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.
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!
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.
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’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. https://www.ranchovalencia.com/spa/spa-wellness-retreats
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?
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!
Stacation is always a life improvement, documented as a stress reliever!