While recent fires and mudslides have taken a toll on California’s Big Sur—closing large stretches of the Pacific Coast Highway and felling Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge—they have resulted in a rare moment of serenity for the community. The rugged stretch of coastline between San Simeon and Carmel usually draws crowds year-round, with the area’s most exclusive property, Post Ranch Inn, typically booked months out.
But since the hotel reopened in April on a 35-mile stretch of the highway that remains unreachable by car, not only have travelers been able to snag reservations on short notice, but they also get to have the 40-room hotel—plus its cliffside infinity pool, full-service spa, and fine dining restaurant, Sierra Mar—practically to themselves.
To get to the hotel, guests are being airlifted by helicopter from Monterey Regional Airport and dropped directly on the property. According to the hotel’s managing partner, Mike Freed, seeing the coast’s dramatic bluffs from the air is an experience in itself, and at 20 minutes, is an even faster route than the usual one-hour car ride it takes to get to the 100-acre estate.
While Post Ranch Inn is the only hotel south of the bridge that’s currently open, other Big Sur favorites, including the iconic Nepenthe restaurant, adjacent Phoenix Shop, and Hawthorne Gallery, are also located within the cut-off stretch of highway and can be reached by one of the hotel’s complimentary Lexus hybrids.
The opening of public access to the Pfeiffer Canyon bypass trail earlier this month also means guests now have access to the north side of the bridge closure via a half-mile hike, where attractions like Bixby Bridge, Garrapata State Park, and Big Sur Village are open for business.
The hotel will continue to offer helicopter transfers until mid- to late-September, when Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge is set to reopen. Until then, enjoy the views—and the quiet.
Rooms from $925; postranchinn.com.