If money is no object, you cannot possibly beat the lodgings at Ventana (48123 Hwy. 1, 800/628-6500, www.ventanainn.com , $385), a place where the panoramic ocean views begin in the parking lot.
This might well be the best hotel in all of California. Picture home-baked pastries, fresh yogurt, in-season fruit, and organic coffee delivered to your room in the morning, then enjoying that sumptuous breakfast outdoors on your own private patio overlooking a wildflower-strewn meadow that sweeps out toward the blue-gray waters of the ocean. And that’s just the beginning of an unbelievable day at the Ventana.
Next, don your plush spa robe and rubber slippers (all you are required to wear on the grounds of the hotel and spa) and head for the Japanese bathhouse. Choose from two bath houses, one at each end of the property. Both are clothing-optional and gender segregated, and the upper house has glass and open-air windows that let you look out to the ocean.
Two swimming pools offer a cooler hydro-respite from your busy life; the lower pool is clothing-optional, and the upper pool perches on a high spot for enthralling views. Almost every other amenity imaginable, including daily complimentary yoga classes, can be yours for the asking.
The guest rooms range from the “modest” standard rooms with king beds, tasteful exposed cedar walls and ceilings, and attractive green and earth tone appointments, all the way up through generous and gorgeous suites to full-sized multi-bedroom houses. If you have a stupid amount of money available, the Vista Suites boast the most beauteous hotel accommodations imaginable.
You’ll reach your room by walking along the paved paths crowded by lush landscaping, primarily California native plants that complement the wild lands of the trails behind the main hotel buildings. You can also take an evening stroll down to the Cielo dining room—the only spot on the property where you need to wear more than your robe and flip-flops. If you’re headed to the Allegria Spa for a treatment, you can go comfy and casual.
Post Ranch (47900 Hwy. 1, 800/527-2200, www.postranchinn.com , $550–2,185) is another exclusive luxury resort perched on the cliffs of Big Sur . Spa, yoga, and a unique yet rustic atmosphere are just a few of its perks.