In this edition of Featured Journeys, we're going on a luxury road trip along California's iconic Highway One. Set along the coastline, and extending over 600 miles, this picturesque route is one of the most famous driving routes in the world. We recommend starting your journey in San Francisco then heading south to Monterey, Santa Barbara, and Laguna Beach. Please note: Due to winter storms, part of Highway One is closed. It is set to reopen mid-April, but please check on the status of road closures before planning your trip.
The journey begins in San Francisco. Offering an international airport with gateways around the world, begin your road trip here, spending a few days exploring what the city has to offer, then continue on down the coast. Known as the "City by the Bay" this iconic locale is home of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, Lombardi Street, and Alcatraz. Ride the cable cars, tour a Victorian mansion, take in the views at Golden Gate Park, and sample some authentic flavors in Chinatown. Editor's note: From April to September, the San Francisco Giants play in the heart of the city at AT&T Park, an ideal place to try some regional cuisine while taking in a ballgame with stellar views of the city.
Here are a few of our top San Francisco hotels:
Set atop Nob Hill, the Fairmont San Francisco is a landmark hotel with an iconic setting, that sits at the only point in San Francisco where each of the city's cable car lines meet. Known for its grandeur and reputation for impeccable service, the grand property has a Penthouse Suite that spans the entire eight floor of the historic Main Building. Guest rooms blend historic charm with modern elegance, and there is the famous Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar, offering Pacific Rim Asian Cuisine and a Tiki-style setting where thunder and rain storms occur as part of the entertainment. Planning this trip with a family or group? The Fairmont offers a Double Queen with a pull-out sofa bed.
Check rates at the Fairmont San Francisco
Occupying an entire city block in downtown, the Palace Hotel was built in the Golden Age of Travel. The 1909 Beaux-Arts property greets guests with wrought iron filigree work, gold leaf embellishment, and angels over every doorway. Once inside, there are marble floors, coved ceilings, and soaring archways. Recently renovated guest rooms and suites feature historic details, mixed with modern amenities and furnishings in plum, charcoal, and dove grey. There are three famous restaurants: The Garden Court, GC Lounge, and the Pied Piper, plus an indoor sky-lit swimming pool, and 24-hour fitness center.
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Two blocks from Union Square's famed shopping district, the Four Seasons San Francisco offers a centralized SoMa location on Market Street across from Yerba Buena Gardens. Featuring modern decor with a neutral color palette, guest rooms have a residential feel with floor-to-ceiling windows providing city views, spacious marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, and glass-enclosed showers. There's an on-site spa, children's amenities, a 75-foot indoor lap pool for adults at the adjoining Equinox Sports Club, and the MKT Restaurant.
Check rates and availability at Four Seasons San Francisco
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About two hours south of downtown San Francisco, Monterey is a historic fishing town. Today, the famous Cannery Row is home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, art studios, boutiques, and restaurants. Close to Big Sur, Carmel-by-the Sea, and Pebble Beach, the picturesque area offers a variety of luxury lodging, as well as golf, upscale shopping, vineyards, and opportunities to see local wildlife including whales, sea otters, seals, and sea lions. Be sure to go along the 17-mile drive for some of the best scenery and to visit our first featured luxury hotel in the Monterey area.
Here are a few of our top Monterey hotels:
Set at the 18th green of the Pebble Beach Golf Links, The Lodge at Pebble Beach provides an oceanside setting. Guest rooms feature views of golf course and sea, along with wood burning fireplaces, patios or balconies, and marble bathrooms. In addition to the Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Spa at Pebble Beach is a recipient of the Forbes Five-Star Award, there are multiple award-winning dining options, a retail arcade with a variety of shops, and guests have access to the Beach & Tennis Club--Monterey Peninsula's private club.
Learn more about The Lodge at Pebble Beach
Set along Highway One in Big Sur, the Post Ranch Inn is a modern retreat blending rustic elegance with luxury and comfort. Perched along the coastline (ideal for seasonal whale watching), the adults-only property is designed for guests to reconnect with nature and travel partners, so guest rooms do not have TVs or alarm clocks. There is a heated outdoor pool, fitness center, and two heated whirlpools overlooking the sea, plus the award-winning Sierra Mar restaurant. Amenities include daily gourmet breakfast, morning yoga, art walks, star gazing, edible tours of the chef's garden, and culinary walks. Please note: this property is currently closed until mid-April 2017, due to weather-related road repairs.
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Perched along the Big Sur coastline amidst 243 acres of redwoods, meadows, and ridges, the Ventana Inn & Spa features a rustic, yet refined atmosphere with a spa, two outdoor swimming pools--including one clothing-optional pool, daily yoga classes, hour-long guided property walks, and afternoon wine and cheese receptions. The Restaurant at Ventana is set within an upscale environment with an eclectic menu featuring locally sourced ingredients, and a patio overlooking 50 miles of coastline. For creatives, the property offers "Art and Seekers" programs such as photography hikes, mandala coloring for couples, and block printing. Accommodation options include guest rooms, suites, the Cottage House, and new in 2017, the Redwood Retreats providing an upscale glamping experience.
Learn more about the Ventana Inn & Spa
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Considered the American Riviera, Santa Barbara has a Mediterranean-like climate, along with cool ocean breezes and sandy beaches. Set between the Pacific Ocean and Santa Ynez Mountains, the city is known for stucco buildings with red-tile roofs, palm trees, boutiques along State Street, and waterfront dining. For families, there's the Santa Barbara Zoo, art enthusiasts can see works by Matisse and early 20th century French and American artists at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and the Santa Ynez Valley is known for pinot noir, chardonnay, and Syrah vintages. The Santa Barbara Harbor is ideal for kayaking, sailing, and boating, and Arroyo Burro Beach County Park offers waves ideal for surfing and bodysurfing.
Here are a few of our top Santa Barbara hotels:
Situated along 78 acres of oceanfront property in Santa Barbara, Bacara Resort & Spa offers 358 newly renovated guest rooms and suites. The full-service resort has an array of family-friendly amenities, including beach activities, infinity-edge pools, on-site hiking trails, and a seasonal kids' club. The Spa at Bacara is a 42,000-square-foot spa and wellness center with HydraFacial services, rooftop terrace, adults-only pool, wellness classes, redwood sauna, Jacuzzi, eucalyptus steam room, and fireside lounge areas. There's also the new Angel Oak oceanfront restaurant, lighted tennis courts, and the Sandpiper Golf Club is adjacent to the resort.
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Nestled amongst 22 acres of lush gardens and foliage, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara is steps away from beaches with private bungalows and terraces overlooking the Channel Islands and Pacific Ocean. Featuring Spanish-inspired architecture and accenting the casually sophisticated California lifestyle, the property offers the exclusive Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club (for select room categories, award-winning spa designed by Peter Marino, Jose Eber salon, three tennis courts, and two outdoor swimming pools. Guests also receive access to the members only Montecito Country Club, and there are bicycle rentals, and Kids for All Seasons programs.
Learn more about the Four Seasons Santa Barbara Biltmore
An iconic landmark since the 1920s, Belmond El Encanto is set within California Craftsman and Spanish Revival bungalows. Perched above the city amongst hills and lush gardens with panoramic views of the town and ocean, the property has a zero-edge pool, seven-acre garden, and a spa. There's a fitness center and studio with a variety of clases, plus bicycles for use, and a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter to shuttle guests around the nearby area.
Check rates and availability at Belmond El Encanto
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Our luxury road trip ends in Laguna Beach. Situated in Orange County, about half way between Los Angeles and San Diego, this coastal city is known for its seven-mile stretch of sand with surfing, art boutiques, and basking on the beach. During the annual grey whale migration (March to May), Laguna Beach provides an ideal vantage point for watching these gentle giants. While art enthusiasts will find plenty to enjoy including the Laguna Art-A-Fair featuring local and national artists, open daily from June 30 to September 3, 2017, and art classes offered year-round at the Sawdust.
Here are a few of our top Laguna Beach hotels:
Perched on a hillside, the Monarch Beach Resort features a family-friendly beachside setting in Dana Point, Orange County. Following a two year, $40 million transformation, the resort exemplifies the California Coastal lifestyle with a Miraval Life in Balance Spa, five gourmet restaurants including Michael Mina's Stonehill Tavern, and a championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Accommodations feature ocean-inspired color palattes with a coastal feel, and there's an expansive multi-level pool complex which includes a Family Pool with splash zone, the adults-only Monarch Pool, and a second level dedicated to sunning and lounging with cabanas and firepits. There's also a private beach club with water-related activities, paddle boarding, trail hikes, and surf lessons led by the resort's Surf Host.
Learn more about the Monarch Beach Resort
Set halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego along the coast of Dana Point, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel provides a luxurious surfside retreat. Perched atop a 150-foot bluff above Salt Creek Beach, the property offers cascading views of the Pacific Ocean. There's California Coastal cuisine, a spa focused on the essential elements from the ocean, and a variety of adventures including surfing experiences, basketball, Ping Pong, two tennis courts, and two swimming pools. There's also an Eco-Adventure Center with expert naturalist-led programs for adults, families, and children, along with the Ritz Kids programs with activities for young travelers.
Check rates and availability at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
Perched atop a coastal bluff, Montage Laguna Beach is a luxury resort featuring craftsman-style architecture and an idyllic SoCal setting. In the midst of the city's preeminent artist colony, the resort offers a collection of museum-quality works of art, plus two outdoor pools, and gourmet dining at Studio, The Loft, or Mosaic Bar and Grille. Situated within 30 acres of oceanfront property, there's a 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage with panoramic Pacific views, ocean air whirlpools, fireplace lounges, redwood saunas, lap pool, movement studio, and eucalyptus steam rooms.
Learn more about Montage Resort and Spa
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