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Captivating Carmel Valley

Jun 18, 2018 11:01AM ● Published by Fran Miller

BY PAM KESSLER & FRAN MILLER

A place to play, indulge, and discover. 

When you think about Carmel, chances are you imagine seascape with storybook cottages and sandy beaches. But there’s another Carmel. The one warmed by a sun that often evades its coastal cousin. The one that’s a little more casual, but equally as luxurious. Carmel Valley, a sublime pastoral hollow in the heart of the Santa Lucia Mountains, is graced with chic resorts, lavender fields, and historic wineries. Add to that hiking and biking trails, championship golf courses, working ranches, and a 4,000-acre regional park, and Carmel Valley is a tempting place for a getaway.

Quail Lodge & Golf Club

STAY

Situated on 850-acres of lush fairways, fragrant meadows, and sparkling lakes, the plush suites at Quail Lodge & Golf Club (above) are a special place for a retreat. Built in 1964, the lodge underwent a multi-million dollar renovation a few years ago, unveiling rich updates and first-rate dining at the resort’s restaurants: Covey’s and Edgar’s. A pet-friendly place, furry guests are greeted with souvenir goodie bags complete with portable water bowl and fleece blanket. Spacious rooms feature hardwood floors, deep soaking tubs, and private patios. The resort's signature "Quail, a Motorsports Gathering" happens each year in August.quaillodge.com

Nestled amongst vineyards with spectacular mountain views, Bernardus Lodge (above) boasts a Forbes Four Star travel designation. The property features a serene spa, world-renowned restaurant, pool, bocce ball, and tennis courts. Large guest rooms combine chic ranch house décor with comfy furnishings. A handful of posh suites and villas offer a little more luxury with free-standing copper soaking tubs, al fresco showers, heated floors, and private patios. For a romantic touch, ask a Bernardus butler to draw you a rose petal-strewn bath. bernarduslodge.com

DINE

Enjoy celebrated California cuisine at the Bernardus stand-out Lucia (above) where Chef Cal Stamenov has set the region’s culinary bar. Culling from the Lodge's onsite organic garden, cornucopia of fruit trees, and cache of chickens, Stamenov highlights the best of each season in his creative dishes. At Quail Lodge, enjoy your eggs benedict on Covey’s sunny lagoon deck or grab a yogurt and granola to go. Evenings are best by the fire pit with a craft beer and artisanal cheeses. Over at Edgar’s, join the golfers and locals for a perfectly grilled filet mignon or a luscious bowl of cioppino. 

For a hearty ‘down home’ breakfast, head out to Wagon Wheel Coffee Shop where rumor has it that Robert Redford and Bill Murray are regulars. Check-out recently renovated Earthbound Farm and its Farm Stand for organic hot meals, sandwiches, and an outrageously abundant salad bar. Dine al fresco at Roux, where Chef Fabrice Roux incorporates local ingredients into his French-inspired cuisine. 

DO

WINE TASTING: A top global wine destination, Carmel Valley is renowned for its Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc varietals poured at over20 tasting rooms, each with a unique style and character. Check-out Durney-Heller Estate, Bernardus, Georis, Joullian Vineyards, Talbott, Cowgirl, and Parsonage. The French-inspired Folktale Winery sits on 15 rich acres of sustainably-farmed land along the Carmel River. 

HIKING: Garland Ranch Regional Park is a favorite by hikers of all levels but for an extra challenge try the 5.4-mile Sky Trail with its 1,700 feet elevation gain and valley views. You’ll pass through oak savannas, maple-filled canyons, dense oak woodlands, and thick strands of chaparral. 

MUSEUM: Motorcycle aficionados cruise to the Moto Talbott Motorcycle Collection to view the largest West Coast public exhibition of rare motorcycles and vintage dirt bikes. 

SPA: For something different try Refuge, a two-acre, adult-only water park with pools of varying temperatures. Take a dip in each, then hit the steam, sauna, and relaxation rooms.

GOLF: Actor Clint Eastwood exclusive invitation-only golf club, Tehama Ranch, sits on 2,040-acres of rolling hills and rugged canyons high above Monterey Bay. Can’t get the nod? Head to Quail Lodge, and play on the challenging 18-hole Robert Muir Graves-designed course. 

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