Culture / Travel

Big Sur’s Ultimate Retreat Puts Rare Serenity Within Reach — Staying at Post Ranch Inn Takes You Into Another Soothing World

A Luxury Land Where Nature, Meditation and Food Rule

BY // 11.06.23

The sun streams into the forest and casts a golden, shimmery glow on the branches of a 400-year-old Redwood tree. I’m standing silently right in front of the tree as instructed by Micha, my forest meditation teacher at Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur on California’s Central Coast, lightly cupping a small strip of storied bark in my hand.

With eyes closed, connecting with the tree and taking in all of the sounds and sensations around me, a cool morning shadow covers the top of my light windbreaker, a warm beam of sunlight shines on my forehead and the flaky wood of the trunk rests beneath my palm. An Acorn woodpecker is busy carving a perch in the distance, and I hear the faint sound of chatter from other hikers going about their day. As my eyes flutter open to walk to the next meditation point, I take in all the beauty around me and focus on the forest in both directions.

The reality of looming deadlines, my cell phone vibrating and obligations from home all melt far away in my mind.

Throughout the class, Micha’s soothing voice reinforces the importance of practicing kindness, gratitude and staying present. That’s something I’ve managed to do successfully at Post Ranch Inn — just one day into my visit. After all, the ultra-private woodsy property — dating back to the 1850s when sailor and trapper William Brainard “W.B.” Post established a 160-acre homestead and cattle ranch in the area — has long been on my bucket list. Today, following a long history as a family-owned property — conceived as a hotel in 1992 by Post’s great-grandson Bill and his wife Luci — it’s a haven for architecture buffs, nature enthusiasts and luxury seekers.

There are no televisions or alarm clocks in any of the rooms and no kids are allowed.

Post Ranch Inn Doesn’t Believe in Ordinary Rooms

Designed by lauded local late architect Mickey Muennig, who spent months living on the property meticulously surveying and assessing the sites for each accommodation, the ranch consists of 40 ocean view suites, modern suspended treehouses and a private cliff house.

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Post Ranch Inn is nestled deep within nature.
Post Ranch Inn is nestled deep within nature.

As I walk away from the complimentary class, I’m calm, relaxed, mindful and completely enamored with all of the natural wonders of this otherworldly place (my husband, who is here with me, and I have quickly dubbed it “paradise on earth”). What more could you want?

There is an expansive chef’s garden with everything from dahlias and sunflowers to red apples and a flock of chickens that provide fresh eggs for daily breakfast. An outdoor lap pool. Two outdoor basking mineral pools. Two hiking trails. A pond with California red-legged frogs. A Post Gallery showcasing rotating works from artists. A spa and fitness center. An award-winning restaurant dubbed Sierra Mar, perched on the edge of a cliff.

Complimentary classes at Post Ranch Inn include morning yoga inside a yurt, sound healing meditation, an edible garden tour and falconry with Master Falconer Antonio Balestreri ($200 per person).

Post Ranch Inn makes serenity a goal that can be achieved.
Post Ranch Inn makes serenity a goal that can be achieved.

On the way back to my “room,” a Pacific Suite, or curvy one-bedroom freestanding dwelling with modern wood-cladding, a wood-burning fireplace; a bathroom with heated floors; a complimentary mini bar with gourmet local snacks and beverages; and an expansive patio with unobstructed views of the ocean, I think of all the ways to spend the day. I start by grabbing the in-room binoculars and staring down approximately 1,200 feet to the sea below.

Just two minutes in, I see a pod of dolphins and a bald eagle. I feel like I need to pinch myself. It’s like a too-good-to-be-true real-life movie set moment.

Exploring Big Sur

Later, we decide to take a short road trip off-site to the Tan Bark Trail, a five-mile loop hike that winds through a lush redwood forest along Partington Creek dotted with waterfalls and small footbridges. Along the way, we stop to take in ocean views that keep getting better as we climb higher to every vantage point. After we’ve conquered the trail, we drive to Nepenthe, a Highway 1 staple dating to 1949 and comprised of a cliffside restaurant, cafe and gift shop.

As we cool down with cold drinks on the terrace, I can’t help but to flash to the unforgettable views from our own private patio back at Post Ranch Inn, and the valuable takeaways I learned that very morning in the forest. To not take for granted the natural beauty of my surroundings and to slow down.

If there’s one thing I’ll bring home, it’s the lesson to make that a daily priority.

Rooms at Post Ranch Inn start at $1,825 plus tax, which includes daily breakfast.

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