Cover: Room at Chaminade Resort & Spa, Santa Cruz, California
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull
Nestled amidst towering Redwood and Eucalyptus trees, the Chaminade Resort and Spa sits atop a mountain overlooking the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
As we drove up the tree-lined road to the resort, we anticipated a rustic lodge – the typical upscale resort in the woods with dark woods and lots of leather furniture. Boy, were we wrong.
The rooms & suites
The Spanish mission style resort is spread across 300 acres, with 156 rooms and suites in 11 buildings, and has recently undergone a huge renovation. Arriving at the door of our junior suite in building 11, a smile crossed our faces as we were greeted with a room number plate created from dominos.
Opening the door…warm colors and an eclectic sense of playfulness filled the room – so appropriate for a community well-known for its vibrant lifestyle.
The clever, bohemian decor ranged from a cabinet styled like an antique refrigerator that housed the mini-fridge to the measuring stick inspired coat rack. But the pièce de résistance was the headboard – an abacus!
Each item in the spacious room seemed to have been carefully selected for both form and function. Underneath the coat rack was a bench with built-in cubbies – perfect for storing backpacks and shoes, as well as providing extra seating.
No matchy-matchy nightstands here. Each side of the bed had different tables – both with a cool factor, plenty of built-in power, and bright red lighting accents.
In one corner, an oversized leather chair with a stylish reading lamp and a laptop table provided a comfortable spot for catching up on email or watch the huge flat panel TV. On the opposite side of the room, a nook with a sectional couch & rustic coffee table was the perfect place for enjoying a glass of wine.
The bath was sleek with a clean, fresh feel, natural wood accent pieces, BeeKind – Gilchrist & Soames toiletries, and fluffy white towels.
Industrial-inspired shelving, drawers, and racks in an alcove outside the bath provide plenty of storage and a full-length mirror turns it into a great dressing area. An oversized safe, bathrobe, hair dryer and coffee/tea maker rounded out the amenities.
Our first-floor room had a private patio overlooking the forest – a tranquil spot to relax and enjoy nature.
Paths meander throughout the resort, leading from each of the guest room buildings to the main building, spa, pool and other amenities. We thoroughly enjoyed the short strolls to dine in the main building, but for those not desiring to do so, the hotel has a van to shuttle guests back and forth.
Each morning, we headed over to the main building where coffee was available in the lobby. Numerous seating areas are scattered throughout the main building, from small intimate tables for two to larger sections for groups.
After coffee, we’d wander out to the back of the resort to watch the day come to life and take in those stunning views of the Santa Cruz hillside and Monterey Bay in the distance.
Things to do
With a wide variety of activities available throughout the resort, it’s easy to understand why Chaminade is well-known as a great getaway spot. Guests can choose between hiking trails, a spa, a heated outdoor pool, hot tubs, tennis courts, a volleyball court, and a great fitness center to create their own special retreat.
3 miles of private hiking trails
Chaminade has three hiking trails on the resort’s 200+ acres: the short half-mile green loop near the main building, the 1 1/4 mile red trail or the 1 3/4 mile blue trail, which was our selection. The hiking trail map can be downloaded on the Chaminade’s website and one is provided at check-in as well.
The red and blue trails wind through soaring Eucalyptus & Redwood trees, a babbling stream, miles of lush greenery and past the Lindwood Lodge where Judge Curtis Lindley built a summer home in the early 1900s on the property.
There’s no excuse for missing a workout at Chaminade. The fitness center is large, with a great selection of top of the line equipment and machines including treadmills, ellipticals, stair machines, and bikes. If group sessions are more your style, yoga, Zumba, Pilates, or circuit training classes are offered most mornings and some evenings.
Spa at Chaminade
No retreat is complete without a visit to the spa and Chaminade’s is 1,700 square feet of luxury and serenity.
Alluring aromas, tranquil sounds, and beautiful artwork await at The Spa at Chaminade – which definitely is a splurge-worthy way to relax and recharge the senses and deserves a spot on your retreat agenda.
Featuring handmade, all organic products, The Spa at Chaminade offers a full menu of innovative services administered in rooms named after essential oils like Jasmine, Rosemary, Sage. Following treatments, spa guests are invited to relax on the private spa patio next to the koi pond overlooking the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Chaminade has four lighted tennis courts and equipment is available by loan at the fitness center.
Swimming pools and hot tubs
Whether you want to soak up some California sun or go for a swim, Chaminade’s heated 50-foot outdoor pool and hot tub are available daily from 7am to 11pm. For a special day at the pool, cabanas and poolside food and beverages are also available seasonally.
Dining & beverages
While at Chaminade Resort & Spa, we had drinks and appetizers at the bar, dined at Linwood’s Bar & Grill, attended a special event, and experienced Sunday brunch at the Sunset Restaurant – and the food and the service were spectacular.
Linwood’s Bar & Grill
With a menu featuring local, seasonal fare, Linwood’s Bar & Grill is a casual meeting place popular with hotel guests and locals alike. At the bar, the sautéed prawns stole the show, accompanied by a mean lemon drop martini. For the main course, the scallops were seared to perfection and the grilled eggplant in a fig reduction was sublime.
Chaminade special events
Throughout the year, Chaminade hosts special food & beverage events ranging from their popular Farm to Table Wine dinners in the summer, to holiday dinners, to events featuring a specific beverage like… tequila!
We were fortunate to make the Patrón Tequila tasting party while visiting, where Chaminade unveiled their own bespoke barrel (about 27 cases) of aged Patron tequila unique to the resort. The Reposado had been aged for 9 months in a Hungarian Oak barrel and was featured throughout the event in specialty cocktail flights.
Sunday brunch at Sunset Restaurant
Always a fan of a Sunday that begins with bubbles, the Chaminade Sunday brunch is an indulgence extraordinaire.
As with Linwood’s, Sunday brunch at Sunset Restaurant was once again a blend of locals and guests, which is always a good indication of great food and service.
The food was superb and plentiful doesn’t quite describe the multitude of offerings. Raviolis smoked salmon, eggs Benedict, a carving station, custom omelets, waffles, an array of vegetables – and the list goes on, and on, and on.
My personal favorites – the raviolis in an arrabbiata sauce and the stuffed french toast. Oh my – heavenly.
The top 5 things we loved most about Chaminade
- The staff at Chaminade was exceptional – helpful and friendly from morning to night, throughout every area of the hotel.
- The guest rooms are large, well-appointed, creative, and functional with plenty of seating room.
- The food is outstanding and the Sunday brunch was one of the best we’ve experienced.
- The on-site, private hiking trails are beautiful and convenient.
- The resort reflects Santa Cruz’ casual charm in a beautiful, tranquil setting – the atmosphere is upscale, yet comfortable.
Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Chaminade Resort & Spa for hosting us as their guest. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.