Take the rolling hills of the Santa Cruz Mountains and add an escapist villa in a forest grove, three miles of scenic hiking trails and panoramic views overlooking the Monterey Bay and you’ve got the Chaminade Resort & Spa – a perfect escape just minutes from downtown Santa Cruz. On a roadtrip along California’s historic Highway 1, Culture Trip stopped in to check it out.
Located just an hour and a half from San Francisco International Airport and 40 minutes from San Jose International Airport and Monterey, Chaminade’s mountaintop location and sweeping views of the Bay provide a perfect balance to the surf and sun-drenched Santa Cruz downtown and Boardwalk.
Deriving its name from Father William Joseph Chaminade, the 19th century founder of the Society of Mary, the resort’s 300 hilltop acres were historically home to the Marianists, the Chaminade High School, a WWII center for training priests and a 1970s religious retreat.
Transformed into a holiday resort in the 1980s, the Chaminade is now home to a stunning Mission-style main building and 156 newly-refurbished guest rooms grouped into 11 villas.
Our villa (the size of a spacious one-bedroom apartment with a separate living area, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom) was decorated with warm hues, vibrant accent colors and contemporary Spanish furnishings. The room included a private patio with beautiful forest views, complimentary Wi-Fi, a coffee maker, feather beds and BeeKind Gilchrist & Soames bath amenities.
© Chaminade Resort & Spa
After unpacking, we set out to explore the resort’s amenities: a heated outdoor pool, full-service day spa, hard court tennis courts, fitness center with sauna and whirlpool, two outdoor Jacuzzi’s, sand volleyball and badminton courts, and a croquet lawn.
Next, we headed to the resort’s private hiking trails (a 1.75 mile or 1.25 mile path) and unwound among Eucalyptus trees and old-growth Redwood groves.
After our hike, we went to relax our muscles in the spa, which offers a variety of treatments for men and women including massage and body treatments and enhancements, as well as skin and nail care services. Our favorite spot was the dreamy zen garden-like patio, where a Jacuzzi bubbled away and padded lounge chairs offered scenic hilltop views.
For dinner we headed to the Linwood Bar & Grill, one of the Chaminade’s two on-site restaurants. Serving up locally sourced, farm-fresh ingredients from the surrounding region we enjoyed braised short ribs with whipped potatoes and a seasonal vegetable medeley with a side of mac and cheese and a grilled 12oz. New York steak with roasted fingerling potatoes and seasonal veg.
As the table’s sunken firepit crackled, we sipped local wine as we took in the panoramic sunset over the Bay and quietly planned our next trip back to the Chaminade.