The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

Sin­ga­pore-based Alila Ho­tels and Re­sorts makes its US de­but on Oc­to­ber 1 along Cal­i­for­nia’s fa­bled Big Sur coast­line when the equally sto­ried Ven­tana re­opens fol­low­ing a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar, re­sort-wide up­grade.

Los An­ge­les pro­ducer Lawrence (Larry) Spec­tor built the “inn” in 1975 with the prof­its from Easy Rider and it swiftly be­came a pop­u­lar bolt­hole for movie stars in­clud­ing Steve McQueen.

Lo­cated 225km south of San Fran­cisco and 45km south of Carmel, the look is smart, ver­nac­u­lar build­ings clad in weath­ered cedar set across 65ha of moun­tain mead­ows and stands of red­woods. The new-look Ven­tana Big Sur, An Alila Re­sort, will fea­ture 59 re­freshed gue­strooms, suites and vil­las, a large Alila day spa and new Red­wood Canyon Glamp­sites nes­tled in an 8ha for­est.

At the Meadow Pool there’s a new in­fin­ity-edge hot tub and the cloth­ing-op­tional Moun­tain Pool has com­mu­nal Ja­panese baths. Each of­fers plenty of Hol­ly­wood touches such as smart day beds and com­pli­men­tary frozen fruit, cu­cum­ber eye cool­ers and aro­mather­apy tow­els.

The gue­strooms and suites in this adults-only re­sort (min­i­mum age is 18) fea­ture a pri­vate bal­cony or pa­tio with for­est, meadow or ocean views and some have large hot tubs and cosy fire­places. The kit-out is rustic chic with plenty of leather and wood, and along with the usual fives­tar ac­cou­trements you’ll find out­doorsy equip­ment in­clud­ing hik­ing sticks, binoc­u­lars and lanterns.

The new glamp­site fea­tures 15 sa­fari-style tents; there’s a smart shared bath­house (with heated floors and mar­ble van­i­ties) and plenty of five-star trim­mings in­clud­ing lux­ury linen and tow­els, daily house­keep­ing ser­vice and a nightly turn­down com­plete with cup of co­coa and cosy hot-wa­ter­hot- wa­ter bot­tle. The beat­ing heart of the re­sort is So­cial House with its Glass House gallery fea­tur­ing lo­cal artists and ex­panded pro­gram of mind­ful ac­tiv­i­ties, ev­ery­thing from can­dle mak­ing and bee­keep­ing to drum cir­cles and Man­dala Colour­ing for Cou­ples.

DON’T MISS: If you don’t know what man­dala colour­ing is, try the nightly wine tast­ing and cheese pair­ing in­stead.


The Sur House restau­rant of­fers an ex­panded ter­race with un­in­ter­rupted Pa­cific Ocean views and un­der ex­ec­u­tive chef Paul Cors­entino serves a re­fined “coastal cui­sine” draw­ing on the re­sources of lo­cal an­glers, farm­ers and for­agers. For break­fast it has to be a Fog-lifter’s Omelette with lo­cal mush­rooms or freshly baked cin­na­mon rolls. Din­ner might in­clude Mon­terey Bay abalone, Dun­geness crab Louie salad, smoked pas­trami beef tongue with foie gras mousse, and per­haps a side of jalapeno pick­led shrimp and grits.

DIN­ING OUT: Pop down the road to Ne­penthe Restau­rant, go­ing strong since 1949. Have the fa­mous burger. Or try a lo­cal brew at the Big Sur Tap­house.

ASK THE CONCIERGE: Swing by So­cial House for free guided for­est walks, or yoga, tai chi and Pi­lates classes.

CHECK­ING IN: From $US675 ($838); Glamp­sites from $US325. More: ven­tan­abig­

ALSO TRY: The Re­sort at Paws Up, Mon­tana; Clay­oquot Wilder­ness Re­sort, Van­cou­ver Is­land; Nobu Ryokan Mal­ibu, Cal­i­for­nia.

CHRIS­TINE McCABE south­ernTheT new SALA Thai­land Sa­mui will Chawen­gopen in two Beach Re­sort on Koh Sa­mui in phases. A beach wing com­pris­ing 52 pool vil­las and suites, plus open-air beach­front restau­rant and moon­shaped pool, will be un­veiled in N Novem­ber; the 83-room gar­den wing is sched­uled for later next year; open­ing J o Jan­uary • rates Aman from Le $325 Melez­in­for staysin the from F French Alps re­opens on De­cem­ber 15 for the ski sea­son with a new dou­ble­height day spa (com­plete with ham­mam, Jacuzzis and lap pool), chil­dren’s club and new Ja­panese restau­rant; all gue­strooms and suites were re­fur­bished last year • Land­mark Man­darin Ori­en­tal, Hong Kong has un­veiled an ex­trav­a­gant head­line suite; the Joyce Wang-de­signed 209sq m pad in­cludes a four-me­tre tele­vi­sion with laser pro­jec­tor, the lat­est gam­ing and vir­tual re­al­ity gear and a so-called En­ter­tain­ment Wall, where liq­uid metal cab­i­nets re­veal var­i­ous “delights” in­clud­ing a crys­tal vit­rine stocked with nib­bles cre­ated by the ho­tel’s Miche­lin-starred chef. • Ade­laide’s down­town Crowne Plaza will be re­branded by Ac­cor on Oc­to­ber 1 as the Pull­man Ade­laide, mak­ing the 15-strong Pull­man the largest five-star brand in the coun­try; a new ex­ec­u­tive club lounge will be added • Ac­cor has also taken on the HW Bou­tique Ho­tel in Port Mac­quarie on the NSW mid­north coast and re­branded it as Ibis Styles Port Mac­quarie, over­see­ing a soft re­fur­bish­ment of all 44 gue­strooms.

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