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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 …

Royal Pita Maha - Ubud, Bali

I've wanted to stay at Royal Pita Maha since I first visited  it  on our second trip to Bali about ten years ago. It's an unforgettable place. Owned by the royal family in Ubud it's built into the perfect spot along the Agung river valley. It's unlike any of the other upscale hotels in Ubud, yes it's luxurious, it has the spa and the private villas with their own pools but it's just so distinctive and incredibly Balinese. The aesthetic detail is overwhelming, decorative and expressive throughout. 

The landscaping is extraordinarily beautiful with pathways, foliage, flowers,pools, vistas and carvings everywhere you look.
There is a meandering manmade lagoon which you can swim in  and even a sacred pool down at the bottom of the valley near the healing villas. Because each room comes with it's own  swimming pool and many of the guests seem to be Japanese and Korean honeymooners who stay are either in their rooms or out sightseeing, these beautiful public pools are often deserted.
There are hibiscus everywhere, even the elevators are elegant and decorated daily! 
Because the hotel is built into the steep hillside of the Ayung river gorge, there are a series of elevators that take you down from the reception to the  river floor. There is a lot of walking so the riverside villas are not for everyone.

I could go on and on but I think the photographs speak for themselves. Here is the view from the restaurant where we had breakfast daily. because most people stay closer to the reception they use the main restaurant and we often had the riverside restaurant to ourselves. The yoga pavilion has the same view, fabulous.
Also down at the riverside is the magnificent Holy Pool. As you can see it's beautifully decorated and offerings are laid out daily.
This has to be one of the most beautiful places I have swum in and it has a very spiritual feeling. There was never anyone else around.
 I've reviewed the rooms in a separate post,  Royal Pita Maha - Ayung Healing Villa or Deluxe Pool Villa but as you can see the private pools are very large.
There are some drawbacks, the service isn't as polished as it could be and we weren't terribly impressed with the food. However, the staff are very accommodating and the tranquil, restful environment is fabulous. I booked through Orbitz using a coupon and felt that it was great value for money at just over $300 per night.

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