Villa del Palmar Loreto Review: Baja California All-Inclusive Resort

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Villa del Palmar Loreto Reviews - A sunrise view from Villa Del Palmar-Islands of Loreto, an all-inclusive resort in Mexico’s Baja peninsula.
A sunrise view from Villa Del Palmar-Islands of Loreto, an all-inclusive resort in Mexico’s Baja peninsula. Photo credit: Jamie Bartosch

I’d never heard of Loreto, Mexico until my 18-year-old son — an avid golfer — became obsessed with the TPC Danzante Bay golf course on social media.

He dreamed of playing on its gorgeous greens, especially its famous 17th hole that juts out into the Sea of Cortez.

I waved off his wish, since only two of our four family members golf. But I started following the golf course and its adjacent all-inclusive resort, Villa Del Palmar– Islands of Loreto, on social media.

It did look fantastic. Not just the golf, but the kayaking, the snorkeling, the hiking trails, the spa treatments, and everything else. Still, I was skeptical. Social media (and TripAdvisor) can be deceptive, right? And how would we get to this remote place, anyway?

Villa del Palmar Loreto Reviews - Loreto, Mexico is nowhere near Cabo San Lucas, which is part of its charm.
Loreto, Mexico is nowhere near Cabo San Lucas, which is part of its charm. Photo credit: Jamie Bartosch

Where are the Islands of Loreto, Mexico?

Villa Del Palmar-Islands of Loreto is in a remote location. It’s 14 hours south of San Diego and 6 hours north of Cabo San Lucas, on the east side of the Baja peninsula (a.k.a. Baja California Sur).

Getting there from most U.S. cities requires two flights and a 30-minute airport shuttle on the winding Carretera Transpeninsular (Transpeninsular Highway).

With nothing around it, Villa Del Palmar-Islands of Loreto is an all-inclusive resort. All-inclusive typically aren’t a good value for our family, since we’re not big drinkers or eaters. The food tends to be “meh” and I always feel like I’m in America. What’s the point of that?

But egged on by my son and the resort’s beautiful social media posts (and a nice “book early” deal), I took a gamble and booked a 5-night getaway to Villa Del Palmar the week before Christmas.

To my surprise and delight, Villa Del Palmar-Islands of Loreto was every bit as spectacular as it looked on TikTok and Instagram. It checked every box on our “great family vacation” list and now ranks among our favorite family trips.

Villa del Palmar Loreto Reviews - Many people come to Villa Del Palmar-Islands of Loreto to play on the adjacent TPC Danzante Bay golf course
Many people come to Villa Del Palmar-Islands of Loreto to play on the adjacent TPC Danzante Bay golf course, including its famous 17th hole that just out into the Sea of Cortez. Photo credit: Jamie Bartosch

Villa Del Palmar Loreto — one of Mexico’s hidden gems

This all-inclusive resort is one of Mexico’s hidden gems. It’s the anti-Cancun — remote, uncrowded, safe, and not touristy. I almost don’t want to tell anyone about it so it stays unspoiled.

Here’s what I liked about the resort:

  • The vibe is upscale but unpretentious.
  • The size is perfect. Not too big, not too small.
  • The natural beauty and scenery are stunning — desert cacti, colorful flowers, picturesque cliffs, and the islands of Loreto popping out of the blue Sea of Cortez.
  • We felt very safe. It’d be OK to leave your cell phone on your beach chair or on the table while at the buffet.
  • No early morning chair-saving is required. There were always plenty of comfy padded chairs and clean towels at the beach and the four swimming pool areas.
  • Free WiFi that worked fine.
  • The food? Delicious. Gigantic buffets brimming with authentic Mexican dishes and familiar American foods (and many gluten-free and vegetarian options). You can safely drink the water. Their Italian restaurant, Casa Mia, and their fancy Danzante Restaurant were terrific (and the light-up menu at Danzante is so cool!)
  • Room service is included in the all-inclusive price.
  • There’s a lot to do, even if you don’t golf. Besides the spa and day trips, the in-resort activities range from margarita-making lessons (recommend!) to lunchtime aqua aerobics.
  • The service is excellent and the staff members are simply delightful. They always added to our fun.
  • The large fitness center, with floor-to-ceiling windows, has updated equipment and a wide range of classes, from the Insanity workout to gentle yoga.
  • The resort’s Sabila Spa is comparable to American luxury spas. Their spa treatments include a divine, hour-long hydrotherapy session beforehand involving multiple rooms and a sauna, where a staff member puts cucumber slices on your eyes and a cold washcloth on your forehead.
  • Everyone speaks fluent English. Some staff will encourage you to practice your Spanish (which I love).
  • Twice-a-day maid service is a rare perk in post-COVID times. We always came home from dinner to find little bags of cookies and decoratively folded bedspreads and curtains.
  • The private beach isn’t big, but no one’s wandering around trying to sell you trinkets or hair braiding. The water is shallow, clear, and calm. Like a bathtub! Perfect for swimming, paddleboarding, and snorkeling. You can walk out pretty far and still be in thigh-high water.
Villa del Palmar Loreto Reviews - A view of Villa Del Palmar-Islands of Loreto from the TPC Danzante Bay golf course.
A view of Villa Del Palmar-Islands of Loreto from the TPC Danzante Bay golf course. Photo credit: Jamie Bartosch

Any downsides to Villa Del Palmar Loreto?

  • There are no grab-and-go food options, although there’s a well-stocked (and pricey) market.
  • There aren’t many flights to Loreto, so getting there from most U.S. cities isn’t easy. Coming from Chicago, we had to spend a night in a Phoenix airport hotel to make American Airlines’ once-a-day Loreto flight (or else face a 4-hour layover in Los Angeles during Christmastime. No thank you). The resort offers no refunds if you arrive a day late.
  • You have to sign for everything, even if you just order water at the beach bar. It’s kind of a pain. Plus, I felt pressured to tip every time.
  • While there are entertaining nightly shows during dinner, there’s not much doin’ after that. That’s not a downside to me, but it could be to some vacationers. It might be because many of the activities (golf, snorkeling trips, hiking) all start early in the morning. Plus, most people of a partying age were there with little children.
Villa del Palmar Loreto Reviews - Free kayaks and paddle boards are offered at Villa Del Palmar. The water is calm, clear, and shallow and you can see lots of colorful fish near the shore.
Free kayaks and paddle boards are offered at Villa Del Palmar. The water is calm, clear, and shallow and you can see lots of colorful fish near the shore. Photo credit: Jamie Bartosch

Is Villa Del Palmar Loreto worth the price?

Price-wise, for us, Villa Del Palmar was a splurge. We paid full price for everything (no travel writer discounts or freebies), and even though we didn’t eat or drink that much, we felt like it was a good value. Had we paid a la carte, for example, the breakfast buffet alone for four people would have been $150 a day.

Tennis, pickleball, kayaking, and paddle boarding are free.

During our visit in December 2023, here’s what things cost:

  • Golf — $245 USD per round (price fluctuates based on the course condition). Club rental was $65 USD per person.
  • 50-minute massage — $175 USD, which included the tip and a one-hour hydrotherapy session
  • Snorkeling — $175 per person for a half-day trip
  • Dinner at their premier Danzante Restaurant — $20 per person, plus extra for certain entrees and drinks.
  • Margarita-making class — $20 USD per person
  • Taking the shuttle to the town of Loreto — $20 USD per person.

These activities are all ABSOLUTELY worth the money, and you should do them! Just keep these added costs in mind while creating your vacation budget. For a family of four, it can add $2,000 to your bill like (snaps fingers) that.

I’m never sure how to tip at an all-inclusive, but we spent another $200 on tips throughout our 5-night stay. When we didn’t include it on the bill, we used U.S. dollars and no one seemed to mind.

What are the rooms at Villa Del Palmar Loreto like?

We stayed in a 2-bedroom deluxe suite. It was huge. We didn’t spend extra for an ocean view, but we had comfy beds, a large living room, three full bathrooms, an indoor tub, and a spacious furnished patio. We had one fully equipped kitchenette and one kitchenette, neither of which we used. Here’s a video tour.

Villa del Palmar Loreto Reviews - Pool
Pool. Photo credit: Jamie Bartosch

Tips for staying at Villa Del PalmarIslands of Loreto

  • Rather than order room service, order poolside from the pool bar waiters. The food choices are better and you’ll get your food faster.
  • When you check in at the front desk and meet with your concierge, tell them you don’t want to hear time-share sales pitches. Otherwise, your concierge will always be trying to entice you with giveaways to attend a time-share presentation.
  • No need to take the resort’s pricey snorkeling trip. You can see big schools of colorful fish, starfish, and pufferfish right off their private beach. You don’t even have to snorkel; you can see them from your (free) kayak.
  • Bring your own snorkel masks. They do not have any you can use or rent. You have to buy masks in their market, and they’re expensive and low quality.
  • I didn’t try it, but I heard you can take the shuttle to Loreto ($20 per person round trip), walk over to the lighthouse dock, and easily find tour guides who can take you snorkeling for $50 per person (compared to the resort’s $175 per person trip).
  • Pack games to play at night. Since there isn’t much to do after dinner, play family-friendly games on your nice outdoor patio.
  • The shuttle service between the airport and the resort is pricey, but if there are just two of you, it might be more cost-efficient to rent a car at the airport and use their valet parking.
Villa del Palmar Loreto Reviews - Colorful Mexican crafts are sold in a small pop-up shop next to the pool at Villa Del Palmar-Islands of Loreto.
Colorful Mexican crafts are sold in a small pop-up shop next to the pool at Villa Del Palmar-Islands of Loreto. Photo credit: Jamie Bartosch

Is an all-inclusive resort right for my family?

This SheBuysTravel story spells out the pros and cons of an all-inclusive and includes a list of some of the best all-inclusive in the U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean. We’ll be adding Villa Del Palmar-Islands of Loreto to that list!

Here’s another list of some of SheBuysTravel’s best all-inclusive for families in the Caribbean.

Where can I check rates and book a room?

Directly from the resort’s website, or on Booking.com or Hotels.com.

Jamie Bartosch is an award-winning journalist based in suburban Chicago. Her stories have appeared in dozens of publications, including USA TODAY, A&E, The Telegraph (U.K.), and the Chicago Daily Herald. A longtime contributor to SheBuysTravel, and the mother of two college students, Jamie’s stories provide honest, useful information to help parents save time, save money, and maximize their family fun.
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