Alila Ventana Big Sur is one of the popular all-inclusive resorts in California in the World of Hyatt program. The resort makes your World of Hyatt points go much further when your free night's redemption covers the room rate and all meals and drinks throughout the day. 

Throughout this post, I want to help answer some frequently asked questions about Ventana Big Sur so that you can use the information to maximize your upcoming stays at the resort.

Photo Credit: Alila Ventana Big Sur
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    Ventana Big Sur All-Inclusive

    Alila Ventana Big Sur is an all-inclusive resort located in Big Sur, California. The all-inclusive offering includes the following:
    • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Dessert.
    • Non-alcoholic beverages.
    • Alcoholic beverages such as beers, wines, and cocktails are not included. 
    • In-room service 24 hours a day. 
    • Complimentary mini-bar featuring healthy snacks, reusable water bottles, assorted beverages, and sweet offerings.
    • Complimentary Signature Experiences activities include:
      • Tai Chi
      • Yoga
      • Meditation
      • Property Hike
        • Takes place daily at 10 a.m.
      • S'mores 
        • Take place at Social House. Nightly from 8–10 p.m.


    Ventana Big Sur Adults-Only, Clothing Optional

    • Alila Big Sur is an adults-only resort. So you must be at least 18 years old to stay at the resort. 
    • The only clothing-optional part applies to the Mountain Pool close to the Japanese baths. 
      • A word of caution here: Some rooms are close to or have views of the Mountain Pool. So if that bothers you, you may want to request a different room. 

    Closest Airport to Ventana Big Sur

    Ventana Big Sur is located in Big Sur, California. You can fly into the following airports to get to the resort:

    Driving from North:
    • Monterey Peninsula Airport (MRY) is a 1-hour drive to/from the resort.
    • San Jose International Airport (SJC) is a 2-hours drive to/from the resort.
    • Oakland International Airport (OAK) is a 2 and half hours drive to/from the resort. 
    • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is a 2 and half hours drive to/from the resort, and it can take up to a 3-hour drive with traffics. 

    Should you rent a car?

    Renting a car is entirely up to you. But people going to Alila Ventana Big Sur enjoy the stops along California's famous Pacific Coast Highway 1. The drive is beautiful and breathtaking, with twists and turns. However, you should always check the Highway 1 condition for any road closure information.

    With that being said, while it may be possible to get an Uber ride from the closest Monterey Peninsula Airport (MRY) to Ventana Big Sur, it can be more challenging to get Uber rides from other further airports. Moreover, it is also challenging to get an Uber ride from the resort. Therefore, if you absolutely do not want to rent a car, you may want to consider pre-arranging transportation in advance or contact the resort directly to help arrange an airport shuttle or transportation. 

    Check-In Time

    Ventana Big Sur's check-in time is 4 p.m. Like many other hotels and resorts, early check-in is possible and subject to availability. 

    • If you arrive at the property starting at 11 p.m. on the day of your check-in, you can enjoy lunch at the property, and it's included. 
    • You can enjoy the amenities such as swimming pools, etc., while waiting for your room to be ready. 
    • Having elite status with World of Hyatt will make it easier to get an early check-in. 

    Check-Out Time

    Ventana Big Sur's official check-out time is 11 a.m. Late check-out is also possible and subject to availability. On the day of your departure:
    • Breakfast is included
    • Lunch is also included, even after you check-out at 11 a.m.

    Welcome Email

    Twelve (12) days before your arrival date, the property's concierge will send you a welcome email about your upcoming stay. The email includes the following information:
    • Dining
    • Experiences
    • Fitness & Wellness
    • Excursion Outpost

    In addition, there's also some information about making reservations for Dinner, Spa, and Alila Experiences.

    FYI: You do not need to wait 12 days to receive the welcome email. You can always contact the resort, and they will be happy to send you the information before that. See below:

    Dining Reservations & Ventana Big Sur Menu

    The main restaurant at the resort is The Sur House. Your stay includes all meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, including poolside and in-room service 24 hours a day. 

    The Big Sur Smokehouse located at the entrance to Ventana Big Sur is also part of the resort, and it's included in the resort's all-inclusive package. 

    The only dining reservation in advance that is recommended due to limited seating is the dinner reservation at The Sur House, especially if you want to be seated and enjoy the sunset. Please note, the restaurant's outdoor seatings are open if weather permits. 

    To make your dinner reservation in advance, you can:
    • Call 831-667-2331 
    • Email concierge@ventanabigsur.com
    • Fill out the form via the link provided in the welcome email mentioned above. 
      • You do not need to wait 12 days to receive the welcome email that includes the link. You can always contact the resort, and they will be happy to send you the information before that.
      • You will go through a series of questions about your personal preferences to personalize your stay at the resort, such as accompanying guest name, housekeeping requests, food allergies, traveling with pets, preferred dinner reservation times, etc. 
      • After submitting the form, you will receive emails confirming your dinner reservation times during your stays. If provided times do not work for you, you can reply to the email and ask the concierge to modify them, or respond to the email and ask for outdoor seatings if you'd like. 

    The Sur House:
    • Breakfast from 7 - 11 a.m.
    • Poolside from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
    • Dinner from 5 - 9 p.m.
    • Ventana Big Sur Menu

    You do not need to make any reservations for breakfast, lunch, or poolside. Moreover, lunches are included on the day of your arrival and departure too. 

    In addition, the property also offers a picnic lunch program at a cost with two locations that require reservations. 
    • Redwood Cathedral seating (in the redwood forest) is available at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.
    • Sur Vista seating (overlooking the Pacific Ocean) is available at noon and 2:30 p.m.
    • Picnic menu kits are $100 and will include a meal for two.

    Ventana Big Sur Experiences

    Alila Ventana Big Sur refers to the activities as Experiences:
    • Alila Experiences
    • Fitness and Wellness
    • Pools and Bathhouses
    • Signature Experiences

    Alila Experiences are not included in the all-inclusive offerings. But Signature Experiences are included. 

    There are no reservations required for the Signature Experiences at Ventana Big Sur:
    • Tai Chi
    • Yoga
    • Meditation
    • Guided Property Hike
      • Takes place daily at 10 a.m. from the lobby each morning. 
      • It is a 1.3-mile loop that goes through redwoods and local flora around the Ventana property. 
    • S'mores 
      • Take place at Social House. Nightly from 8 - 10 p.m.
      • S'mores package includes a gourmet packaged version from a pastry chef or a nostalgic version ready to roast on an open fire. 
    • More information about Signature Experiences

    Complimentary Fitness Classes

    • The fitness center is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. 
    • If you prefer to exercise outdoor, there are two stationary bikes on the outdoor deck on a first-come, first-served basis. 
    • Complimentary fitness classes are also included with your stays:
      • Fitness classes are only available on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays
      • Water Aerobics at 2 p.m.
      • Barre Strength at 3 p.m.
      • Full Body Stretch and Balance at 4 p.m.

    Pools & Japanese Baths

    For wellness and relaxations at the Ventana Big Sur resort:
    • The Meadow Pool and large infinity-edge hot tub offer panoramic Pacific ocean views. 
    • The Mountain Pool is secluded and surrounded by trees, and it is a clothing-optional pool. 
    • The Japanese baths are adjacent to the Mountain Pool, and the water is heated to 104 degrees year-round.
      • The Japanese baths usage will be on a first-come, first-served basis. 
    • There are no reservations needed to enjoy the pools and Japanese baths currently. 
    • More information about Pools and Bathhouses

    Excursion Outpost

    At the Excursion Outpost, you can find complementary items for you to use on picnics, outdoor adventures, and hikes through the trails, fields, and forests. 

    Tipping

    Tipping is a personal thing. It's worth noting that the all-inclusive offerings at Alila Ventana Big Sur do include gratuity already. 

    However, if you enjoy the services from resort staff at the on-site restaurant, valet parking, or housekeeping, you can always tip more. Personally, I always use 15%-20% as a guideline for tipping. You can carry cash with you or simply charge the tips to your room's portfolio bill. 

    Valet Parking

    Parking at the resort is valet parking only. The good news is, valet parking is complimentary to all guests regardless of whether you are a Globalist or not; pay for your stay or redeem your World of Hyatt points for free stays. 

    Pets

    Alila Ventana Big Sur resort is also a pet-friendly resort. 
    • The pet fee is $150 per dog, with a maximum of two dogs. 
    • The fee includes a dog bed and water bowl in your room. 
    • A dog food menu is also available. 

    How to contact Ventana Big Sur?


    Hyatt's Globalist Benefits at Alila Ventana Big Sur

    To be honest, your Globalist status will not make much difference than non-elite members while staying at the Alila Ventana Big Sur. That's because Ventana Big Sur is an all-inclusive resort, so all your meals and non-alcoholic drinks are already included. Secondly, valet parking is also complimentary for resort guests whether you have elite status with Hyatt or not. 

    However, Globalist members may receive complimentary upgrades from a standard room to the Standard Suite Room called the Big Sur Suite or other higher category suites based on availability. 

    Can you use Suite Night Awards at Alila Ventana Big Sur?

    Yes, absolutely, but it's subject to the availability of the Standard Suite, which is the Big Sur Suite. You can search for award availability, and if you see Standard Suite is available for booking using World of Hyatt points, you will be able to apply Hyatt's Suite Night Awards for your stay. You will have to contact Hyatt to do that. 

    Suppose you do not see the Standard Suite night award available, but you are a Globalist member. In that case, you can contact your personal My Hyatt Concierge for Globalist to know if s/he can directly reach out to the resort and get your Suite Night Awards applied for your reservation. 

    Generally speaking, Globalist members receive a complimentary upgrade to the Big Sur Suite if available upon arrival. Sometimes, you may be lucky to get upgraded further to the Premium Suites at the resort on a case-to-case basis. Using Hyatt's Suite Night Awards is simply to secure the upgrade before the date of your check-in. 

    Alila Ventana Big Sur Hyatt Points & Award Availability

    Ventana Big Sur resort is part of the World of Hyatt program, and it is operated under Hyatt's Alila brand. This means that you can use World of Hyatt points to redeem your free stays at the resort. 


    Between 25,000 and 35,000 World of Hyatt points per night seems a lot of points to spend, but keep in mind that all meals and non-alcoholic beverages are included in each of your free night stay as well. Therefore, it makes this resort one of the best ways to redeem Hyatt points among World of Hyatt members. This also means that award availability can be challenging to get. However, it is not entirely impossible if you plan ahead of time and are willing to travel during off-peak season. 

    Below are some tips when it comes to redeeming World of Hyatt points and checking award availability for Alila Ventana Big Sur:
    • Plan in advance: Hyatt's booking window is open 395 days or 13 months in advance, including award bookings. 
    • Go for the off-peak: Ventana Big Sur award availability seems easier to get if you go during California's rainy season, which falls between December and March. Weather can be unpredictable, so you may get a sunny day during your stay. 
      • Off-peak dates also mean you will only need 25,000 World of Hyatt points for a free night's redemption determined by Hyatt. 
    • Use Hyatt points calendar: While you cannot tell award availability using the new Hyatt's points calendar, you can use the tool to determine which dates are Hyatt's peak and off-peak for stays at the Alila Ventana Big Sur. 
    • Use Hyatt Category 1-7 Free Night Award: Such award can be earned when you reach Globalist status and have stayed 60 nights Hyatt Milestone Reward