Can you handle days without cell phone reception? Without internet? Without room service? Neither of these are available at Tassajara, just a single landline, not even outlets in the room. Instead Kerosene lamps at night, gentle bells in the morning, sitting meditation services in the temple, lots of good vegetarian organic food, beautiful hikes in the area, the sound of the creek in the background to fall asleep to... Tassajara is a working monestry, and in order to support the place through the winter, it is open to visitors from mid-spring to mid-fall. Accommodation choices range from relatively basic to quite luxurious. We stayed in the Courtyard, small room, two twin beds (surprisingly thin yet quite comfortable matrass). Other choices are yurts, tatame rooms with futons, or the upscale stone rooms closest to the bath house. All stays here include 3 meals a day, delicious organic vegetarian meals to reward your taste buds. You can join in for an early morning (5:40am) sitting meditation (Zazen) in the temple or one in the evening - however before you attend join a temple tour in the afternoon, to get an idea of what to expect. There are also somewhat more casual Dharma talks on some evenings. The hot springs are certainly a major attraction, with showers (complimentary shower gel / shampoo included) a very hot indoor plunge (110F), an outdoor hot tub (102F), access to the creek to cool down, as well as a steam room. Baths are separated into men's and women's side, after 8:30pm the men's side is open to ladies as well as gentlemen. Baths were never crowded (most encountered were four people at the same time in the facility) - heaven to observe the stars from the hottub in the evening. Food in served at tables of 8, family-style, so you will sit with different neighbors, and interesting conversations are bound to happen. While the monks do not drink or serve alcohol, guests can bring their own wine for dinner, and this is then often shared at the table. Guests range from dedicated 'regulars' to honeymoon newbees hiking into the Ventana wilderness (which Tassajara is part of). This is a great place to get away from it all. Hiking trails in easy to more strenuous forms are available. A very popular place are the narrows, where the creek forms a (cold) swimming hole, and adventurous souls can slide down the algae-covered waterfalldrop into the mini pool. Alternatively, just sit at and swim in the (hot-spring-fed) heated pool, read a book (even a small onsite library exists), stroll through the garden, or grab a cup of tea and find a bench. This is a very special place, bound to calm you, not easy to leave again.
How to get in and out: with a fourwheel drive the 1h dirt road across a moutain pass is probably doable for a good driver. The state of that dirt road varies, depending on weather, and there was some snow at the highest altitude next to the road. Many people take the "stage coach" (a suburban 4wd) from Jamestown where the pavement ends. However, the following cars were observed in the Tassajara parking lot: Honda Civic, VW Beetle, Toyota Prius, BMW Mini (!) - i.e. have at least made it in. This place is difficult to get to, so there is no easy way to drive out and go to a restaurant - but then again why would you?
- Also Known As:
- Tassajara Zen Mountain Hotel Carmel Valley
- Tassajara Zen Mountain Hotel
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A temple sanctuary by the beautiful boulders and waters of Tassajara Creek, a small mountain river flowing toward the sea. Long known as a place of healing, the hot springs of Tassajara were first used by the native Esselen people, who lived among the soaring ridges of the Santa Lucia Mountains for a thousand years or more, appreciating the hot springs for their restorative properties. Today,Tassajara offers a rare opportunity to step back from the busy demands and pressures of life. Find the rhythm of your own breath supported by the sounds of temple bell and creek-song. Feel the summer breeze, enjoy delicious food, immerse yourself in the water of the hot springs and relax in the shade of maples and sycamores. Since Zen Mountain Center’s inception, the Guest Season has been an integral part of this monastery's yearly cycle in these mountains. From April until September, focus turns from our primarily inward activity of “practice period” to the work of serving the community at large, sharing the experience of Zen practice and the joys of Tassajara. Like the proprietors of earlier times, we hope you will find this valley a place of delight and renewal. Please consider yourself a part of Tassajara, for it is your contributions which make it possible for us to continue to take care of this fragile ecosystem and provide a curative, healing environment. Accommodations include three gourmet vegetarian meals daily, with bag lunch available to allow for flexible day plans. Guest afternoon tea is served daily in the dining room. The courtyard coffee-tea area is always open. Personal beverages are welcome in the guest rooms and dining room. ... more less