The Venta Big Sur is one of the most storied hotels in California, in perhaps the most picturesque region. But it's largely been inaccessible for anyone who isn't able to spend $2K per night on a hotel room. Luckily, that's changing. Ventana is part of Alila Hotels, which recently became part of the World of Hyatt program. In other words, the hotel is bookable on points.
While reward availability has been nearly impossible to find during COVID, when California residents are turning to more local properties for vacations, we were able to find nights with redemption availability in August. What's most spectacular about this redemption (30,000 Hyatt points) is that it's all inclusive; all food, non-alcoholic drinks, and activities are included as part of the rate. Given the value, we don't see that lasting for too long...
Ventana Big Sur is perched atop a hill in Big Sur, less than an hour south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. It's one of the only two luxury hotels in Big Sur offering spectacular views of California's most pristine coast. The hotel is so high up it feels as if it's floating above the clouds.
The hotel's famous sundial inspired its logo, which can be found around the resort. The hotel was originally founded in the 1970s, and its hippie, crunchy origins can be felt around the property.
The hotel usually offers warm Japanese baths, though these were closed during our stay.
All facilities have been meticulously revisited in order to work during the COVID era - e.g., gym equipment has been removed to allow for proper social distance.
While we've stayed in multiple types of rooms at Ventana, on this particular trip due to our Globalist status we were upgraded to the best category of suite in the resort, of which there are only two - a spa suite with a private outdoor patio & jacuzzi, and ocean view.
As we visited during COVID, the room was sealed with a safety seal, giving us peace of mind that the room hadn't been entered since being sanitized.
The suite had a gorgeous, woodsy feel - and even came with an eco-friendly sack of logs to be used in the fireplace.
Service & Restaurants
What makes this hotel a spectacular value is that its recent move to all-inclusive rates applies to points reservations too. This amounts to perhaps a $500-1,000 value per day in savings.
For our first meal we ordered a private picnic to a vista overlooking the ocean. The picnic came in a sealed basket.
The meal was relatively light but was the perfect mid-day snack.
We also tried out ordering from the menu by the pool. The menu offers a wide variety of meals and snacks, and the burger in particular was phenomenal.
For dinner, we visited the Sur House - Ventana's main restaurant, which has perhaps the best view at the hotel.
The restaurant serves a prix-fixe menu, where guests can choose among appetizers, entrees, and desserts, and free non-alcoholic beverages.
In the morning, we ordered breakfast to our room. It's also possible to order breakfast at the Sur House. Both options are fully included in the points reservation.
The service at Ventana Big Sur was phenomenal all around - one of the best-run hotels I've encountered in California. Most of the staff we came across had been at the hotel for years, and we even received a handwritten note and small token from one of the staff members who we saw a lot as we lounged by the pool. And in this COVID era, we were extremely impressed with how diligent the staff was about protecting the guests and themselves while on property.