Post Ranch Inn
Big Sur, California
Flying over the snow-tipped Sierra Nevada mountains was refreshing in and of itself. It was August, and I was escaping heat waves, wildfires, and temperatures topping 110 degrees Fahrenheit ... in the shade. The thought of packing a sweater was absolutely decadent, and I was thrilled to touch down in San Jose, California, on an early flight with an entire fresh, cool day yet to unfold.
An early flight is the way to go when heading into Big Sur. It gives one time to linger, to enjoy the drive, and to pause in Monterey for lunch or a requisite visit to the ever-changing, always-amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium. Farther down idyllic Highway 1 is Carmel. Beware: The quaint shops and restaurants will cast their spell and lure you into hours of joyous distraction. Trust me on this — I speak from experience.
But I eventually forge ahead, as Big Sur is next and magical Post Ranch Inn quietly and politely awaits my arrival. I’m on edge during my first evening at Post Ranch Inn — literally, on the very edge, seated at a small table in the Sierra Mar restaurant, jutting out over a mountain cliff with nothing but low fog and the vast Pacific Ocean beneath me. Floor-to-ceiling windows surround me and it’s as if I’m floating above the clouds. The evening’s sunset is an abstract watercolor of orange and red against the silhouette of stately evergreens. It’s no wonder people come from all over the world to dwell in this place.
Executive chef Craig von Foerster delights diners with delicacies like a foie gras tasting, yellow-tomato gazpacho with mint oil, and grilled Wagyu beef strip loin steak with bone marrow and black truffle flan, French filet beans, and chanterelle mushrooms.
The 39 guest rooms and two private houses at Post Ranch Inn encompass incredible architecture, supreme privacy, and a natural peace that’s a sheer privilege to experience. Room types like Cliff House, Peak House, and Pacific Suites showcase the melding and bending of slate, wood, stone, and glass in artistic and unique ways. Or stay in one of the Tree Houses, whimsical single structures built on stilts nine feet off the forest floor. Some of the rooms have romantic stainless steel hot tubs on the outdoor decks. Even the spa and library exist in harmony with the lush green backdrop.
It’s easy to take care of yourself here, with generous opportunities to reset your barometer of well-being. Yoga, movement meditations, guided nature hikes, and star gazing are all complimentary guest activities. I opt for yoga in a yurt, then some great hiking on my own around the splendid trails.
To be still and quiet at Post Ranch Inn, to just absorb the moments as they dance by, is the epitome of luxury unplugged. To be here is to be truly and completely nurtured by nature.
Rates start at $595 and go up to $2,285 for a Cliff House room. (800) 527-2200, postranchinn.com — Janet Thomas