Luxury Hotels Monterey Peninsula wine and wineries

Six local 2014 Conde Nast Gold list hotels in Monterey County, California

Monterey Peninsula locals know that the ATT National Pro-Am often coincides with a February winter storm blowing in from the Pacific. This week has brought the most significant rainfall to Central Coast California since 2012 to help with the drought conditions and interfere with the golf conditions.

This week’s storm is bringing more than one inch and less than two inches of rain during this year’s 7-day golf event concluding tomorrow.

Conde Nast Traveler 2014 Gold List of Top 200 USA Hotels

Conde Nast published their 2014 Gold List for the top 200 hotels in the USA last month based on 80,000 Readers’ Choice survey entries. Six hotels along the central coast region of Monterey County made the list. All three hotels in Pebble Beach are 2014 Gold. Only one hotel in the big city made this year’s list, St. Regis San Francisco.

Room rates at these six Monterey area hotels make St. Regis San Francisco look like a bargain most of the time.

Monterey Peninsula and Big Sur area are weekend destinations for potentially 30 million Californians within an easy day’s drive. Weekend hotel rates are higher on weekends and even double at many of the midscale properties found around the city of Monterey. Carmel has several quaint hotels in the small coastal town in the pine forest. 

San Francisco is reverse for downtown hotels with weekend rates often lower than midweek business day rates. This makes it preferable to come to Monterey from San Francisco during the midweek when hotel rates and crowds are lowest.

Conde Nast Traveler readers selected six standout hotels making the 2014 Gold List of the best 200 hotels in the USA with Pebble Beach offering three properties within five miles of Monterey, one hotel in Carmel Valley about 12 miles inland and two hotels with sweeping vistas in Big Sur, 30 miles south of Monterey.

Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley


Bernardus Lodge is located about 12 miles inland from the coastal town of Carmel. Local activities include horseback riding or hiking in the hills and wine tasting in the nearby Village and vineyards along Carmel Valley Road. This is a resort where the summer months will likely see temperatures in the mid 80s at times when the beach town of Carmel is colored by gray fog.

Bernardus Lodge has its own vineyards, hotel rooms surrounding a large central lawn with outdoor pool and a relaxing location just outside small Carmel Valley Village.


Bernardus Lodge pool.

Conde Nast ratings give this hotel the lowest marks for location and highest marks for service and rooms. The rural location is what makes this luxury hotel unique for the area, in my opinion. You can visit the Monterey Peninsula wine tasting rooms on Cannery Row in Monterey or downtown Carmel, or you can be in the wine growing region of Carmel Valley Village where there are more wine tasting rooms and actual vineyards on the Carmel Valley Road leading to the Salinas Valley vineyards 40 miles southeast through the Santa Lucia coast range.

Carmel Valley Village is the last town before miles of Santa Lucia mountain wilderness.

Bernardus Lodge Rates Monday, May 5 – Thursday, May 8, 2014.

Premium Room 525 s.f. in different locations from Garden, Croquet, Santa Lucia view. $341 to $386 prepaid, nonrefundable.

Luxury rooms 625 s.f. $454 per night prepaid, nonrefundable.

Luxury Spa Room 675 s.f. $544 per night prepaid, nonrefundable.

Best Flexible Rates run $455 to $725 with one night penalty for cancellations within 7 days of arrival.

CN Traveler 2014 Gold List Bernardus Lodge link.

Bernardus Lodge website.


Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur

The location of Post Ranch Inn on the coastal hilltop of Big Sur some 1,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean gets an astounding 97.4 rating on CN Traveler’s Gold List.

  • 39 rooms
  • May 5-8, 2014 sample rates for a 3-night stay.
  • Tree House $1,150 per night = $1,450 per night = $3,818 after tax.
  • Upper floor Coast House duplex $1,450 per night = $4,813 after tax.
  • Ocean House $1,975 per night = $6,553 after tax.
  • Lower Pacific Suite (960 s.f.) $2,175 per night = $7,216 after tax.

The starting price for rooms is nearly $1,000 per night in the off-season and places this property out of reach for most travelers. Here is my local’s tip for experiencing Post Ranch Inn. There are public tours of a small portion of the property on weekday afternoons. This allows you the opportunity to get inside the Sierra Mar restaurant and bar on the cliff’s edge for a meal or drinks.

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Cliff House room and ocean view at Post Ranch Inn.

The photo used for my Boarding Area blog posts is one of the hot tubs at Post Ranch Inn.

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Post Ranch Inn generally ranks in the top five, if not first place, for most romantic hotel in the USA.

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Outdoor swimming pool on the expansive grounds of Post Ranch Inn. Walking around these art-covered grounds is a relaxing day.

CN Traveler 2014 Gold List Post Ranch Inn link.

Post Ranch Inn hotel website.


Ventana Inn, Big Sur

The road to Ventana Inn on the inland side of Highway 1 is directly opposite the road to Post Ranch Inn on the ocean side.

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View of Big Sur coastline from the Ventana Inn road.

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View of the Big Sur valley from Ventana Inn property.

In May 2012, I was walking on a dirt trail through the woods from the restaurant to the lodging area on the 243-acres of hotel property grounds when I encountered a small bobcat about 50 yards away. We checked each other out for a minute or two. Ventana Inn holds that special memory for me of a hotel property on the edge of the Santa Lucia wilderness.

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Ventana Inn has 60 rooms in a comfortable laid-back environment. The ocean views of Post Ranch Inn are not the leading role at Ventana Inn where the lodge is set back from the ocean vista.

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View from near Ventana Inn restaurant.

May 5-8, 2014 room rates: AAA/Senior rates. Rates below are 10% discount to Best Flexible Rates.

  • Ventana Room 414 s.f. $540 per night ($1,896 total for 3-night stay)
  • Ventana Fireplace room 471 s.f. $621 per night ($2,165)
  • Superior Fireplace Room 480 s.f. $648 ($2,255)
  • Big Sur Suite 619 sf. $702 ($2,434)
  • Pacific House room 634 sf $1,161 ($3,956)
  • Big Sur Villa 930 to 1,200 sf.  $1,215 ($4,136)

Ventana Inn website.

CN Traveler 2014 Gold List Ventana Inn, Big Sur.


Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach has locational beauty with its southern Monterey Peninsula golf course and private housing estate setting amidst rare native Monterey cypress and Monterey pine forests. Pebble Beach is an exclusive private gated community letting visitors by car enter for a fee of $9.75.

The three hotels making the 2014   Conde Nast Traveler Gold List are

Pebble Beach Resorts will be covered in another post.


  • Vicente February 8, 2014

    Wow, those are a bit…. pricey.

  • Tina February 10, 2014

    Bernardus Lodge is a beautiful resort in a beautiful location. My husband and I spent 3 nights there in November 2013 to celebrate his birthday. Everything was perfect – the staff was friendly and professional, the room was spacious and charming, and the dinner at Marinus was an exceptional experience. We hope to return there again and again.

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