Majestic RetreatAuthor:Lindsey Shook
Escape to Alila Ventana Big Sur where the earth, sky, mountains and land beautifully collide
Perched atop California’s iconic central coast and sprawling across 160 acres is the Alila Ventana Big Sur, a 59-room boutique hotel where guests come for the luxurious experience but leave with much more. As one of the most sought-after destinations for artists, thinkers and creatives for over 40 years, the property is a part of land homesteaded in 1890 by one of California’s most prolific pioneers, William Post. In 1975, producer and entrepreneur Lawrence A. Spector—who grew his fortune from the legendary film Easy Rider—built the Ventana Inn as a haven where movie stars such as Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw could escape.
In 2017, Two Roads Hospitality unveiled the reimagined property while debuting their new global hospitality platform, Alila Hotels & Resorts, which focuses on curating eco-friendly spaces across the world that blend beautiful design with immersive cultural experiences. They enlisted San Francisco- based interior design firm Brayton Hughes Design Studios and Carmel-based architectural firm Ray Parks & Associates to lead the multimillion-dollar transformation and revitalize the cedar-clad sanctuaries for generations to come. “The property has continued to evolve a design that pays homage to its deep bohemian roots and provides a comfortable space for guests to find their own inner inspirations,” notes Director of Sales and Marketing Mark Ley.
Their commitment to respecting and preserving the surrounding ecology of Big Sur is a driving force behind the programming, food and beverage concepts and amenities. “Alila Ventana is a shining example of a commitment to locality as a philosophy for sustainability,” Ley remarks. “Sustainability is not a nice-to-have, it is a must-have.”
Inside the hotel’s renowned Sur House restaurant—helmed by Chef Zachary Ladwig—the signature coastal cuisine is comprised of Pacific-sourced seafood delivered by local fishermen, free-range meats from local farmers and produce grown on property and sourced from local foragers. Outside, guests can partake in a variety of nature-driven activities including bee keeping, energy baths, star gazing, falconry and hikes through the enchanting redwood forests. “We believe in providing experiences for our guests that can be transformative and educational and allow them to learn and grow,” Ley says. “No longer is wellness a singular concept that travelers seek for rejuvenation. The scope of programming we designed is built to provide an immersive experience while supporting personal well-being journeys.”
Guests can further immerse themselves in the energy of the redwoods at Spa Alila while receiving a sensory spa treatment inside one of two outdoor cabanas equipped with soaking tubs and massage tables. Or they can simply unwind while relaxing poolside at one of the two outdoor pools—the Meadow Pool, which features an expansive infinity-edge hot tub surrounded by the redwood forest, and the clothing-optional Mountain Pool, with adjacent Japanese hot baths.
With more experiential hospitality brands popping up around the world, it can be hard to stand out. However, Alila Ventana Inn is more than just a hotel; it is a place for reconnecting with self and with the earth and finding the inspiration to transform your life.