Sensual Serenity at the Tradewinds in Carmel, California


A soothingly luxurious and Asian ambiance pervades at the family-owned (2nd generation) Tradewinds hotel in Carmel, California. Originally opened in 1959, the boutique hotel is located in the heart of this charming seaside village on California’s central coast.

A major renovation in the 1990s brought the hotel into the 21st century—a transformation that not only re-designed guestrooms, but gave the hotel its romantic and Zen-like setting today. With its meditation garden, tropical plants, tiki torches, firepit and cascading waterfall in the secluded and quiet courtyard, I found it an ideal little oasis, only three blocks from downtown Carmel. But remember: if you walk the three blocks down the steep hill to downtown, you’ll be walking up the hill coming back. 

Other hotels offer chocolate chip cookies at check-in (Tradewinds does too), but I’ve not stayed at a hotel where guests are given a beautiful fresh cut orchid—which the bellman puts in a wall sconce vase specifically made for it when he brings up your luggage to your room. 

And that’s not all. In my room, a small tray of chocolate-covered strawberries awaited. (A nice touch done for all guests.)

If you ask, friendly staff and concierge are also super helpful with ideas for places to eat or things to see in Carmel.

My room was on the second floor, and as soon as the bellman put the orchid in its special vase when I entered, I could hear (and see) a tabletop fountain’s soothing sound of trickling water.

The room felt more like a mini and sensual retreat center (actually, you can arrange a signature Asian Spa Treatment in your guest room) than a typical hotel room. Custom made furniture from China and Bali (a Chinese cabinet hid the TV), a gas fireplace, an orchid plant/flower, bamboo, and silk pillows are carefully thought out details that added to the serene atmosphere.There was also a wet bar, cooler refrigerator, and compact disk player. Wi-fi is free. DSC06873

Next to the bed, another extra touch: a small sheath of thin bamboo was on the nightstand–on which guests are encouraged to write a wish (or prayer), then offer it up in the meditation garden.

I don’t know if it was the feng shui (no mirrors in the room, etc), the featherbed or Egyptian cotton linens, but I slept the best I have in a long time the night I was there. 

Or maybe I slept so well because I’d had a leisurely bath before bedtime. Besides a separate glass-enclosed shower, the bathtub had spa jets. I loved the kimono style robe provided too—in fact, I loved it so much, I bought one after I checked out of my room. (They sell them in the lobby).

Some of the rooms also have balconies (mine did) and from it, I had a nice view over rooftops to the glimmering bay beyond. I enjoyed sitting out there in the early morning with my coffee– overlooking the quiet street below (I never saw a car go by), listening to the birds and gazing out at the sea. A coffeemaker is in the room (with real cups, no Styrofoam). Yay.

Breakfast is included in the rate and is served in the Catlin room (adjacent to the lobby/check-in) with an Asian influenced decor that fits in with the property perfectly. For breakfast, there were piles of fresh fruits, yogurt, trays of pastries, and the usual bagels and cereal.

If it’s sunny, you might want to take your tray and eat at one of the tables near the gurgling fountain by the life-size stone Buddha (you can place your “wish” written on the sheath of bamboo there while you’re at it). It’s a lovely and peaceful way to start the day.

The hotel has 26 guestrooms and 2 suites; room rates range from $325 to $550 per night. For more information or to make reservations, check the website. You can also book through Travelocity or Expedia.

Photos and story by Donna Tabbert Long who was a guest of the hotel. As always, all opinions are her own.


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