Ventana Inn & Spa
Ventana Inn & Spa
Address: 48123 Highway 1
Web Address: http://www.ventanainn.com
Big Sur, California
Nestled in a mountain meadow, amidst the towering redwoods, oak and bay laurel of Big Sur and 1200 feet above the Pacific, the Ventana Inn and Spa is a tranquil and serene refuge that will calm the soul of even the most stressed among us. The drive alone along the rugged coastline with its spectacular ocean cliffs and deep gorges will make you feel good about the world again. This is America at its most beautiful and you will be awed by its majesty.
Big Sur is predominantly made up of national forests and state parks. It is remote, wild and the primary pastime is enjoying its natural beauty. 300 days of sunshine, moderate temperatures make Big Sur and the Ventana Inn, the perfect place to do that at just about any time of year.
The Inn completed a recent $18 million renovation, with guestrooms and suites refurbished, pools were upgraded, landscaping and gardens improved, the infrastructure modernized and the primary restaurant, destroyed by fire in 2008, re-opened.
Situated on 243 acres, the Inn’s architecture blends in to its surroundings and the cedar buildings are scattered about the property and its meandering pathways. Two pools, Japanese soaking tubs and an exquisite Spa offer vistas of the distant Pacific.
This is solitude guaranteed to help you find your inner peace again. Does it sound like I just spent a week in California? Maybe so, but just my one night here left me refreshed and rejuvenated and looking forward to the week ahead.
All 60 guestrooms and suites have balconies or patios with soothing meadow, valley or distant ocean views. Most have fireplaces. My very comfortable and good sized room had vaulted ceilings, natural cedar paneling, stone floors and shower and colorful, artwork. There was a soaking tub with paneled doors opening to the bedroom. Shuttered windows opened to a view of the mountains and pasture beyond and a small deck with chairs was perched over a valley.
The shower was wonderfully powerful, the bed linens luxurious and the air filled with the scent of cedar and the fresh rosemary set in a vase. A flat screen TV and CD player provided the opportunity for diversion, but the setting is more conducive to a good book. Be sure to book a room with a fireplace. This high up, the nights get cool even in summer and the fire just adds to the coziness.
Truman Jones, whose training included stops at a number of Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond restaurants including the Ritz Carlton brand, heads the culinary team. Serving lunch and dinner, The Restaurant menus focuses on locally produced goods and Pacific seafood served in a casual, wood paneled dining room with beamed vaulted ceilings and anchored with a fireplace.
The wine list is a Wine Spectator Award winner and quite extensive albeit a bit pricey. There are, however, enough choices at more moderate prices from which to choose.
From $650 including continental breakfast. $30 per day resort fee covers morning yoga, afternoon wine and hors d'ouevres and daily guided "Ventana Discovery Walk".
WHAT OTHERS SAY…
“Luxury meets log cabin” at this “dreamy” Big Sur resort providing a near “mystical” experience for those seeking to “nip stress in the bud”; the “extraordinary”, “natural” setting is complemented by a staff that “meets every need”, food that easily “satisfies”, “exceptional” rooms and a “super spa”; P.S. “bring the checkbook” and leave the clothes, as there’s a “clothing optional” policy at some pools and hot tubs.” ZAGAT
“The World’s Very Best Hotels and Resorts”, ForbesTraveler.com
“Top 100-Best in the World” Reader’s Choice Awards, Conde Nast
“The Best Places to Stay in the World”- Gold List, Conde Nast
Top 10 U.S. Luxury Spas, SpaFinder
WHILE YOU ARE THERE:
There are two outdoor pools (one clothing optional) whose temperatures are kept at 80 degrees and there are Japanese hot baths next to each pool. A fully equipped Fitness Room will help you work off the delicious meals and each day brings classes in yoga, meditation and nature walks.
The Spa at Ventana offers facials, massage, a variety of signature treatments, astrology readings, essence portraits and “body and mind” classes. I thoroughly enjoyed the Santa Lucia Wine Wrap where my body was scrubbed with a brush, a wine extract was rubbed all over me and I was wrapped in plastic and towels. While I waited for the wine extract to do its magic, I got a scalp massage with wonderful oil herb scents and then after I showered to get rid of the wine extract, I got an amazing full body massage. New age or not, I walked out of there feeling like I was a new man.
For other things to do, The Inn publishes an excellent “Experience Guide” including the “10 Most Romantic Experiences”, which is available at their site in a PDF.
San Francisco:2 hours 38 minutes
Sacramento: 3 hours 39 minutes
Bakersfield: 4 hours
Los Angeles: 5 hours 35 minutes