A weekend at the Carmel Valley Ranch

Vineyard at Carmel Valley Ranch
Vineyard at Carmel Valley Ranch

A couple of weeks ago, we spent a weekend at the luxurious ranch in the Carmel Valley, California — Carmel Valley Ranch.

We love Carmel-by-the-sea and usually go there to spend some time on the beach and walk around downtown, but we had never been to the Carmel Valley, which was only 20 minutes further inland.

We have our old-time favorite restaurant in the area called Baja Cantina. It’s a Mexican restaurant with a gorgeous patio nested with flowers, a fireplace, and breathtaking mountain views. So, we stopped there for lunch to enjoy some margaritas and quesadillas (try the Monterey Bay quesadilla with shrimp and artichokes!).

Baja Cantina restaurant is a great dining option near Carmel Valley Ranch

We arrived at the Carmel Valley Ranch at around 2:30 pm; the room wasn’t ready for us yet, so we decided to take a stroll around and explore the amenities. The Ranch itself is 500 acres of land with farms, a bee hive, vineyards, a spa, hiking trails, a golf course, and several restaurants. Carmel Valley Ranch dining includes The Valley Kitchen, River Ranch Café, Clubhouse Grill, and the Market & Creamery. Therefore our plan was to stay on the property for the entire time.


This hotel is a Category 6 Hotel from the Unbound Collection by Hyatt and costs 25,000 Hyatt points per night on a Standard night. So we booked a Vineyard Oak Studio with King and Outdoor Tub for 50,000 Hyatt points for two nights. It’s worth noting that the room was posted at $929 per night if paying with cash (total of $1,858 for two nights), so we were able to redeem Hyatt points at a whopping 3.72 cents per point.

The Room

Carmel Valley Ranch room

We got a 700-square-foot 1 King Bed Studio with a vineyard view. It had a spacious private deck with an outdoor bathtub(!), a small dining set, and a double-sided fireplace.

Carmel Valley Ranch patio with an outdoor tub

We had to request a rollaway bed for Sophia as they had no 2 Queen Beds rooms available.


The heated floor in the bathroom was a nice touch (maybe that was the reason why Zoe wanted to hang out there all the time), and it had a deep soaking tub and a separate shower cabin. The toiletries included a lavender-scented shampoo and shower gel, a little lavender salt pouch, and even a little lavender pillow spray made out of their homegrown lavenders from their lavender fields!

We reserved an outdoor table at the Valley Kitchen for our first dinner on the property a couple of days before our arrival. Unfortunately, they had a power outage on that day and had to cancel our reservation, but they gladly moved it to the next day. It was very accommodating of them because there were no tables available on OpenTable anymore.


Carmel Valley Ranch Property Map
Carmel Valley Ranch Property Map


Since we didn’t have to be at the restaurant at 5pm that night, we headed straight to the pool!

And not to say the least, we were a little disappointed with it. Now, we knew that the hotel had separate adult-only (16+) and family pools, but we didn’t really understand how big the property was or knew exactly where our room would be.

The adult-only pool was right by the Lodge and the main restaurant with its own bar, an infinity hot tub overlooking the valley, and vineyards.

Whereas the family pool appeared to be on the other side of the property and obviously required a drive (you can also take a shuttle that goes to any location on the property) down the hill. However, that wasn’t the only issue; the family pool was shared between the hotel guests and the Carmel Valley Ranch Club members, so you can imagine how crowded it was on a hot weekend afternoon, and it wasn’t nearly as nice as the one at the Lodge area.

Pool at Carmel Valley Ranch

Being parents, we definitely understand how annoying kids can be and that some people just want to enjoy quiet time while relaxing by the pool. Still, having the same quality experience with your family would be nice.


River Ranch Café

It appeared that River Ranch Café, which served hotdogs, pizza, and burgers (located by the family pool area), closed at 6 pm, and we learned it the hard way too late. Thus, we did not get a chance to try this place out. By the time we got back to the room, it was already 6:30 pm.

The Market & Creamery

We went to the Lodge and asked if they had any quick food options available. Yes, we could’ve just gone to any random restaurant or ordered in, but everyone was tired and hungry. Luckily for us, The Market had some flatbreads, so we took them back to our room, as there was a perfect place to eat on our deck.


To finish the first day of our vacation, we all walked back to the Lodge for some s’mores! The Hotel had 3 large fire-pits and provided free s’more kits! Sophia definitely has a sweet tooth, so you can imagine that little happy face covered in marshmallow!

S'mores at Carmel Valley Ranch

That first night Zoe went to bed later than usual which often happens when we travel and woke up at her usual time. Here we thought that the screaming in the middle of the night serenades are in the past and our baby girl can enjoy vacations as much as we do. However, the second night immediately proved us wrong when she woke up at midnight and finally went back to sleep at 3 am, and that was when all the rocking/singing, holding, putting her in our bed, giving her water did not help and we just let her cry it out in her crib for 5 minutes or so (sorry neighbors, we tried our best).

Breakfast at the Valley Kitchen

In the morning, we had a hearty breakfast at the Valley Kitchen. Read more about our dinner at the Valley Kitchen below.

The Clubhouse Grill

Read more about our casual-style lunch at the Clubhouse Grill below.

The Ranch

Then we decided to take a short hike (10 minutes down the hill) through the vineyard to the farm with goats and chickens. The weather was perfect, and the view was amazing; on the way, we passed beautiful lavender fields which infused the air with a pleasant aroma.

The small farm had goats, a little garden, and a chicken coup. You can feed the chickens, but Sophia got scared of the possible pecking and promptly refused. She wasn’t afraid of goats, so she was thrilled to feed them with some hay.

Chickens at Carmel Valley Ranch
Goats at Carmel Valley Ranch

We still had some time before lunch so we went back to the room to soak in the outdoor tub!

Lunch at the Clubhouse Grill

For lunch we wanted to try out some other food options on the property, and the Clubhouse Grill was one of them which welcomed golfers or not. So, we took a quick shuttle ride to the clubhouse down the hill. It wasn’t crowded at all and their outdoor patio offered serene views of the valley and the golf course. We had a couple of juicy burgers and beers there.

After lunch, Zoe fell asleep in her stroller, so we took a long walk along the paved roads of the property. There are a couple of big picturesque oak tree swings on the ranch, and Sophia really enjoyed swinging on them.

Carmel Valley Ranch swing

Dinner at The Valley Kitchen

For dinner at The Valley Kitchen, we were seated on the terrace overlooking their vineyards and the valley. We couldn’t be happier about it because it was such a warm and nice evening, and since we booked the hotel two months in advance, we couldn’t expect a heatwave in October right on that particular weekend.

While Zoe was watching Elmo’s friends and Sophia was busy with crayons, we had a couple of cocktails (they even had a lavender-infused cocktail called Lavender Bliss!).

The Valley Kitchen, Carmel Valley Ranch dining
The Valley Kitchen, Carmel Valley Ranch dining

We had mushroom risotto, scallops, and an ahi poke. It was a Saturday night, so naturally, there was a wedding reception on the lower deck, and once they turned the music up, Roman heaved with a sigh of relief, “you can’t hear our kids whining now 😅.”

The Valley Kitchen, Carmel Valley Ranch dining

The Corral at Carmel Valley Ranch

In the morning, we hiked up the hill on the Huff’n’Puff trail, which speaks for itself to the Corral with horses, sheep, baby goats, cows, donkeys, and even alpacas! Kids sure loved seeing all these animals.

Corral at Carmel Valley Ranch
The Corral at Carmel Valley Ranch
Corral at Carmel Valley Ranch


When staying at Hyatt properties, we try to get late checkout at 4 pm (which is upon availability), and it’s always a lifesaver. You get to enjoy some extra time at the hotel and have lunch there.

The Valley Kitchen lunch, Carmel Valley Ranch dining
The Valley Kitchen, lunch by the Adult only pool

We also charge restaurant food to our room so we can earn points on eligible spend as a part of our stay (as well as credit card points). Ask the server to ring the check if you’re charging to the room before you check out; otherwise, it may not count as eligible spend.

Bottom line

Carmel Valley Ranch is a big oasis in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains, with quality restaurants, farms, and hiking trails. Regarding family vacation, we would say it’s older kids oriented; it was a little challenging for us with the baby in a stroller due to the non-flat terrain and occasional stairs. Overall it was a great experience; excellent service, friendly staff, and stunning views.

You can apply for the following credit cards to earn Hyatt points that can be redeemed at Carmel Valley Ranch:

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