For the Love of Fungi
by Colette O'Connor
"...Expressing the essence of Big Sur in its quiet sophistication, the retreat is all about unpretentious elegance; soothing and seductive luxuries abound, like lavish winemaker dinners served on the lattice-sheltered terrace, and a spa—ah, the Allegria spa—where signature massage and Japanese baths inspire Zen-like calm in the guests, many of whom drift about the property and around the pools (one of which is "clothing optional" are) in white fluffy robes. Heaven."
by Caroline Bates
"...Ventana Inn, constructed in 1975 in strict accordance with the local laws requiring indigenous, invisible-from-the-road architecture.
I wouldn't mind moving permanently into our luxuriously rustic cedar cottage, returning from a day on the trail to snooze in the hammock or soak in the hot tub on our private deck. At dusk we crunch through leaf litter to a streamside trail to dine at Cielo on gratineed oysters and a feta-sauced tartare of beets from the inn's vegetable garden.
On the terrace the next day, savoring a Dungeness crab salad, we sink into a trance. The mountainside is a patchwork of orange poppies and ceanothus in hues of violet and power blue. Far below the ocean disappears in fog that separates in layers like a pousse-cafe."
by Francis Bown
"I have been privileged to visit many of the world's great hotels. But there is one... which occupies a special place in my affections. It does so because it offers me a seemingly impossible combination: perfect harmony with nature together with absolute luxury. I am therefore able to feel at one with my natural surroundings without the slightest fear of discomfort. This heavenly joy brought down to earth I find at wonderful Ventana."
The Timeless Lure of Big Sur
805 Living - July 2006
by Roberta Grant
"...Ventana offers a stylish blend of woodsy luxe and Zen simplicity that perfectly captures the area's timeless spirit. Spread across 243 acres, 1,200 feet above the ocean, Ventana manages to create an ambiance of intimacy within nature's large-scale grandeur.
...civilization falls away as you step onto the solid comfort of your private deck. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Smell the ocean's tang mixed with earthy aromas from the forest floor. Feel the sun's warmth on your skin. Hear nothing but the sweet, high-pitched twitter of brown-necked sparrows and the occasional squawk of a Steller's jay. Now open your eyes and feast upon a towering tableau of centuries-old Coastal redwoods, the spaces between them filled out by bay laurel trees. In the distance, a gold-and-green mountain ridge sports a mane of California oaks.
Are you there yet?"
Wine & Dine Editor Picks
Travel & Leisure
"Our itinerant staffers logged more than 1 million miles traversing the globe last year. Here, some of our favortie hotel finds, from unforgettable rooms and one-of-a-kind meals to intrepid concierges and style-setting boutiques.
The enchiladas at Cielo, at Ventana Inn & Spa in Big Sur, with perfectly smoked mole sauce and just-made guacamole, have been on the menu for years for good reason. Pair them with a Negra modelo and the view down the coast toward San Simeon, and you know you're in California."
52 Great Weekends
Los Angeles Magazine
"Little known fact: the drive to Big Sur is so beautiful that getting stuck behind a slow-moving AstroVan is actually relaxing—more opportunity to take in the redwoods and water and sage that crowd your windows. By the time you get to Ventana, its cedar lodges rising high above the fog line, all you'll need is a tiny harp to go with wings you've sprouted. Spread out along 243 hillside acres, the 60-room inn is plush and intimate and relaxed. You can easily spend three days in a bathrobe and Ugg boots. The expansive suites—about half the rooms were renovated last year and have nice touches like slate bathrooms and Bose stereos—spill out onto balconies equipped with hammocks. You can follow the trails into the wilderness above the inn (the staff will pack lunch) or hit the afternoon yoga or pilates session before easing into one of the Japanese hot baths. At dusk, stroll though the redwoods to Ventana's Cielo restaurant for good Mediterranean cuisine."
To Sur With Love
Ventana gives us new reasons to rekindle the romance
San Francisco magazine
by Pamela Feinsilber
"Ventana is an iconic name, right up there with the Ritz, Four Seasons, and Fairmont, but travelers don't visit this Big Sur resort for its fame. They're enchanted by its sea views, 243-acre forest setting and creative amenities.
The Allure: Given its spacious serenity and spa treatments, Ventana's rooms are almost secondary. And how do you improve on silky Egyptian cotton sheets and masses of perfect pillows, wood-burning fireplaces, and private decks, some with hammocks and hot tubs? In the recently renovated suites, you add huge flat-screen TVs with Bose surround sound and DVD players. you put in oversize soaking tubs. And you offer the option of an outing with photographer David J. Gubernick, a local fine artist and fine, patient guide. Two hours before sunset, he'll take guests out to the craggy coast or into the forest to create their own immortal keepsakes. He brings a high-resolution digital camera, tripod and low-key expertise; you pick the spot and compose the shots. The next morning, you'll pick up the best one transformed into a 16x24-inch archival print. Even if you've been here dozens of times, Big Sur looks entirely different through a pro's viewfinder.
The Palate: At Ventana's Cielo, the chef impresses with dishes like foie gras two ways and seared day-boat diver scallops on a mushroom ragout with truffle jus."
The Work of an Unprofessional
San Francisco magazine
by Pamela Feinsilber
"You want to take a photograph of the splendid Big Sur coast that (a) won't embarrass you and (b) won't be typically postcard pretty. So you're driving up Highway 1 with ace photographer David J. Gubernick, the latest reason to visit the famous Ventana resort. It's kind of cold and windy, and some trickster water god keeps playing with the shower faucet in the sky. But it's Gubernick's task to help you get a fine photo, and he keeps stopping at promising places he knows just off the highway. Like a movie director, you tell him where you'd like him to set up his tripod and digital camera. You try to find something beautiful in the fading light on the hills or a curve of rock-lined beach, but then the light changes or it starts to rain or maybe the scene isn't moving you. Then you notice the dramatic, water-saturated clouds above the horizon, the way the rain is sheeting down from them and a strip of sky glows as the sun prepares to sink into the sea. You race up the highway to find a pullout opposite the sunset, cross your fingers and hope it doesn't start pouring again, set up the camera, focus, shoot, accept a little diplomatic advice from Gubernick, refocus, shoot, and wait until the sun begins gleaming like a klieg light just below the angry clouds. Got it."
California's Awesome Central Coast
by Tom Passavant
"Ventana...just celebrated its 30th birthday. It is perhaps the last word in rustic sophistication. Most of the 62 rooms, set overlooking gardens, meadows and the distant ocean, are recently renovated...the only problem with using Ventana as a base for exploring Big Sur is that it's so hard to tear yourself away from the property.
Ventana is not a place to bring the kids. One of the two pools is clothing optional, as are the Japanese baths. 'The spirit is different here,' said the hotel's general manager. 'It's more like an old soul that allows you to hear the voice within you.'"
"One day at Ventana we took a nature hike with Stephen Copeland, a longtime local who drove us south to Partington Canyon. Along the way he stopped the car and he pointed up in the blue sky; a condor with a nine-foot wingspan was riding the thermals. As we hiked up the stream, Copeland plucked wild fennel, pineapple sage and heart-shaped redwood sorrel. Farther along, we paused under a canopy of magnificent redwoods. "Some of these trees are 600 years old," he noted..."
Ventana Inn & Spa, well-heeled visitors seek solace at this rustic hotel in the heart of Northern California's Big Sur - Luxury Travel Advisor
by Ruthanne Terrero
"Ventana works best for those seeking a backdrop for romance and relaxation. In fact, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher have been spotted at the resort, which is set 1,200 feet above the Pacific coastline...For the most pampering, pick one of the four Vista Suites. Couples will enjoy the just-renovated Big Sur Suites; they have spa tubs large enough for two and a fireplace...because of Ventana's rustic surroundings, the resort is a popular site for weddings...be sure to ask about renewing your vows in the herb garden."
Travel & Leisure, Top 500 - January 2006
"Contemporary resort of weathered cedar lodges on 243 acres bordering the ocean and the Ventana Wilderness area. A summer camp for adults, with nature excursions, a clothing-optional pool and a New Age spa."
"Don't miss the warm oyster gratin with caviar at Cielo restaurant."