A couple of weeks ago, I was in California for a work retreat and we were lucky enough to have rooms booked at the idyllic Bernardus Lodge & Spa in Carmel Valley. An easy escape from San Francisco, the lodge is set in the valley hills, about 2 hours’ drive south from SFO, and just 15 minutes from the coastal towns of Carmel and Monterey (the setting for the mini-series of Big Little Lies – for all the fans out there!).
The lodge’s 73 guest rooms are nestled among the property’s 28 acres of vineyards, orchards and gardens. And even the most basic room includes a sitting area, dining table, and fireplace. For larger groups or families, there is also the option to book larger suites or 2-bedroom villas. The furnishings evoke rustic California charm with a modern twist.
Around the Resort
Off the main patio, the Bernardus has a manicured lawn offering guests the opportunity to play bocce ball, croquet, or practice their putting.
Just a short walk from the game field, guests will find themselves immersed in a magical garden, growing flowers in addition to vegetables and herbs used by the kitchen. I was lucky enough to visit when the roses were in full bloom.
The Bernardus even has their own resident honeybees which produce local honey for guests to enjoy.
In the on-site restaurant and bar, guests can sample a variety of Bernardus wines made from grapes grown and harvested right on the property. Or, take a trip down the road to the Bernardus Winery for a more formal tasting.
Lucia Restaurant & Bar serves delicious farm-to-table cuisine with both indoor and outdoor seating options. As mentioned above, many of the vegetables and herbs are sourced directly from the on-site garden.
After dinner, guests can enjoy a glass of wine by the fire pit, adjacent to the pool.
Or take an early morning dip in the Bernardus pool.
And of course, no visit to a resort would be complete without a trip to the spa! Unfortunately I didn’t have time to visit the spa on my trip, but I heard wonderful things from other guests.
Outside the Grounds
Perhaps the most amazing amenity offered by Bernardus Lodge is the complimentary Mercedes that guests can ‘rent’ for a couple of hours. These cars are perfect for an afternoon exploring the Monterey Peninsula and the famed 17 mile drive.
Don’t miss the iconic ‘Lone Cypress’, thought to be almost 250 years old.
In keeping with the car theme, you can also book a lesson with the nearby Land Rover Driving School. One of three in the country, instructors will teach you off-roading techniques in top of the line Land Rover models.
And of course, California is full of wineries, so don’t miss sampling some wines in the Carmel region. My favorite was Folktale Winery which offers a very affordable wine tasting alongside curated cheese and charcuterie platters and live music in a comfortable outdoor setting.
The Carmel Valley is a perfect escape from city life and Bernardus Lodge & Spa is the ideal setting to unplug and relax for a few days.