Staycation Rancho Valencia Resort – For Serious Consideration

Who knew such an indulgence existed, just an hour flight away and a few miles from the surf and sandy beach?  But why leave when you have the amenities of a Forbes Five Star Resort? Clients have raved about Rancho Valencia Resort, I needed to mosey down the sunny coast and see for myself. In the cozy hamlet of Rancho Santa Fe, exactly 32 minutes from the San Diego airport, Rancho Valencia is tucked into a canyon on 40 manicured acres of gentle undulating hills, citrus trees and tropical jungle landscaping.

Rancho Valencia Resort

Small by most resort standards, with 49 authentic casitas, my suite had over 1300 square feet plus an enchanting walled courtyard accented by bougainvillea vines and fragrant hibiscus, a plunge pool and puebla style fireplace. A true sense of authentic style radiates throughout the resort. Although La Jolla and Del Mar are minutes away, there is no reason to leave unless you are like me and must stroll a beach if one is nearby. Lunch at the beach, a sandy saunter, toes dipped into the warm Pacific and scoot back to the spa and secluded terrace.

Imagine afternoons of sunbathing, hours of quiet catching up, ripe figs and chilled cocktails, and of course noshing on the Southern California favorite, guacamole or creamy avocado any way you desire. Fresh squeezed OJ at the door served with your morning papers? Include a carafe of coffee and wake up in perfect harmony with the sunrise. Butlers won’t ring or buzz, a stealth buggy delivers all to your snug hacienda suite.

Although we saw many cars around the property, we rarely saw any other guests. Seclusion is guaranteed, especially beneficial when delectable afternoon naps seem the norm. Suites are tastefully decorated with handcrafted Mexican furnishings, puebla style fireplaces, brightly colored pavers and tiles. Many of the suites can be connected to create two-bedroom casitas. However, there are also a couple of 3-bedroom Villas on property with outdoor terraces, your own private compound with private Villa pool and clubhouse. Among the room and Villa options, there is also a private three-bedroom, 5000 square foot adobe style hacienda with full kitchen, garden and pool.

Fountains and fireplaces abound in the public areas, providing soothing sounds of trickling water and warm comfy spots for pre-dinner prandials. Post nap, do wander the lush grounds overgrown with flowering shrubs, olive trees and in spring, the intoxicating perfumed citrus blossoms. It’s truly heavenly. In the evening dine outdoors amid the fragrant orange and lemon trees, the swaying palms and tropical foliage. Massive Bird of Paradise plants displayed magnificent blossoms as large as a magnolia flower, truly enhanced tropicals!

Rancho Valencia Resort

Dining – When we arrived after 1 pm, our late lunch at The Pony Room terrace left us desiring just nibbles for dinner. We struggled to tear ourselves from our terrace, a cozy cocoon with comfy furnishings which stimulated snoozing. But wander, we did. Chit chat and cocktails in the arrival courtyard and amble to The Pony Room for rustic fresh salads and yummy tapas. The restaurant has an extensive list of craft tequilas and unique cocktails, dine alfresco on one of the flower filled terraces dotted with fire pits overlooking the professional Croquet Court. As Rancho Valencia is a Relais & Chateaux property, we knew to limit snacking on day two in order to enjoy the signature restaurant Veladora.  We weren’t disappointed! 

Veladora serves lunch on a terrace or inside in an authentic Hacienda style building, a roaring fireplace, antiques and flickering candles set the stage for scrumptious meals. Taking inspiration from Rancho Valencia’s Mediterranean influences, Veladora serves fresh, handcrafted and simply delicious Coastal Ranch cuisine. Seasonal ingredients take center stage on a menu with so many choices, I was disappointed we didn’t dine twice. So many temptations from unique pairings of seafood, poultry and a variety of meats. Sample slow poached Maine lobster with a lemon vinaigrette, burratta cheese and pickled and roasted beets with avocado. I almost missed George’s Bank Scallops with black risotto, summer truffle, English pea agnolotti topped with tiny nasturtium leaves, it was divine! If Johnny is serving, have him describe the menu items, he has an extensive knowledge on the preparation and ingredients – creating a background story on each dish, truly bringing the menu alive!  The choices are abundant. And abundantly delicious. A private wine cellar with vaulted brick ceiling is downstairs for private dinners or tastings.

Rancho Valencia Resort

Activities – So many choices, if you must be amused: idyllic afternoons in whites smacking croquet balls while sipping Pimms Cup, sound at all enticing? Or make it a spectator sport curled up in the white Adirondack chairs. Tennis is renowned and a primary activity; the club is staffed with former champions and the property is ranked as California’s #1 tennis hotel by Tennis Magazine. Fresh towels and refreshing iced lemon water are provided courtside. Tennis clinics are on available for all ages and ability. Guests can enjoy access to over 80 golf courses including The Farms and Torrey Pines.

Complimentary professional bikes are lined up outside reception, the gentle hills and long stretches of open country road will provide a superb workout. Or ride downhill to the beach and call for a haul out later! Yoga pavilion, state of the art fitness center and a full service gorgeous spa. Kids pool and adult pool.

Rancho Valencia Resort

Rancho Valencia’s Wellness Collective is designed to give you the tools to cultivate sustainable change in your overall health and wellbeing. Seeking calmness, and a new look at personal wellness? Fairly new, The Wellness Collective, voted as the Best New Wellness Program in Organic Spa Magazine has three night minimum stay for a wellness retreat. Combining a robust calendar of intimate workshops, enlightening lectures and activities,. Based on the cutting-edge science of epigenetics, this award-winning program was created by an expert team of specialists in epigenetics, health, wellness and preventative medicine. A truly unique wellness experience unlike any other, the Collective is available in the form of packages and retreats.

Rancho Valencia Resort

The Spa, last but not least. The spa is a destination of its own. Tucked away in a spectacular lush garden setting, the rambling adobe buildings are accentuated by colorful patterned pottery, rustic wooden doors, reflecting pools, a heated salt water pool and perky cabanas and loungers. A true wellness retreat, herbal remedies from the garden flowers are offered in spa treatments. The invigorating combination of herbs, flowers, oils and minerals provide an overall blissful relaxing experience. Pad into the spa, steam or sauna first and head to your salon, a patio door opens to bird song and the trickling of an outdoor fountain – expect to be transported! My masseuse was remarkable, after my massage, he wasn’t kidding when he said he would be outside to lead me from my spa Journey – I was noodle like, completely relaxed and in need of navigation to the shade of the umbrella decked cabanas.

Rancho Valencia Resort has been validated by extensive assessments as a Forbes Five Star Resort. I whole heartily agree. Service was impeccable and gracious, the cozy casitas are restorative retreats, napping is guaranteed. A broad range of activity options, creature comforts, fresh organic dining, if you need to escape, the beach is right down the road, other than a toe dip in the Pacific, why depart Paradise?

Rancho Valencia Resort

My upcoming knee replacement prevented my tennis game from improving, however I see it as the perfect excuse to return! My farewell swag bag included a Rancho Valencia Resort tennis ball, someone was paying attention!

Rancho Valencia Resort
Rancho Valencia Resort

Stacation is always a life improvement, documented as a stress reliever!

Resort at Pedregal – Cabo Chronicles

One vast advantage of working with your son who loves Mexico, he will head south of the border at any invitation! As much as I love the culture and cuisine, I’m no longer a sun worshiper, and I had just returned from two weeks in Europe.

Resort at Pedregal, Cabo San Lucas

A recent Hidden Doorways fam trip took Benjamin to The Resort at Pedregal in Cabo, he’s stayed at most of the five-star properties, so this was a new adventure.  I always love his excitement in seeing new properties and quick WhatsApp messages from the moment he arrives – plus he is a techie, and notices if one can stream music & videos from a smart phone via the tv or sound system. Me, not so much! He is also an amazing cook; thus, he appreciates meeting chefs, discussing ingredients and taking cooking classes to expand his culinary skills.

Hidden Doorways sent a questionnaire following his visit: What are your overall impressions and experience of the accommodations? Loved my room, it was well-organized and very comfortable, it made me feel at home. The plunge pool on the veranda was fantastic. The view of the ocean and desert landscape were in perfect juxtaposition. I appreciated the subtle colonial Mexican touches, an authentic sense of place.

Resort at Pedregal, Cabo San Lucas

What was your best and/or worst experience at either of the restaurants, bars and eateries onsite? Arrival dinner in the private dining room with multi-course meal and wine pairings was fantastic. And Pedregal has one of the best breakfast buffets I have experienced. I also loved the champagne bar. (Well, he is my child, after all!).

What was your best and/or worst experience of the activities (not Spa related) onsite? Whale shark swim was a bucket list item for me although not onsite. I would have enjoyed taking a cooking class or the surf fishing lessons.

Resort at Pedregal, Cabo San Lucas Swim with Whale Sharks

I visited Pedregal a few years ago and the arrival truly sets the stage for the visit – an amazing tunnel blasted from a mountain of solid rock leads to the open air front entrance. Six hundred feet of tunnel lit by torches dramatically leads you to an untouched beach. Although uniquely secluded, it’s just a 10-minute walk into the lively village of Cabo San Lucas.

The WOW factor continues with the accommodations, restaurants and spa. Even entry level rooms are ocean front with a heated infinity plunge pool dangling off a balcony. Small by many resort standards, 105 rooms, intimacy is continued with three guest pools, four restaurants and a fabulous spa.

Resort at Pedregal, Cabo San Lucas Suite

Luna Y Mar Spa is one of the most decadent spas I’ve ever visited, the ten treatment rooms encircle an outdoor spa pool. Luna y Mar, created by Sylvia Sepelli, an illustrious spa designer, are the Spanish words for moon and sea. Under the direction of Alan Navarrete, Luna y Mar offers a distinctive approach to wellness and beauty, with inspiration coming from three central themes: the moon, the sea, and Mexican folk healing. Yoga is offered as well. Fitness center, tennis, complimentary classes every day.

Resort at Pedregal, Cabo San Lucas

My favorite restaurant is the cliffside El Farallon – the dramatic setting is sustained in its surroundings – tucked into a mammoth craggy cliff on the edge of the crashing sea, it’s a vivid sunset location enhanced by a fresh fish market restaurant. Inspired dining reflecting the diverse country using the freshest ingredients. Under palapa roofs, choose your fish from a crushed ice bar and chef prepares, refined ocean to table!

Enjoy an elevated tasting experience before dinner at the Champagne Terrace. Carved into the cliffs, the terrace overlooks the beach and ocean, the perfect setting for enjoying more than 15 different champagnes ranging from Blanc de Blancs to Rosé and vintage bubblies.

Resort at Pedregal, Cabo San Lucas

Do look at their extensive collection of off property activities – these are rare offerings by a resort: 4 x4 jeep trips to lost jungle villages, panga boats for surfing, swimming with the whale sharks, stand up paddle lessons, snorkelers can navigate through dazzling schools of Horse Mackerel, silvery Sardines and effervescent Sea Lions. Give back tourism: nestled in a desert oasis lies the Nano-community of La Candelaria with a population of 76. During a rare peek into this town, volunteers spend the morning aiding in the upkeep of the Agustin Melgar Primary School with activities like painting, followed by lunch with the school children.

Forbes Five Star status is earned and The Resort at Pedregal deserves the hard to achieve award! We highly recommend!

Resort at Pedregal, Cabo San Lucas. Guac o’Clock Afternoon snacks!