Rancho Valencia in Rancho Santa Fe, California
The great thing about being in the travel business is that we get to experience many wonderful places as part of our “job”. The not so great part of that is we become very particular and we might notice things other guests would not. It takes a lot for me to say I absolutely love a place and cannot find anything wrong with it. Well, this is how I feel about Rancho Valencia. It is, in my opinion, a perfect resort.
Located less than 2 hours south of Los Angeles, the drive is best during non-rush hour traffic. If you are flying in, the resort is only about 20 minutes from San Diego Airport and about 35 minutes from John Wayne Airport in Costa Mesa. Both airports have rental car facilities.
The resort is located about 10 minutes north of the freeway. This means it is away from the ocean. You drive through some beautiful country roads dotted with polo fields, golf courses and multi-million dollar homes. It gives you the feeling of being away from it all.
Upon arrival at Rancho Valencia, you must give your name to the attendant at the Gate House. If you are not a guest, you are not getting in. It is very private and discreet, making this the perfect spot for high profile people and those wanting complete anonymity. A short drive up the hill, you will park close to the check-in area. Check- in is a very private desk, verses a large lobby. You won’t find a lobby here at all. Once that is done, you are escorted by an employee in a golf cart who takes you to your casita, helps you with your luggage, gives you a tour of your casita and answers any questions about the resort you might have. They basically act as a personal concierge during your stay.
The first thing I said to my boyfriend was, “I am never leaving here”. Now, I know I have been working hard lately and was in need of a little get-a-way, but I was really taken by the beauty and serenity of our casita. The Olive Grove King Suite is 1,000 square feet and has an enormous bathroom with a large soaking tub and separate shower, twin sinks, a vanity table, a completely state-of-the-art automated toilet (you have to see it to believe it) and a large walk-in closet. It also has plenty of windows if you want fresh air.
The main part of the casita consists of a large bedroom area with a king bed and lots of comfy pillows and a comforter, a large television, a desk and bedroom furniture. There is a step-down large living room with a couch and chairs, table, television and a bar area. It is decorated in a Spanish-Mediterranean style and is very tasteful. The attention to detail is amazing and they did not leave out anything.
Outside the living room is a beautiful private patio with couches, chairs and a table all under a large patio umbrella. Outside the bedroom, is another patio area with a private spa and chaise lounges. They do think of everything, as they even put towels on the chairs just in case you forget to bring them out before you get into the spa. When I say private, I mean completely 100% privacy.
Some nice amenities include a fully stocked in-suite mini-bar, which includes sodas, juices and water as well as some snack foods. These are all complimentary. There is also an espresso maker in the suite, complete with a machine to warm and froth your milk and gourmet coffee choices. Each morning, fresh squeezed orange juice is brought to your door with a newspaper of your choice. The orange juice literally tastes as if the oranges were just picked off the trees before being served to you. What a nice and healthy way to start your day.
We had cocktails and dinner at The Pony Room. This is the more casual dining option and has a comfortable yet classy vibe. The service is impeccable as it is everywhere at the resort. We had some scrumptious appetizers including bacon wrapped dates and lobster sliders. My boyfriend had a beer from their long list of choices and I had champagne. For dinner, I had the shrimp cocktail and pretzel bites. The shrimp came on a bed of avocado salad and was simply divine. The pretzel bites were yummy and definitely not your mall food court version. My boyfriend had their daily special which was fried chicken. He loved it. It was all about comfort food done with a gourmet twist. There was fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and a biscuit. All done with a creative flair from their chef, Eric Bauer (previously from Four Seasons). If you are a tequila drinker, or even if you are not, there is a huge list of every type of tequila you can think of. You can even join the tequila VIP club. What a fun idea!
We did not have an opportunity to try Veladora, which is their fine dining choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I did look at the menu and it looks amazing. I also asked around and people were just raving about it.
Room service has great choices and includes healthy options as well as your traditional dishes. One morning we ordered room service and within minutes of ordering, it appeared at our door. After it was all set up for us outside on our patio, we indulged in eggs, toast, and oatmeal and freshly squeezed orange juice. For lunch they offer salads, sandwiches and many other goodies. For dinner, the choices include meats, fish dishes, pasta, salads and more. I might add, the carrot cake is quite tasty and worth the splurge.
The grounds are spectacular and I would highly suggest taking a walk to see everything. There is a beautiful rose garden, olive gardens and so much more. In the evenings, you can sit outside at one of the many fire pits for a nice cozy romantic adventure.
If you are looking to keep yourself busy (and pampered), you will want to visit the spa there. It is so beautiful and serene and they offer some very interesting treatments. There is also a beautiful pool and tennis courts on property. If you are a golfer, you are going to be in heaven. The area is filled with high-end golf courses for you to choose from. Let me not forget the fitness center for those wanting a physical workout. If you enjoy taking fitness classes, the resort offers over 60 complimentary classes each week.
I cannot rave enough about the service at Rancho Valencia. Relais & Chateau properties are known for their service quality and this one represents their brand perfectly. It’s not over done or insincere, the employees are truly happy to help as they know this enhances your entire experience at the resort.
The resort’s list of credentials is growing and just last week, they were awarded the Forbes-Five Star award. In 2013, they received the prestigious honor of being on the Conde Nast Travelers Hot List. The year before they were named #1 Resort in California by US News & World Report 2012. Apparently, their $30 million dollar renovation put them on the radar.
I really could go on and on about Rancho Valencia. I highly, highly recommend this resort for people looking for a romantic get-a-way or simply want to unwind and de-stress. It covered both those bases for us! It’s a special place. I would definitely consider it for a honeymoon, anniversary or birthday celebration. With only 49 casitas on property, you will feel like you are on your own private oasis.
I hope you all get a chance to experience the most amazing Rancho Valencia. I’m absolutely telling my clients and friends about this one.
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