Everyone—I mean everyone—loves Post Ranch Inn. So, what’s with all the hype? What decadent luxury makes Post Ranch Inn stand out among California cliffside resorts?
It’s not the spa (though the spa is a lovely, small affair—one room’s panoramic window displays a dramatic forest view). It’s not the pool (which is oddly placed and executed with less attention to design than you would expect from a luxury resort). So, what is that extra “something”—something uniquely superb—that set this resort apart? Beyond usual suspects, here are five things I came to love during my time at the Post Ranch Inn:
Stargazing. The stars from Big Sur are striking, even when viewed with the naked eye. Add in a telescope and an astronomer to guide a tour of the heavens, and the experience becomes magical. Weather-permitting, stargazing is offered every evening, but with the help of the telescope you’ll see more than stars. Planets, nebulae and other wonders of the sky are the perfect cap to any seaside night.
Secluded Nooks and Crannies. Dozens of tiny footpaths and stone-laid trails divert randomly from roads and end in unexpected places. These unassuming and unmarked tracks lead to secluded little nowheres that boast magnificent views. Some places have benches for sitting—others have rocks—some simply end with fenced cliffs that drop to the sea. Ideal for solitude, tender moments, or photographs, each revealed something new and enjoyable to discover.
Reinventions at Different Times of Day. To fully appreciate coastal California is to embrace the shades of splendor that color a single day. Particularly dramatic are the weather conditions that characterize a day at Post Ranch Inn. Sea birds in the morning, afternoon sun, and the sounds of crashing waves are reminders of proximity to the ocean. Yet, when evening falls, the resort is engulfed from below in an ocean of otherworldly mist. Dinner at the (truly fantastic) Sierra Mar Restaurant is open only to resort guests during this window, allowing patrons to enjoy this effect, which is not unlike the view from above the clouds in an airplane. The mist disappears by nightfall, returning clear, moonlit pacific views.
Dual Views. There are two kinds of rooms at waterfront resorts: those with ocean views and those without; and most hotels delicately signal “mountain” and “garden” views for rooms that are far inferior to the coveted ocean view ones. Not at Post Ranch Inn—views from eastern-facing rooms are far from disappointing. They, too, are built on a hillside that drops dramatically, not to an ocean but to a forest floor that forms a small valley before rising again. Views from eastern-facing rooms are so complete and distinct that they give the effect of being at a mountain resort.
The Power of Big Sur. Documented by history, speculation, hearsay, and lore, this small stretch of coastline is widely believed to be a vortex of power. The rhetoric surrounding the magic of the region is no match for what you’ll experience during your visit. Another well-known getaway—Esalen—is Post Ranch Inn’s neighbor that is known not for its luxury, but for infusing its guests with vitality that has become the stuff of legend. Even skeptics and cynics have been known to admit it—there’s just something about Big Sur.
Disclosure: The trip that yielded this review was partially self-funded ($700 paid out of pocket) and partially subsidized by Post Ranch Inn. This review reflects a candid, unfiltered account of my experience on this trip and at this resort.