Demanding deadlines at work. Soccer games every week. Homework every night. House cleaning, laundry, cooking and the list goes on and on. Too often couples get into the routine of the day to day that they forget to stop and reconnect with each other. Date nights are making a comeback to reconnect while weekend getaways are always perfect for falling in love again.
Just around 74 miles down Highway 101 and 1 from San Francisco is the quaint town of Carmel, only minutes from Monterrey. Home to a growing wine country, the city was recently ranked #3 by Travel & Leisure magazine in February for “The World’s Best Cities for Romance,” falling behind Paris and Venice. Not to be confused with Carmel Valley with its picturesque backdrops, the city is home to Mission Ranch Hotel & Restaurant owned by Clint Eastwood.
Keeping with the essence of romance is the city and Monterey County’s first wine-themed inn that specializes in helping couples get away from it all to relax and reconnect. Vendange Inn & Suites opened its doors in 2013 after a total remodel from what used to be the Carmel Crystal Inn with a unique concept of incorporating wine into the décor and personality of each room. Co-owner Brian Lee saw an opportunity to do something new and different and with wine being a big part of his life, he envisioned partnering with local wineries to bring a smaller tasting room experience to each one of the rooms. “I like to unique and different so during the remodel process I said, ‘You know what, let's do a theme because there is no other them in Carmel.' So what happened was my brother said what are you thinking of, I said let's do wine,” says Lee who grew up drinking wine since his dad is a big wine connoisseur.
With 10 wineries jumping on board right away, Twisted Roots was first and then others followed including McIntyre Vineyards, Ventana, Cima Collina, Otter Cover, J. Lohr and Joullian. Soon all 18 rooms will be sponsored by a winery completing Lee’s vision. Lee admits there's a little competing between them to razzle-dazzle the guest, but it is all in fun. Wineries have total input into their namesake room as long as it is tasteful. “They [the wineries] will always ask if I can see the other person's room and I say sure. They look at it and say ‘I'll be back. I'll bring some more stuff.' And then the other winery the other winery will come back and say, ‘I just heard they remodeled their room again, can I see their room,'” laughs Lee at the friendly competition which results in increasing his property's value.
With the word Vendange meaning “grape harvest” in French, the cozy inn on Carpenter Street is tailored for romantic getaways noting a no pet and kids under 18 policy. Request a special room or be pleasantly surprised when you arrive to check –in which is at 4 pm. Complimentary wine and cheese hours take place from 5-7 pm on Fridays and Saturdays with a continental breakfast each morning.
Wines from all sponsoring wineries are available for purchase to be enjoyed in your room or around the fire pit and garden. Live music will add to the cool vibe making it the perfect place to meet and wine taste with other guests.
Inside your room, snuggle up in the $2400 bed topped with a double memory foam while watching your favorite movie on the 55-inch HD TV. The eco-friendly rooms also feature bathrooms remodeled with Spanish marble and glass mosaic tiles.
Vendage Inn has quickly grown into an international destination with couples coming from as far as Europe and Asia. Appreciating what is close to home, the property is also a favorite among those in both Northern and Southern parts of the state.
Luxurious as it is affordable, rooms go for $100- $400 during the off-peak season and $200 – $500 during peak and is close to Pebble Beach, Carmel’s 17-mile drive and Big Sur.
To book your stay at Vendange Inn & Suites, all 831-624.6400 or visit http://vendangecarmel.com.
Photo credit: V. Sheree Publishing and Vendange Inn & Suites