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Posts from the ‘California’ Category

Bardessono Hotel ~ Yountville, CA

The Badessono Hotel is the crescendo of modernity, sustainability, and luxury. This LEED-Certified Platinum hotel is in the heart of Napa Valley where so many amazing and sustainable things happen. Surrounded by mountains, vineyards, and arguably the most nutrient rich land in our country, if not the world it only makes sense that something as gorgeous and remarkable as the Bardessono would exist.

As we drove up to the property, located small city center of Yountville, we knew it was going to be good, but we underestimated ourselves, it was better. The service from start to finish was virtually seamless and everyone was welcoming and gracious. We were greeted with a delicious glass of wine as we checked into the sleek and warm lobby’s reception. Our front-desk host gave us a quick and thorough tour of the property and all of its amenities as we made our way to our upstairs suite. The attentive and courteous bellman had all of our bags at our door before we made it in and I assure you the process wasn’t slow by any means. As I started thinking about how amazing the staff was it all started to make sense. How could you not love working at this incredibly green, luxurious hotel in the middle of wine country?

We walked into the entry our chic room with dark wood floors that split the bedroom and lounge from the large bathroom and dressing area.  As you made your way into the bedroom area a motion sensor started to raise external sun shades automatically and gave way to the beautiful view of the area that surrounded us.  This technology keeps the room cool and energy use down. The bed was drenched in soft white linens and looked out to a graciously sized private patio and the hills beyond.  The room also had a beautiful gas fireplace, flatscreen TV, desk with every hookup you could imagine, contemporary styled daybed, mini bar, among many other things.  The bathroom had a wardrobe dressing area that made most home closets look puny, a tub I could do laps in, a shower for 5, and a his and her vanity for primping.  The Bardessono smartly stocked the Ren skincare line for their toiletries in full sizes, so you’re sure to not run out ,as well as create less waste with a dozen mini bottles.

After we got settled we made our way to the rooftop pool that gave another fabulous view of the vistas that surround the valley.  The pool was well stocked with reusable water bottles, complimentary sunscreen, and a well stocked bar just in case you needed to quench your thirst with a glass of wine from a local vineyard.  It was a beautiful day to take a dip or sit in a lounge chair and drift off in the breeze and sound of their grasses swaying.

This property has it all.  Later that evening had friends over for a glass of wine and there was plenty of space to entertain in our room before dinner.  The next day we utilized the Bardessono’s complimentary bikes to take a tour through town and up to French Laundry’s spectacular gardens.  After we feasted on a late lunch at their onsite restaurant, Lucy, as well as took a stroll through the garden that supplies some of the produce for them.  The environmental thoughtfulness that you can see everywhere is beautiful and impressive.  This property not only has it all, but does it so very well.  We believe the only thing that went wrong during this trip, is that we only stayed one night.

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17 Mile Drive ~ Monterey Bay

We did a lot of amazing things, but I don’t know if any could rival 17 Mile Drive in Monterey Bay.  This legendary drive opened in 1881 and has widely been called the most scenic drives on the planet.  The road hugs the luscious Monterey peninsula and for a small toll, non-residents of Pebble Beach can view the gorgeous coastline, wildlife, and ocean.

We started at the entrance directly off Hwy 1 and twisted through the beautiful cypress trees on Huckleberry Hill and passed by Poppy Hills golf course and slowly made our  descent to the ocean below and the vistas of the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course.  Off of Bird Rock we saw hundreds of birds, but could also hear the sounds of large sea lions barking off the shore.   Turns out the sea lions are neighbors of the birds and were out basking in the sun on the giant adjacent boulder.  We continued down the road at a slow 5 MPH gasping at every turn and the unbelievable vistas, smells of the sea, and wildlife.  We saw everything from birds, seals, otters, sea lions.

The final stop was at the 150 year old Lone Cypress that is encased in a rock wall out on a point.  This is the image of Pebble Beach and has been named one of the “10 Most Magnificent Trees in the World” by World Amazing Events.  Living Aware, is going to go out on a ‘limb’ and name it our #1 Most Magnificent Trees.

The entire drive was spectacular.  All we could do was smile from all of the work that went into preserving the areas natural beauty that surrounded us.  If you haven’t been one of the 8 million tourists that have visited this site already, please go and support this pristine landscape.

The French Laundry Garden ~ Yountville, CA

Napa Valley attracts visitors year round for the spectacular vineyards and wine tastings. A must-see that may not be on everyone’s radar, but should be, is the very large and impressive garden for the world-renowned French Laundry restaurant. The garden is directly across from Thomas Keller’s establishment and is open to the public. The farm has everything from herbs to strawberries to chickens and brings ‘farm to table’ to a level above the rest. The garden is gorgeous and will inspire the most novice to start growing their own edibles.

The Boonville Hotel ~ Anderson Valley, CA

The Boonville Hotel is an unexpected jewel of simple luxury in the tiny town of Boonville in Anderson Valley, CA.  The 15 room modern roadhouse in the middle of wine country is beautifully and simply decorated without clutter and fussiness.   To quote from their mission, “our luxuries are the light, the space, the landscape. amenities are thoughtfully selected with an eye on natural materials and ingredients, ecological impact, and the pleasure they provide.” The surrounding gardens envelop the property in the most inviting and soothing way and are the perfect place to read a book, enjoy a glass of wine from the local vineyards.

Upon our arrival we were graciously greeted by the house operator despite the late hour and were shown to our room for the night in the main house.  Our space was a respectable size with a small sink in the room and giant tub in the bathroom.  The incredibly comfortable queen size bed was drowned in soft, fresh linens and provided a solid night of sleep.   Don’t be shocked that the rooms are without TVs, phones, and there is no guarantee for a strong internet connection, it is the peaceful pace of life and tranquility they offer.

We dined and devoured our dinner at table 128, their fabulous on site restaurant that serves a prix fixe menu family style with a farm to table philosophy.   It is no wonder that we cleaned our plates considering the chef, Johnny Schmitt was one of the former owners of the famous French Laundry.  The next morning we woke to a beautiful complimentary breakfast spread for guests of the hotel of hot coffee, yogurt, granola, and locally made jam the next morning that was simple and equally as mouth-watering, in the same space.

We perused the local shops and cafes up the main drag and couldn’t help, but fall in love with the entire town and the country pace and quality of life.  Without a doubt we will be back to enjoy all that Anderson Valley and the Boonville Hotel have to offer.

 

The Ambrose is a Rose and So Much More

We mastered executing another perfect last-minute trip to California in less than 24 hours.  The perfection was primarily due to our accommodations at the beautiful, simple, and LEED Certified hotel called The Ambrose.  We booked online the day before and arrived early the next morning.  We were greeted by a friendly face named, Matt, at the front desk that was full of helpful advice about the hotel, area, and some great breakfast spots (Snug Harbor, see You Are What You Eat) in walking distance.

The Ambrose is in a quiet neighborhood 20 blocks from the beach, which is a breeze to get to on their complimentary bikes (first come, first serve) or the afternoon complimentary taxi.  Each morning you are welcomed to an extensive continental breakfast of fresh pastries, fruit, Stonyfield Organic Yogurt, among an array of other goodies that you can enjoy on the garden patio, or ask for a small tray to take them back to your room.  I use Aveda products at home and was happy to see them in our large bathroom that included a tub and shower.

The rooms were a little outdated and ours had an odd layout, but they were large and we were not in often enough to care much.  The bed and linens were comfy and the bathroom had a separate shower and tub.  There were a few and seemingly insignificant cons to, The Ambrose, despite some of their amazing complimentary amenities that included:  free bike rental, electric vehicle charging station in the free guest parking garage, car service around Santa Monica, on site gym, free Wi-Fi and extensive complimentary breakfast that was pretty amazing.  The few items that would have made it a solid 5 stars would have been an organic spa and a small lobby restaurant or bar. 

Sustainable Wall of Fame

In all honesty we were going to stay only two nights at The Ambrose and switch to somewhere in West Hollywood, but the amazing service and comfortable atmosphere kept us there for our entire trip.