Back at the Ranch


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All photos courtesy Carmel Valley Ranch

From great golf to gardens and goats, Carmel Valley Ranch is perfectly natural.

Regardless of what kind of getaway you’re planning, it’s hard to go wrong with a visit to California’s famed Monterey Peninsula. The area’s natural beauty makes it a great destination for everything from hiking and biking to wining and dining.

Adding to the wow factor of this outdoor mecca is Carmel Valley Ranch, a popular luxury resort that spreads across 500 gorgeous acres and serves as a reminder to all of the best things that this particular area of California has to offer. Whether you’re there to unwind or to cut loose, there’s more to do here than you’ll accomplish in a single visit— but don’t worry, chances are you’ll be back.

At the heart of the resort is the Carmel Valley Ranch Golf Course, the only Pete Dye-designed course in Northern California. It is known as much for its breathtaking views as it is for its playability, and there’s a reason that it consistently lands on Travel and Leisure magazine’s “World’s Best” readers survey. The area’s unique climate only adds to the delight of this course; with more a full slate of gym-based options are offered throughout the day. They include indoor cycling, TRX, circuit training, yoga, pilates and barre classes, ensuring enough variety to let you try something new—or stick with something you already know—every day of the week.

One of the most unique aspects of the resort is its apiary bustling with some 60,000 Italian honeybees. Guests aged six years and older can take part in an exceptional experience that includes suiting up in a beekeeping suit and interacting with the bees as the forage for pollen and nectar on the lavender plants.

Walking through the hives on a guided tour not only gives you a new appreciation for these endangered bees, but it also provides an unusual educational experience for the entire group. You may than 300 days of sunshine a year and a location near the coast, the temperatures are moderate throughout the seasons.

In designing the course, Dye took full advantage of the area’s natural elevation changes, giving holes 11 and 13 dramatic drops into the valley. However, each hole is memorable in its own right: to complete this stunning course, you’ll need to make your way through vineyards and lavender fields; around ponds and through oak groves dripping with California’s native lace lichen.

Spacious landing zones and elevated tee boxes with incredible views of the surrounding mountains make the course even more fun to play. And it isn’t just golfers that are drawn to this 18-hole paradise; wildlife tend to pay it a visit as well, making for some unexpected companions during a round of golf, such as deer and wild turkey.

Although Carmel Valley Ranch Golf Course is a big draw for the resort, guests have many other reasons to visit. While the resort is luxurious and well appointed, it is, at its heart, a playground. This kid-friendly, pet-friendly environment offers a full slate of activities for guests of all ages, beginning with morning hikes and continuing throughout the day with things like archery, horseback rides, geocaching and birding walks.

Those who don’t want to miss a workout are in luck, too. In addition to the golf course and eight tennis courses (six hard courts and two clay), never look at honey the same way again!

Other unusual outdoor offerings include being able to spend time at The Goat Barn in the organic garden. There, you’ll meet three generations of a Swiss Saanen Goat family and learn about the crucial role they play in keeping the kitchen and the garden running.

Organic garden tours will acquaint you with one of the most magical places on the resort; you can hear more about the food you eat at the ranch is carefully tended, and you also can chase butterflies, pick herbs from the garden or taste the salt crystals from the garden.

And, if you’re there to meet chicks, you’re in luck! Carmel Valley Ranch is home to a brood of hens that are both friendly and entertaining.

With so much to do, you might find yourself wondering how to fit it all in. A trip to Spa Aiyana is probably just what you need to give yourself time to think about your options. Using the resources native to the area— such as lavender and rosemary—a variety of spa treatments and body therapies are designed to give you complete relaxation.

To complete the experience, the resort’s three restaurants offer locally sourced, organic food that includes fresh seafood from the Monterey Coast and farm-to-table cooking.

Whether you’re grabbing a quick bite at The Clubhouse Grill, enjoying a casual meal at the family-oriented River Ranch Cafe? or enjoying fine dining at the Valley Kitchen, you’ll discover a dining experience that is naturally good.

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