Belmond El Encanto | Santa Barbara, CA

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Discretely nestled in the foothills overlooking Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean you will find an enchanting hideaway called the Belmond El Encanto. This property exudes glamour and elegance in an understated manner and offers a sophisticated comfort that is captivating from the moment you arrive.

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17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach

@2015 Susan Edel

In my opinion, I think everyone should take at least one trip to Pebble Beach in their lifetime, it’s the most gorgeous place on earth! Pebble Beach is a gated community on the central coast of California with a rugged, rocky shoreline highlighted by white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters. It’s a beautiful sight.

@2015 Susan Edel

There is a $10 per car entrance fee if you are not in possession of the coveted badge that residents flash when they enter, however, you can get in without paying if you have reservations at one of the luxury hotels or restaurants within the gates.

You ask “why would I want to pay $10 to enter these gates?”…because it costs less than a movie and the scenery is out of this world! $10 will transport you into a fairytale setting that will stay with you for a lifetime.

@2015 Susan Edel

Once you enter the gate, all you have to do is follow the red-brick (lined) road called The 17-Mile Drive. The 17-Mile Drive is…well, a 17-mile long scenic loop through the very affluent community of Pebble Beach. You are given a map at the gate and the wonderful aspect of this is you can sightsee at your leisure and stop at any or all locations you want to.

The road meanders through neighborhoods with mansions whose driveways cost more than the total value of all my belongings…

…follows the stunning Pacific coastline…

…and passes many famous sites such as the Lone Cypress (the iconic symbol for Pebble Beach),

@2015 Susan EdelBird Rock (hard to see the birds on the rock but they are there),

@2015 Susan Edeland the world-renowned golf course, Pebble Beach Golf Links.

And these guys may not be the most affluent residents that reside in Pebble Beach but they certainly are the cutest! How adorable is that family of Geese?

While in the area, I highly recommend stopping by one of the three luxury hotels, The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay and/or Casa Palmero, for a meal or better yet, an overnight stay. During my stay at Casa Palmero (post here), I took advantage of the Lexus test drive vehicles on property. I reserved the convertible model and let me tell you, there is no better way to see the stunning homes and all the beauty of Pebble Beach than in a convertible!

@2015 Susan Edel

This is a great way to spend the day!

The Sea Ranch, CA

At the risk of repeating myself I will once again say, Northern California has some of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.

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DSC_6632There are a variety of towns along the California coast where the ocean views will take your breath away. Some of them are world-renowned such as Pebble Beach and others are unknown, tiny towns guarding their anonymity from the masses, yet all share the same stunning seaside.

Less than 3 hours north of San Francisco, between Bodega Bay and Mendocino, is the environmentally-conscious, unincorporated community of The Sea Ranch (yes, “The” is a part of the name but it is usually referred to just as Sea Ranch).

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Sea Ranch spans over a 10 mile range and offers a 19-room lodge, Sea Ranch Lodge, with a fantastic restaurant called the Black Point Grill. It is also an established community of approximately 1800 residences, with the majority of these homes being vacation rentals.

Sea Ranch is noted for its distinctive architecture which consists of simple straight-lined structures clad in wooden siding or shingles with large picture windows. There are specific guidelines to be met when building within The Sea Ranch and all exterior architectural designs are subject to a review process for approval. The beauty of these strict guidelines is that it has created a cohesive and homogenous environment that gives this community a serene and peaceful feeling.

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I’ve stayed at the lodge before which is lovely, however on this visit, I decided to rent an oceanfront home (The Woodland). The vacation rentals throughout this community are individually owned and managed by several different realty companies and a quick Google search for Sea Ranch vacation rentals will pull up numerous property options. A tip for you, this is an extremely large community and the homes are located on either side of Hwy 1, so if your desire is to be by the water with access to the walking trails be sure to confirm that the property is located on the west side of Hwy 1.

Staying at Sea Ranch is the perfect place to decompress and rejuvenate your soul. The view below was what I woke up to each morning. This photo was literally taken from my iPad while I was still in bed. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this each morning? It was a great way to start the day.

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The sunsets were even more spectacular. It was such a treat to go to sleep to the sound of the crashing waves against the rocky cliffs.

There are miles and miles of walking trails along the water’s edge and through the woods.

Sea Ranch is also a very dog friendly environment so don’t forget your furry babies.

DSC_6504Should you feel like exploring beyond Sea Ranch, there are numerous interesting places to visit such as the lighthouse at Point Arena, the town of Bodega Bay where Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Bird’s was filmed, the charming town of Mendocino and for meal options, gas and groceries visit the closest town of Gualala (the G is pronounced like a W).

Here’s another insider tip, almost everything closes down by 8:00 pm in this area. You will want to be sure that you have visited or picked up any items from the grocery store before this time or you will be out-of-luck. As mentioned above, the Sea Ranch Lodge has a wonderful restaurant but because it’s the only eating establishment within The Sea Ranch it tends to be quite busy and reservations are highly recommended. There are restaurants in Gualala but even those close down early. I was looking for a place to eat after 8:00 pm and the restaurants were in the process of shutting down. I luckily found one pizza place that had one medium dough left to make a pizza…so keep that in mind.

Sea Ranch is an amazing place to restore and rejuvenate and I look forward to returning soon.

Here is a gallery of all my images.

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Mexico | Tulum

DSC_3001On my recent stay at the Rosewood Mayakoba in the Riviera Maya, I took the opportunity to visit the ruins of Tulum ~ one of the last Pre-Columbian cities inhabited and built by the Mayas situated on the cliffs of the Yucatan Peninsula facing the stunning Caribbean Sea.

@2014 Susan EdelI decided to treat myself and booked a private tour through the concierge at Rosewood. A driver picked me in a beautiful Cadillac Escalade, with free wifi, for the one hour drive to Tulum. The ride was so comfortable it seemed as though we arrived in no time at all.

There are so many benefits to booking a private tour such as being dropped off right at the front entrance, having a driver who speaks the local language and can help you communicate to make the most of out of your day, and in my case, my driver also came along on the tour and brought water bottles and carried towels (not sure this is normal but it certainly was decadent). Along with the fact that you have the flexibility to go wherever you want and make spontaneous stops along the way, this makes for a wonderful (and very spoiling) experience.

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The Ruins of Tulum

Touring architectural sites has always fascinated me. The thought that civilizations centuries (and more) ago occupied the buildings and land you can visit today is incredible. And even more incredible is to hear the stories of how these cultures created such sophisticated structures and communities in what we would consider simple times.

The Mayan civilization is one of the most famous and fascinating in our history. Their achievements in astronomy, mathematics, and architecture trigger some pretty big questions such as how did this civilization design and build structures that correlate with the winter and summer solstice? How could they have known this? How did they create these huge pyramid style structures out of heavy stone? It’s all quite mind-boggling.

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The stars of the tour are all of the Iguana’s that freely roam around. They are not intimated by the visitors and almost seem to pose for your pictures. (Click image to see full size)

Once you finish the tour of the ruins, you end at the edge of the cliff facing the most stunning, crystal clear turquoise water…just calling your name. So you head down the wooden steps and find yourself stripping off your clothes down to your bathing suit while being lured into the water.

It’s such a treat to cool off in the sea after walking around the ruins, and the view from the water looking up at the ruins is a beautiful perspective.

After that relaxing break, I got back into the car where my driver proceeded to hand me a cool wet cloth to clean up and a bottled water. He then suggested heading over to “hotel row” where we could have lunch.

He recommended lunch at Ana y Jose, a charming little gem of a hotel that looks like something out of a Corona commercial.

We had a lovely lunch on the beach.

Then drove through the charming town and back to the resort. This was by far the most comfortable and pleasant excursion I’ve ever been on and I highly suggest this to anyone who is visiting the Yucatan Peninsula!

Rosewood Mayakoba Photo Gallery

Enjoy the photo gallery to my most recent post on the Rosewood Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico

 

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