me sweets on my pillow – that I promptly ate after a bubble bath in a deep-soaking copper tub. I feel like I have died and gone to 2021.

Before this crazy year, I never would have imagined that I could be this excited to vacation at a resort in Baja. But I have to say that I’ve never been happier to get south of the border – or cross any border for that matter.

As I write this, I’m aware that some people think I’m crazy for flying to Mexico right now. I’m also aware that others are wondering what took me so long. As you read this, remember that we all have different circumstances and levels of comfort when it comes to returning to travel. Traveling now was right for me. I’m hoping sharing my experience will help you know what to expect when it’s right for you.

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See related: International travel: Is it time to dust off the passport?

Safety precautions

When I booked my Mexico trip a few weeks ago, I made sure that everything – hotel, flights and car rental – was completely cancelable and refundable. To be honest, I’d have bet 50/50 odds that we’d actually board the plane. I’m so glad I took the gamble.

As the trip got closer, it felt like the right next step for me to take. Now that I’m here, I have to say that being here in Mexico feels great – and safe.

I’m staying at The Cape, a beautiful boutique Thompson Hotel nestled into a little cove on a surfing beach at the tip of Baja, where the Pacific meets the Gulf of California, which I booked with World of Hyatt points.

Like other resorts on the peninsula, the hotel reopened July 30 and is only booking at 40% capacity, in line with the state mandate. This basically means that in addition to social distancing practices being in place in Cabo, things don’t have their regular-sized crowds to begin with.

I can’t speak for all the resorts and hotels here in Cabo, but I’ve been pretty pleased so far about how safety and sanitation is being managed here at The Cape, while still giving guests a comfortable luxury experience.

Resort life in 2020

Here at The Cape, hotel guests are required to mask up in all public areas (other than the pool), and to help keep things compliant, you’re issued stylish hotel-branded masks as an amenity upon check-in – alongside the hotel’s more traditional amenity of a bottle of crafted tequila.

When it comes to hotel staff, I have to admit that I haven’t seen a single one smile – but only because they are so compliant with the hotel mask policy that I haven’t seen anyone’s face!

As far as other resort amenities go, everything is kept clean and hand sanitizer is more ubiquitous on the property than sunscreen.

The hotel’s two infinity pools overlooking Cabo’s famous arch are the highlight of the property. And there is plenty of space at the pool, due to lower occupancy numbers, so you don’t have to worry about sitting too close to a stranger. And since we’re all worried about catching the same thing, no one gets too close to you anyway.

I do regret to admit that I haven’t yet visited the fitness center, but that’s open as well for a maximum of ten people at a time, and you can reserve a slot if you want to make sure you get in your morning workout at your regular hour.

The same goes with the spa – the services are all available by appointment and at limited capacity to maintain distance and allow for more cleaning time between guests.

Within the resort, all the restaurants are open. And, most importantly, free breakfast (my favorite amenity I get as a World of Hyatt Globalist) has not been cancelled. Rather than offering its standard luxury buffet, breakfast included menu service in an outdoor-dining environment. Today, I had a tropical fruit platter and a chipotle lobster eggs Benedict with an ocean view.

Exploring and eating outside of the hotel also hasn’t been complicated in any way. Things definitely aren’t back to normal, but they feel safe and welcoming to guests.

I’ve been to a supermarket and a handful of restaurants where I’ve had my temperature checked on entry. I even think that having been unable to travel so long makes Mexico’s tacos taste better.

We rented a car because it was easy and cheap with Ultimate Rewards points – and because having our own contained travel space was a lesser worry than figuring out how to keep safe on public transport. Plus, the benefits of our resort package from Hyatt offered free valet parking on our stay.

For outside adventures, plenty of tour companies are offering activities and also catering their tours at lower capacities. As part of this week’s birthday celebration, we’ll be surfing and kayaking on a trip with Cabo Outfitters. We’re excited to have an adventure, support a small business and have found a fun way to mark a milestone birthday safely in a pandemic.

I’m beginning to think that the only bad thing about this trip to Mexico is that eventually I’m going to have to go home!

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