Have you ever felt so connected to a special place in nature that consumed your Body, Mind & Soul? Being in Carmel was a mesmerizing experience from sunrise to sunset, discovering all kinds of fun and relaxing things to do on the Big Sur Coast…one of the world’s premier destinations for spectacular scenery, exciting outdoor adventures, wine tastings and indulgent spa services in Carmel, Big Sur, Pebble Beach and Monterey.
Only a short distance from Southern California (5+ hours) we arrived at the HOLMAN RANCH & WINERY in Carmel Valley. During the 1920’s and beyond, the estate served as an exclusive hideaway for many Hollywood celebrities including Charlie Chaplan. Then, the Holmans entertained Hollywood’s finest stars including Clark Gable, Vincent Price, Joan Crawford and Marlon Brando to name a few. The Ranch is full of romance and history, rustic and sophisticated, secluded and has amazing views.
New owner and winemaker Thomas Lowder bought the property in 2006 and began restoring the Ranch to bring it back to its original grandeur, adding 17 acres of vineyards and the wine caves, all hand-harvested and cellared in the estate wine cave.. “A Wine Lover’s Delight”, producing approximately 3,500 cases per year, ½ for events, ¼ for wine club and ¼ for tasting room, which is best known for Pinot Noir. The 400 acre Ranch, vineyard and olive grove, is a popular spot for couples looking to explore the unique ambiance and natural beauty of the surrounding area. The Ranch also hosts many Special Events, Themed Meetings & Retreats, including 10 guest rooms complete with high-end lodging to enjoy a relaxing stay with modern amenities, fully equipped kitchen, fitness center, pool and stables and of course Estate Grown wine.
I enjoyed doing Yoga in the morning overlooking the Carmel Valley, a backdrop for romantic weddings and getaways. I loved sitting on the front porch of our guest room at the Ranch, a timeless location, breathing the fresh air, meditating on the mindfulness of being there at this point in time. My Affirmation for the day: “Surrender to the stillness of your soul. Divine Nature, Divine Love” www.holmanranch.com Carmel Valley, CA (831) 659-2640
Guests of the ranch dine at the popular WILLS FARGO Steakhouse & Bar, which is actually a legendary Saloon, constructed in the late 1920’s, now a Victorian parlor & saloon, featuring fine dining featuring Executive Chef Jerome Viel. You can sample local wines, a full bar, locally sourced produce, fresh fish & vegetarian dishes. They are best known for their prime & choice cut of naturally raised meats.
As guests of the owners Nick & Hunter Lowder, both having illustrious careers in the hospitality industry, our group enjoyed a delicious menu including Classic French Onion Soup, Goat Cheese Ravioli with Tomato, Garlic Cream & Parmesan, Roasted Free Range Chicken, Potato au Gratin and for dessert, a Warm Truffle Chocolate Cake with Holman Ranch Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce. Truly a culinary delight! 16 W. Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley, CA (831) 659-2774 www.wfrestaurant.com
Jarman Wine Societies – Named in memory of Jarman who was the wife of owner Thomas Lowder and mother of Hunter Lowder. The winery donates $1 from each bottle sold goes to the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation to help find effective treatments for this disease, available in premium varietals, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. 16 W. Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley, CA 93924 (831) 298-7300www.jarmanwine.com
Our next romantic getaway included several days at the HYATT CARMEL HIGHLANDS INN overlooking the famous Big Sur coastline… an unforgettable ocean view hideaway. The food, the ambiance, the impeccable staff, opulent foliage and gardens…all contributed to an overall experience of bliss.
The moment we arrived, we were whisked off to our oceanfront master suite, an upscale, residential-style spa suites complete with all the amenities of home, including a fireplace, a fully equipped kitchen, stainless steel appliances and separate dining area and living area, which contains a deluxe sofa bed and a private balcony and deck. Hyatt Carmel Highlands provides all the high-tech amenities that the modern traveler needs, including an iHome stereo with iPod docking station, flat screen TV with satellite channels and high-speed DS3 wireless internet service.
We enjoyed relaxing on the private balcony and deck, watching over 30 Whales’ blow-holes bursting all over the ocean feeding on the anchovies. Later in the day, we attended a complimentary wine tasting in the Sunset & Lobos Cocktail Lounge before our dinner reservation at Pacific View Restaurant, the most luxurious ocean front restaurant overlooking the majestic Big Sur Coast. ”Set on the edge of the earth overlooking the unforgettable ocean vistas, Pacific’s Edge Restaurant at Hyatt Carmel Highlands offers award-winning cuisine in a sophisticated atmosphere with glass walls and impeccable service standards.
Enjoy a breathtaking view of the Big Sur coastline as you savor innovative California coastal cuisine, made with the freshest seafood, meats and locally sourced produce and ingredients with a seasonal focus.” Les Clefs d’Or Concierge. The waitstaff was extremely accommodating during our stay. I enjoyed a sunrise breakfast at their casual dining restaurant the California Market overlooking the ocean. My French Toast was covered in local berries, pure Maple Syrup along with a side of thick-cut bacon. My waiter suggested a fresh Latte Coffee which tasted decadent.
The Highlands Inn also features a Hyatt Residence Club as well as 48 guestrooms. This luxury oceanfront hotel overlooking the majestic Big Sur Coast, will allow you and your guests to indulge in the most comfortable accommodations to create lasting memories. www.carmelhighlands.hyatt.com 120 Highlands Drive, Carmel, CA 92923 (831) 620-1234
Travel Tips & Sightseeing:
Our journey began by driving up the California Coast, having lunch in Paso Robles at the Rustic Fire featuring Artisan Pizza, Fresh Salads, Craft Beers and Local Wine…a pleasant surprise for an impromptu place to renew and refresh from the road trip. www.rusticfire.com
During our visit in the downtown Carmel shopping district, we enjoyed Carmel’s Bistro Giovanni, conveniently located in the Carmel Plaza at Ocean & Mission, dining al fresco and sipping a cool drink among the lush garden setting. www.3carmelrestaurants.com
The Cheese Shop at Carmel Plaza is a unique gift shop where you can sample the most exotic cheeses from all over the world with a friendly and very knowledgeable staff. Purchase any size of cheese you prefer finely wrapped and labeled to take home for your wine & cheese party at home! Many local wines are featured in the tasting room in the shop. www.thecheeseshopinc.com
Monterey Bay Aquarium – We explored “under the sea” at the world-famous Aquarium full of large sea creatures and the most fascinating JELLY FISH Exhibit featuring a 1970’s theme throughout the room. Both young and old filled the rooms to view the spectacular array of live and exotic fish from all over the planet. Located in the famous CANNERY ROW in Monterey. www.montereybayaquarium.org
Spirit of Monterey Wax Museum, 700 Cannery Row “Journey into the past from the Spanish Discovery to John Steinbeck, a 20 minute voyage into Monterey’s Turbulent and Fascinating Past.
The National Steinbeck Center, Interactive Museum for All Ages One Main Street, Salinas, CA www.steinbeck.org
Other sightseeing opportunities include hiking, mountain biking, Carmel hikes & jogs, yoga lessons, private spa experiences, ocean boating & fishing, among other natural adventures.
Meditation & Travel Notes:
My romantic experience was already manifested by a previous meditation a week before. I suddenly found myself at the most luxurious oceanfront destination, with my perfect romantic partner, enjoying the sights, sounds and the view that was luminous in my mind. This experience was a Divine Experience that I will always remember and resonate with forever. I believe that this Abundance was a direct conduit to the Ultimate Source which will continue to provide continuous memorable moments. I take personal responsibility for the experiences in my life, creating memories, renewing vows, wellness and enjoying my Spiritual journey…the happiness and joy from these natural surroundings only increases our awareness of the Abundance & Prosperity in our lives. We can appreciate and be grateful for having the opportunity to be able to experience this natural beauty.
Denise’s Affirmation: I AM LOVE, HEALTH, ABUNDANCE, A CONTAINER FOR MY DEEPEST DESIRES THAT I WILL MANIFEST TODAY…EVERYTHING IN LIFE IS A GIFT.
Denise Schriedel is a freelance writer specializing in wine, travel, resorts and spas, spirituality and healthy destinations. Many of her articles have been published in the LA Examiner atombash.com/food-and-wine-travel-in-los-angeles/denise-schriedel, Valley Scene Magazine www.valleyscenemagazine.com , Connect to Wellbeing, Your Health Connection, the Acorn and on her website www.DestinationsbyDenise.com. Denise has 2 daughters in college and lives on the ocean with her fiancé, where she practices her daily spiritual yoga meditation.