In the Valley of the Wine Gods – Set on 26 pristine acres awash with vineyards and French lavender, Carmel Valley’s Bernardus Lodge sets the standard for luxury rebooting with an epicurean/oenophile twist. A bespoke escape steeped in European graciousness, this country inn has long been ahead of the style tribe in ticking the checklist with a dash of crème fraiche. Home to award-winning Marinus restaurant and Chef Cal Stamenov – long noted for his foraging zeitgeist and eye to seasonal rock stars – the Lodge sports 57 luxurious guestrooms, the signature Spa at Bernardus Lodge, two swimming pools and an alfresco bocce court.
Created by Bernardus Pon, owner of Bernardus Winery and Vineyard, Bernardus Lodge is perennially recognized in Conde Nast Traveler’s “Top Hotels” and Travel and Leisure’s “World Best Hotels” as well as the coveted Conde Nast Traveler Johansens 2013 “Most Excellent Lodge.” It is also a Wine Spectator Grand Award recipient (2001-2012) for its impressive 35,000-bottle cellar. A member of Leading Hotels of the World, AAA Four Diamond Hotel rating and Forbes Four-Star award for the Lodge, The Spa at Bernardus Lodge and Marinus Restaurant, Bernardus Lodge was voted the #1 choice in Andrew Harper’s 2012 Reader Survey of “Top Food & Wine Resorts” worldwide. www.bernardus.com.
First Debut in a Decade – Call it a respite in the redwoods, a sleek new outpost maximizing Big Sur’s ethos with a dash of fire in its belly. Set on legendary Highway 1, Big Sur Roadhouse is the first regional restaurant to debut in a decade — where high design meets Seabass Po’Boys and raw and recycled provides a seamless backdrop for organic, regional and real. Blending classical techniques with a commitment to sustainability and eye to local foragers, fishermen and sausage celebrities, chef Matt Glazer’s “Coastal Cajun” salutes the best of California’s cornucopia with a spin.
Inspired by Big Sur’s lush redwood setting and trove of local talent, San Francisco’s Justrich Design put their vision into play with a sleek, modern interior design rich in recycled materials, color and geometry. Two alfresco patios with fire pits flank the interior footprint, offering dining and a comfortable lounge area rimmed with couches and native plants. The design style fuses contemporary lines with Big Sur sensibilities, set in a fresh earth-tone palette of sage and cayenne with punchy red accents. www.bigsurroadhouse.com.
Hollywood by the Sea – An iconic 1929 landmark rich in retro overtones and a seaside elegance only owner/actor Doris Day could deliver, Cypress Inn sits a three-iron out from Pebble Beach in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The 44-guestroom property is set in a Mediterranean footprint with vaulted ceilings, airy courtyards, in-room fireplaces and a crisp, contemporary décor. Terry’s Lounge + Restaurant delivers a cache of classic cocktails hand-crafted by resident “startenders;” the restaurant boasts a Seafood Watch® focus sourcing the rich Salinas and Carmel valleys for a farm-to-fork adventure.
Catering to upscale canines, the daily Yappy Hour dials up a parade of lifestyles of the rich and famous in the four-legged format. Long a magnet for celebrities and film industry insiders, Cypress Inn is the host hotel for the annual Carmel Art & Film Festival and part of the elite collection of Carmel Boutique Inns. www.cypress-inn.com.
Gem of the Desert – The essence of a bespoke escape tucked on 45 lush garden acres, La Quinta Resort & Club has long set the stage for romance, creativity and culinary adventures. Sporting 41 pools and enough Hollywood nostalgia to make a gin fizz spin, the 1926 gem of the desert now plays first string to fans of Coachella Music Festival, dignitaries, sports figures and the style tribe seeking an urban escape. Greta Garbo called it home; Frank Capra made it “A Wonderful Life.” On tap are five award-winning- and four private golf courses designed by legends Palmer, Nicklaus, Dye, Norman and Weiskopf, as well as the top ranked Spa La Quinta for a post-par massage. Fork in hand, Morgan’s in the desert is the call for peak season cuisine set in a glamorous backdrop under the helm of Executive Chef Jimmy Schmidt. www.LaquintaResort.com
Eden on the Edge – It’s the perfect trifecta of wine, waves and wilderness. A region claiming The Lost Coast, 10,000 Buddhas, Pygmy forests and Skunk Trains. Its assets are as broad as its turf, sporting 160 miles of prime Pacific coastline, 23 state/national parklands and 90+ wineries. A pioneer in the sustainable revolution and leader in a litany of “firsts” – from banning genetically modified organisms to boasting the world’s largest concentration of organic vineyards –the region boasts a tapestry of chefs, artisans, vintners, musicians and innkeepers who live and speak eco, organic and yes, green.
From wild animal sanctuaries to natural hot springs, luxury inns and the requisite walk through the redwoods, a visit here is certain to swell every sense. It’s a hedonist hideaway laying claim to digital detox camps, crab cook-offs, fungi foraging and sparkling wine celebrations. Anderson Valley is the stop for wine tasting while the village of Mendocino boasts arts and eats. Highway 1 through Point Arena delivers lighthouses, stunning views and landmarks perched along the Pacific. Venture inland to first growth redwood forests, off-road biking and the ultimate off-grid reboot: a cozy little cabin in the redwoods. www.VisitMendocino.com.
Nature at Its Naked Best – Boasting 99 miles of prime Pacific coastline, the National Marine Sanctuary, top-ranked Monterey Bay Aquarium, 25 golf courses and enough wine to keep the country of Bhutan buzzed – Monterey County is a destination with deep pockets. Linking the region are the lauded enclaves of Big Sur, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey, Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach, each offering its own brew of heady highlights. From romance to rugged adventure the region’s intoxicating mix of porcelain seascapes, redwood groves and legendary greens welcome nearly nine million visitors annually.
Culinary highlights include the annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine, pulling up a seat at Aubergine, Marinus, Pacific’s Edge or Post Ranch Inn’s lofty Sierra Mar or wine tasting in one of nine distinguished AVAs. From breakfast with African elephants to clocking in the comeback of the California condor, the region’s natural assets are a ready-to-wear adventure for travelers seeking the real deal, California-style. www.seemonterey.com
Pushing the Epicurean Envelope – Laced between Napa and St. Helena on California’s superhighway of wine swirling, Yountville’s prowess as a culinary powerhouse is unmatched. Boasting the largest concentration of Michelin stars per capita on the planet, 24+ wineries and/or producers and 11 lodging properties a fork’s throw apart, foodies on the fast track now have another bucket list destination to pull up a chair to.
This classic grape-clad escape brims with top toques (Thomas Keller, Richard Reddington, Michael Chiarello, Philippe Jeanty and Perry Hoffman) and an unparalleled mix of lodging options from the award-winning Villagio Inn & Spa to the swank Hotel Yountville and LEED platinum-certified Bardessono. www.yountville.com.
The American Riviera – Like a siren, Santa Barbara plays to the senses with 100 miles of palm-studded surf, venerable wine country, thriving culinary scene and architecture that’s easy on the eyes. Known for its rich agricultural an equestrian roots – along with a strong undercurrent of celebrities seeking solace from Hollywood’s spotlight – this city by the sea and adjoining Santa Ynez Valley offer a sturdy dose of sophisticated culture to complement the abundant beauty. Few cities of Santa Barbara’s size can match the quality and diversity of its cultural offerings which include 50 museums and galleries and a litany of legendary venues including the Lobero and Granada theaters.
From Lotusland to the Channel Islands, visitors have a wealth of diversions to dive into. Inland, veteran vintners are pouring cutting-edge Pinots to the soundtrack of Sideways. Sidebars include horseback riding, stand up paddle, scuba, pop-up dining or savoring a side of oysters Rockefeller as the sun slowly slips into the Pacific at Santa Barbara Harbor. www.santabarbaraCA.com
North America’s First Brick & Breakfast Adventure – Bringing childrens’ imagination to life one brick at a time, LEGOLAND® CALIFORNIA RESORTS debuted its first U.S. hotel property April/2013 awash with 3,422 LEGO® models crafted from three+ million LEGO® bricks. The tree-story, 250-guestroom property with views of the Pacific along California’s Carlsbad coastline features Kingdom, Pirate and Adventure themed rooms with giant ogres, jesters and princesses marking the entry.
Part of the Merlin Entertainment Group, Europe’s #1 and the world’s second largest visitor attraction company operating 94 attractions and seven hotels/villages in 21 countries across four continents, LEGOLAND® is the first theme park in the U.S. created by Danish toy maker, the LEGO® Company. The 128-acre family theme park includes LEGOLAND® California, SEA LIFE Aquarium, LEGOLAND® Water Park and the new LEGOLAND® Hotel. www.LEGOLANDHotel.com.