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I am a luxury travel advisor specializing in experiential vacations for honeymooners, families, and small groups.

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Falling for California Travel (Again)
Feeling the love on a local anniversary trip

September 30, 2021

I often reflect on the things that brought me true joy over the last year and a half.  In addition to connecting with my family on a deeper level during our many months of being very together, I have also had the chance to re-discover the beauty of California.  Over the last many months, I have enjoyed safely traveling within my home state. Highlights include Big Sur, Yosemite, Palm Springs, and Santa Monica, just to name a few.  I have lived in Southern California for nearly 20 years.  At times, I’ve taken all the incredible locations for granted. But they now hold a renewed place in my heart. 

The Perfect Location: Big Sur

When plotting out our trip to Big Sur, there was one venue that immediately came to mind – Ventana, an Alila property.  It’s location feels both rooted in wilderness and almost surreally extraterrestrial.  Ventana is known for its incredible panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.  The massive clouds roll in and out so swiftly that you can feel airborne.  The property’s design is exquisite.  It boasts a perfect mix of wood and warm interiors balanced with a dark, modern facade.  

The service at Ventana is attentive and swift though never overbearing.  Our room was upgraded upon arrival to the STUNNING Big Sur Villa in the Oak House.  This unit had a downstairs kitchen (with a stocked mini fridge) and intimate living room.  My favorite detail?  The private hot tub off of that same living room.  The morning sunrise over the ancient trees was required viewing. ☀️

Upstairs we enjoyed the bedroom suite and balcony with the relaxing views of the forest.  The unit location was fantastic. It allowed for quick and easy access to outdoor, early evening happy hour hosted near the Reception.  I loved sipping a freshly poured cocktail while taking in the fragrant lavender and herbs growing nearby.  

Making The Most Of Your Stay

The truth is, you really don’t have to book anything at Ventana to have an incredible stay.  With the pools, walking trails and breathtaking views, there is much to enjoy and luxuriate in.  That said, we opted to add a few scheduled activities and meals on our itinerary.  First, we decided to have a picnic in the Redwoods.   This is something our daughter would have LOVED (sorry kids, this is an 18 or older property – so maybe in a few years!)  The lunch was delicious but the setting is what took the prize.  Nestled amongst the vast ancient trees, we felt like tiny children.   

Since it was our anniversary, we couldn’t skip out on the Sur House which provided us both an amazing celebration dinner along and dreamy views as the sun set on the ocean and the clouds rolled in.  I am a stickler for well timed service. They absolutely delivered.  

After dinner we changed clothes and slipped into some hiking boots for an evening of Star Bathing led by one of Ventana’s trusted guides.  Guided by the star light (not exaggerating), we explored property trails and learned a lot about the property and nearby history, the ecological history of what was all around us and of course, the night sky.  We ended the evening with charcuterie (more food!) and an evening cocktail.

Due to the pandemic, some of the amazing amenities the property is known for (including the Japanese Spa Baths and Spa Alila) were not accessible to us during our weekend getaway.  I cannot wait to return and experience those and report back!  

We felt rejuvenated and inspired as we pulled away to head south on Highway 1.  The best kind of weekend getaways will do that for you!

Lauren’s Key Takeaways:

  • This resort is an all inclusive property now.  This includes both in-room and restaurant dining.  Alcoholic beverages will be billed separately.
  • Ventana values sustainability. Guests will find filtered water stations placed along numerous walkways.  The reusable Ventana water bottle is one I still use weekly at home.  
  • You won’t hear any Marco Polo at the pools – this is an adults only property.
  • So much to explore nearby!  Must stops for me include Big Sur Bakery, Pfeiffer Beach, Henry Miller Library and Hawthorne Art Gallery.

I realize many of you on the West Coast may be interested in a nearby getaway! I’d love to design your own customized trip to Big Sur in 2022. You can reach out here to learn more.

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