Ventana Inn & Spa had been on our radar for more than a few years as a place we wanted to spend some time at. Finally, we decided to hit the 1 and head down to Big Sur for a long weekend. My first piece of advice would be to arrive at this place during daylight. We made the mistake of spending a little longer in Monterey and didn't arrive until 11pm at night. By that time the fog had well and truly moved in which made the drive down on the 1 a challenge but not as much as once we turned into the property and had to negotiate with limited lighting, narrow winding road and heavy fog. By the time we arrive my brain was gravy. But....we made it and the welcome, even that late at night was perfect. Special mention to Sean who was waiting for us and got us sorted right away. A bellman loaded our bags onto a golf cart and ushered us to our room. He showed us how everything worked and even lit our fire for us. We'd booked as a part of their "birthday bucks" promotion through the Joy of Life club and there was champagne and a birthday card waiting for my wife. After we'd settled in the room we took a quick scoot around the grounds at midnight - it was funny seeing a few couples robed up coming back from the japanese baths. In the dark, with so much fog the place looked stunning and we couldn't wait to see what it looked like in the morning.
Extremely friendly staff, immaculate grounds, a tough place to want to leave each day to explore Big Sur below. In the end we ventured out each morning and made it home early each afternoon to mellow in the japanese baths - hot bath, cool plunge and into the sauna.
The weather was very foggy for the whole weekend so there was limited views of the coast. There was a brief respite on saturday afternoon for a couple of hours of sunshine.
Because no children are allowed the place was serene - an adult playground with couples everywhere.
Our room was perfect. I kept commenting that the place reminded me of a more sophisticated Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World with its cost, rustic charm. The room was really spacious with window seat,balcony, fireplace and open bathroom with deep tub for soaking.. The bed was really comfortable and turn down each night a nice touch. The only problem we had was that we were in a two story building and had someone in a room above us who walked rather heavily. Because the place is built completely in timber it was noticeable.
Breakfast, albeit a Continental one, is included each day. The sticky scrolls are to die for but I recommend you robe up, come down early and get some take away coffee, load a plate and head back to your room for a cosy breakfast in bed.
Wine & Cheese Hour:
Every afternoon at 4pm they serve a selection of wine and cheese in the main lounge area. My tip is to again, robe up, head up from the pool area and grab a few glasses with a plate of cheese and chill back down by the pool.
We took the morning guided walk around the property which lasted for about an hour. It was really great to get an overview of the area, learn about some of the local wildlife and head down into some redwood groves. Stunning
The Fitness Centre is open air, compact and tucked further up in the resort near one set of Japanese baths. It had a good selection of cardio equipment and free weights.
There are two pools and two sets of Japanese Baths. The set that is higher up on the property is for resort guests only and is a clothing mandatory. The second set is down near the spa and includes a Sauna as well - this set is clothing optional. The baths themselves are amazing with lovely private alcoves separating what is essentially one large warm pool. Highly recommend coming down later at night we had the place to ourselves to relax with a glass of bubbly.
Also worth noting the library right at the top of the property. They have complementary yoga classes there each morning. There is a large balcony with rocking chairs and many books to leaf through. There is also a computer and printer with complementary internet access here as well.
Did I mention the free WIFI on property. Nice touch.
We didn't book treatments at the Spa nor did we dine at the on property restaurant. We did stop in one night and the vibe just didn't suit us - it seemed like a large space with few people there.
if you want an amazing (and I mean "the best meal we had on this trip" amazing) then head to the Big Sur Bakery and Cafe for dinner. Stunning! I asked to meet the chef after we'd finished to say thanks for such a wonderful meal. The resort concierge made our bookings and they offer a complimentary car service to take your down and pick you up at the end of the night. Seriously, this place put Solbar at Solage to shame.
The second tip is to take a quiet walk around the property at night and you will catch glimpses of some native wildlife which was a real thrill - especially seeing a mother red fox and her babies.
The bellman here are a top bunch of guys. Always helpful, always friendly and always having a few sly jokes. These guys deserve a pay rise and your tips. Cheers fellas.
Next time we're in Big Sur, we'll be staying at Ventana. Pricey, but well worth it in every respect.