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Quail Lodge Resort

The Lap of Luxury in Carmel Valley

Looking for gracious hospitality, a laid-back vibe, and a historic destination thatís well outside the bounds of a dreaded marine layer? For close to five decades, Carmel Valleyís Quail Lodge, a haven well known to seasoned golfers and frazzled urbanites alike, has been hosting everyone from country club-coddled types to young couples intent on a coastal getaway sans all the fog and tourists.

The 850-acre golf resort occupies a storied place in Carmel history, having been the place to go for discounted greens fees and canít-top-this service for the past umpteen years or so. Whether youíre practicing your swing somewhere on the 245 acres of the resortís golf club or simply doing some lakeside lounging on the gorgeously tended grounds, Quail Lodge is the kind of place that prompts you to slow down, smell the flowers, and practice the art of doing nothing -- in style and splendor.

When we arrived at the resort, we were immediately dazzled by the verdant fairways, oak meadows, and stunning vistas (courtesy of the Santa Lucia mountains). The resortís ornamental footbridges and manmade lakes paint a pretty picture that hearkens back to the days before the lodge existed, when the surrounding area was primarily farmland. Ninety-seven guest rooms, bocce and croquet courts, and an executive nine-hole putting course all brush elbows with plenty of hiking trails and other rustic spots perfect for some leisurely afternoon exploring. Itís the kind of place that makes a statement without resorting to ostentation or unnecessary bells and whistles. All in all, the entire resort exudes a timeless charm and class that invite a sense of nostalgic languor.

We were greeted with bottled water upon entering the airy stone and wood lobby, which sports tasteful furniture and accents in earth tones, not to mention a smaller lounge area filled with plush sofas and a fireplace. The accommodations are similarly cozy yet lavish. The suites, villas, and lakeside lodges boast 42-inch widescreen plasma TVs, generous wet bars, enormous bathrooms with sunken marble baths and stone-tiled showers, private patios trellised with vines, and a sumptuous earthy palette. Frette linens and feather-top mattresses, as well as plenty of room for window-seat dawdling, make downtime in your suite just as desirable as anywhere else on the property.

When youíre not playing golf or puttering about the areaís beaches and boutique vineyards, youíll want to pay a visit to the resident restaurant, Edgarís, which youíll find in the resortís clubhouse. A sprawling deck with fire pits and a casual sports-bar vibe belie the restaurantís culinary delights, complete with a distinctly California-style decadence and smattering of fresh local produce and herbs. My prime short ribs osso bucco, with horseradish mashed potatoes and caramelized organic carrots, was mouth-wateringly tender and generously proportioned. An extensive wine list featuring plenty of local varietals made for some delectable pairings, which we chose based on the recommendations of the knowledgeable staff. For an aprŤs-dinner cocktail, head over to the Covey Lounge, where jazz purrs endlessly from the speakers or a piano player offers a sultry soundtrack to your nightcap.

In case you havenít received your fill of R&R, pay a visit to Quail Lodgeís spa, housed in several modestly outfitted yet tranquil treatment rooms next to the fitness center and pool. We opted for a 50-minute coupleís massage, but if you want to go beyond basic, plenty of specials -- such as the Citrus Detox Reviver wrap treatment and the Rose Indulgence moisturizing massage -- will be sure to catch your eye. After winding down in the steam room, we settled down in a couple of chaise lounges by the heated free-form pool.

Of course, Quail Lodge isnít solely about pampering and indolence; more active types will have a bevy of options, as well. Aside from the golf course and staffed pro shop, four tennis courts, a fitness center, and two miles of hiking trails, Quail Lodge also offers another tantalizing activity for daredevils and adventure seekers: its Land Rover Experience Driving School, which offers guests off-road diversions galore. The nearby shopping and gallery district of Carmel-by-the-Sea, and nearby Monterey and Pebble Beach, also provide plenty of coastline merrymaking.

While Quail Lodge doesnít quite deliver on the romantic, windswept vistas of Big Sur or the quaintness and romance of some of the smaller boutique resorts in the immediate area, there are lots of upsides to the place -- namely, itís both kid- and pet-friendly, so finding a sitter wonít be an issue when itís time to pack your bags for the weekend. Because Quail Lodge boasts generations of visitors and country club members, youíre likely to come across guests whose memories of the resort furnish the place with a special charm and intimacy youíre unlikely to find at most high-end purlieus. A swanky, old-fashioned vibe and a staff that ensure every detail of your stay is taken care of made us well aware of why Quail Lodge has held the honor of being the areaís most idyllic go-to for unabashed luxury.