Big Sur Travel Guide
Celebrity Scoop / Sean Parker / Hotel Drama / Hotel Weddings / Lodge Hotels / Green Hotels / Big Sur Hotels / California Hotels / → All Tags
We love to watch celebs drop huge amounts of money on their weddings, especially when they're at lavish resort hotels and feature star-studded guest lists and more decimal points than any one of us can imagine. The recent nuptials of Facebook co-founder, Sean Parker was no different to any other cashed-up internet mogul.
The details are like this: he paid $10 million to reserve the entire Ventana Inn. The Big Sur luxury eco-lodge played host to his "I dos" deep in the woods of their campground section that was reclaimed back to nature in 2007. Parker's wedding planner moved in building walls, water effects and fake ruins on the old campground to create the ultimate forest-themed wedding that would go down in The Parker Family history as a fairytale day.
Sounds all magical and beautiful, right? No doubt that the massive check he signed over to get a little privacy during their day created a truly memorable experience. One problem: the folks over at Ventana broke some rules correction: laws by allowing the guest to transform the redwood forest into a wedding site all without the compulsory permits.
We love trendy hotel fire pits as much as any bumpin' traveler, but there's nothing quiet as amazing as a fire pit at Glen Oaks Lodge Big Sur. This is not the place for swanky cocktail service or a happening poolside scene, but itís exactly where you go to find the magic and mystery of a glorious California redwood forest by the sea, all around a fire.
Located just off Californiaís Highway 1 in Big Sur and hiking distance to Pfieffer Beach, Glen Oaks extends into the forest across 10 acres on both sides of the highway. Originally conceived as an adobe motor lodge in the 50s, the property has since been carefully remade with mostly organic and sustainable materials to reflect a modern yet rustic aesthetic. We love how cool slabs of imperfect stone and wood-paneled walls come together with sleek fixtures and hip patterns to make for a totally rad vibe.
It says a lot about the place youíre staying when a yurt is the pedestrian option, but thatís how we felt when we booked two nights at Treebones Resort the week before last.
See, the reason we were really heading up to Big Sur was because we wanted to stay in The Nest Ė the treehouse perched on a bluff overlooking Highway 1 and the Pacific. But, thanks to its being booked up months in advance, The Nest was only free on our second night. So the first, we luxed up in a yurt.
Our yurt, 12, qualified as a partial ocean view Ė although we didnít get much enjoyment from said view because our first day was freezing cold. But there were two chairs on the deck that we could have enjoyed it from, had we brought our longjohns.
The yurt itself was basic but spotless and comfy, too: a queen bed with, for once, a pretty quilt, a futon, a sink (with an eminently stealable bar of handmade lemongrass soap, spring water from their own underground aquifer and compostable cups) and towels. There was a small heater and, for those (um, us) who were still too cold with that, reception had more to loan out. The end result? Toasty.
As for the bathrooms, there were male and female blocks of toilets and showers up by the reception and lounge area Ė three showers and three toilets for the women, and two showers for the men Ė as well as one male and female toilet over the far side of the site. They were pretty clean, considering there are the inhabitants of 16 yurts using them. And we never saw a line for the showers over the two days.
Treehouse Hotels / HotelChatter Reviews / Unusual Hotels / Big Sur Hotels / Yurts / Glamping / → All Tags
The treehouse, which is actually called The Nest is one of the accommodation options at Treebones Resort Ė you can either choose a yurt (more on those another time), full-on camping, or this. Although, if you book the nest, youíll be required to pitch a tent just below it, in case the weatherís too bad to sleep in the nest (itís bang on a ridge overlooking Highway 1 and the Pacific, so itís the windiest part of the property). And seeing as Big Sur is, as we found out this weekend, pretty damp and foggy anyway, whatever the time of year, itís not a bed for the fainthearted.
If you're planning to attend the Big Sur Food & Wine Festival, the Post Ranch Inn wants to further tempt your taste buds with its new Chefs & Vintners Celebration package on Nov. 6 and 7.
The two-night deal will include breakfast at Sierra Mar. But the reason to partake in the package is the vino. Kick off the drunken fun on Friday with the Limestone Quest Dinner, featuring Josh Jensen of Calera Winery in Hollister and Stephan Asseo of L'Aventure Winery in Paso Robles. The winemakers will be there to school you on their pinot noirs and chardonnays. The booze will complement a six-course dinner from Craig von Foerster, Sierra Mar's executive chef, and Cal Stamenov, chef and culinary director of Marinus at Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley.
The Post Ranch Inn has long had green initiatives in place, but with their new solar panel installation they're taking things to a new level. They've just switched on a 990-panel solar array to grab that great Californian sunshine and turn it into electricity enough electricity to produce 400,000 kWh of energy a year and reduce their carbon emissions by the equivalent of taking 50 cars out of action.
Guests at the Post Ranch have apparently been intrigued by the solar panels during the construction phase, and anyone on the property can access info about the program in the hotel library, which includes a monitoring station showing what's happening with the energy at any moment. If you can't afford the not-so-cheap room rates ($655 is a starting point) then you can check their online solar energy monitor to see real-time updates of the system's performance and (the coolest part) the energy-savings comparisons in terms of cars off the road, square meters of forest preserved and metric tons of carbon emissions avoided.
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Dear Poor Troubled Global Economy, we're going to splurge on the Post Ranch Inn. Xoxo, HotelChatter.
It's no secret that the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, Calif. is one of the most scenic hotels in the U.S. with beyond-killer views of the Pacific Ocean from each room and a location on the windy backdrop of Highway 1.
The hotel was in harm's way over the summer during the Big Sur fire but has rebounded this winter and is now offering a new Stay and Dine Escape package. The deal includes lodging, a four-course prix-fixe dinner for two and daily breakfast. The hotel also offers complimentary activities and services from yoga classes to guided nature walks and mindful movement meditation, something we could desperately use right now.
Room rates at this paradise are always on the budget-busting side but the prices for this deal are a bit less than the regular rack rate. And sometimes in these hard times, we just need to make ourselves feel better, no matter the cost. At the Post Ranch Inn, it will definitely be worth it.
Here is the breakdown per night.:
· Cliff House with private hot tub, $1975
· Pacific Suites, $1575 / $1775
· Coast House, $1100
· Tree House or Mountain House, $800
· Butterfly Room, $655
An example of the breaks: The Tree House room is going $895 next week and the Cliff House for $2,185 and those don't include the dinner. It's not much of a discount but it does help. Rates are based on double occupancy and do not include taxes or gratuities.
Last Wednesday, the Big Sur area was evacuated due to the huge fire that has been blazing nearby for about two weeks.
This weekend, temperatures cooled slightly and winds were a bit slower, enabling firefighters to make some significant progress. As of Sunday night, the fire was 11% contained.
Our reservations department will be opening a remote office beginning next week (July 8th) and we will be in contact with you then. Notwithstanding, please note we will honor cancellations due to the fire, and there will be a full refund on deposits. Feel free to email us, but be aware we may be unable to get back to you immediately.
Also, while Big Sur Lodge remains closed, their website says the property luckily "isn't under dire threat," but the area is "very smoky."
We also checked in on Treebones Resort which, as of July 5th, remains open since the resort is located below the active fire line.
Unfortunately, the expected containment date on this fire isn't until the end of July. If you've been planning to head to Big Sur in the next few weeks, we suggest calling your hotel or checking their website to stay updated on their operating status.
[Photo: Jim Wilson for the New York Times]
It will not be a happy Fourth of July weekend for the residents and businesses in Big Sur. A huge fire has been growing for nearly two weeks, intensifying on Tuesday and forcing a complete evacuation of Big Sur.
So far, the Post Ranch Inn does not have an update on their website. The Ventana Inn however has issued an notice on their website:
Relocation assistance was provided as needed and physical room to room search was performed to ensure all guests had evacuated. The management has began contacting guests scheduled to arrive in the next few days to let them know Ventana Inn & Spa, Cielo Restaurant and Allegria Spa will remain closed until further notice.
If you're headed to Big Sur in the coming weeks and not staying at one of these hotels but another one in the area, we suggest giving them a call or checking their website to see exactly what their status is.
Sadly, this is just one of 1,100 fires burning in California right now, according to CalFire, the state fire agency.
[Photo: Jim Wilson for the New York Times]
We passed on Peter Greenberg's tips about the Treebones Resort in Big Sur a short while ago, and now this collection of yurts has made it onto a list from Budget Travel magazine too: a list of accommodations in Big Sur for under $200 a night.
The odd thing about Treebones is that the owners never intended to build a hotel or resort of any kind. They bought the land there to retire on, and then discovered that new planning laws prevented them from simply building a house. And gradually the idea of the yurts developed--because they didn't want a "normal hotel"--and Treebones as we now know it, 16 simple wooden yurts and a lodge--came to be.
Rates are still the same, starting at $155 a night. They have got a special coming up if you're in to planning ahead to 2009--a whale watchers' package with 20% off rack rates for two-night, non-weekend bookings.
While staying a night or two in a yurt might be more commonplace as you transit through Mongolia on the Trans-Mongolian Express, you don't need to head to such exotic spots to do so. In fact, according to a tip from Peter Greenberg, you can overnight in a yurt--those tent-like affairs typically used by wandering Mongolians--at Big Sur in California.
The Treebones Resort in Big Sur has 16 yurts and all of them are a lot more luxuriously equipped than their Mongolian counterparts. Some of them have an ocean view and all of them have queen-sized beds, electric lighting, a heater and hot and cold running water. They even have polished wooden floorboards, which is much more than the nomads would've been prepared to carry around with them. Additionally, there is a heated pool and hot tub on site, and a lodge building for dining.
Two things you should know: there is no cell phone access (which is probably a good thing for a vacation but you might want to know about it ahead of time); and you can't drive right up to the yurts so you'll want to pack light enough that you can carry everything you bring. If the yurts are booked out and you've got a tent, there are also five campsites available for hire.
On weekends or through the April to October peak season, there's a minimum booking of two nights. A full ocean view yurt for two people comes at $175 per night, or $155 if you only get a partial ocean view; some of the yurts can fit from four to six guests and start at $245 a night for four people. All of which is a lot cheaper than flying to Mongolia.
We wonder what marketing gurus in Dubai would think of Travel and Leisure's pick for the top of their 500 Best Hotels list, The Post Ranch Inn of Big Sur. We know it kills them at the same time as bewilders them as to how this small hotel (only 30 rooms and one restaurant!?) could take the cake.
Although they would probably give credit to the beauty of Big Sur's coastline that the hotel has a perfect view of, the lack of mile-high tennis courts and super-speed elevator systems jetting 50 floors up would leave them open-mouthed and giving each other looks of pure cluelessness.
One of the Post Ranch Inn's guests claim that this should be the first 6 star hotel:
I recently stayed at Post Ranch Inn and all I can say is that it is unreal. It is the most peaceful place I have ever stayed. We stayed 3 night in the ocean house room and it is by far the best room I have ever stayed in. This is the first 6 star hotel mark my words!
At this point our table of snazzy men sitting at their long polished table on the 70th floor of some architectural wonder in downtown Dubai, are actually sweating; they are offended by this preposterous claim. The only 6 star...wait no, make that, 7, 8...9....hell, 10 star hotel that there will ever be shall be in DUBAI!
Back to reality though, the Post Inn truly is hotel perfection. The cozy rooms will feel like your very own and the view will make you forget anything that's bad in this world. If you've got the money or even if you don't, well here's your hotel.