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Walnut Creek Magazine

Escape to Captivating Carmel Valley

May 06, 2021 11:01AM ● By Fran Miller

When you think about Carmel, chances are you imagine a 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 Situated on 850-acres of lush fairways, fragrant meadows, and sparkling lakes, the plush suites 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 a portable water bowl and fleece blanket. Spacious rooms feature hardwood floors, deep soaking tubs, and private patios. Through June 30, 2021, the resort is offering a 25% discount on room rates. 

Bernardus Lodge Nestled amongst vineyards with spectacular mountain views, this four-star 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, alfresco showers, heated floors, and private patios. For a romantic touch, ask a Bernardus butler to draw you a rose petal bath. 


Inside Bernardus is the world-class restaurant Lucia where Chef Cal Stamenov has set the region’s culinary bar. Culling from the resort'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 a sunny lagoon deck or grab a yogurt and granola to go. 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, Bill Murray, and other celebs are regulars. Check out the Earthbound Farm Stand, a cherished destination for salads and sandwiches. Dine al fresco at Roux, where Chef Fabrice Roux incorporates local ingredients into his French-inspired cuisine. With over 400 labels on the wine list and an ever-changing menu, dinner really is an experience here.


WINE TASTING: A top global wine destination, Carmel Valley is renowned for its Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc varietals poured at over 20 tasting rooms, each with a unique style and character. Some of our favorites include Durney-Heller Estate, 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 well suited for hikers of all levels, but if you need 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 to view Rob Talbott's collection of bikes from all over the world ranging from vintage dirt bikes to rare motorcycles. 

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's 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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