Alila Ventana Big Sur Review


Earlier this summer my husband and I spent 3 nights at the adults-only Alila Ventana Big Sur. This is one of those properties that gets a lot of ooohs and ahhhhs in the points and miles space due to its gorgeous location and being a one-of-a-kind redemption. So did it live up to the hype? Keep reading to find out in this Alila Ventana Big Sur review.


Getting the Points

This is a category 8 Hyatt property (the highest category there is with Hyatt), so you’re looking at spending 35K, 40K, or 45K points per night. We went during peak pricing so the total cost was 135K points for our 3-night stay. The cash rate was around $2,300 a night, so this was a really great value for my points.

My husband and I recently racked up a lot of points by opening and referring each other to a few Chase Ink Business cards. We transferred some of those points to Hyatt to book our stay. If you want to learn more about how to earn and redeem Hyatt points get our free guide!


Alila Ventana Big Sur view from grass area

The perfect place to sit and take in the views


Getting There

We flew from Salt Lake City to San Jose on Southwest Airlines. We booked the flights on my husband’s account and I flew free thanks to him having the Southwest Companion Pass. The total cost was 14,000 points + 22.40 in taxes.

We rented a car (you definitely want a car) and drove for just over two hours before arriving at the hotel.

Another option many people do is to fly into San Francisco and drive from there. You’re looking at about another 40 minutes of driving if you go this route.



Alila Ventana Big Sur is (like the name suggests) located in Big Sur, California. I had been to Monterey and Carmel before and for some reason, I was expecting Big Sur to be a little like Carmel (but smaller) and have a little town nearby. I’m not sure where I got that idea in my head because Big Sur has no town. You are essentially plopped down in the middle of the forest. And it’s not just any forest. You are plopped down in a forest of redwood trees! In addition to the stunning redwoods, you have the rugged Pacific coastline and views of the ocean from the resort as well. Seriously, it’s pretty unbelievable.


Redwood trees at Alila Ventana Big Sur

Views for days at Alila Ventana Big Sur


The Property

I’ve never been glamping, but I imagine the Alila Ventana Big Sur is glamping on steroids. When you roll up to the resort, you are greeted by someone who will open the gated entry for you. From there, you continue on until you reach the valet (there is self-parking available, too, which we did the other days as the self-park lot was right by our room).

Check-in is located at the Social House. At check-in, we were told that our rate (135K World of Hyatt points) included all tips and meals. Yes, you read that right! All your meals are included at the Alila Ventana Big Sur! At the Sur House, they have a nice gathering room with a fireplace, board games, a pool table, lemonade, and iced tea during the day, and s’mores and hot chocolate in the evening.


Pool table at Ventana Big Sur

We enjoyed playing pool and board games in the Social House


There are two pools onsite. The main pool was our favorite and had a large infinity hot tub with views of redwood trees. The pool itself has ocean views. Lunch is available to order at the pool, and seating was never an issue during our stay, but that could have been due to the fact that it was a little chilly. But I get the sense that it never gets crowded. We didn’t see very many guests during our stay.


The main pool at Alila Ventana Big Sur

The main pool at Alila Ventana Big Sur


hot tub at Alila Ventana Big Sur

The most dreamy hot tub

There is also a fitness center, sauna, Japanese bath house, and spa to enjoy. The services at the spa are pricey (more than other nice resorts I’ve stayed at). We stopped by for a quick visit to check out their complimentary bath salt station. Here you can choose from a selection of scents and make your own bag of bath salts to enjoy.


spa at Alila Ventana Big Sur bath salts

We brought our bath salts home as a souvenir from the trip


The Room

We used a suite upgrade award (you earn two of these as milestone rewards when you hit 50 elite nights with Hyatt and two more when you hit 60 nights) to book the Big Sur Suite. In our room, we were welcomed with a snack of cheese, crackers, and local honey. We were also given two reusable water bottles. The room was nice and spacious with an extra large soaking tub, a wood-burning fireplace, and a record player (records are available at the Social House). There was also a minibar and everything there is included with your stay.


Big Sur Suite Alila Ventana

Big Sur suite


Big Sur suite Ventana Big Sur

Our room had an oversized tub + a separate shower.

We had a nice spacious balcony with a seating area and a hammock. From here, we could see the ocean off in the distance.


Big Sur suite room view

We enjoyed our nice oversized balcony

The room had a definite cabin feel to it (but a really, really nice cabin)! Each night we enjoyed turndown service with a note and a little something…like Jade stones or a feather.



The on-property restaurant is the Sur House. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You will need reservations for dinner. The food here was good but not something I would rave about. We ate here for our first two nights. The service was really great.

Just down the road from the resort is the Big Sur Smokehouse. I was really looking forward to eating here as I love BBQ, but unfortunately, it wasn’t open during our stay.

We had room service for breakfast and lunch and one of our dinners. The food was really good and came quickly. One thing I loved was they included a little button and when you are ready for them to take the dishes you just press that and they’ll come get them. You can also text in your room service order which I liked much more than having to call.


Alila Ventana room service breakfast

We enjoyed daily room service for breakfast


Alila Ventana Big Sur dinner

We actually enjoyed our room service dinner more than our dinner at the restaurant.


You can also request a picnic lunch, and they’ll pack it all up so you can take your lunch to go. As I mentioned above, you can also order lunch by the main pool.



There are plenty of activities to do at Alila Ventana Big Sur. Each day there are complimentary activities (Signature Experiences) as well as paid activities (Alila Experiences). Signature Experiences include morning yoga, guided hikes, star gazing, etc. Alila’s Experiences include things like axe throwing, bike tours, soap making, and more.

Just a few minutes down the road, you’ll find Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. We hiked the Pfeiffer Falls & Valley View trails. These weren’t too long or difficult, and the views were beautiful. Parking here is $10, and they do accept credit cards.

McWay Falls is about 15-20 minutes from Ventana. You’ll need to bring $10 cash to park. From there you’ll walk for just a couple of minutes to see the waterfall. It’s pretty amazing seeing a waterfall on the beach! It was quick (like a 2-minute walk), so it won’t take long.


McWay Falls

View of McWay Falls

Garrapata State Park is also worth visiting. We stopped here on our way back to the San Jose airport. Parking is free and easy to find on the side of the road. This state park is right along the beach so you can enjoy the ocean views and all the beautiful wildflowers. We also saw sea lions out on the rocks.


Garrapata State park bridge

Garrapata State Park was beautiful


Carmel-by-the-Sea is about an hour away (towards San Jose), so we also stopped there on our way back to the airport. Carmel is so cute, and if I were to do this trip over, I would stay one night there as there is so much to do in Carmel and nearby Monterey.

Bottom Line

So would I go back to Alila Ventana? I really enjoyed my stay and have nothing bad to say about the property.  But I grew up in Northern California near the beach and redwood trees. Most of our trip was chilly and overcast, and the scenery felt a lot like my hometown. I think maybe I was spoiled by growing up in that area and don’t need to vacation to places that look the same. This trip also made me realize I’m a warm-weather traveler and prefer beach destinations. I don’t think we’ll be back, but rest assured, Alila Ventana Big Sur is a special, one-of-a-kind place, and I’m glad we went!








View from Alila Ventana Big Sur

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. American Express is a Travel Mom Squad advertiser, but we always show the best public offer even when we don’t earn a commission. Terms Apply. 

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  1. MC says:

    We feel in love with the place this past February. STayed 4 nights. Going back in April for 5 nights. I like to split the stay with 2 nights in CArmel and then Ventanta for 4/5 nights. I had the exact same suite – ours was a magical upgrade at check in though. We loved it there and that breakfast button is awesome. I enjoyed the soap making class too!

  2. Sarah says:

    No mention of the awesome mini bar that was stocked daily with treats. Free wine/cheese happy hour nightly. Gorgeous lit walking path at night to dinner. The beautiful view with fireplace in background while dining. More interior shots of shower, bath products, snacks, etc would be appreciated. To me this is someeplace you have to visit to appreciate fully. I am from PA and no time I have EVER visited Big Sur has been warm…even in July! The one year we faced the clothing optional pool, lol. Might want to point that out as well too. If I missed menu pictures, sorry, but things like that are helpful. More in depth reviews needed

  3. Jessica Combs says:

    Thank you for this post! I looked into this gorgeous property but no matter what date combination I put in (and I tried a LOT between now and next year) it only gave me the option of suites, which start at 61k and go upwards of 90k. Is there a trick to getting one of the regular rooms on points?

    • Pam says:

      Just checking one day at a time and building on that. And getting lucky. I would set up an alert on open hotel alert for a standard room.

  4. Jenelle Madera says:

    Hi! Great review, thank you! You mention the weather being chilly and overcast. What month did you visit?

    • Pam says:

      Alex was there in June. Having lived in the Northeast for 40 years, it can be chilly and overcast at any time. But also beautiful!

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Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.