Carmel Valley’s Hidden Gem: Quail Lodge

A Carmel Valley mainstay for nearly 60 years, Quail Lodge is perhaps this bucolic region’s best kept secret. Nestled at the foot of the Santa Lucia Mountains, the resort sometimes takes a quiet backseat to some of Carmel’s more trumpeted hotels and resorts. But those in the know recognize Quail Lodge as a quintessential Carmel option, offering relaxed luxury and casual sophistication within its 850 acres of lush fairways, oak-studded meadows, and shimmering lakes.

Quail Lodge’s Mallard Lake
Quail Lodge Lobby

The resort has received many makeovers during its six decades, including a recent post-pandemic refresh by Santa Monica-based designer Robert Barry, whose work is found at award-winning properties such as the Four Seasons Beverly Hills and the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Los Angeles, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Hawaii, and the One & Only Ocean Club, the Bahamas. Barry captured a distinct Carmel vibe with his use of historic California Ranch and Spanish Colonial design elements that create a welcoming ambiance within the central lobby spaces and the 93 spacious bungalow style guestrooms and suites, many of which feature verdant golf course views.

Quail Lodge is perhaps best known for its golf course, the playability, pristine conditions, and beautifully manicured greens of which have been awarded “Best Playing Conditions” for all of Central California by GreensKeeper (2016, 2017, 2021, 2022). The course was originally designed by Robert Muir Graves in 1964 and refined in 2015 by Principle Designer Todd Eckenrode of Origins Golf Design. The recently enhanced 6,500 yard, par 71 Carmel Valley golf course is perfect for the walking golfer of all ages and skill.

13th hole, Quail Lodge Golf Course

I myself am not a golfer, but I do enjoy a golf vibe, and at Quail Lodge, I found much beyond golf to keep myself as busy as I desired. Despite the winter cool, I swam in the heated swimming pool, and basked in a brief bit of warm winter sun on new cushy chaises lounge. I borrowed a complimentary electric bike and rode alongside the golf course. And when it started to sprinkle, I moved my ride indoors, to one of the fitness cabana’s state-of-the-art Life Fitness exercise bikes, the touch screen of which led me through the streets of Paris.

Quail Lodge swimming pool

I snuggled in the warmth of my guest room’s window seat to do a little work, and despite my lack of golf ability, the 9 hole putting course, of which hole 7 was just outside my front door, beckoned. I spent an hour on the perfectly manicured greens, in quest of the elusive hole-in-one. Despite a failure to achieve this goal, I rewarded my play with a visit to the hotel’s Covey Bar where I enjoyed a delicious Valley Greens Old Fashioned (Basil Hayden bourbon infused with local organic blackberries, blood orange bitters, brown sugar blackberry simple syrup, and dehydrated blood orange garnish) and a Covey Bar Burger (Two ¼ lb. wagyu patties, cheddar and chimichurri) by the blazing fire while watching an NBA game on the screen above, and chatting with the lodge’s new executive chef Goran Basarov. Basarov oversees the cuisine at on-site Covey Grill and Bar, as well as Edgar’s, the golf club’s dedicated restaurant. He brings with him a pedigreed culinary background, having helmed the kitchens at San Francisco’s Balboa Café, San Martin’s CordeValle Resort, and Silicon Valley Michelin-starred Selby’s. At both Covey Grill and Edgar’s, Basarov offers California-style dishes featuring USDA grade steaks and sustainably sourced seafood with flavors enhanced by house-made spice rubs and sauces. Both restaurants offer indoor/outdoor dining, and each features verdant vistas.

Covey Grill Bar
Covey Grill dining room

Additional activities available to Quail Lodge guests include tennis, pickleball, hiking trails, and the only Land Rover Experience Driving School on the West Coast. This exhilarating experience offers customized off-road driving lessons (deep descents, hairpin turns, log pile climbs, etc.) within a Land Rover vehicle, guided by a qualified instructor. And, the Lodge is a mere 10 minute drive to Carmel Village and its boutique shopping, art galleries, wine tasting rooms, and stunning white sand beach.

Quail Lodge Premier King

Guest rooms, suites, and Fairway Villas at Quail Lodge are comfy. Each features plush beds and bedding, deep soaking tubs, Molton Brown bath amenities, cushy robes and slippers, Nespresso coffee makers, and private decks and patios overlooking the lakes, golf course, and gardens. Several fire pits are sprinkled amongst the California bungalow-style buildings and are the perfect spot at which to enjoy a bottle of local Monterey County wine, which I did. My two days spent within the embrace of Quail Lodge’s warm hospitality left me thoroughly smitten. I will return.

Sustainability: Quail Lodge is a leader in sustainable practices. A dedicated solar field is able to produce up to 105% of the lodge’s current energy usage. All maintenance and utility vehicles on the property are electric versus gas powered. All lighting is LED/energy efficient. Water for golf course and property irrigation is drawn from onsite wells. The lodge participates in the Clean the World Hotel Recycling program to recycle discarded soap and plastic bottles. (Most plastics have been eliminated.) 

Photos courtesy of Quail Lodge

Fran Miller

Fran Endicott Miller is an experienced travel, wine, and general feature writer for a variety of luxury lifestyle publications and websites. Prior to her journalism career she established and managed the Golden State Warriors' first official community relations department and efforts. Principled and genuine, she’s known for thoughtfully eloquent writing. When not traveling, she can be found walking her Northern California neighborhood with her beloved golden retriever Nate.