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Getting There

Ventana Big Sur is one of those destinations that is on everyone’s list.  It is talked about all the time, especially about how difficult it is to book with points and how great of a value it is given that cash rates can go over $3,000 per night. I visited this much hyped property at the end of February 2022 for 3 nights and here’s my thoughts.

The drive can last between 2 to 3 hours

If you are traveling from outside California, Ventana is located in the Big Sur area which is a stretch of land famous for the junction of mountains and coastline and is about a 2.5 hour drive from San Francisco.  It is a beautiful drive during the day when you get to the Big Sur coastline but there is practically no cellular reception.

Resort Outline

Once you arrive, self or valet parking is available at Ventana.  There are two main areas for guests: the Big Sur House is for dining and is separate from the rest of the resort.  To get to Big Sur House from your room, you can request a golf cart or walk the 0.3mile trail on foot.  At anywhere on the resort, you can ask for a golf cart to come and transport you around.

map of Ventana
golf carts

Swimming Pools

There are 2 pool areas (meadow and mountain) and a Japanese bath house (separate men/women/mixed). The meadow pool has an infinity hot tub and you can also have lunch served to you here.

Meadow Pool
Mountain Pool

Check In Area

Check in is at the Social House. There is a pool table and this is where smores are located every night from 8-10PM.

Check In Area
Social House

How to Book with Points

It is a steal on points.

I booked at the 30,000 points/night rate for 3 nights a few months ago.  Availability is very scarce at this rate especially with the property moving up from a Category 7 to a Category 8 on March 22, 2022.  This is significant for two reasons.  The first is that base rates increase from 30,000 Hyatt points to 40,000 points and the second is that if you have a World of Hyatt Category 1-7 free night certificate, you no longer can use it at this resort.  

My recommendation is that if you find a few nights at the base rate, don’t wait!  It will soon be gone and your alternatives are to look for other dates or pay more points for a standard or even premium suite rate (if even they are available at all).

Room impressions

I booked a base room but was upgraded to the Pacific Suite as a World of Hyatt Globalist.  This room retailed for $3,500/night so I was essentially receiving a $10,000 trip for free!

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Hyatt Retail Prices

The rooms at Ventana are divided into “houses” (kind of like an apartment complex with a few rooms in each house).  The pros about my suite were that it faced the ocean with complete visual privacy, it had a 102°F jacuzzi always on in the back patio and there was another hot tub in the room.  

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Outdoor jacuzzi
Views from the jacuzzi

The cons were that it was not a traditional “suite” with a living room (it was simply a standard sized room with a soaking tub), you could not see the ocean very clearly because of the slope and vegetation outside your back door, and with rooms right next to each other, if your neighbor was using their back patio, you could hear everything.

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Suite views
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Lounging area

There were some other cool features within the room.  An old-school phone was present that could be used to call reception for anything from in-room dining to asking for transportation.  All the snacks and items in the fridge were included without extra charge.  There was a welcome assortment of tasty snacks upon arrival and two water bottles that you could bring home.  The door key was a circular Ventana pattern with built in RF to unlock your room.  There was a pair of binoculars.  And every night after the staff turned the room over, they left a gift (feather, jade stone, sweet smelling incense sage). 

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Double vanity
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All inclusive snacks
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Work desk
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Complimentary snacks and water bottles
Room Key


Dining is all-inclusive and some of the best I ever had.

The food at Ventana could by itself be a big reason to book a visit.  Some previous experiences at all-inclusive for me have resulted in mediocre to outright terrible food quality but the meals here have been carefully and thoughtfully prepared and do not disappoint.  The entire menu is available online to view if you are interested if you search “Ventana Big Sur dining menu”.

n room dining was available for all 3 meals plus there is a late night menu.  Breakfast and dinner were at the Sur House while lunch could also be ordered poolside or at a BBQ shop right at the entrance to Ventana.  

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BBQ shop

Breakfast and lunch were unlimited while dinner was limited to one app, one entree, and one dessert during my stay.  As mentioned earlier, in the room, there was a welcome platter when you checked in and every item in the mini fridge was included.  The only item not included was alcohol.

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One of my biggest recommendations was the French toast.  It was the best I ever had and my only regret was ordering it for the first time during the final breakfast.


There are a variety of unique and interesting activities that take advantage of the local environment and ecosystem.

The great part of this all-inclusive resort were that a lot of activities were included with a few others for an additional cost.  It was also a short drive from scenic Big Sur locations such as Pfeiffer Beach and some state parks.

The only paid activity I did was whale watching.  I really enjoyed it because the guide was passionate and extremely knowledgeable.  I learned a lot of the history of Big Sur and its wildlife while we drove down the coast and we stopped by some great spots to look at some properties, beaches and even some seals.  The only downside was we did not spot any whales.


The Redwood Hike was probably my favorite hike and my most recommended to start since you get a feel of the location. My guide showed us around the resort including the organic garden where they grew veggies and plants and even kept a chicken coup. We explored the breathtaking redwood trees, observed different plants and saw a bit of the coastline.

Redwood Hike
Redwood trees

Beekeeping was a very new activity introduced to Ventana and it was not as terrifying as I originally imagined.  The same guide who led me on the Redwood Hike was present and after a brief intro on bees, our group suited up in beekeeping attire and we proceeded to venture to the three beehive boxes.  She attempted to open one hive but the bees were not docile and started to swarm her so she closed it quickly.  Thankfully the 2nd hive was more peaceful and we were able to see the honeycombs that the bees were building up.  After that exhilarating experience, we finished up by tasting 5 different types of honey (I won’t spoil what the flavors were).


Falconry was another unique activity as we got to learn about and engage with different birds of prey.  The experience was made all the better by the instructor who was extremely passionate about these birds and captively educated us.  I gained a huge appreciation and awareness by the end of the session.  He then brought out 5 different birds of prey and we were allowed to pet one of them.  The last bird was trained to land on our gloved hand and we took turns practicing this drill and even got to experience the bird flying right past our heads.

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The coastal hike was a scenic walk along the coast up the mountain but the guide was energetic and made it a terrific experience.

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Coastal Hike

I missed the astronomy session at night but the guide (who was the same one as the coastal hike) summed up the different star patterns for me afterwards and there was even a telescope to look at the moon and stars up close.

Customer Service

All the staff members took pride in their jobs.

You can expect great service at Ventana Big Sur. All the guides during the activities were engaging, knowledgeable and passionate about what they did.  Waiters took great care of me during meals and I even found out that one of the golf cart drivers grew up on the resort while his parents worked here and now is continuing their legacy.

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Awesome staff

Final impressions

I have been hearing so much about what an aspirational resort that Ventana Big Sur was and I am glad to have visited before it moved up to a Category 8.  My favorite parts were my outdoor jacuzzi (which I soaked in every time I returned to my room) and the activities.  I love learning about the culture and environment in places I travel to and all the guides were exceptional.  Even just being in Big Sur with its unique location by the mountain and ocean made you feel like you’re part of a different world.

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Hyatt properties continue to be the best value on points and even with the introduction of peak pricing on points and category changes, it is easy to find great value across their portfolio.

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Editorial Note:
Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, vendors or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.