Set two and half hours south of San Francisco in a landscape of towering redwoods, Alila Ventana Big Sur Resort is an eco-friendly retreat with 59 rooms and suites on a secluded yet accessible 160-acre property on Northern California’s rugged Central Coast. In addition to its more typical lodgings, Ventana Big Sur offers a luxe glamping experience on its 20-acre campground that boasts canyon views, 15 canvas safari tents, plus 63 traditional hike-in campsites where visitors can pitch their own tent along the banks of Post Creek.
Ventana Big Sur Resort and its accommodations are split into two different sections to offer guests two distinct experiences, yet both provide the same unique access to this unspoiled stretch of natural beauty on California’s Central Coast. Taking cues from its forested surroundings, each hotel room and suite is clad in sun-bleached cedar siding for a classic coastal aesthetic that skews more rustic sophistication than nostalgic cabin-in-the-woods (think sea ranch meets Sonoma vineyard).
The resort takes care to maintain a low carbon footprint with energy efficient lighting, wastewater recycling, extensive property-wide recycling system that avoids creating unnecessary trash, among many other sustainable efforts that lower its impact. On top of that, it earns high marks for being dog-friendly.
A stay at one of the secluded rooms and suites is far from roughing it. Although they range in size from cozy one-bedrooms to spacious seaside cabins big enough for a large family or grounp of friends, all of them come with the sweeping views of the ocean, forest, canyon, or meadows, with a deck or patio for indoor and outdoor living. A few (but not all) have a hot tub and soaking tub too.
Ventana Big Sur has two outdoor pools, too. The Meadow Pool features private cabanas, a barrel cedar sauna, and infinity hot tubs. On the other hand, the retro-inspired Mountain Pool is cloistered in a thicket of redwood trees as a more seculded yet dreamy place to take a dip in a different environment that illustrates how unique the property is. If you’re really looking to embrace luxury, dive into a hydrotherapy session at the Japanese Bath House, which has both public and private baths where you can soak in 104-degree water.
If glamping is more your style, Ventana Big Sur’s canvas safari tents combine the perks of staying at a full-service resort with all the perks of being outdoors. The resort's idea of luxury camping includes a king-sized bed, electric lamps, hot and cold potable water, a wood-burning fire pit and propane stove on the deck, and other small amenities, plus two Adirondack chairs for kicking back and relaxing.
The best part is that the wilds of Big Sur’s iconic Redwood Forest and the Pacific Coast are both accessible from either the rooms and suites or the glamping tent area. The 90-mile stretch of nearby land is mostly undeveloped, too. From the town of San Simeon north to Carmel, Big Sur is a haven for outdoorists of all levels and abilities thanks to the varied geography which offers the gamut from hiking trails to beaches, and secluded forests to steep cliffs, and offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation no matter your background or experience. Hiking, biking, climbing, or surfing are all on the table.
At the resrot, Ventana Big Sur offers on-site yoga, guided hikes and other outdoor experiences. Plus, its Excursion Outpost provides complimentary outdoor gear to visitors who didn’t haul their own along. The gear lending program has everything from Yeti coolers to camp or beach chairs, in addition to Patagonia day hiking backpacks and trekking poles, and more.
To take full advantage of all the outdoor adventures this Pacific Coast paradise has to offer, plan on booking a stay at Ventana Big Sur during the summer months when the temps range from 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and chance of precipitation is low. If you want to avoid the crowds, wait out the high season and visit in January and February when the weather is mild and there’s some rain, but the area is just as scenic and easy to enjoy.