Skip to main content

Windows Magazine



The view from Ventana

Alila Ventana Big Sur: Where Sustainability Meets Luxury
Alila Ventana Big Sur: Where Sustainability Meets Luxury

Sustainability is at the core of Alila Ventana Big Sur’s design and business philosophy, and it is reflected in everything that we do – from the way we source our ingredients to the way we built and operate our resort. Sustainability not only protects our planet’s future, but also contributes to the well-being of our guests, their families and generations to come.

Ventana was designed to respect the earth in every way possible. Much of the landscaping is drought-tolerant and comprised of native species, and it is irrigated using collected rainwater. Whenever possible, the Sur House serves local, sustainably sourced organic vegetables, fruit, seafood and meat. In addition to our culinary efforts in sustainability, more than half of all furniture at Ventana is made from reclaimed wood from the property and surrounding area. So even when you’re indoors, you’re still connected to nature!

When you visit Alila Ventana Big Sur, you are going to experience a place that has placed a major focus on sustainable practices– Whether you’re aware of it or not. Each guest room offers a great view of the surrounding ocean and coastline, as well as in-room materials printed on recycled paper and soy-based inks whenever possible. There is so much that goes into making your luxury getaway eco-friendly. While you sit back and relax, here are some of the sustainability practices happening all around you at the resort:

  • Wastewater is recycled in a geo-flow subterranean drip system.

  • Our public bathroom faucets and guestroom toilets are low-water consumption

  • HVAC systems use smart-room technology, and all HVAC/refrigeration fluids are reclaimed, reused and recycled.

  • Irrigation uses 100% recycled water, and is turned off during periods of rain or cold.

  • Plant waste is chipped, mulched and returned to the earth.

  • We have an extensive property-wide recycling program for paper, newspaper, cardboard, cans, glass, aluminum, plastic, fluorescent bulbs, dry cell batteries, small amounts of copper and brass, waste oil, paints, solvents, ink cartridges and unneeded office equipment.

  • Styrofoam is not used anywhere on the property.

  • Ventana maintains membership in the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, and adheres to guidelines on buying and serving seafood from sustainable sources.

  • We provide guests with complimentary reusable water bottles to reduce the use of plastic; refilling stations are located around the property.

  • Ventana provides on-property housing for more than 40 employees, helping to reduce traffic and vehicle emissions.

  • The cleaning products used throughout the resort are non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

  • We have three electric-vehicle charging stations for our guests utilizing environmentally friendly plug-in hybrid or electric vehicles, including eight Tesla superchargers and two regular chargers.

We will continue to ensure our efforts in providing a truly unique guest experience work hand-in-hand with protecting and preserving the land we call home. Our greatest relationship is with the world around us, and so we invite you to join Alila Ventana Big Sur on our mission to leave the planet better than we found it. 

A Menu Where Mountain Meets Sea: An Interview with Executive Chef Zachary Ladwig
A Menu Where Mountain Meets Sea: An Interview with Executive Chef Zachary Ladwig

We often find ourselves inspired by the natural world around us at Alila Ventana Big Sur. And with this appreciation for nature, we tend to become collaborators with the earth– Creating art, experiences, menus, music, and more. One of our greatest collaborators with the environment is our very own Executive Chef Zachary Ladwig. We sat down with him to learn more about how his menu curation aligns with the nature of Big Sur. Here’s what we he had to say:

On Backyard Ingredients:

Showing his admiration of Big Sur, Chef noted, “The landscape here is striking, it’s really breathtaking. The uniqueness of it is the aqua hues and the fact that we’re set on a steep hillside overlooking the ocean. We have the best of all worlds, and we use the best of what’s around us.” He told us that many of the ingredients on your plate come from the land around you: Mushrooms and herbs, foraged from the land; Locally, and sustainably sourced seafood from the Pacific Ocean; and even fresh pasta, made daily with eggs from the neighborhood hens.

On Community in a Culinary World:

While Chef runs a tight ship in the kitchen, the sourcing of ingredients takes a village– And fortunately, the Big Sur community is bountiful and generous. Here are some of the incredible partnerships that allow Chef Zachary to create uniquely flavorful dishes with his ‘ingredient-forward’ approach:

  • Chickens from Fog Line

  • Ducks from 38 North 

  • Produce from Rancho Rico (including Chef’s favorite: persimmons!)

  • Mushrooms and herbs from local foresters

  • Seafood from local fishermen

On His Strengths & Faves:

“Before coming to Alila Ventana Big Sur, I was at Dunton Hot Springs and Inn at Dos Brisas. We did all organic farming on the property, so I bring a strong ambition to maintain the integrity, simplicity, and purity of each ingredient. My strength is working with single vegetables, and single vegetable families, and highlighting them in a dish”. You can see this technique by Chef carried through in dishes like his organic carrots with carrot miso dressing and herbs.

As for favorites, we tempted Chef to tell us his all-time favorite ingredient. His current obsession? Persimmons! With excitement, he told us, “This ingredient has been a favorite of mine for a long time. When they come around each season, I try to do something new with them. It’s a unique, sweet fruit that lends itself to more savory dishes. Down the road, there’s an antique orchard that’s been bringing in amazing persimmons for the last two weeks– We’re talking over 100lb per week! We’re pretty fortunate”. 

On Dining Like a Pro:

We asked Chef if there was any advice he’d give a food novice when approaching the menu at Ventana Big Sur. He encouraged an open mind (and empty stomach), an appreciation for the purity of the ingredients, and the willingness to try new things. His recommended dinner order? He says, “Start with the organic carrots with carrot miso dressing & herbs. Then, the beetroot cured salmon with baby beets & housemade yogurt. Our pasta is all made in house, so move into handmade seaweed spaghetti with sea urchin sauce”. Sounds like a true Big Sur palette exploration to us!

On His Dream Dinner:

Of course we had to ask the age-old question (with a twist): If you could cook for, and then dine with anyone in the world, who would it be? His answer: “I’ve gotten to cook for so many neat people throughout my career. If I could cook for anyone and then dine with them, it would be my 6-year old son who lives in Texas. He has an amazing palette, and he always comes with great dinner questions”. Hearts=melted.

And Finally, On The Future:

You may think a new Executive Chef in town would mean a new menu, new rules, new everything. Not with Chef Zachary. He firmly believes in the motto “Slow is fast and fast is smooth”-- A saying aligned to his approach in stepping into this new role. He says, “Immediate change is not a thing I’m doing. Steady, incremental changes is the way to go”. 

A few things we can predict in a future with Chef Zachary leading the way:

  1. Sustainable sourcing will continue to be a key practice at Ventana.

  2. You can definitely expect Persimmon season to be a party in the kitchen.

  3. Partnerships will grow, and hopefully, so will the culinary community in Big Sur.

  4. The natural landscape will inspire our new chef and his (incremental) menu additions. 

As for now, we’ll be eagerly waiting to see what Chef creates next!

Special Note:

On behalf of Alila Ventana Big Sur, we’d like to thank our partners and vendors for their business, friendship, and generosity. We are lucky to work with those who also value sustainability and eco-responsibility in the culinary world. If you are visiting the area, we encourage you to pay a visit to our partners and shop local for the best ingredients in Big Sur!

Awards & Accolades
Spotlight: Condé Nast: Readers’ Choice Awards 2022
Spotlight: Condé Nast: Readers’ Choice Awards 2022

We are proud to have been named in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2022 as one of the Top 12 Resorts in Northern California. While the natural beauty of the central coast may draw our guests to Alila Ventana Big Sur, it is the dedication, enthusiasm, and genuine care of our incredible team members that leave our guests with unforgettable memories and the desire to return. 

In honor of our recent Readers’ Choice Award, we wanted to highlight a few guest experience reviews* from Trip Advisor that remind us why we we do what we do: 

Anniversary Joy 

This was one of the most magical places we've visited in Big Sur and the Bay Area, not to mention around the world. The setting and amenities and hotel itself were gloriously luxurious and serene, but what made the stay were the staff. Truly some of the most kind, energetic and engaged people I've ever encountered at a fine hotel and resort. They were so proud of the place, the experience and their role there. It was a joy to interact with every single person we met, from valet to room service to wait staff at the restaurant, guides in the forest, check-in, the pool, EVERYONE! 

– Tracy E.

The Ultimate Lifetime Experience & Global Travel Destination

Alila Ventana Big Sur is the epitome of a magical and unrivaled getaway in the beautiful area of Big Sur, California. Alila Ventana offers stunning resort facilities, a beyond-gorgeous nature oriented setting, world-class service, and delicious yet sophisticated cuisine offered in the all-inclusive package continuously sourced from local ingredients.

My wife and I have been fortunate to have had 2 trips to Alila Ventana over the past few years. It is hands down our favorite resort in the world and a resort we plan to frequent as often as we can…Whether it be exploring the beautiful hiking trails across the resort, lounging by one of the two pools/spas, enjoying ocean and sunset views, dining at the Sur House, or just relaxing in the exceptional "modern cabin" rooms, Alila Ventana checks every box for the perfect getaway and is an absolute gem for those who enjoy traveling. It is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

The hotel is phenomenally managed in all facets and truly offers a world-class experience. Not only is Alila Ventana by far the best resort in the beautiful Big Sur region but is a "must visit" for the most passionate and discerning global travelers.

– Andrew D. 

Beyond My Wildest Dreams: MAGNIFICENT! 

Words nor photos can adequately express the enormity of the beautiful experience that being at this spectacular property is and was… The resort has embraced the pristine beauty of the surroundings, which are incomparable. There is nothing contrived, it all flows and allows the guest to feel the depth of this most exquisite place.

The arrival through the Coastal Redwood forest to check in takes your breath away…Every single employee, from housekeeping to serving at the restaurants to check-in and experiences seemed full of joy and so happy to be in that beautiful place and help us to have the most stellar experience.

THE FOOD!!! OMG…The service!!! Unmatched… We loved everything we tried and could not get enough of their blueberry rosemary ice-cream!!!

We were beyond amazed by the incredible Falconry experience with Antonio. Again, words cannot describe this. Antonio is so learned and shared so many interesting and compelling facts with us: I think we may become birders! The beekeeping experience with James was equally wonderful. What a bright and delightful guy! He made it interesting, fun and we learned so much and feel, again, compelled to learn more about our surroundings and nature. James Nimmons also taught an astronomy class that was WONDERFUL!! Do not miss this opportunity while staying at Ventana!!

The mountain pool was a wonderful place to lunch and relax, and that spa that overlooks the forest was MAGICAL! The Japanese Bath was also a delightful spot: especially to see the stars at night!

The smells, the sounds (wind in the trees, birds, raindrops), the magnificent service, the fantastic food and drink, the location--as close to heaven as I believe I have ever been--and I say that as a person of faith!

Thank you to everyone who makes this resort so very special and full of kindness and appreciation for the magnificent place it is so exquisitely positioned within! 

– Amanda B. 

Not Enough Superlatives to Describe Ventana

So many aspects of Ventana deserve my highest praise. Big Sur is a magical place--the iconic rugged coastline, the redwood forests of massive trees that have stoically watched over Big Sur's inhabitants for hundreds of years, the spiritual vibe felt on the area's numerous hiking trails, and so much else. Ventana, even though a "resort" with all the expected comforts, incorporates all of these, as it rises hundreds of feet above the ocean. It is a VERY romantic place. 

Our room had an ocean view. Our balcony had a hammock which I used to drift away for a few minutes every day. The rooms, the food, and most of all, the obviously knowledgeable, well trained and genuinely gracious employees (on every level) made our 5 night stay one of my most memorable vacations, and I have traveled extensively for over 50 years. The entire staff's service was memorable.

We languished at times at one of the 2 pools and especially enjoyed the Japanese baths. We also spent much of our days hiking at Andrew Molera State Park and at Pfeiffer State Park. The hiking trails range from easy to very strenuous and everything in between. There are some excellent walks on the Ventana resort property as well. As the title above suggests, there just aren't enough words.......

We cannot thank our guests and the readers of Condé Nast Traveler enough for the praise and recognition of our efforts to create a truly memorable experience. We look forward to being part of your stories created at Alila Ventana Big Sur, and we hope you share them with us!

*Reviews may be edited for clarity

Mindful Travel: Experiences with Intention
Mindful Travel: Experiences with Intention

Mindful travel is more than the thought process behind planning your stay, booking your flight, and checking off a packing list. It’s when you use your time away to become closer to yourself and the world around you. At Alila Ventana Big Sur, we encourage you to move, gaze, listen, and be still with intention. 

And it’s also why we offer Signature Experiences and Alila Experiences, thoughtfully crafted to help you tap into your most mindful self:

1. Morning Movement

There’s nothing like a guided flow of movement to start your day with an energizing buzz of endorphins. We invite you to join us for Tai Chi, Yoga and Meditation, or a stroll through the property to awaken the body, mind, and heart with mindful actions.

Dig Deeper: Tune in to your body’s rhythm by focusing on your breathing during every movement.

2. Take a Hike

Nature is a luxury and you deserve to immerse yourself in its wonder. Go on our guided Redwood Hike and be an observer of all things big and small in the world around you. Fill your lungs with the air of mountain and sea as you climb a gentle grade of 1000 ft. on our daily Coast Ridge Hike. And if you’re really looking to get lost in nature (while staying on the right path) sign up for our Into The Wilderness Adventure program, curated by our experts to guide you through Big Sur’s most awe-inspiring landscapes.

Dig Deeper: Tap into your sense of awe as you explore the world with fresh eyes.

3. Listen With Your Soul

Dive into your deepest self with our Unity Alchemy Sound Journey experience. This ancient healing technique aims to stimulate the body’s natural mechanisms to heal itself through the vibrations of alchemy crystal singing bowls, rattles, tuning forks and chimes. A guided meditation will take you to a deep state of peace and relaxation, ending with a traditional sage clearing to leave you feeling rejuvenated. 

Dig Deeper: Journal about your experience to explore the emotions felt before and after.

4. Do Nothing

Seriously. Go to a place that speaks to you– The rocky shores of Molera Beach, a shady spot under the towering Redwoods, or an unparalleled view of the Pacific Ocean perched on the cliffs of Big Sur’s coast. And then once you’re there, do nothing. Be still in the moment and let intuition guide you. Maybe you’ll find a spark of inspiration, or a wave of calm. No matter what you discover within, welcome it with gratitude. 

Dig Deeper: Challenge yourself to be screen-free during your time of stillness.

Mindful travel. It’s more than making memories– It’s about creating a connection with nature, while learning more about yourself along the way. Now is the time to venture to Alila Ventana Big Sur and elevate your experiences with intention.

Load More Articles
Select travel dates: -
Field Selections
Reasons to Book
Still Exclusive. Now Inclusive.

To make your stay as carefree as possible, Ventana bookings include all meals and a host of other amenities. Your Leisure Concierge will help plan every aspect of your stay.

Select travel Dates: -
Field Selections
Reasons to Book
Why Book With Us
  • Best Rates Guaranteed
  • Exclusive Packages
  • More Availability
Modify / Cancel My booking