By Charly SHELTON
In the stressful hustle and bustle of daily life, we sometimes forget to take a break. Just as important as eating right and exercising, the body needs downtime to relax and decompress. To get in as much relaxation as possible while still having fun, the best bet is Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Of course, Carmel-by-the-Sea is known best for its incredible wine tasting rooms from local wineries in the legendary Carmel Valley appellation. With so many wines to choose from, you can easily spend a week in Carmel and not run out of things to do, see and taste. After a few glasses of wine and a gourmet dinner, walking back to your wine-themed room, designed by a local winery, is the perfect way to end your day. You can do just that at the first ever wine-themed inn, Vendange Carmel Inn and Suites.
Working with over a dozen local wineries from the Carmel Valley, Vendange has created an inn that appeals not only to those looking for luxury, but those looking for a truly immersive wine experience.
With tables and chairs made of wine barrels, finished with a cork bar top, this will be an overnight experience you won’t soon forget.
We were invited to stay at Vendange in the Blair Estates winery-themed room. Each room is custom designed and furnished by the winery that sponsors that suite. Blair Estates had chosen a beautiful wine rack table with recycled cork countertop. The cork pieces that were laid into the countertop were from corks that had too many holes in them and were unfit to stop a bottle – a common problem of oversight for the wineries. So rather than throw them away they were made into a countertop. In addition there was a three panel panorama of Delfina’s vineyard – the field of grapes at the Estates with the mountains behind – and old family photos of the Blair family, a vivid purple orchid plant, and two chairs and a table on the patio that were made of former wine barrels. All this in addition to the stock furnishings provided by Vendange in every room – a flat screen LCD TV, stone tiled bathroom and shower, and the deepest, most plush California King bed I have ever slept in.
I spoke with manager Brian Lee when I stayed at Vendange about the incredible luxurious amenities, as well as the little extras unique to every room. He told me those amenities were the guiding principles that he and his brother had when creating this new inn. Sure, it may cost a little extra, but it provides a better experience for guests.
That is the feeling in all aspects of Vendange; it may be a little more costly for the owners, but it makes for a better experience. Most places offer a free continental breakfast in the lobby in the mornings. Vendange provides a free continental breakfast in the morning, as well as a free wine and cheese happy hour in the afternoon … because it makes a better experience for the guests.
Most places offer a very nice, clean room with fine amenities. Vendange gives guests a very nice, clean room with specific amenities to that suite including bottles of wine from the vineyard of the suite available in the room with wine glasses and a wine key, a TV with a light sensor that raises or lowers the brightness of the picture depending on ambient light conditions in the room, and decorations from the wine country itself, including in one room a grape vine that is 100 years old. Where else can you say that you slept under a 100-year-old grape vine after drinking the wine that came from the grapes of that vine’s descendant?
This really is a one-of-a kind inn, and each room is a one-of-a-kind stay in itself.
For those looking for the perfect place for a romantic weekend getaway, a week off from work or even just a stopover on the way up north, Vendange Carmel Inn and Suites is the place to stay. And if you stay in the Blair Estates room, try the Pinot Gris – you won’t regret it.