The amazing thing about the West Coast is that it is still mostly wild, open, and astoundingly beautiful country, where you can drive for miles and miles and have the scenery all to yourself.
Ventana Inn & Spa and the Post Ranch Inn
South of Sycamore Canyon, roughly three miles from the heart of Big Sur village, Hwy-1 passes between two of California’s most deluxe small resorts. The larger of the two, Ventana Inn & Spa (48123 Hwy-1, 831/667-2331 or 800/628-6500, $470 and up), covers 243 acres of Big Sur foothills and offers saunas, swimming pools, and four-star accommodations in 1970s-style cedar-paneled rooms and cabins. There’s also a very fine restaurant, with incredible views and reasonable prices, to which guests are ferried in a fleet of electric carts.
Completed in 1992 and directly across Hwy-1 from Ventana, the Post Ranch Inn (47900 Hwy-1, 831/667-2200 or 888/524-4787, $700 and up), a low-impact but ultra-high-style luxury resort hanging high above the Big Sur coast, is at the forefront of luxury ecotourism. In order to preserve Big Sur’s untarnished natural beauty, the Post Ranch Inn is designed to be virtually invisible from land or sea. The 39 guest rooms and one private house—all featuring a king-size bed and a whirlpool bath with built-in massage table—blend in with the landscape, disguised either as playful tree houses raised up in the branches of the oaks and pines or as underground cabins carved into the cliff top. The Post Ranch restaurant, Sierra Mar, is also excellent. If you just want to have a look and plan for a future escape, free tours of the resort are given Monday-Friday at 2pm during the off-season.