Carmel Valley Ranch
What We Love
- Chef Tim Wood’s Valley Kitchen’s focus on local organic fare
- The full-service Spa Aiyana’s couples suites, complete with fireplaces
- The Pete Dye championship-level golf course is open year-round
What To Know
- Carmel Valley is very quiet, residential, and rural, so don’t expect local businesses to stay open late
- The resort is a 10-minute drive from Carmel-by-the-Sea
- Free WiFi
- Golf Course
- Handicap Accessible
- Kids Club
- Parking On Site
- Room Service
In the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains, this sprawling 500-acre Carmel Valley Ranch is an activity-filled resort offering world-class golf, clay-court tennis, mountaintop yoga, gourmet cooking classes, and a luxe spa. The wood swing hanging from the thick oak tree outside the main lodge sets the stage for a playful escape in this sun-drenched rural refuge where the Cali-chic look is pervasive and the access to the valley’s wineries, art galleries, and boutiques is unbeatable. Suites are spacious, with sloped ceilings, leather upholstery, fireplaces, private decks, and spa-like bathrooms. When John Pritzker, son of the late billionaire Hyatt founder, bought the 139-room Carmel Valley Ranch in 2009, the purchase and subsequent multimillion-dollar renovation caused quite a buzz—and not just because it added a 120,000-bee, honey-producing apiary to the grounds. The renowned Pete Dye–designed, championship-level course still anchors the resort to the valley, with its rolling fairways weaving through vineyards, lavender fields, and oak groves. There’s much more to do here than just golf, though: eight tennis courts, two state-of-the-art fitness centers, three salt-water swimming pools and an equestrian center. Opportunities to learn abound as well, whether working in the honey-producing apiary, harvesting herbs in the organic garden or taking cooking lessons with gourmet chefs. It’s all sure to work up your appetite for dinner at Valley Kitchen where Chef Tim Wood, local culinary darling and Bernardus Lodge alumnus, pairs hearty, hyperlocal seasonal cuisine with the best California vintages, including The Ranch’s own wines from its four-acre vineyard.
In the Area
In-the-know foodies make the winding 45-minute drive up the mountain to Cachuga Store on Monday nights for chef Michael Jones’s fresh, innovative fare and the always-convivial ambience. Winery-hop without the worry about getting behind the wheel with the Grapevine Express (24 Carmel Valley Transit bus) between Carmel Valley Village and Monterey Conference Center — an all day pass costs $8. Tip back whiskey, beer or locally made wine in a saloon scene straight out of the Wild Wild West at the Running Iron. For hiking and horseback riding, visit the 4,500-acre Garland Ranch Regional Park, 8.6 miles east of Highway 1 on Carmel Valley Road. Stop by the Farm Stand at Earthbound Farm for organic produce, ice cream, salad bar, bakery goods, flowers and cut-your-own herbs.
How to Get There
We really like this property, location, and service. The direct service from the front desk, bellman, housekeeping team, and restaurant staff was fantastic. The front desk staff is so knowledgable about the property and specific rooms. Room service staff was great. The spa staff was wonderful too. I really liked Anna!
Throughout the weekend, we kept finding empty glasses, dishes and trash left behind by other guests. Honestly, I think we found something left behind every time we were looking for a place to sit (by the adult pool, fire pits). While it is really unfortunate that people do not pick up after themselves, it would be nice if the staff did a sweep of the adult pool area and fire pits every half hour to pick up after folks. On more than one occasion, I watched staff members walk right by tables or mounds of towels that were ready to be removed.
It would be nice to have towels available at the adult pool. I didn't think to take my shower towel from my room.
The Bellman were fantastic. They were friendly and helpful. Some of them (and some the room attendants and management team) drive the golf carts way too fast. Please encourage them all to slow down. If a small child gets on the trail unexpectedly, they will not be able to avoid a collision without driving off the trail or rolling over. I really hope you can encourage them to be slower, safer, and avoid a collision that I'm sure none of them would ever want to have happen.
I spent a few hours at River Ranch on our Saturday afternoon. It was not very busy. There were about two tables of folks eating lunch. There were less than 10 people in the pool, a half dozen folks sitting near the pool. I counted 14 staff members at one point. They all seem like young adults, maybe high school students or recent graduates. There was one woman who seemed to be older than the others and possibly in a role of authority but she never addressed any of the issues that I am sharing. Some of the 14 were putting out towels or serving food. However, they did not pick up wet towels that had clearly been left behind by guests. They did not clear dirty dishes near the pool chairs - they walked right by. Again, I sat for about 2 hours watching these things be consistently overlooked while some of the 14 just stood around or milled around in pairs talking, laughing, flicking eachother. They looked like they were hanging out at the pool themselves, not like they were on the staff.
One thing I love about your place is the branding. I love the logo, the colors, and the quality of service that I associate with your brand is clear at check-in, at the restaurant, among the bellman and spa. Yet, at River Ranch -- all 14 staff were in similar but different uniforms - different colors, different styles; it seems like dark shoes are required while one staff had red shoes. A few staff were just wandering around from place to place, laughing, joking, throwing towels at each other. It did not seem like they were being supervised. I really love that you all are employing young people. It seems like they would benefit from clear expectations, additional training and accountability. They should be expected to clean up abandoned dishes and towels every hour or so. I couldn't understand why there were 14 people and so few of them, maybe 3, were seriously working -- one of them was ignoring the others and really hustling.
River Ranch did not feel like Carmel Valley Ranch to me at all. I hope you all can brand it to match the beauty, warth, and professionalism I experienced with the bellman, front desk staff, and spa staff.
This is a beautiful property with plenty of places to walk or hike among the oak trees, vineyard, and garden. We enjoyed the deer and turkey sightings. Our room was beautiful with an indoor/outdoor fireplace, Alexa, cappuccino machine and lots of room to relax on the balcony or in the cozy living room.
The service from the front desk, dining room staff, and spa staff was outstanding. They were well informed, courteous, and helpful. They brought blankets for us while we sat out by the fire. My manicure and pedicure experience was calm and relaxing complete with champagne and a cupcake. This was the best pedicure I have ever experienced -- the products are high quality and my polish never chipped or faded.
I really enjoyed sitting by the pool at River Ranch and the soap making class. I'm not a golfer so it was fun to have things to do that interest me.
This is a great place for folks with limited mobility as the staff provide shuttle or golf cart service to almost everywhere on property. My mom does not like to walk far distances so this service was really helpful. The Belllman drove us right to the door of our room.
The sunset dinner in the Organic Garden is perfect for families. It was so nice to be outside with live music. I liked walking among the flowers and visiting with the chickens and goats. I really enjoyed dinner with my son and we stayed for a long time visiting with our tablemates. Plus, it was so nice to watch families with little kids as they had lots of room to sit together or wander and play with each other and the oversized games; yet, they were safely within the garden.
We arrived and the service was great, we were taken to the room and the bell guys helped with all bags. We had a suite villa I think, the suit was really nice and had great views. The staff was really nice and helpful in explaining things to do in Carmel and the Hotel activities. I thought the hotel is quite unique and reminded of some UK luxury hotels. The cheese whisperer guy was really nice and his cheese is great. They buggy you around everywhere and our kids loved this. Food was really nice and the pool areas were great. The adult pool is very relaxing. All in all great hotel, great staff and great position.