Part 13 in a series.
On a rainy Sunday afternoon, roughly two hours after leaving Cambria, the Central Coast Traveler pulled into his destination for the next three days: the Post Ranch Inn ($595-$2295). It’s hard to imagine a more breathtakingly situated place.
Perched on a cliff 1200 feet (365 meters) above the Pacific, with panoramic views for miles in all directions, the Post Ranch is the perfect place to relax and completely forget that an outside world even exists. The setting, the architecture, the unobtrusive but ever-ready staff, and the food combine to make this one of the most unforgettable experiences the Traveler has had. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I’ve spent many of the happiest days of my life at the Post Ranch. We first visited for our honeymoon in 2005, and this most recent stay was our seventh time. We recognized nearly all of the staff from previous visits (and they recognized us). Some of them have worked there since the place opened in 1993; an eternity in the hospitality industry. I imagine that once you get to the Post Ranch, there’s probably not a better place to work.
For this stay, we had booked a “Tree House.” The Post Ranch has 8 different room classes, most of which are freestanding structures or duplexes, and there are only 39 rooms on the entire 100 acre (0.4 km²) property. The Tree Houses are exactly as advertised: houses propped 10 feet (3 meters) off the ground, eye-level with the surrounding redwoods. The more expensive rooms have ocean views, but every room on the property has a king size bed, wood-burning fireplace, private outdoor deck, minibar (snacks and non-alcoholic beverages included in the room rate), satellite stereo system, whirlpool tub/shower big enough for 2 with its own private view, and Wi-Fi (also included in the room rate). There are no TV’s in the rooms; if you really must watch, there’s a large screen in the handsome library/lounge. Personally, I can’t imagine coming to Big Sur to watch television. A big part of the allure is tuning out.
The Post Ranch has 7 Tree Houses, and we’ve now stayed in 3 different ones. Every room has a name instead of a number, representing a historical figure in Big Sur. For this stay we lucked out and got the “Boronda” Tree House. Boronda has an ocean view, even though it’s not priced like the ocean view rooms; probably because it doesn’t have ocean front outdoor space. That didn’t matter to us; the scene out the windows was mesmerizing.
I have to say something about the attentive, thoughtful customer service. For our initial trip in 2005, we were 8 hours late because of a missed flight connection, arriving near midnight after a hair-raising turbulent puddle jumping plane trip from LAX to the Monterey airport, and an equally stressful ride from the airport in a driving rainstorm along the pitch-dark cliffs of Highway 1. We had called ahead earlier to warn them we’d be very late, and they were expecting us. The staff instantly bundled all of our luggage into a waiting Lexus SUV that took us up to our room, where hot soup and other goodies awaited us. After our late impromptu feast, we fell asleep to the crackling fireplace, and rose the next morning to a stunning vista of sunlight streaming in from windows all around and above us. If you’re a Tolkien fan, it felt a little like waking up in Lothlórien after fleeing the dungeons of Moria. Our experience on every subsequent visit has been much the same (without the nightmare flight delays); it’s like visiting friends, not a hotel. OK, maybe fabulously rich friends with the coolest house ever, but still.
In the next posts the Traveler will talk about the Post Ranch restaurant Sierra Mar, and our experiences on the grounds and elsewhere in Big Sur. Here’s a sneak peek of the Sierra Mar breakfast buffet (open to Post Ranch Inn guests only; the place is open to the public for lunch, and reservations-only for dinner). Eggs Benedict, pastries fresh-baked on site, bacon, the ocean: is this heaven?