Many of us know Carmel, California for its beautiful coastline, storybook-style architecture, fine art community and abundance of hotels, restaurants, and shops. The beauty of this area draws people from around the world and is perhaps one of the most beautiful places on earth.
What many people don’t realize is that there is an entirely different side of Carmel. Just a few miles from downtown is what could be considered the rural side of Carmel, known as Carmel Valley. Carmel Valley offers a distinctively different experience with its serene countryside setting, rolling hills, vineyards, golf courses, equestrian trails and so much more that make this a perfect destination for the outdoor and wine enthusiast wanting to experience the peaceful, slower paced lifestyle of this beautiful region.
When visiting the Big Sur area, there are two distinct luxury resorts that stand out, The Ventana Inn and The Post Ranch Inn. While the Ventana Inn has a prime location high on the hillside above Highway 1 and can offer panoramic views, The Post Ranch Inn sits at the water’s edge and, undeniably, has the most desirable location for ocean lovers.
The check-in process was intimate and friendly. With my visit being in December, I walked in to the small front office with a roaring fire ablaze and a champagne greeting.
The staff was very gracious in working with me to find the best location available at the time. I wasn’t sure if I was going to end up with the room I wanted but with their diligent effort, I was placed in a Coast House unit boasting a phenomenal ocean view. I was extremely happy.
The resort is a small property with only 48 rooms…but at no other time, has the term “it’s quality not quantity that counts” been more appropriate. I loved the intimacy of this property and yet, the grounds are quite extensive so you feel as though you are the only one there at times.
The gorgeous natural landscape and rustic wooden units with a modern flair somehow have a very holistic feel. With the way the resort was designed and built, at times you can’t tell where the earth ends and a structure begins. Some units built on the bluff have a dry grass roof blending the unit into the landscape. Other units, called Treehouses, are built on metal stilts and reside in the midst of the natural Redwoods.
As mentioned before, there are several very different types of accommodations ranging from the Butterfly rooms all the way to a Private Residence. The Butterfly, Mountain and Treehouses sit internally on the property within the serenity of the Redwood trees. A few of the Treehouses do have glimpses of the ocean.
The Coast Houses are two-story structures with ocean views. Under most circumstances, I would suggest taking the upper level unit for a better view and for more privacy and quiet. And although I did hear some walking above me, I would still choose the lower unit again due to the fact that the deck on the lower unit does not have a handrail obstructing your stunning view, whereas, the above unit does. Sitting on that deck, looking out to sea was a meditative experience and made me feel like I was at the edge of the earth.
The Pacific Suites are basically the same as the Coast Houses but larger with a spa. The Ocean Houses are individual units facing the coastline and if you want to splurge for the best, look into the Cliff House.
All the rooms, no matter what category, have been designed with the same fabrics, fixtures and furnishes. In being very honest in my personal assessment of the interior design, the rooms have a bit of a dated feel to me. However, having said that, there is something about the simplicity and subtlety of the design that somehow works for this property ~ and let’s face it, the stunning view has your attention at all times anyway.
WiFi is offered throughout the property and available in all the rooms along with a Bose music system. There are no television sets in the rooms which I personally love as a place like this should be about enjoying the beautiful scenery and decompressing from the daily grind.
Each room offers a complimentary mini-bar, and this is no regular mini-bar. The items are unique, many local to the area and so delicious ~ cheeses, crackers, nuts, dips, fruits ~ I was actually able to make a dinner out of it and they are restocked daily along with freshly baked cookies. A small bottle of red and white wine are also provided along with other libations (sorry, the wine is not restocked daily).
The resort also offers a complimentary gourmet breakfast each morning at the Sierra Mar Restaurant with its stunning views. This is no ordinary continental breakfast, we’re talking smoked sturgeon, an array of fruits, custom made egg dishes, french toast, artisan cheeses and so forth. It was a wonderful way to start the day.
Another fun perk is the resort’s Lexus car rental program. As with many luxury resorts these days, the Post Ranch has a small group of Lexus cars available for 4 hour rentals on a first come, first serve basis. If you’re not in the mood to drive at all, the resort offers a shuttle service around the Big Sur area. There are several more complimentary amenities such as yoga, meditation – see here for a listing.
The restaurant on property is Sierra Mar. I think I actually gasped the first time I walked into the restaurant and feasted my eyes on the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean through the floor to ceiling glass walls. The view is surreal. The restaurant is perched on the cliffside and it almost feels as though you are on a cruise ship because all you see is water.
The food is amazing, and even if you are not staying at the property, this is a definite must for a meal. When glancing at the menu for the first time, it appears to be a pre-fixe menu, however, all items are offered a la carte. There is a full bar within the restaurant and an outdoor patio with a fire pit perfect for catching a sunset.
The resort does have a spa on-site and along with offering massages, facials, yoga and meditation sessions, they also offer some very unique intuitive healing classes such as shaman sessions, fire ceremonies and much more – see here.
One of the resorts most beautiful and relaxing features are their infinity soaking pools overlooking the ocean. It is the most tranquil feel to sit in one of these pools and stare off into what seems like eternity ~ a guaranteed way to melt all your stress away. Along with the soaking pools there is a regular resort pool and gym available to guests.
The property also has a unique store which they call the Mercantile, offering sundries, clothing and unique items to the resort.
In summary, I believe I know the reason why this property is consistently ranked among the finest in the world ~ staying here restores your soul and spirit and that’s a priceless gift.
In my opinion, there isn’t a more beautiful coastline than the Big Sur region. The rocky bluffs and turquoise blue waters are mesmerizing.
I frequent this area a lot when I feel the need to decompress and balance myself. There is something about the remoteness of this area and the Pacific Ocean that is so healing and relaxing. This is probably a good reason why a lot of celebrities venture up this way when they want to escape the rat race.
The Ventana Inn is located on the east side of Highway boasting a prime position overlooking the Pacific Ocean and is the perfect destination for a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
This property, The Ventana Inn, sits on the hillside above Highway 1 in Big Sur, CA and boasts some incredible panoramic ocean views from many locations throughout the property, especially from the restaurant patio.
The property is so serene with its ocean views, majestic redwoods, and the wildlife that roam the property. Along with the many deer that populate the area, I actually saw a bobcat during my stay as well. I highly suggest taking advantage of the informative guided walking tour offered in the mornings. It’s an enjoyable walk around the property trails and you will learn a lot about the indigenous habitat.
The Check-in Process
I can’t tell you how accommodating the front desk staff was to me. Because I had stayed at this resort before, I had a specific room in mind and when I found out that I was not in that room, I questioned it. The staff gladly gave me the ability to actually view a couple rooms before I checked-in in order to guarantee my satisfaction. And boy am I glad they did, had I just gone with the room I originally wanted, I would have missed out on the incredible room I got. As an added little perk, each guest gets a glass of wine at check-in.
This is a small property with 60 rooms total. For as small as this resort is, there are many different types of room categories offered. There are units facing the woods and some facing towards the ocean, some with fireplaces and/or spas, but a good fact to know is that there is a category of rooms called Pacific House and these are the resort’s newest units.
I have stayed here a couple of times and have had the opportunity to stay in different locations. My first stay was in the Big Sur Spa Suite. The room is quite spacious with natural wood paneling and stone accents. I found the room to be a little dark but I enjoyed the very private location and the fact that it blends in well with the natural setting.
On my last visit, I had the opportunity to stay in a Pacific House room which was a completely different experience. The Pacific House rooms, as mentioned above, are the resorts newest category and the rooms are incredible!
The rooms are light and bright, with beautiful stone accents and contemporary finishes and fixtures. These rooms have a soaking tub, large separate shower, dual sinks, fireplace, coffee bar, and a good size patio with a spa. These are also ocean view units and great for sunsets. I stayed in unit #37 and think it was one of the best units because there were no trees or bushes blocking the view.
On a side note: An unplanned event helped to make this stay magical. I witnessed my first meteor shower. I happened to be on my patio and started noticing shooting stars, when they kept coming one after the next, I had to Google it to see if there was a meteor shower going on that evening and discovered there was. I ended up sitting out on the patio for probably 2 hours watching this amazing show.
The amenities are nice in both style units, it comes down to your personal preference as to whether you want a more earthy, natural feel or a light contemporary feel. A fact to keep in mind is that this resort sits up on a hillside on the opposite side of Highway 1 from the ocean, and the property is very wooded ~ meaning, even if you’re in an ocean view room, your views are from a distance and usually obstructed by some type of landscape. There are very few rooms that have full, unobstructed ocean views.
The rooms that possibly have the best ocean views might be the Ocean House units which are located on the second level of the reception building. Keep in mind, there will be a little more people traffic in this area and even though you have a great ocean view, your deck won’t be as private with people walking in and out of the reception building, as well as the Spa which is located in the same general area. However, if you don’t mind that fact, these units are great for the view.
The spa is quaint and offers many treatments, however they do not offer salon services such as hair and nails. They can call a technician in for these services but it can get quite costly as there is a flat minimum fee just to get them out and then the cost of the service is on top of that fee.
The resort also has a gym open to the guests, along with some Japanese soaking tubs. There are two main pools, one of which is clothing optional for you free-minded individuals.
The Restaurant at Ventana:
There is one restaurant onsite called, The Restaurant at Ventana, and it is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The resort offers a complimentary continental breakfast which is served here each morning. The food is very good and, as mentioned earlier, it boasts the best ocean views on property. There is a bar lounge inside the restaurant, as well as on the outdoor patio. This is a perfect spot to catch the sunset.
I had one strange encounter that does not usually happen at a luxury resort. One morning at breakfast when the hostess went to seat me on the patio, which was completely empty except for one other couple, she tried to seat me at one table and I asked if I could be seated one table over. I was told that I could not because they needed to balance the waiter flow. Huh? Reminder luxury hotels are about service, service, service. I do believe this was more of an individual issue than a resort issue because i did not have any other service issues during my stay.
A word of warning about getting to the restaurant, it is on property but it is a short distance from the resort. There is a gravel path that connects the resort to the restaurant, but if you are in dress shoes or heels and/or going for dinner in the dark, you will want to get a bellman to cart you over. This path is a really nice walk for breakfast or lunch during daylight hours when you are in casual walking shoes.
For people who might be interested in hosting events here, the resort has a great staff for coordinating events. The reason for my last visit was for a holiday party I planned for a group of 100 people where I booked 50+ rooms. The event staff coordinated the booking of the rooms, the evening cocktail reception and dinner, along with all the other tiny details to a T! The staff members working that night were friendly and went the extra mile to make the event a great success ~ even so much as pulling out a telescope to entertain some interested guests.
In summary, this resort is definitely worth the trip out to Big Sur and will treat you to some peace, rest and relaxation.
If you would like more information on this property or help in booking a stay, please contact me using the contact box below.