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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 …

Winter Palace or Winter Pavillon, Luxor?


We passed through Luxor for a night  to see the Karnak and Luxor temples. The next day we quickly decamping to the luxurious Al  Moudira on the West Bank. From here we spent several days exploring  the Theban necropolis, including the Valley of the Kings, Nobles and Workers, Medinet Habu and Hatshepsut's mortuary temple.


With only one night in Luxor I was tempted to book the Winter Palace, an historic Sofitel property built (like the Old Cataract in Aswan) for the golden age of "Grand Tour" travelers.  It is a charming, historic and  characterful hotel in a lovely location on the corniche near  Luxor temple. However, while the Sofitel's sister property, the Old Cataract , received an extensive  refurbishment, the Winter Palace remains rather frayed around the edges. Consequently we opted for the Pavillion Winter Luxor  a modern wing built in the extensive gardens and managed by the same Sofitel team. 
I'm often ambivalent about  modern additions to historic hotels. I didn't like the Victory Annex at the E&O in Penang and the modern wing at the Old Cataract is an architectural monstrosity. However, I quite liked the Pavillion Winter Luxor which I would recommend. Unlike the others mentioned, the Pavillion Winter Luxor is located across the garden from the main hotel and it is far enough away not to compete or overshadow the historic structure. here you can see the large balconies on every room.
 The rooms are adequate, but nothing special. However, I was impressed by the staff.
The key reason for my recommendation is price.  In contrast to the beautifully refurbished,  and fabulously glamorous, Old Cataract  the rather charitably "faded"  Winter Palace seems expensive. But at one third of the cost - and with access to all the amenities,- the  Pavillion Winter Luxor  is a great value. When Sofitel  refurbishes  the Winter Palace it would certainly be my first choice, but the down turn in tourism seems to have delayed  their plans.








You can see the hotel's antique charm above, below is the back terrace, overlooking the gardens. I love the red carpet, we can all be VIPs!

The rear view of theWinter Palace taken from the gardens, see below.  
This is a very elegant property and we enjoyed a drink on the terrace over looking the corniche at sunset. The elderly waiter was excellent and I was quite partial to the Egyptian Grand Marquis rose!
The location of the hotel is fantastic, it's within walking distance of Luxor Temple. Or you can  take a caleche around town, there are lots of drivers nearby. We took one back from the temple, mainly because it seemed they had so little work. Some of the animals look quite thin but others were very well looked after as you can see below. Pick a nice looking horse and take a ride, the drivers need to make enough money to feed both the horse and their families.

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