No matter where you live in California, there is always a treasure to find and an adventure to be enjoyed. The city of Monterey is known for its food, wine, and coastal life. Come a few miles inward and you’ll marble at the greenery and hills that take you to another favorite destination, Carmel Valley. Not to be confused with Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carmel Valley is home to more than 10,000 residents and as you drive along the main road, Carmel Valley Road, with its minor twists and turns, you’ll see why locals call it home and weekenders come back again and again.
Nestled in between the vineyards and hills, you’ll find lovely inns and lodges tucked away for privacy and relaxation. A total of 18 wineries offer wine tastings and you are sure to enjoy a good meal with a glass or flight of wine at several restaurants that offer a variety of specialties from seafood and BBQ to California cuisine all year long. My favorite is Corkscrew Cafe which pairs seasonal produce with fresh seafood and meats to create mouthwatering dishes. Enjoy a wine flight of carefully selected wines while enjoying the roasted red pepper and garlic hummus or roasted garlic with baked goat cheese.
After a day of wine tasting and a great meal, your luxurious accommodations await you at a private estate called Stonepine. Purchased back in 1983 by Gordon and Noel Hentschel, the property, once called Double H. Ranch, opened its doors three years later as a U.S. Purple Shield member of the Paris-based Relais & Chateaux which is a global membership of individually owned and operated luxury hotels and restaurants. Although Stonepine is no longer a member, it still maintains all sense and style of luxury with guest accommodation selections ranging from four houses and cottages to rooms inside the main house, affectionately christened as Chateau Noel. Each is available for special occasions, business meetings, and retreats and of course weddings.
On the drive up to Chateau Noel, you’ll enjoy all of the breathtaking scenery that will have any outdoor enthusiasts on cloud nine. As you pass the Equestrian Center which dates back to the 1930’s, take in the history of this piece of the property when Double H. Ranch was known as the first and foremost Thoroughbred breeding farm in California. Today, it is home to some of the world’s finest horses including stakes winners Majestic Prince, Countess Nashville and Bolero Lady.
Next on the Hentschel’s list to expand the Stonepine name to include Stonepine Vineyards which is perfectly located on the property for growing varietals perfect for Carmel Valley’s temperament.
Outside estate amenities include four holes of golf, access to nearby by hiking and biking trails, a volleyball court, croquet, tennis and a swimming pool. Afternoon tea at the Waterfall Pavilion renders some quiet time where it is just you, the water and residential ducks. A housemade lemon custard, an assortment of pastries, classic tea sandwiches and your choice of three tea blends will offer an experience to remember that will be the epitome of peace and tranquility.
If you are looking for an all-inclusive package, Stonepine has three that are perfect for a romantic weekend getaway and set the stage for that perfect wedding proposal. The Estate Experience includes 2-night accommodations, a full European breakfast each morning, romantic fireside dinner and afternoon tea. The Carmel Valley Wine Discovery package includes 2-night accommodations, full American breakfast each morning, a romantic fireside dinner for two, chauffeured wine tasting in one of the Stonepine’s Rolls Royces and wine, cheese and fruit at one of the property picturesque venues. Lastly, the Equestrian Immersion experience includes 2-night accommodations, full American breakfast, romantic dinner for two and two hours of Western or English riding lessons and one hour trail rides around the property for two. Each has some additional amenities but these are the highlights.
Chateau Noel makes you feel as if you are in a fairy tale. From the moment the gates open, you know you are in for something truly special. Accommodations in rooms at the Chateau range from $500 a night up to $2000, each with its own personality. The Don Quixote Suite is like a room out of a Sherlock Holmes book with an unassuming door for entry that first leads to a bar and then back to the room what that accompanied by an outside area complete with two tables and lounge chairs for enjoying breakfast with nature. The Chanel is the preferred feminine choice with two double beds and fireplace. For a masculine touch, The Cartier includes a canopied king bed and fireplace. If you are looking to go all the way, the Taittinger Suite is a two story luxury haven adorned in Champagne and cream with a private office, his and her baths and a breathtaking 270-degree view of the Stonepine Estate grounds.
Guests also love the option of staying in one of the four houses on the property: The Paddock House, the Hermes House (where I stayed), the Briar Rose and the Gatehouse. All are perfect for celebrating special occasions with family members, friends or just the two of you. During my stay at the Hermes House, I enjoyed a wonderful European breakfast each morning that was delivered and arranged around the time I woke up. Instead of wine tasting, I opted for a massage right in the middle of the living room with the sounds of smooth jazz playing in the background. Afterward, I enjoyed a glass of wine that was part of my welcome gift and concluded the weekend with a much needed bubble bath in the whirlpool tub with Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries that are standard in the bathrooms of all Stonepine suites and houses.
First-class hospitality and a commitment to enjoying life to the fullest is what makes Stonepine a luxury property that stands out from the rest. Your trip to Carmel Valley just won’t be complete without a stay or even a visit. For more information, visit www.stonepineestate.com or call 831.659.2245.
Photo credit: Ray Mosely and V. Sheree Publishing
The Waterfall Pavilion
The Estate Grounds
The Equestrian Center