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“Emperors New Clothes?”
Review of Ventana Inn & Spa

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Ventana Inn & Spa
Ranked #4 of 8 Hotels in Big Sur
Certificate of Excellence
London
Level Contributor
24 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 79 helpful votes
“Emperors New Clothes?”
Reviewed October 12, 2012

My husband and I did a road trip of California and I thoroughly researched all the accommodation options. Ventana was both the most expensive and the one I was most excited about staying in for 2 nights - the cost was approaching USD 1500 for the room plus breakfast. We were disappointed to the extent we checked out early. Now for the good bits Room itself was nice, it was a suite, and wasn’t huge but the basics were fine. It was nicely furnished and had all the amenities you’d expect from a deluxe hotel. We had paid up for the suite in the hope that we would get a view of the sea (this wasn’t guaranteed in their defence but a request was submitted at time of booking which given we had booked a reasonably long time in advance I would have hope was fulfilled). It wasn’t, we had a “canyon view” which is a misnomer as there is no canyon actually visible from the room at all, and a room who’s view was totally impeded by a tree at the front. No major issues with the room, but niggles such as the fact the floor was clearly dirty as having bathed and walked around the room my feet were filthy, and the towels in the room were greying and thread bear.

I swam twice in the time we were there – once in the morning and once in the evening. Both times the pool was dirty and I felt like I was swimming through a soup of dead insects, I know this is unavoidable but it does make me question how often it was cleaned. The furniture around the pool was dated, however I did note that they were in the process of replacing this while we were staying. The gym was basic and wasn’t air-conditioned which when the temperature is in the mid 90s doesn’t make for a pleasant experience.

The turning point for us was at breakfast. I think it was probably one of the most abysmal experiences ever. I really have never experienced a breakfast like it – at either a high end or a budget hotel. It was a (small) buffet style arrangement. There was no one to greet you and show you to a table and the tables weren’t laid up so you had to get your own cutlery and carry the various items to your table. Just as well I didn’t especially want to carry anything back there as it was the most unpalatable selection of food I have ever seen. It looked like it had been attacked by a plague of locusts- there was barely anything left when we went at 10am (nb it closed at 10:30), the toaster was broken and the table was littered with bits of bread. There were no other choices available other than those available in the rubbish buffet. The one girl working there (bear in mind there were probably 30 people having breakfast when we were there so no wonder the dining room was ill maintained) was ineffectual and disinterested, it seemed like a hassle when we even asked her to make a coffee. It would have been a joke at a hotel which cost a third of the amount and was the bare minimum you could provide in order to state that “breakfast be included”. It was at this stage we just decided to check out.

After checking out – my husband realised he left his e-reader in the gym on one of the machines – however on calling and speaking with room service it was never handed in or found. We weren’t called as a courtesy to tell us this but had to call back twice to follow up and see whether it had been located. It hadn’t. I’ll let you be the judge of whether someone paying the best part of a thousand dollars a night would take a 2 year old Kindle.

I think on the whole the place cuts corners. There’s probably a certain amount of complacency associated with being one of the 2 luxury hotels in big sur. Ventana seems to be approaching the kind of prices charged by Post Ranch Inn but isn’t delivering – a case of the emperors new clothes . One good thing to be said for the place was that on checking out the service was impeccable (indeed The staff were generally nice though some had language difficulties and didn’t speak good English. ) – the guy working on the front desk was apologetic and there was never any question that we’d get charged for the second night- it was this that made me hesitant about leaving a negative review, however when somewhere costs a not inconsiderable amount , I would want to know about the shortcomings so I could make an informed choice. For rates this high you expect something close to perfection which plenty of other hotels manage to deliver without difficulty. For the record we spent the second night at the inn of the Spanish Garden in Santa Barbara instead. Which cost USD 229/night and delivered infinitely more.

Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
11 Thank HotelMavenLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
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English first
Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed October 11, 2012

We normally don't spend this much on a hotel, but this place was worth the splurge. Two nights at the Ventana was more rejuvenating than a week at a cheaper hotel. Amazing peaceful views, the rooms are amazing, wonderful complementary breakfast and wine and cheese hour, kind staff , and best of all you are free to walk around the property in your robe or sweats. The inn will drive you to the local resteraunts and shops, and you will not want to leave! It was just what my husband and I needed. Praise God, just amazing.

  • Stayed October 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Chamber7581
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sc
Level Contributor
162 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
Reviewed October 10, 2012

Charming, beautiful, spiritually restorative. Our stay in Ventana was incredible and so memorable. The staff was courteous and amicable. They went out of their way to keep us satisfied - for instance, when we arrived late from a hike in the afternoon and missed wine/cheese, a kitchen personnel made us a plate of cheese and poured us two glasses of wine just for us. We enjoyed that outside next to the fireplace. The amenities are sumptuous with fitness/workout room, outdoor pool and jacuzzi baths, an array of amazing plants and gardens with walking paths throughout the property overlooking BIg Sur coastline. The restaurant at Ventana was excellent with a great tasting and varied menu and wine; servce was very good and personable. The guided hikes provided us with a "can't forget" type of experience. I wish we could have stayed another night or two! Would definitely recommend this place!

Room Tip: We reserved a superior room with hot tub included balcony; this room felt so warm, perfectly decorat...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank marcusaureliusSc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newport KY
Level Contributor
54 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed October 8, 2012

Ventna is a very special place. THe grounds are beautiful. The staff outststanding. THe restaurant serves excellent food. Breakfast, which comes with the room, is one of the best continental breakfasts we have ever experienced. Ventana is expensive but worth every penny and it is half the price of the Post Ranch Inn across the road.

Room Tip: Even the least expensive rooms are terrific.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank John F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dundas, Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed October 3, 2012

Thank-you to the staff at Ventana for giving us a memorable night on our honeymoon. All of our needs were taken care of and we were very much relaxed as soon as we got to our room. So many little details that add up to a wonderful experience. We had one of the best meals in the restaurant and it was such a nice walk to the restaurant through the big red woods. Thanks again. We would definitely want to come back.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Paul C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ventana M, Front Office Manager at Ventana Inn & Spa, responded to this review, October 6, 2012
Yes! Your review embodied the exact feeling we are trying to achieve at Ventana Inn & Spa! A Romantic type feeling and five star luxuries! Perfect. So glad you got to enjoy the luxury of Ventana during your Honeymoon. The attention to detail would be what we consider the keys to creating a warm, relaxing feeling. See you again soon and congratulations. Sincerely, Shane Prince, Front Office Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Menlo Park
Level Contributor
48 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 111 helpful votes
Reviewed October 3, 2012

My husband and I have stayed at Ventana well over a dozen times since 1990, usually in one of the higher-end rooms and always for four or more nights. The resort has been through many changes and three owners in that time frame. It has always been expensive yet value also was high and delivered. Not now, sad to say. The cost now is exorbident for what is delivered. Our most recent visit was in September 2012 for four nights.

Notable unhappy changes:
-- continental breakfast features many fewer selections
-- coffee is not high-end (and I didn't care for it)
-- fireplace rooms are provided with those waxy fake logs, not real wood (we understand there was a bad fire associated with one of the fireplace rooms that did great damage, what that has to do with the type of fuel, I'm not certain)
-- some of the furniture can be awkward in the Big Sur suite
-- in September the upper pool (with is NOT clothing optional) was too cold each of the four days we were there; this seems to be a common complaint
-- the renovated main area, now separated into an eating area and a checkin area is unattractive and much less comfortable than the former "great room" incarnation

Again, it's not so much that there's much wrong with Ventana so much as the cost has gotten entirely out of hand. The rack rate for a basic room (no fireplace, no view) is $510 weeknights and $630 weekends. And, that's not a comfortable room for anything but sleeping. I'd never stay in that basic room but use it here to illustrate the absurdity of the pricing. For that kind of money, everything ought to be pretty close to exquisite ... and it's not.

I'm exasperated.

Room Tip: Rooms with deck and hot tub are best, obviously and tres costly. The basic room is an utter rip-off...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank CatalinaW
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore
Level Contributor
46 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
Reviewed October 1, 2012

The place to stay when in Big Sur. Quiet, chic, good food, relaxing..... a retreat in the true sense of the word. You'll love it! Note that pool area is clothing optional.
The service in the restaurant was impeccable and the food quality outstanding. You have to walk through a small forest to reach the restaurant from your room which is fun and can be romantic when all the stars are up on the night sky.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank SimonSingapore
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ventana Inn & Spa

Property: Ventana Inn & Spa
Address: 48123 Highway One, Big Sur, CA 93920-9538
Phone Number:
Location: United States > California > Big Sur
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Romantic Hotel in Big Sur
#3 Family Hotel in Big Sur
#3 Top resorts Hotel in Big Sur
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Ventana Inn & Spa 4.5*
Number of rooms: 62
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Ventana Inn & Spa is a luxurious resort nestled in the mountains above California’s central coast. Situated on 243 acres of wooded hillside, 1,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean on the Big Sur coast, Ventana Inn & Spa is quiet, secluded and beautiful. The Inn provides a peaceful and soothing atmosphere enhanced by its proximity to the area’s natural wonders. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Ventana Inn And Spa
Ventana Hotel Big Sur
Ventana Resort Big Sur
Ventana Inn Big Sur

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