Quail Lodge & Golf Club: A Carmel Valley Haven Unlike Any Other
Reaching the half-century mark is a significant turning point for any human being. Often, it’s a time of reflection and renewal: Where have I been? Where am I going?
For the creative folks running Carmel Valley’s iconic Quail Lodge, hitting the 50-year marker seems to have been approached with that same depth of observation. After all, back in the 1960s it had already begun establishing itself as one of the premier go-to havens—a resort tucked away on about 850 acres that included a bevy of trails in the heart of paradise as well as a prominent golf portal that both locals and travelers near and far could appreciate.
Thinking ahead, Quail Lodge took a pause three years ago and set out on a resort-wide $28 million renovation. The 93-room hotel reopened last year to some fanfare, but with 2014 benchmarked as its 50-year anniversary, the fun, it seems, is just beginning.
To help celebrate the lodge’s 50-year turning point in 2014, it is now offering a variety of $50 promotions, running January through the end of March. Guests may book one night and get the second night at $50 (the average room rate is $137.50). That may be plenty to attract attention, but food is always a good temptation, too—a $50 prix fix menu at its surprisingly inventive Edgar’s Restaurant is also in effect. So, too, is a “buy one get one at 50 percent off” special at the golf shop.
But what about the actual stay?
Two words come to mind: dreamy and revitalizing.
I arrived on a recent weekend afternoon, the skies clear, the lovely grounds sun-drenched, the rolling greens shire-like.
The lobby, I later discovered, went through a major overhaul; the front desk was moved and other adjustments were made, including the addition of an adjacent lounge complete with a large-screen TV that showcase various events, factoids, and other televised bits of local information. The new layout was smartly arranged—everything from the positioning of the front desk to the stunning, rectangular wall housing those wonderfully decorative rocks in the gas fireplace. Not far away rested a bar/lounge, and opposite the front desk there were several areas where guests could gather, a continental breakfast portal, tables and chairs, and a patio deck overlooking a large pond and the guestrooms.
With 77 guestrooms and 14 suites, there’s plenty from which to choose—and all the options boast a California ranch-style décor. For couples traveling together, or even families, the suites are a stellar bet. In fact, most rooms here give new meaning to the term “spacious.” Roominess is a pet peeve of mine, so I was pleasantly surprised at just how much room is offered in some of spaces I later toured. My hardwood floor suite included an expansive “living room” area with a couch and two chairs. Off the living room: a charming patio overlooking the pond, whose central focal point was a modest yet mood-enhancing fountain.
With rooms like these, it’s hard to actually leave them—and I stayed in mine for a good length of time—but there is plenty to do. For starters, golf. You can learn more about various golf packages, tee times, golf lessons, Quail’s unique “Golf Academy,” and even club membership by absorbing the extensive resource online. Although, something to note: Robert Muir Graves designed the 18-hole course, which features 10 lakes and the Carmel River. Golfers should feel well nourished here.
Beyond that, the grounds themselves are quite stunning if not wonderful eye candy. A stroll down the short road toward the golf shop, club, and Edgar’s Restaurant—operated with exquisite creative flair by chef Kenneth Macdonald—is worth your attention. Again, I was impressed with the spaciousness of all of the resort’s interiors.
The more adventurous may want to venture into Carmel or to the stretch of shops in Carmel Valley Village—or even the beaches and Point Lobos, which are nearby—but I suggest exploring closer to the resort at first, as I did. There are a number of scenic hikes, and the views are downright striking. During one walk, I noticed a Land Rover Driving School across from the golf club/gift shop. I fancied taking a lesson—there’s nothing like an off-road adventure to satisfy an adventure seeker—but time was limited, so brisk walks and strolling sufficed for me.
But so did beekeeping. Yes, there’s an actual beekeeping experience to be had nearby. Prior to my check-in, I partook in an unforgettable outing at nearby Carmel Valley Ranch. There’s nothing like not only learning more about these marvelous creatures from a pro—John Russo of Carmel Lavender—but also suiting up and visiting the actual hives. I highly recommend it. There are hundreds of thousands of bees here; my colleague and I even spotted the queen bee. Samplings of honey before and afterward are a nice touch.
Later, in between soaking up all that Quail has to offer, I kept finding solace back in the room and on the patio. As a writer, I so appreciate space and quiet time, and I was happily pleased at just how private the room and its surrounding areas actually felt.
One evening, dinner at Edgar’s awaited. Interesting to note here is chef Macdonald’s genius lies in using fresh ingredients harvested from local organic farms; they are actually hand-selected. There’s a nice variety on the menu, but take note of these dishes, which stand out, and be sure inquire about seasonal specials: roasted organic beets (memorable!), Dungeness crab cake (flavorful), macaroni and cheese (impressive), sweet potato fries (indulgent), seasonal fish (I enjoyed a succulent halibut), and the organic Theo Chocolate tart (sent me over the edge—in a good way).
You can have your choice of indoor or outdoor fireside dining here. The vibe: casual elegant. Wood-fired pizzas are also on the menu. Notable: the Quail’s Nest Snack Bar, near the driving range.
Later that evening, back in my room, I sat on the patio for a spell and then journaled in the living room, all the while fighting temptation to turn on the flat-screen TV. (I later succumbed.) Afterward, in the bedroom, fire lit, I lay back on the spacious bed, resisting the urge to nod off. When you’re in this kind of relaxing paradise, you don’t really want it to end.
Before finally dosing off, I believe I exhaled softly, thinking: “Just make it last … make it last….”
Quail Lodge is located at 205 Valley Greens Drive in Carmel, California. Rates are $137.50 and up, although various specials run year-round. The hotel offers complimentary Continental breakfast, overnight parking, iPod docking stations, a coffeemaker and complimentary coffee and tea, exercise rooms, a pool, and a hot tub. Quail Lodge is pet-friendly ($35 per pet/ first night; $15 subsequent nights). Call (831) 624-2888.
Carmel Valley Ranch is located at One Old Ranch Road in Carmel, California. Call (831) 625-9500 for more information.