By Kimberly Miller
As you weave in and out of the cypress trees hugging the curves of 17-Mile Drive while waves crash against the shore, it becomes easy to understand why Pebble Beach is arguably one of California’s most magical destinations. Even with its misty fog and quiet civility, there is a pedigree and grace to this breathtaking land that continues to captivate its residents and every passerby. While many visitors are busy notching their golf belts along the famed fairways, the myriad of other pleasures from which to choose provide ample reason to take off your spikes and stay a while.
Undoubtedly the most famous-and for good reason-resort chosen by affluent guests with discerning tastes would be the The Lodge at Pebble Beach, a true classic in a traditional sense known for its picturesque waterfront golf course and ocean views. Book a room overlooking the 18th green and do not miss indulging in a post-game steak at The Tap Room where golfers gather in a pub setting. Note that this is the only Pebble Beach resort property that is dog friendly, and you can even take Rover for a ride in one of the hotel’s Lexus motor vehicles.
Being that proximity to the water can often equal cold weather, consider the rustic Bernardus Lodge & Winery in the heart of Carmel Valley, where sun is more of a sure thing. Thanks to the hotel’s critically acclaimed Chef Cal Staminov, travelers the world over frequent Marinus, the restaurant where he helms the kitchen. For the ultimate in culinary ecstasy, request his chef’s table (seats four) where you’ll be introduced to the stars of the show before they meet their fate. Additionally, the property features a remarkable spa as well as outdoor dining, making it a popular lunch locale.
This kind of bohemian luxury and adventure can also be found by cruising down the coast approximately 30 miles to Big Sur, where you can check into the beloved Post Ranch Inn to get away in pristine isolation.
For an intimate, more boutique feel, venture into the heart of nearby Carmel-by-the-Sea for a quaint room at L’Auberge Carmel where luxury meets Old World charm. This inviting hotel often wins awards due to its inimitable service and French fare dished by Aubergine’s Executive Chef Christophe Grosjean. Worth noting: L’Auberge will soon give birth to a Napa Valley sibling when Hotel Luca opens in Yountville this fall.
A jaunt westward to Carmel Valley is where to head should your sensibilities need the kind of rejuvenation that only comes from natural beauty. The 850-acre estate of Quail Lodge Resort was designed to complement the artistic hand of Mother Nature, complete with the serenity of sparkling lakes and meadows punctuated with oak trees. While the spa experience at Quail Lodge Resort ensures that this will be the first time you don’t need a vacation from your vacation upon returning home, the culinary delights are worth mentioning too. Organic produce and local meats and seafood guarantee that taste is never sacrificed here, a guiding philosophy that earned the team the honor of an invitation to prepare a meal at the James Beard House in New York. Other attractions that are drawing in the globe-trekkers include The Land Rover Experience Driving School, which is one of only four in North America. Eighty acres of hills, wooded trails and rock obstacles introduce adventurous drivers to the thrills of off-roading.
This kind of bohemian luxury and adventure can also be found by cruising down the coast approximately 30 miles to Big Sur, where you can check into the beloved Post Ranch Inn to get away in pristine isolation. From hiking and yoga to star gazing and fine dining, this resort has it all. Nestled along the coast just off of Highway 1, PRI offers bungalow-style cabanas, some of which are perched on stilts amid the redwood trees, with decks for lounging. Take a dip in the heated infinity pool to watch the sun set-a truly unforgettable experience. (Note: No TVs so bring reading materials).
Once you determine where to hang your hat, there are two phone calls you will want to make: The first will be to Casanova, Carmel’s enchanting Italian restaurant housed in a storybook cottage equally ideal for a family lunch or a romantic dinner for two. The second should be to Clint Eastwood’s legendary Mission Ranch, complete with green pastures and grazing sheep. Though the Carmel Valley property features a modest inn, you’ll want to visit the restaurant to savor the signature prime rib on the heated patio before sipping post-dinner cocktails in the piano bar.
When you awake the following day and recover from the sing-a-long fun, take a stroll along Carmel’s shopping artery also known as Ocean Avenue where you’ll discover luxury brand flagships like Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton, and Pierre Deux mixed among unique storefronts including fine watch and jewelry boutique Lussori, which features designs unique to that address. For the finest French linens, make your way into Jan de Luz for hand towels, placemats, and custom embroidered tablecloths.
Dashing dressers will love the men’s and women’s assortments at Wilkes Bashford-a sibling to the San Francisco original-which punctuates the mini mall of boutiques that define Carmel Plaza. Before reaching the beach at the end of the stretch, pack the ultimate picnic basket with imported cheeses and a bottle of wine from The Cheese Shop (just below Wilkes).
While the boys tee up at the exclusive, members-only Monterey Peninsula Country Club on 17-Mile Drive, which features two 18-hole golf courses, a pro shop, fitness studio, and multiple dining options, ladies will not want to miss the opportunity to unwind at the Hyatt Regency Monterey’s newly opened spa Accista. The facility recently underwent a $65 million redesign, transforming it into a 12,000-square-foot relaxation haven. Book one of the signature couples suites for a massage, body wrap, or a sea kelp scrub after swimming laps in the outdoor pool. If gentlemen desire a post-link pamper, they’ll forget their bogeys with The Full De Monte-a two-hour “golfer’s retreat” combination treatment with a facial and massage.
From Big Sur to the Monterey Peninsula, one thing is certain: there is no shortage of tempting offerings for every visitor seeking serenity in a place like no other. There is a refined elegance and timelessness that harkens back to decades past, making it easy to understand why this is one of the most frequented destinations on California’s treasured coast. If the cliffs of Ireland mated with the French countryside and yielded a child capable of achieving greatness, its name would be Pebble Beach.