Subject: Re: Big Sur Hotel
I totally agree, one of my most favorite places in California. Here's information on Ventana's and the Post Hotel as well as restaurant info on Big Sur. Sandy in L A

HOTELS in BIG SUR

Post Ranch Inn, Highway 1, P. O. Box 219, Big Sur 93920; (800)527-2200. Its entrance, difficult to see as you approach from the south, is on the west side of the highway, less than one mile north of the Nepenthe restaurant. A brand new luxurious inn. The rooms are named for local pioneers and shaped like spaceships. There are 30 units on 98 acres set in a natural environment. There are facials, body wraps and massages by experts and there's a slew of complimentary activities for guests, including exercise and yoga classes, wine tasting every Saturday afternoon, guided nature hikes and stargazing with the resident amateur astronomer. A pool and marked walking trails can be found among the redwoods and meadows. The walk from the parking area to the rooms is really steep, but guests are shuttled up to their accommodations, however it could be taxing to walk for out-of-shape people! The restaurant, Sierra Mar, with all sweeping angles and green glass is cantilevered over the ocean. There is a four-course $45 prix fixe dinner per person, the ala carte menu for two can be around $150. The menu changes daily and features California cuisine of fish, fowl and lean meats with an emphasis on fresh herbs and vegetables from the hotel's private gardens. Has a service-intensive staff and a low-key luxurious ambience. Double: $265-$525.

Ventana Big Sur Country Inn Resort, Highway 1, Big Sur 93920; (408)667-2331, (800)628-6500. A fabulous, luxurious inn all done in light woods in the mountains of Big Sur. Set 1,200 feet above the sea on a honey-blond swath of chaparral, the buildings seem to sprout almost organically out of a scrub oak forest and a profusion of wildflowers appear to have been planted for maximum olfactory effect! The rooms are contemporary with high ceilings and balconies that open out onto sea or forest views. It's the ultimate retreat for lovers who want to enjoy nature and each other. For exercise there are two pools, a sauna and hot tubs, plus a 10-mile (round-trip) summit trail that unveils a succession of terrific coastal views from several thousand feet above the resort. They roll out a wine and cheese spread at 4 pm. A hearty buffet-style breakfast is served. Double: $155; with fireplace $175-$205, with fireplace and hot tub $350-$775.

RESTAURANTS in BIG SUR

Sierra Mar Restaurant, The Post Ranch Inn, Highway 1, (408)667-2800 offers a four-course dinner, including dessert, at a fixed price of $45. The menu changes nightly. The restaurant is open to the public, but inn guests get first priority and reservations are required. There are only 20 some tables but it offers an ocean view for each one.

Ventana Restaurant, 667-2331. The food is good, basic bistro fare, grilled meats, fish and the like. Better for lunch than dinner. The view is so spectacular that you enjoy lingering and don't seem to mind if the food isn't the greatest you have ever eaten. Dinner for two without beverages $85-$100; lunch $45-$55.

Deetjen's Restaurant, 667-2377, serves superb breakfasts and dinners. It plays the rustic theme to the hilt in three intimate rooms, warmed by wood stoves or fireplaces and enlivened by fresh flowers and bookshelves packed with antique plates, cooper cookware, driftwood sculpture and vintage photos. The food is very good and hearty. Dinner for two $40-$60; breakfast $30. No credit cards.

Nepenthe, Hwy 1; 667-2345. A mile south of the Ventana Inn. A must place, where all the locals gather, especially in warm weather outside around the fire pit to watch the sunset over the Pacific from high above in the mountains. A must place to eat lunch and dinner! It is now the primary destination for day-trippers who consider it to be the very symbol of Big Sur. Feature good American food, but you come for the heavenly view. Lunch for two about $25-$35. Downstairs at Cafe Amphora you can enjoy an equally arresting but far less crowded view of the same turf, along with overstuffed sandwiches and good desserts. While you are there, it's worth the walk farther downstairs to the Phoenix Shop, the ultimate new-age emporium. It has Big Sur's most tasteful collection of natural-fiber clothes, jewelry, crystals, beat-era literature. You can also buy guidebooks and maps.