The best hotels for wellness in Monterey, Big Sur and Carmel offer unique opportunities for restorative getaways, whether it’s treating yourself to spa treatments, practicing yoga on a picturesque hilltop or basking in a hot tub after a day of mindfulness and meditation. Their offerings of locally sourced food and wine can also have a rejuvenating effect.
Here are our Monterey Peninsula Wellness Hotel winners for 2022, selected by our editors — look for our readers’ choice winner, selected by our audience.
Featured Photo: Ventana Big Sur
It may have opened in 1999, but Bernardus Lodge & Spa radiates the charm of a centuries-old European country estate. A welcoming pool, a grid of tennis, bocce and croquet courts, and hikes in nearby Garland Park can help balance the irresistible dining at Lucia restaurant, where hyper-local cuisine has made it one of the best between Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara. A lovely day spa (popular with locals, too) offers comprehensive services with steam rooms, saunas and basking pools to deepen the relaxation. Its 73 villas, suites and guest rooms provide state-of-the-art technology and creature comforts ranging from couples’ soaking tubs to fireplaces to king-size feather beds with goose down comforters and Italian linens — part of why it’s on our list of best luxury hotels in the area.
HIGHLIGHT: Active vineyards cover much of the resort’s 28 acres, as do thousands of lavender bushes and a working chef’s garden, which also provide ingredients to many of the therapies offered at the day spa. Guided meditation or yoga sessions along with private hikes are also available.
Carmel Valley Ranch
Spread across 500 acres in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains, Carmel Valley Ranch has the space and the facilities for all kinds of wellness activities, starting with three different swimming pools, a hilltop yoga pavilion and an extensive fitness program that includes barre, circuit training and water yoga. The menu at Spa Aiyana features 10 different types of massage as well as other desirable treatments; a new program of “equine experiences” involves interacting with the ranch’s five horses for education and relaxation.
HIGHLIGHT: Cooking classes, beekeeping and foraging hikes are culinary highlights. Among the resort’s 181 rooms are a variety of woodsy-chic accommodations, many featuring fireplaces, private decks with deep soaking tubs, or both, for a true hideaway vibe. No wonder you’ll find it on our list of the region’s best hotels for romance, group getaways and luxury, too.
Founded in 1962 and named for the Esselen tribe that first populated this remote stretch of Big Sur, Esalen Institute (widely known as just Esalen) is as famous for its clothing-optional, oceanside hot spring baths as it is for its workshops addressing body, mind, soul and society. Its unique collection of woodsy accommodations — from humble rooms for your sleeping bag to high-end oceanfront houses — come with three healthful, delicious meals a day in the handsome lodge and access to other amenities. With or without workshops, lodging packages are available for five-day/four-night or three-day/two-night stays.
HIGHLIGHT: Besides the natural 119-degree hot tubs (communal and solo options available), the 100-acre coastal campus has an art barn, meditation hut and swimming pool. The 4-acre organic farm and garden helps ensure the freshest of ingredients on the thrice-daily gluten-free buffet, featuring vegan and omnivore options. Although you don’t have to take a workshop for stays on selected dates throughout the year, those who do will find leaders and instructors renowned in their fields.
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa
The full name of the recently renovated Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa on Del Monte Golf Course emphasizes one part of its appeal: It overlooks the oldest continually operated golf course west of the Mississippi, whose first nine holes opened in 1897. Although Pebble Beach Resorts operates the historic course, guests at the Hyatt Regency have easy access to it, plus two heated outdoor pools, tennis courts, a new 3,000-square-foot fitness center, walking paths, a hammock garden and outdoor lounge with fire pits. Wellness devotees will enjoy one of the region’s top spas at family-owned Spa Adeline.
HIGHLIGHT: The hotel’s new Central Coast Provisions market and signature dining spot, Sea Root Restaurant and Hearth, showcase the region’s bounty from land and sea. The 560 redesigned guestrooms and suites come in all kinds of configurations, with some of the more affordable rates among top hotels in the area. Just off Highway 1, it’s a short bike ride to the oceanside Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail.
Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa
If your ideal wellness getaway involves spa treatments in a spectacular setting, then Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa should be on your list. On the quiet end of Cannery Row, but close to everything, the upscale hotel offers 290 recently renovated rooms and suites. M Award-winning Vista Blue Spa provides panoramic views from a rooftop terrace with whirlpool spas, while the large, well-equipped fitness center overlooks Monterey Bay, The Monterey Bay Coastal Trail is nearby for easy access to cycling, running and walking. The regional cuisine at the fine-dining Coastal Kitchen and the lively, bay-view Schooners Monterey is excellent.
HIGHLIGHT: Many rooms feature dazzling Monterey Bay views and some have balconies so close to the water you might think you’re aboard a yacht — hence it’s also on our list of best hotels for waterfront hotels. Those looking for a hotel suited to group getaways will love the suites that feel residential-sized, with classic yet contemporary decor, as well the easy access to Cannery Row, Pacific Grove and Monterey.
Ventana Big Sur
**Readers’ choice 2023 winner
An ultra-luxurious compound on a wooded hillside just east of Highway One, Ventana Big Sur is a 160-acre oasis offering numerous activities to tempt guests outdoors and numerous amenities to lure them back inside. Hike through a redwood forest, then enjoy a couples’ massage in a private cabana or a soak in an infinity-edge hot tub, savor one of Big Sur’s most spectacular sunset settings at dinner, and end a glorious day with a traditional Japanese bath at the 24-hour hilltop pool before returning to your room. The 59 discreetly located rooms, suites and villas offer rustic-chic decor, high ceilings and, in some cases, fireplaces and private hot tubs. Adventurous couples can even opt for a comfy “glamping” tent cabin in the redwood canyon below. It’s deservedly on our list of the region’s top hotels for luxury and romance, too.
HIGHLIGHT: The fantastic regionally sourced restaurant, Sur House, is open only for guests at breakfast and dinner, when sunsets add a breathtaking glow to the ocean view. Rates include all meals, which you can also enjoy via room service, plus snacks and reusable water bottles to take on your excursions. You might never want to leave the two heated pools with stunning views, though.
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