From any direction, the drive to Big Sur is at once stunning and stressful, awe-inspiring and nauseating. Hairpin turns seem to punctuate every panorama, and as Highway 1 dips toward the Pacific and soars skyward, your stomach bounces along with it.
But when you leave the winding road for another, steeper, shorter street that runs up the side of Big Sur's highest hill to the Ventana Inn & Spa, a sense of calm sweeps over you. Perhaps it's the pungent scent of cedar that pervades the resort, or maybe it's the glass of wine you're given at check-in. Either way, the relaxation begins as soon as you arrive on the property.
And there's a lot to see. Though Ventana's 60 rooms and suites mostly resemble humble cabins on the outside, their interiors contain a mix of rustic and modern luxuries sure to please any vacationer. Each room comes with a view of valley, mountain, ocean, or all of the above. A private balcony or patio is also standard, as are real wood-burning fireplaces, heated stone floors, Egyptian cotton sheets, terry cloth robes, and of course, a flat-screen television. Many suites also boast private hot tubs.