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Ventana Inn & Spa
Hwy 1
Big Sur, CA 93920
831-667-2331
www.ventanainn.com

Solitude in Big Sur
A Haven of Calm Along
California’s Coastline

by Carol M. Newman

Ventana Inn & Spa
Ventana Inn & Spa amid the mountains

When your need for solitude arises, it’s important to satisfy your yearnings in style. Do so by heading for the place where the Santa Lucia mountain range touches the Pacific Ocean, where steep bluffs plunge and redwoods soar, and where stunning vistas span the edge of the earth. Ventana Inn & Spa, situated along California’s Big Sur coast, is a haven of calm—its sense of isolation is so profound it’s difficult to believe this spectacular hideaway lies only 28 miles from the village of Carmel by the Sea. At Ventana you can truly clear your mind—if not for the rest of your lifetime, for at least a couple of days.

Once you check in (at 4:00 p.m.), help yourself to a selection of complimentary wines and cheeses. Or prepare a plate to go and let a hotel escort whisk you away through lush landscaping to your temporary headquarters. (Don’t feel as though you have to absorb everything your bellhop tells you; you can learn about the 248-acre grounds on the inn’s guided Discovery Tour.) Accommodations range from modest-but-comfortable guest rooms to more luxurious suites, cottages and houses. Many of the chambers, whose renovation was completed in June 2004, are spacious and airy with views of the ocean or forest canyon. Most have stone fireplaces and relaxing leather arm chairs, large private decks with hammocks and spa tubs. Rustic cedar panels connect the spacious bath and living area and woven rugs warm beautiful stone floors.

The lodge bedroom
A view from the pool
The lodge bedroom
A view from the pool

Though contemporary comforts like high speed Internet access are at your fingertips, it’s likely you won’t be compelled to connect. There's no need to worry that your morning newspaper will awaken you with a loud 'thud' at your doorstep or that you’ll have to deal with any unwanted housekeeping visits. (Checkout is at a civilized 1:00 p.m.) Ventana encourages the quiet activities of its honeymooning and homeymooning clientele. So go ahead…soak in your oversized tub all day, enjoy a DVD from the hotel video library, get cozy with a book in front of the fireplace or simply sway in one of the property’s hammocks at 1,200 feet above the Pacific. Your only disruption might be the song of the blue bird or the rustling of a deer on the woodland floor.

As its name suggests, the property does indeed have a spa. As Ventana describes it, Allegria Spa is a place to "relax and connect…find your inner peace and sanctity." Therapies are designed to heal and revitalize both body and spirit. Enjoy your choice of treatments within the spa or have your massage practitioner perform his or her magic in the privacy of your room or on the deck. The signature aromatherapy massage delivers full-body Swedish-style healing through aromatic essential oils—you’ll lose yourself in the fragrances of natural botanical essences as your muscle tension slips away. Integrating nature and nurture are holistic facials, touch therapies and hot stone body treatments. Other relaxing, and liberating, options include soaking in the Japanese Hot Baths and stripping down to your bare essentials for a midnight plunge in the clothing optional pool.

Allegria Spa
Cielo restaurant
Allegria Spa
Cielo restaurant

Now that you’re thoroughly de-stressed, dressing for dinner will prove just as pleasurable. Leave the heels in the closet, slip on your flats and take to the nature trail. A winding lit path leads you straight to the rustic sophistication of Cielo, the resort’s redwood paneled restaurant. But, before you’re led to your table in the dining room, order an Elite Martini or Cosmo L’Orange and meander to the terrace. Watch as the last drops of sunlight disappear, and then head back inside where your server will be happy to fill your glass with something just as brilliant from the wine list. (Editor's Note: Cielo restaurant at Ventana Inn & Spa is temporarily closed due to a fire, and plans to reopen in April, 2009.)

Chef Anthony Calamari hails from New York, but his cooking experience has been honed on both coasts. Here, he crafts California-Mediterranean cuisine and exciting preparations of local fish and meats. Chef Calamari serves his version of Monterey sand dabs pan sautéed with watercress, shaved fennel, sea beans and caper butter. Big eyed tuna gets a gentle hand, lightly seared and peppered and served with fresh local artichokes. Rabbit cacciatore swims in tomato broth, a burst of added flavor coming from pancetta and meaty Portobello mushrooms. If the menu proves too much for you to navigate, just order Cielo’s four-course prix fixe menu and let the chef have his way with you.

You must make a trip to the breakfast buffet, included in the visit. Recline in the Library or take a breakfast tray to your room and surprise your sweetheart. An earthy blend of coffee stimulates the senses. So, too, will the homemade granola, fresh fruit and berries, a selection of meats and cheeses, and bread and pastries.

Reluctance may set in when you’re packing your things, but when you do leave behind this magical setting, Ventana will stay with you forever.



PLH051507
(Updated: 10/03/08 LH)


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