Post Ranch. The very name conjures up images of a thoroughly rustic setting, with cowboys galloping along barbed-wire fences and farmhands whiling away the evening on wooden rockers. And while the internationally renowned inn sitting high atop the cliffs in Big Sur is certainly imbued with a rural aura indicative of a California long since vanished, in fact the property is perennially lauded across the globe for its serene luxury, comfortable elegance, stellar dining scene, and, of course, unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean.
The story began in the mid-19th Century, when the Post family, counted among Big Sur’s first pioneering clans, put down roots 27 miles south of Monterey along the future Highway One and built a homestead and working ranch which came to encompass some 1,500 acres. Through the generations, the fortunes of the Post family rose and fell, and by the 1980s, with ranching in decline and a new environmentalism taking shape across the country, the idea for a cliffside lodging was proposed by a family friend, the deal sealed with a shot of whiskey.
It was the wish of the Post family that the inn should honor the integrity of the land, and as such the property exists in an integral, symbiotic relationship with the surrounding acreage. Rooms on the coast side are cantilevered off the cliff; mountainside houses curve and conform around soaring old-growth trees. Reclaimed wood, glass, and stone are found in every nook and cranny of the site, paying homage to the hearty spirit of westward expansion and the taming of a wild land.
Of course, as important as sustainability and a solemn respect for Mother Nature are, this is still luxury at its most extreme. A tree house-like spa offers creature comforts like nowhere else, from massage and body treatments to holistic practices and activities. Cliffside pools beckon guests to linger longer, private yoga instructors are at one’s disposal, nature experts lead hikes throughout the forest and beach paths of Big Sur, and relaxation guides offer up daily meditation routines and Tai Chi classes.
The rooms are nothing short of extraordinary, each touting king-size beds, spas, private decks with stunning views, and all the other amenities one would expect from the standout property, part of Preferred Boutique Hotels. The unmatched sanctuary feel of the rooms are matched by inn’s lone restaurant, Sierra Mar, where acclaimed foodie Chef Craig von Foerster whips up inspired cuisine culled from the property’s own garden and local sources. The menu of four-course, prix-fixe meals changes daily in order to ensure the very best of the season’s offerings. Paired with a bottle from the restaurant’s award-winning cellar, this is luxe living at its very best.
I’m curious what the patriarch of the Post family would think of what’s become of his pioneering endeavor—the horses gone, the mythical cowboy retired, the fields that once fed cattle now supporting spa treatments and solace-seeking visitors. But the wildness remains, not kept in check but embraced and nurtured. And the ranch still stands, in all its untamed yet beautiful glory.
Peter Rerig is a Senior Writer for Vacations.com.