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Playground for All Ages

By Fran Endicott Miller | Photos Courtesy of Carmel Valley Ranch

The name Carmel tends to evoke images of storybook cottages and sandy beaches. But there’s another side to Carmel—one that is warmed by a sun that often evades its coastal cousin, one that is a bit more casual but equally as luxurious. It’s Carmel Valley, a sublime pastoral hollow in the heart of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Graced with rolling hills blanketed by lavender fields, ancient grape vines, and chaparral, it’s framed by hiking and biking trails, championship golf courses, working ranches, and a 4,000-acre regional park. At its heart is Carmel Valley Ranch, a playground for all ages, offering plentiful activities to please every interest.

The perfect spot to create family memories or simply escape for romantic rest and relaxation, Carmel Valley Ranch’s 500-acre property features an incredible array of recreational opportunities. Learn, for example, how to make cheese with the resort’s resident master cheese maker. Create fun, fizzy bath bombs with natural ingredients that include essential oils distilled from the resort’s own lavender. Play with endless aromatherapy possibilities by creating customized candles in a beeswax and essential oil candle-making workshop. Or, with a paintbrush in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, learn to capture on canvas the beauty of simple objects found within The Ranch. Discover geocaching with the help of a naturalist and find tiny treasures hidden throughout The Ranch. Try out archery, falconry, or the newest craze, hatchet throwing. A weekly activity calendar details all of the fun offerings.

Golf and tennis have always been the star features of The Ranch. The resort’s Pete Dye-designed par-70 course offers dramatic elevation changes and stunning scenery and is ranked amongst the country’s best. So is the resort’s tennis program. The Ranch’s trained coaching staff provide stellar instruction on six hard courts and two Har-Tru® clay courts.

If serenity is the goal, then Spa Aiyana, nestled under a canopy of oaks, will provide the perfect space to relax and recharge. From body treatments to sleep therapy to clinical-grade skin care, the staff at Spa Aiyana (Aiyana is the Ohlone Costanoan Esselen word for eternal blossom) curate experiences for individual needs. A eucalyptus steam room, an outdoor saltwater pool, and an infinity hot tub further serve to induce tranquility.

The Ranch’s suite accommodations feature expansive private decks, fireplaces, large bathrooms, Nespresso® coffee makers, cozy robes and slippers, and aromatherapy bath amenities featuring products that take advantage of The Ranch’s acres of lavender. For even more indulgence, schedule the resort’s bath butler to create the perfect in-room soak, complete with Champagne, bubble bath or salts, and a rubber ducky. Set a romantic mood by arranging for rose petals to be strewn about your candlelit room. For the wee ones, arrange a Teepee Time package complete with indoor teepee, milk and cookies, and stuffed animals.

All of this fun requires fuel, and The Ranch’s award-winning Executive Chef Tim Wood and his crew of cooks, pastry chefs, and artisans provide plenty of it via the multitude of dining options. Their handcrafted, homegrown approach uses resortgrown ingredients and highlights locally made wines.

From arts and crafts to garden and farm adventures to fitness, Carmel Valley Ranch provides play for all ages. Few resorts in California provide the plethora of activities found within these bucolic Carmel Valley hills, the gateway to the good life.

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