CHECK IT OUT VENTANA BIG SUR, AN ALILA RESORT, CALIFORNIA
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: ventanabigsur.com.
ALSO TRY: The Resort at Paws Up, Montana; Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, Vancouver Island; Nobu Ryokan Malibu, California.
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