Picture your reunion on a 400-acre working ranch in Northern California’s scenic Carmel Valley. Holman Ranch is a private estate that has hosted groups in its ten guest rooms since they were built in the late 1940s. Up to 38 people can sleep onsite, and area hotels can supplement that number. For day events, up to 400 people can be accommodated.
Adding Hollywood magic, once upon a time the estate was a hideaway for celebrities. Each guest room features atmospheric cowboy decor and a colorful movie poster depicting a vintage star who stayed there: the “Sunset Boulevard” room honors William Holden; other rooms honor Charlie Chaplin, Joan Crawford, Marlon Brando, Gene Autry, Clark Gable, and more. And Doris Day and Clint Eastwood live just down the road. The Great Room, where festive dinners can be catered, displays a painting and a bronze statue by cowboy artist Jack Swanson, who also lives down the road.
Adults can indulge in wine tasting in the property’s wine caves, and can purchase a supply to take home. Try the Pinot Noir, their specialty. Guests get first crack at purchasing the newly available “liquid gold,” the distinctive extra-virgin olive oil produced from the property’s trees.
Though not heated, Carmel Valley’s first pool is a magnet for kids on warm days (a solar cover helps warm it in cooler months). A six-acre event space includes a fitness room, a game room with a pool table and dart board, a horseshoe pit, a bocce ball court, lovely gardens, a small chapel and a fire pit where s’mores rule. Arrangements can be made for cooking demonstrations, yoga, and a paint out—where guests sit outside with a professional painting instructor and enjoy wine and appetizers while painting together.
Each guest receives a logo stainless-steel water bottle to keep filled from the taps that all run with filtered and purified Carmel River water, and they get to take it home as a souvenir.
About the author
Carole Terwilliger Meyers, blogger at Travels with Carole (travelswithcarole.blogspot.com) and creator of Berkeley and Beyond website (berkeleyandbeyond.com).