February 17, 2016
Photos courtesy of
Having never been to Central Coast California before, I had visions of sun-kissed rolling hills and foggy coastline.
My expectations were exceeded after a scenic 20-minute drive from Monterey Airport and upon arriving at Carmel Valley Ranch. This gated, all-suite resort would make a unique and relaxing backdrop to any destination wedding. The stunning 500 acres include lavender fields, extensive hiking trails, a hillside vineyard, organic gardens and a plush golf course.
Spend the days leading up to your wedding in a retreat-like atmosphere with lots of optional fitness activities and interesting, informative classes (i.e. how to make lavender essential oil). The resort fee includes most activities, so you can relax about keeping your loved ones busy. Because the resort backs up to a nature preserve, privacy is virtually guaranteed and the expansive views are hard to beat.
Less foggy than the well-known Carmel-by-the-Sea, take advantage of the warm, sunny California weather by hosting your ceremony and/or reception outdoors. There are a vast array of venue options ranging from the property’s organic garden and vineyard lawn, to the towering Clubhouse and the River Ranch’s apple orchard dating back to the early 1800s. Carmel Valley Ranch can accommodate weddings for up to 600 guests and has some of the strongest indoor-venue options we’ve seen.
Every guest will leave feeling special and satisfied thanks to the luxe accommodations and stellar service. Every suite features an expansive patio and the new “treetop” suites offer even more privacy thanks to the oak grove setting. Lovely fireplaces and comfortable living rooms will make for cozy nights in after the sun goes down.
Dining at the Lodge Restaurant is a real pleasure since Executive Chef Tim Wood takes advantage of the verdant valley setting by cooking with local, organic ingredients. The menu changes according to the fresh catch-of-the-day and what’s available in the resort’s own garden.
Carmel Valley Ranch is one of those wonderful places where you can do as much – or as little – as you want. Whether you partake in all the activities the resort offers or not, it’s virtually guaranteed you and your guests will leave this peaceful place feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and just plain happy.
This article first appeared in Destination I Do’s Spring/Summer 2015 issue. You can order a copy here.