Rising out of a pine forest high above the ocean, the sand colored stone
inn with its floral landscaping is a welcome sight. We took the most dramatic
approach, driving northward through Big Sur along Highway One with its postcard
vistas and hairpin turns along cliffs that drop precipitously. California
artist Francis McComas called this "the greatest meeting of land and
water in the world," but it is not a drive for the faint-hearted.
Once there, we could enjoy the view in comfort. The sea, the rocks and
the sunset are visible from almost every part of the inn. As we sipped champagne
we watched the sunset from our suite. We didn't light our fireplace, but
others lit theirs, and as the fog settled in, the scent of burning pine
wafted through the air.
The main restaurant, Pacific's Edge, is highly acclaimed for its seafood,
but we opted for a light meal of pasta and salad from the more casual California
Market, which also packs picnic baskets. Both restaurants have access to
the view and to a wine list with about 1,000 choices.
Perched between Point Lobos and Yankee Point, the Highlands Inn is four
miles south of the quaint, but sophisticated village of Carmel and not far
from historic Monterey. The inn opened its doors in 1917 and its early guests
arrived by a rutted narrow road.
Recently remodeled and restored, the inn today has 142 rooms, most of
them suites with full kitchens and simple, subdued decor, which uses natural
woods and a palate of so-called southwestern pastels. All accommodations
have decks and many have spa tubs and sliding shoji screens conveniently
partitioning different areas.
Highlands Inn, P. O. Box 1700, Carmel, CA 93921. Tel. 408-624-3801,
800-538-9525, in Calif. 800-628-4811. Highlands Inn is a member of the Small
Luxury Hotels of the World. Prices range from $225 to $650 with some seasonal
specials. Reserve three to four weeks in advance for weekends.
-- Ruth Holcomb