The Ventana Inn & Spa. It is on the opposite side of Highway 1, but it's high up, so it has this really expansive view. There are two places that I'll share with you. There's the Ventana, and then right across the street is the Post Ranch Inn. It's literally right across the street. So, basically, the distinction between the two is that the Ventana is a little bit more rustic and ensconced. They have really great, unusual spa treatments. They'll bring in people who will do color-therapy readings - you know, a little bit unconventional. They'll take some risks in what they offer. And they have little cottages, but the rooms themselves are really sweet. I have to say that I think, hands down, one of the best restaurants on the planet is Cielo, the restaurant at the Ventana. The best part of this place is that, at night, when you walk to the restaurant, there's a really, really long path through the woods that you take that is lit by little lamps along the way. So half of the experience is getting to and from the restaurant. But I'd say some of the best meals I've had in my life were at Cielo. No question. For my favorite meal, I would have wasabi mashed potatoes with tuna steak. And their salads are incredible.
The Post Ranch is more of an ocean experience, and I really consider myself an ocean person. So, for me, it's all about being right on the water. They have little tree houses, if you'd rather, which are a bit more forest-oriented. The charm of this place is that they're very ecologically concerned, so a lot of it was built without messing too much with what the natural land already was. Not to say that any other place didn't do that, but the Post Ranch is renowned for integrating nature into what they were building, rather than just clear-cutting everything and planting other things there. And they have great massages.
What do you like about Monterey?
Cannery Row - it's where all of those restaurants are in a big, long strip by Monterey Bay. There's shopping, eating, and a great shoreline. It's historic and was kind of immortalized by John Steinbeck in the novel of the same name.
Where have you stayed in Monterey?
The hotel where I stayed is called the Hotel Pacific. It's across from the convention center. I stayed there when I went to the TED [Technology Entertainment Design] Conference. I went for a long walk, from the hotel to the pier, and it made for some really fun people-watching - that's my favorite pastime. There is also an Italian restaurant called Cibo that is really great.
How about Carmel?
The first restaurant that comes to mind is the Flying Fish, on Mission. It is set down below street level with a cozy, funky, nicely lit atmosphere. The seared ahi tuna is to die for. It's served over noodles in a soy-based broth. I also like their preparation of halibut or salmon sealed in parchment paper - great flavor. It's California-Asian-fusion style. And I am a fan of anything "fusion," whether it's food, music, art, etc. As for a hotel in Carmel, I'd say the Cypress Inn, which was or still is owned by Doris Day. They just did a renovation, and the place is really beautiful.