I wasn't sure what to expect as we drove up the long, long road to the lodge reception area. Acually, I was concerned that we would have to drive from room to restaurant to pool, that the property was not going to be worth the expense, and so on.
But Carmel Valley Ranch was exceptional in every way. We booked a room at the Bluffs, the highest (and quietest) area, and our suite was elegant and comfortable. The marble bathroom was as large as a living room. I loved the toiletries made from lavender grown on the property.
The grounds are gorgeous: from our room we could see wild turkeys, deer, vineyards, lavender fields. I'm not one to sit still, but I was able to relax on our balcony overlooking the valley and read a good book for a hours, and it was heavenly.
The saltwater pool was great for laps, although small, and the adult lap time was limited. (There is an adults-only pool near the lodge, but it is more suited to relaxation than exercise.) A ranch van or golf cart can be summoned in minutes to take you anywhere you like on property.
We ate two dinners and two breakfasts on site. Breakfasts were fresh (blueberry pancakes! House-made yogurt parfait!) although the servers needed training. Dinners at the bar were terrific. Many thanks to J.J., Paul and Chelsea for their food and wine recommendations and excellent service. I especially loved the fresh heirloom tomato salad and the beet salad with fennel.
The apiary tour was amazing. Beekeeper John's passion for his work is infectious.
Nathan D. in guest services was also wonderful.
This place is expensive but worth it for a splurge. If we had stayed longer, I would have taken advantage of the hiking trails and other activities.