A Sight to Behold in Big Sur

Post Ranch Inn sits among the country’s most otherworldly views, but it never loses its human touch.



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“EVERY DAY I spend in Big Sur I believe adds five days to my life,” says Mike Freed, the owner of Post Ranch Inn, a sublime property nestled among the oceanside cliffs that stretch along California’s Highway 1. We chat over a chef’s tasting menu beginning with charred romaine with a peanut vinaigrette and mint on the patio featuring views so breathtaking that they can humble even the most seasoned traveler. At 1,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean, I feel as if I’m floating among the clouds. As the marine layer moves in, it’s hard to tell where the ocean ends and the sky begins. “What inspires me about Big Sur is that so much of it is unspoiled and is protected by its community that appreciates all its weathered beauty,” explains Freed.

In my early 20s, I was fortunate to live only 30 miles north of Big Sur. No matter how many times I crossed over the famous Bixby Bridge, the landscape’s undeniable grandeur moved me. I collected books by Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, and John Steinbeck, whose stories often took place in or were influenced by California’s majestic central coast.

Since opening in 1992, Post Ranch Inn has preserved the true spirit of Big Sur while providing an unforgettable luxury experience for its guests. The 39-room facility, including tree houses, private guest homes, and cliffside rooms with mountain and ocean views, is the ultimate oasis for those looking to escape and reconnect. There are no TVs in any of the rooms, a gesture meant to encourage you to take advantage of the 100-acre ranch: hiking in the redwoods, soaking in the dramatic views at one of the property’s three pools, or participating in one of Post Ranch’s many on-site activities, such as falconry.



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Juan Palafox, the operations manager, reports that both of his parents have been working at Post Ranch since 1993. He was born and raised on the property and considers it home along with about a dozen other second-generation employees who now work and live here. “It’s word of mouth. ‘Hey, come work over here. We got a place for you to live.’ And next thing you know, once you fall in love with Big Sur, it holds a place in your heart where you never want to leave, or if you do leave, it eventually brings you back.”

A pioneer in sustainability since the inn’s beginning, Freed has some ambitious environmental goals for the property. His sights are set on becoming carbon-neutral by 2025. In order to meet this goal, he empowers each department to learn about its environmental impact and to make the necessary changes that will reduce its carbon footprint without compromising the guest experience.

I ask Freed what he is most proud of after all these years. “I’m most proud of the staff here. We’ve got the greatest views in the world. We’ve got privacy. But the people here really make it special.”

Lead images: Kodiak Greenwood

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Elissa Polls Writer

Elissa Polls is the head of production for Departures. A producer who typically stays behind the scenes, she has worked with creatives from around the world, helping bring their ideas to life. Polls has over 15 years of production experience and lives in Berkeley, California.

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