You will encounter some of the country’s most breathtaking scenery along California’s Central Coast, home to jagged cliffs, rocky coastlines, verdant wineries and glimmering waters. Amid all of this natural beauty lies Bernardus Lodge & Spa, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star property that alone is worth a trip to the area. As the hotel celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, we share what we love most about the Carmel Valley resort.
Monterey County boasts stunning seaside views; colorful, charming neighborhoods; and gorgeous country vineyards. And Bernardus Lodge & Spa is conveniently at the center of all these must-visit attractions.
Although it’s only nine miles away from the Pacific Ocean, Carmel Valley can be significantly warmer than its coastal counterpart, Carmel-by-the-Sea. If lounging poolside is on your itinerary, Bernardus Lodge is the best place to do it because of its higher valley temperatures. Not to mention the array of wineries, hiking trails and top-notch restaurants that are all close to the hotel.
Want to travel in style? Thanks to a partnership with Mercedes-Benz, you can reserve one of the resort’s five sleek cars for up to four hours at a time. You’re just one front desk stop away from cruising through wine country.
You don’t have to book a treatment to indulge in The Spa at Bernardus Lodge’s sumptuous facilities — the serene retreat is open to all hotel guests.
This means you can enjoy the lovely relaxation lounge, heated pool (it never drops below 100 degrees Fahrenheit), eucalyptus steam room and dry sauna any time during your stay.
If you are in the mood for some pampering, Bernardus offers a wide variety of services, from rejuvenating wraps to hydrating facials. One of the spa’s latest offerings, A Walk on the Beach starts with an invigorating foot scrub and ends with a lyrical Hawaiian lomi lomi-inspired massage.
Chef Cal Stamenov
For the past 20 years, chef Cal Stamenov has overseen the kitchens at the luxury resort. He is a well-respected figure in Carmel and known for his farm-to-table cuisine with a sophisticated French spin.
At Bernardus’ signature Four-Star dining room, Lucia Restaurant & Bar, Stamenov serves updated California classics like Dungeness crab cakes, citrus and avocado salad, and well-cooked fresh fish. Those who prefer turf over surf can savor dishes like thick, juicy pork chops served with melt-in-your-mouth goat cheese polenta and delicious saucy mushrooms.
Lucia also is open for breakfast and lunch with the adjacent bar serving snacks (fried Brussels sprouts, brick-oven pizzas, Caesar salad) all day long. Even if you don’t dine at Lucia, you can sample Stamenov’s talents in a tasty welcome amenity: spicy red pepper hummus with slices of crisp toasted baguette.
Bernardus sits on 28 acres of Carmel Valley, and every inch is impeccably landscaped. Everywhere you look, you’re greeted by gorgeous gardens, fragrant lavender, trim hedges and grand trees — even the walk from the parking lot is scenic, thanks to a small pond surrounded by manicured green lawns.
Two acres are dedicated to Stamenov’s culinary garden. On Saturdays, you can meet the talented toque among his prized produce, where he’ll give you a personalized tour of the impressive vegetables and fruit trees.
Indoor/outdoor living is the name of the game at this Four-Star resort, where every amenity helps you make the most of Carmel Valley’s swoon-worthy surroundings. Of course, the pool, hot tub and adults-only infinity Jacuzzi provide picture-perfect views, as do a bocce and croquet court that doubles as a putting green.
Even the accommodations take advantage of those Santa Lucia Mountain vistas. Some rooms have private outdoor showers, a soaking tub for two and back patios, while bathrooms are stocked with fragrant soap made from lavender harvested from the resort’s gardens.
For those chilly nights, guest rooms are equipped electric fireplaces, heated bathroom floors and plush Frette bedding. Fire pits and Adirondack chairs dot the property, providing inviting spots to stargaze.