The past weekend Ian and I went on a staycation at Carmel Valley, about 2.5 hours south of San Francisco. Carmel Valley is the inland, lesser-known cousin of Carmel by the Sea, popular for its coastal views. I came across this San Franciscan getaway on New York Times and PureWow, and decided to book a night’s stay at the newly renovated Bernardus Lodge. [Tip: they have a two-night stay minimum on weekends when the weather starts to get warmer, around end of March. We were able to snag an one night weekend stay just as it ended.]
The drive down to Carmel Valley was very pleasant. The hills were an amazing shade of green, probably from the past few weeks’ heavy rainfall.
Upon check in, the front desk cheerfully told us that we’ve been upgraded from a Garden Room to the Premium St. Lucia (woohoo!), and first round of drinks and snacks are complimentary (and already in our room!).
The hotel has a spa, small gym, bocce & croquet courts, tennis courts, heated pool, and adults only infinity jacuzzi. I think the coolest perk is that they partnered up with Mercedes Benz, and you can take the SL 550 convertible or 450 GL SUV for a 4 hour spin (with no supervision!). The drive around Carmel Valley is very scenic, and you’ll also have enough time to drive it to the Carmel coastline!
We chose the SL 550 and drove it up and down the winding roads of Camel Valley, ending up at the main village. The village has a bunch of wineries and tasting rooms within walking distance of each other, which makes it much more convenient than Napa. We got there a bit late (most of the tasting rooms close at 5pm), and walked into Georis Winery which closes later at 6pm.
Georis Winery has a picturesque garden full of blooming flowers. We picked the $20 estate flight. They’re known for Rosé and the server was kind enough to pour us a splash of the newest release, which is darker than typical bottles. I usually am not a fan of Rosé but this one was very dry and piqued my interest. In our flight we had a red blend, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (from left to right). My favorite was the 2013 CabSav which went down very smooth.
We left as Georis was closing for dinner at Valley Kitchen, located within Carmel Valley Ranch. We weren’t very hungry, so just ordered a light fare of artichoke salad, poke, and foie gras (ok the last one is not exactly “light”, but it’s a small dish!). Everything was so delicious. Next to the pool, there’s also a complimentary s’mores bar that guests can enjoy after dinner.
The next morning I woke up early to join yoga class at 9am. It was held under the poolside cabana and got a bit chilly for me. I jumped into the infinity jacuzzi right after class. We decided to borrow the Benz convertible again before leaving, and drove back to the village for more wine tasting.
[Tip: the resort fee at Bernardus Lodge includes parking, free wifi and a complimentary tasting for two at Bernardus Winery & Tasting room, just a 5 minute drive away. Make sure to bring this up during check in/out so they give you a tasting pass, otherwise they won’t mention it.]
We stopped at Parsonage Winery and Bernardus Winery. My favorite from both tastings is the Bernardus Winery 2015 Chardonnay. To be honest, I do think wines from Napa Valley taste better overall than those produced at Carmel Valley.
Overall it was a great and relaxing stay at Bernardus Lodge. It is also a beautiful location for weddings, and there was one being held in the resort while we were there. Let me know if you have a favorite staycation spot in the bay area!