Big Sur is once again open for business following last spring’s debilitating mud slides, and autumn is an especially luminous time to explore this legendary stretch of central California coast, some 20 miles south of Carmel. Big Sur’s magic lies in its untamed wilderness: redwood groves, chaparral-covered hills, and iconic rocky cliffs that sprout improbably from the ocean. Condors circle overhead and sea otters float just offshore. For many, the isolation—and peace and quiet—that Big Sur offers is the reason to return again and again.
For travelers seeking a soft landing, the Ventana Big Sur resort recently reopened under new ownership and after a massive renovation. New glamping cabins have been added to the 59 rooms, suites, and villas spread throughout the resort’s 160 acres. Shaded by redwoods, the 15 safari-style canvas tents come equipped with hickory walking sticks, portable lanterns, and access to a bathhouse with teak-lined showers and heated floors. Guests can enjoy nightly turndown service and the use of fire pits for making s’mores in the evening.
As part of the renovation, the Ventana also built an on-site gallery to showcase paintings, sculptures, jewelry, ceramics, and photography by Big Sur’s most renowned artists. And the new Sur House restaurant—helmed by executive chef Paul Corsentino, who worked in New York and Chicago before heading west—houses a 10,000-bottle wine cellar that highlights small-production central coast wineries.
Guests eager to embrace the region’s back-to-nature philosophy might appreciate a soak in the heated, clothing-optional Mountain Pool, undoubtedly more pleasant to ease into than the roiling, frigid Pacific Ocean just down the hill.
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