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“a wonderful property in Big Sur but it doesn't come cheap”

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Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort
Ranked #4 of 8 Hotels in Big Sur
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 31, 2013

Second stop on my solo road trip along the California coast, The Ventana Inn is a wonderful property, tucked away on a very large piece of property.

I arrived when it was already dark and the place was not super easy to find (would have helped if the GPS also knew exactly where it was). Check in was very quick and pleasant, only downside is that I booked with tablet hotels and for some reason they requested a handicap room, not sure why. Because the hotel was full there wasn't much to do about it. The room was lovely but for $900/night including taxes I wasn't really wowed.

Sure the bed was very comfortable, the room was clean, I loved the bottled water but it would have been nice to face something else beside a tree and to have a fireplace.

I then walked to the Ventana Inn Restaurant which is .3 miles from the hotel. The walk is very nice and lit but if you don't feel like it the hotel will drop you off (it's on the same property).

The food was outstanding. The service was great and at $70 for a four course menu (or each item a la carte) I had a great time. I certainly enjoyed walking it all off after.

The next day I walked back for Breakfast and the view from the terrace was breathtaking. The continental breakfast which is included was excellent and filling.

I then went on a tour of the property with a local guide (the tour is complimentary). It was nice to meet other guests and the guide (Greg) was great. I later signed up for his tour which took us to nearby falls and beach and included lunch.

The entire time the staff and general manager were great. The place is very peaceful, maybe too much. It's mostly couples who are on their anniversaries or got engaged and so on. I say good for them but it would be nice to have a place to socialize beside the fire pit.

I went to the "Library" and the place looked desolated with no real furniture to sit and a dead fireplace. It would be nice to have a bar set up in there, a big fire and make it lively.

Would I return? Sure, but hopefully next time who ever I am with is paying for it :)

Room Tip: unless you are handicapped, skip 116
  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled solo
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1  Thank JonathanDucrest
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 29, 2013

Big Sur is magical. Ventana Inn is a gorgeous spot among the hills of Big Sur overlooking the ocean. My husband and I spent a night here in February and were swept away by the relaxed vibe. Like many spots in Big Sur, Ventana is expensive. Given the price, I'm not sure that I was totally satisfied. Don't get me wrong - it was beautiful - but I don't know.. nothing super memorable. Big Sur is expensive, though, and there aren't many places to stay. Ventana is definitely a solid option, just don't expect to be blown away.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Natalie C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 28, 2013

Our second visit here was equally special - our room left nothing to be desired, the service is welcoming and efficient, and the extensive grounds in the hills offer nice walks in the woods, including a long one you can take to the restaurant (you can also be driven). A continental breakfast (a wonderful and extensive buffet) is included in the price. Cooked dishes ca be ordered separately. We were less happy with the dinner offerings and would not do that next time. There are excellent fitness offerings and two heated pools.

  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank john w
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 17, 2013

The Ventana Inn was perfect for a much needed get away with my husband. The room was gorgeous. Loved the fireplace and the hammock. The amenities were nice and just what I would have expected from this resort. The walking trails around the property were a great way to get to and from. However, getting shuttled around in new Range Rovers was a nice touch when we went off property. We looked forward to sitting around the fire pit each night during wine and cheese hour. We met so many nice people from all over. We got a couples massage which was among the best I have ever had. The Japanese baths were also very relaxing. We enjoyed the views each morning as we dined outside at the restaurant. The buffet had the right amount of everything. We also went to the restaurant for dinner. It rained that day so we sat by the fire and enjoyed a 4 course meal. The service exceeded expectations. We can't wait to go back. It might have to be an annual tradition.

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank LoriLips0823
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 11, 2013

By way of background, we were in Week 3 (of 6 and 4,100 + miles so far) of a major road trip from to California and back via Napa Valley, Yosemite, Vegas, Zion, Bryce, Tetons, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore, Badlands and Nashville etc, so 18+ nights of bulk standard Chain Hotels on the road.

This was our 'Booked way in advance, special Treat' to celebrate getting to and driving up Big Sur. At $637.73 per night for just Bed and Breakfast, I was expecting something extraordinary and very Special.

Don't get me wrong, it was nice, BUT NOT worth that amount of money.

Check-in was a perfunctory exercise, during which I felt we had interrupted their afternoon.

Room (132) was nice but small, cramped, very poorly lit (illuminated) and crowded, what with the furniture n' all. Neat bathroom that one could see into from the bedroom (weird, but it did make the bedroom seem a fraction bigger). Well-equipped Mini-bar, BUT, oh those prices.

Balcony was again so small as to be useless - we fitted on it, but with not much room to spare - there were two of us, to be fair. View - there wasn't one except of a fog blanketed hillside & fir trees in front

Restaurant was miles away. We set off on the walk, but after a while with no clear direction nor light, retraced our steps and were given a lift (ride).

Both Food and Service at Dinner were good, if a bit slow (thank goodness they were not full), but equally nothing had us reacting - Wow, Special, Extraordinary. Same reaction for both nights' Dinner. The weather (no one's fault, I know) was grim those 2 days - cold, grey, rainy and foggy with minimal visibility, so we stayed IN on both evenings.

Breakfast - similar, though buffet style, so not a lot of dazzling Service involved. I was also amazed at Customers using the cell phones, and no one saying anything to them. The calls were lengthy, loud and intrusive.

Wine and Cheese events mid-afternoon were thoroughly odd affairs. Piles of quite mediocre cheese served with what I would call plonk was bizarre - a member of staff actually said, as he poured huge glasses of one, that this was his attempt to get rid of what was still left, as no one liked it. The fact that Guests were tucking into both at a frenetic pace, perhaps suggests that I am in a minority.

I tried their Spa (massage) and again found it good, but pretty much like any other.

Greg (Hiking Guide) was Good/Very Good, but since he was nothing to do with Ventana Inn, except they referred Guests to him, so we did not count him into the reckoning on here.

I really wanted to love this place, enjoy every moment, savour the gardens, views , food, service etc etc, BUT here I am months later, still feeling ripped-off and taken for a ride.

I have spent more than One Night here, at other places, and more for a Dinner for two, but every one of those had me in raptures and delighted at our choices.

This was 'Average'.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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10  Thank Safariholic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 10, 2013

I really wanted to love Ventana Inn but I just felt it feel short in a lot of ways. This was the last destination on a road trip up the coast for our anniversary. I tried to arrange the trip so the last hotel was the best but sadly, we were left a little disappointed. I hate to write a negative review but 2 months later, that is what I remember from the our stay there.

Room:
We stayed in a Fireplace Room with a partial ocean view. The view was actually much better than they described when booking, I liked that they dont oversell the ocean view because it is distant but still beautiful. Definitely recommend calling to book as opposed to booking online so you can choose the location of your room. Now, I knew I booked one of the least expensive room categories but at $750 a night, I had higher expectations. The furnishings are dated and in need of a refresh. I think this is a hotel where your experience can really depend on your room. I would have rather spent 1 night in a jacuzzi suite than the 2 nights in our fireplace room.

Service:
Again, I wanted to give them great service ratings because everyone there was very nice but they didn't always follow though. I called in advance to make restaurant reservations. We wanted to have dinner at the Restaurant at Ventana one night and Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn the other night. I knew from checking on my own that Sierra Mar had tables open for Friday night but was limited for Saturday. I thought booking through the concierge would give us better availability. The concierge made it seem as though it was no problem for them to book. Upon check in they gave us a letter with our reservation at the restaurant at Ventana Friday night but told us they were unable to book Post Ranch Inn. I would have appreciated a call before we got there so we could have switched nights and we were left without dinner plans for Saturday night.


The good - We enjoyed the complimentary wine & cheese hours in the afternoon and Tony at the front desk was great with any requests we had. Every worker we encountered around the property was very friendly and always said good morning etc.

The Restaurant:
The setting was beautiful and the food was good but the service was just bad. Each morning at breakfast we were waiting forever for items to arrive, had to ask several times for more coffee, water refills etc. Everyone around us seemed to be having the same experience. As hotel guests you have access to the continental breakfast but we did a la carte each day and it was disappointing. Pretty similar experience at dinner. Nothing notable about it, except the poor service.

Bottom line: The setting and the views are beautiful and if that is your priority and you dont want to spend more than $1,000 per night, then I'd recommend Ventana. But my husband and I both felt that next time we'd rather spend more and stay at Post Ranch Inn. Maybe we would feel definitely if our room at Ventana had been nicer but the service just wasn't up to par for a resort of that quality.

Room Tip: Splurge for a room with a jacuzzi or else you might be disappointed like me. If you dont mind a sma...
  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank R H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 9, 2013

Overall, Big Sur is just a beautiful place so its hard to have a negative experience. The grounds at the Ventana are awesome and the pool/Japanese spa are great. Our room was fine (we've stayed in rooms of similar quality at upgrades Westins). The issue is going to be what you expect for $700 a night. You are told you will have a view of either the redwoods or ocean. We definitely had a view of the redwoods as 3 of them 10 feet in front of our patio blocked 80% of our view (room 32). We were told that we didn't qualify for an ocean view room in our package (3 nights at the above mentioned price) or that those rooms were full already. Well, for our first two nights the place was Completely empty and while we were waiting for the wine and cheese tasting on the 2nd night we overheard an incoming guest complaining about the "dungeon" of a room she had been assigned (room 31) and she was moved to an ocean view. Squeaky wheel gets the oil I guess. But for $700/night I don't want to be put into a position to complain or make a scene (we were also told when we were checked in that the ocean views were "distant", not really true). We also ate at the restaurant the last night and both our main courses were awful. My filet was so tough I tried to take a picture of it with my iphone but it was too dark to get a good one, and my wife's ravioli was very bland. We ate lunch at the Post Ranch the day before, and although extremely pricey, the food was awesome and the wine pairings were great. Bottom line is, if you care about spending $700/night this place will leave you wanting and/or frustrated, but if you don't then you'll love it.

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank haynietown
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort

Address: 48123 Highway One, Big Sur, CA 93920-9538 (Formerly Ventana Inn & Spa)
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 Top resorts Hotel in Big Sur
#3 Family Hotel in Big Sur
Price Range: $746 - $1,347 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort 4.5*
Number of rooms: 59
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Even when you're inside, you'll always be connected to the outdoors at Ventana Big Sur – our luxurious, rustic and inviting guestrooms are tucked among the meadows and redwoods. Ventana's 59 rooms and suites are arranged around our 160-acre property in secluded groupings, offering the utmost in privacy and serenity. Constructed of sun-bleached cedar, the buildings blend harmoniously into the natural surroundings, with interiors featuring rich leathers and woods that provide a soothing, sophisticated retreat. ... 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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