Carmel Valley Ranch
A rope swing—dangling from an oak tree just outside the lobby—signifies the youthful aesthetic: what was once a gray-haired golf resort just east of Carmel is now a sprawling outpost well-suited for families, and couples too. Under the new owner, Hyatt heir John Pritzker, emphasis falls on outdoorsy diversions like beekeeping, organic gardening, and open-air yoga. Guided nature walks wind through the 450-acre scrub-oak-studded property and into the wilderness beyond. The 139 rooms, all one-bedroom suites, showcase a rustic-chic look, while the Spa Aiyana is stocked with soaps and essential oils extracted from the flowers of on-site lavender fields.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.