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Ventana - An Enchanting Resort in BIg Sur

Summary: I love Ventana. I highly recommend visiting  and exploring the landscape at Lime Kiln and Andrew Molera State Park which I've blogged about here. Please note this is #notsponsored . Yes, that means we paid our own bill! Lots of details in the following review. including a Post Ranch vs Ventana comparison.  Can you tell there's something exciting beyond this beautiful gate? There's something special about Big Sur, a magic in the light, the presence of the Pacific, the cliffs, beaches, redwood forests and the murmur of the surf. It's one of my favorite places in California. I couldn't think of anywhere else I wanted to be to celebrate turning fifty, because it's a place where there's a sense of nature, space and light and a wide horizon. We've been to Big Sur many times and for a celebration there are two fantastic hotels vying for your attention. The exclusive, modern and very private, cliff top Post Ranch Inn and on the other side of the road the …

Sweetwater Gardens, Mendocino

One of the things I love about Mendocino is the smell. It's a combination of wood stove smoke, fresh sea air, fog and flowers. I think it's best enjoyed from a  hot tub and the one above is my favorite! I can't get excited about a  moulded plastic jacuzzi and I don't want to get in with my friends, but give me some privacy, an old fashioned wooden hot tub and some quiet and I'm a happy girl. If only I could have one in our garden
Sweetwater Gardens in Mendocino is a wonderful hot tub place which has expanded over the years and now offers a range of accommodation. But I love it for their combination room, an outdoor hot tub and sauna room which you can even rent overnight. Unfortunately they've put in a new infrared sauna which I didn't like on this visit, but luckily the gorgeous hot tub remains the same! 

Here's the entrance to Sweetwater, with the mild climate it's gorgeous here all year round. This is the laid back north coast, so if you're feeling relaxed you can try out the communal hot tub and meet lots of naked locals. There's an atmospheric water tower room, above the communal hot tub, but it's recommended solely for the open minded. You may need to watch out for the naked guy, who likes to borrow your deck, though it's technically private!
Lots of atmosphere and detail throughout
One of the water tower

Tip: Call them up to book in advance on the weekends or if you have a specific time in mind. If you're based in Oakland or Berkeley in the Bay Area, I recommend Piedmont Springs in the East Bay, which has a dreadful website but a similarly charming combination room with an outdoor tub and a sauna inside.