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This Resort’s Views Put the Amalfi Coast to Shame

California’s Ventana Big Sur is open once again, with gorgeous new additions.

Ventana Big Sur Photo: Ventana Big Sur

After mudslides made it largely inaccessible for nearly a year, California’s Big Sur region is back and even more beautiful than before—its towering redwoods seemingly grander, its mountains more majestic. Much the same could be said of Ventana Big Sur, a favorite Central Coast hideaway that reopened last fall in its finest form yet.

Originally opened in 1975 on 160 acres of redwood forest and rolling meadows, Ventana resurfaced in November as the first U.S. property from the Singapore-​based hospitality brand Alila. A multimillion-​dollar renovation has the 59-room resort more in tune with its surroundings than ever, with a fresh palette of wood, stone, and warm grays and beiges. The renovation also saw the introduction of new experiences, including a creative culinary program highlighting the local land-and-sea bounty, revamped treatments at the updated spa, and back-to-nature excursions such as flora-and-fauna hiking tours and falconry. A new bar overlooking the Pacific Ocean is yet another welcome addition, partly for its tastings hosted by sommelier Thomas McKay and supplied by the Sur House restaurant’s 10,000-bottle cellar.

Ventana Big Sur

Swimming pool view  Photo: Ventana Big Sur

The remodeled social house, a combined lobby, game room, and wine bar fills with chatting guests as the sun sets over the Pacific and cheese plates circulate. Wines from the nearby Santa Lucia AVA are on pour each night, giving a preview of what might be found at the Sur House later. Guests can opt for a private tasting with McKay to learn more about the local winemakers and styles of wine.

A new glass-enclosed gallery space seems to dangle over the cliff’s edge beside the restaurant and is available for private dining.


The modern, serene pools (one, clothing optional) and hot tubs beckon post-hike for a more relaxing immersion into the scenery if the yoga, meditation, and fresh air did not already achieve that end.

For those in search of a deeper dive into Big Sur’s wonders, Ventana has also debuted a new redwood-​forest glamping site, where 15 safari-style tents each come with a plush queen-size bed, a cozy deck, and total seclusion amid the soaring pines.

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