Carmel Valley, California
Bernardus Lodge & Spa
What it is
A verdant and sprawling 28-acre retreat with 73 villas, suites and guest rooms and a spa inspired by the surrounding nature.
What it isn't
Lazy. Much of the produce used in Chef Cal Stamenov’s seasonal restaurants here was grown in the organic gardens and vineyards, right on-site.
What we think
No matter what room type you pick here—from the 650-square-foot king rooms to the 2,100-square-foot villas—you’re guaranteed to live like SoCal royalty. Every single option has a gratis wine bar, Italian bed linens, limestone fireplace, a Carrara marble double vanity, and radiant heating under the floors of the bathroom, where a deep soaking tub awaits that’s roomy enough for two. Activities here are equally heavy on pampering (no surprise: it’s a favorite retreat of everyone from Clint Eastwood to Leonardo DiCaprio). On your activities lineup, should you desire: zipping through vineyard drives in a Mercedes-Benz SL convertible; VIP wine tasting with comped tasting room passes; and an off-road driving school with Land Rover that will have you making “tough mudder” jokes for the rest of the afternoon.
You're here because
You’re determined to kayak alongside dolphins, orcas, sea lions—anything guaranteed to put a grin on your face—and staffers are raring to hook you up with a guided tour.
You try to get to France at least once every five years, but now that you’ve found Lucia, the restaurant’s Francophile-ready restaurant, you’re satisfaite, at least for now. Tucking into your duck breast with chanterelles and blackberry reduction under the soaring open beam ceiling, adjacent to the fire pit, you could very well be in Provence. But the dessert: s’mores with milk chocolate panna cotta, housemade graham cracker, toasted marshmallow ice cream and a dusting of cocoa nib brittle? That’s pure California.
Restaurants & Bars
Lucia Restaurant & Bar - an eclectic, airy and elegant space with a French-inspired menu that changes seasonally
Perched amid paradise: you’re 11 miles from Carmel-by-the-Sea and 14 from Monterey (the formidable setting for HBO’s “Big Little Lies”). Ask the concierge to point you in the direction of Garland Ranch Regional Park, just up the road, where you can hike a 2-mile loop to a misty waterfall.