A Tale of Two Margaritas

After months of details, wouldn’t it be great to have just one choice to make? How about salt or no salt for your margarita?
By contributing writer Judith Fertig

Ahhhh. A honeymoon getaway to Mexico lets you relax in sun-drenched style. There are many ways to do it, as varied as the geography of our neighbor to the south—and the signature margaritas you can enjoy when you get there.

In the east, the Yucatan peninsula separates the Caribbean from the Gulf of Mexico. The ancient Mayan culture spreads from these lowlands to Guatemala and Honduras. Formerly known for ranching and logging, the economy of the Yucatan now revolves around resorts that populate the white, sandy beaches. In the central mountains, the success of the fabled silver mines helped create picturesque hilltop towns like San Miguel de Allende, now prized for its thriving art and culinary scene. Los Cabos on the Pacific side was formed by volcanoes and earthquakes eons ago, making for dramatic scenery. It’s also where Hollywood notables Cindy Crawford and George Clooney go for a getaway.

You can easily fly to Mexico from major United States gateway cities. For the Riviera Maya and the Yucatan peninsula, you fly to Cozumel and get transportation from there. For the central highlands and San Miguel de Allende, you land in Santiago de Querétaro, then rent a car. For Los Cabos, fly into Los Cabos International Airport at the southernmost tip of Baja California and the resort will pick you up.
Be sure to check travel advisories before you go, and as with any foreign destination, it’s always great to learn as much as you can ahead of time. Rent a car or hire a driver. And be sure to have an English-speaking contact—and your passport.  

Where to go
Los Cabos
On the Pacific side of Mexico, Los Cabos is a favorite with Kansas Citians for its spectacular views and whale watching. The Pacific waters of the Baja Peninsula have colder water than the Atlantic side and that makes for windy weather, choppy water, and few swimmable beaches. But what makes up for it is amazing scenery—golden desert sands, green palm trees, and turquoise waters.

What to do
The sunny and moderate climate encourages water sports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, jet skiing or swimming. The unique position of Los Cabos makes it ideal for watching whales migrate from January to March. You can also hire a private boat, captain, and crew for a day of deep-sea fishing. Explore the rugged terrain by rented vehicle, private tour or on horseback. In the historic town of Cabo San Lucas, shop for jewelry, art and antiques. For vibrant nightlife, head to Playa El Médano, which is Cabo’s main beach, with outdoor restaurants and numerous bars. If you rent a car and get outside the city limits, you’ll be surrounded by majestic cardón cacti, caracara birds and mystical arroyos far away from the crazy nightlife. Take a cooking class and sip organic mango margaritas at Huerta Los Tamarindos, an organic farm featuring ancient tamarind trees and a 150-year-old mango tree.

What to eat
Local spiny lobsters and red snapper, grilled to perfection. Or cochinita pibil—shredded pork with an achiote paste of ground annatto seeds, spices and tomatoes, served with pickled red onions. For lighter fare, try tiradito—local, fresh-caught fish served raw. You’ll want to save room for the liquid calories you’ll imbibe later.

Where to stay
One&Only Palmilla
In this exclusive oasis on the Sea of Cortez, an infinity pool seems to reach out to the blue waters of the ocean beyond. But at the One&Only, you can actually go down to the beach, a rarity in Cabo. Exceptional dining is the rule, not surprising as the Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten masterminds the menus. First built in 1956 as a 15-room luxury hideaway, the resort hosted Hollywood’s royalty when it could only be reached by private plane or yacht. Today, the polished and expanded One&Only offers 115 rooms of luxurious yet relaxed and contemporary style.  The on-site spa offers pampered care, including services by Beverly Hills stylists.

Where to go
Riviera Maya
This stretch of coastline on the northeastern Yucatan peninsula gets its new name from its signature beaches and its ancient Mayan heritage. The resort areas of Playa del Carmen and Tulum are known for all-inclusive, honeymoon fun in secure surroundings.

What to do
Go to the beach or take time to people watch with that fresh lime margarita in hand. Sweat out all that wedding stress with a temazcal bath—think Mayan steam bath—in the seaside spa area or indulge yourself with traditional Mayan “sobada” massage of hands-on healing. Enjoy water sports like swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. Take a day trip to the Mayan ruins in Tulum. Or just kick back and enjoy being pampered.

What to eat
For breakfast, indulge with dulce de leche French toast, chilequiles, or enfrijoladas, tortillas stuffed with Mexican-style eggs, black bean salsa, and cheese. After a swim, savor a light lunch of local grilled fish and a cold beer with a lime. Later in the day, sample different kinds of tequila paired with ceviches prepared with local fish and citrus.

Where to stay
The Viceroy
This adults-only haven is famous for its 41 rustic-chic villas, superb staff and holistic spa, where the resident shaman will bless you upon request before your massage. Think thatched cottage with French doors that open to a private pool. Choose a beachfront villa or one in a more secluded setting in the lush jungle. The pool, restaurant, bar and lounge all overlook the ocean and are only steps away.  

Where to go
San Miguel de Allende
For history and art aficionados who want a sense of the past, San Miguel de Allende in the mountains of central Mexico delivers. Founded in 1542 by a Franciscan monk, the missionary town of San Miguel el Grande was an important stopover on Spain’s silver route. San Miguel is considered a remarkably well-preserved example of 16th-century Spanish Colonial Baroque architecture, so much so that it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, cobblestone streets, centuries-old haciendas, and townhouses with interior courtyards help you step back in time. And maybe sip a fresh ginger margarita.

What to do
Stroll through the town, stopping at galleries, tapas bars, museums and boutiques. Take music, art, and cooking classes for a one-of-a-kind experience. Go ATV-ing, mountain biking or horseback riding.

What to eat
Start the day with a lavender cappuccino at Lavanda. For lunch, try mixiotes, which is spiced lamb cooked in banana leaves, a very local dish, or lamb barbacoa with homemade tortillas.  Sip a coconut milk horchata to refresh. Then for dinner, go contemporary at Aperi with a four-course tasting menu.

Where to stay
Rosewood San Miguel de Allende
The Rosewood San Miguel de Allende is part of a high-end American chain that offers a luxurious sense of place. Rosewood was founded in 1979 with The Mansion at Turtle Creek in Dallas. The Rosewood San Miguel de Allende is a new hotel with the look of old San Miguel. You can choose from 67 hacienda-style rooms with beamed ceilings and massive soaking tubs. The spa offers amazing mole-and-cocoa body scrubs, and you can take the plunge in any one of three different pools on the grounds.

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