Hotels built around their natural environment are nothing new. The Explora Hotel Salto Chico in Patagonia is situated on the banks of a waterfall in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. The Tsala Treetop Lodge in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, allows guests to live out their childhood fantasy of sleeping in a tree house—albeit a luxurious one. And in the United States, you have the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California, built on the craggy cliffs of the Santa Lucia Mountains.
Constructed in 1992, the Post Ranch Inn offers rustic but elegant accommodations. Guests have a choice of 40 rooms in stand-alone houses, all with indoor or outdoor spa tubs, wood-burning fireplaces, leather furniture, wooden ceilings, king-size beds and majestic views of the surf or mountains. The two-year-old Cliff Houses, Peak Houses and Pacific Suites on the south end of the property feature reclaimed lumber, floor-to-ceiling windows and in the case of the Peak Houses, cantilevered terraces. Many of the lodgings are feel very private. It’s as if you have the sprawling land all to yourself. The ranch’s commitment to preserving the area’s environment—using natural and earth-friendly building materials, reducing wattage lighting, protecting rare and endangered species—ensures that said environment isn’t damaged for the sake of luxury.
The Post Ranch Inn never pressures you into participating in activities but offers several choices throughout the day if you somehow feel the view from your terrace isn’t satisfying enough. During the day, guides lead guests on nature walks through the redwood and oak forest and during the evening, the hotel’s resident astronomer teaches guests about the cosmos; the electronic telescope lets you see the night sky in all its brilliant glory. The Inn is also a short drive from many of the central coast wineries.
Sierra Mar, the hotel’s restaurant, has won accolades in numerous publications including Food & Wine. And tasting the four-course organic menu, one can readily see why. Grilled rib eye with gratin dauphinois delights the senses as does the extensive wine list featuring California’s best varietals.
Because of Big Sur’s popularity, lodging options are numerous and run the gamut from small inns to bigger establishments but the Post Ranch Inn offers a chance to stay in a naturally luxurious environment.
—Shandana A. Durrani