It’s pretty special to introduce today’s children to what western life in California was like in the 19th and 20th centuries; yet, it’s convenient for families staying at the Allegretto Vineyard Resort by Ayres, in Paso Robles, California. The Tuscan-style villa opened in late 2015, because owner Douglas Ayres fell in love with the area’s rolling hillsides and sprawling ranches and decided to build an antique- and art-filled hotel, there. The villa, with Mediterranean-style gardens and a vineyard, sits on 20 acres, near Route 101, just a few minutes from downtown Paso Robles. The Pioneer Museum, with its one-room school house, two cell jail and thousand-plus historical items, is less than two miles distant.
From the portico, there’s a soaring lobby with a seating area around the fireplace where kids can ogle at a huge glass chandelier that changes color and a slice of Sequoia Redwood, c. 214 B.C. The wide galley is lined with paintings by Russian Impressionists and landscapes by local artists, statuary and sculptures, antiques from India and family photographs. It leads to the central courtyard, with a fountain and a double staircase, an intrinsic part of the villa lifestyle. The gardens can be reached from the small, non-denominational, French-inspired chapel, through a Romeo and Juliet-style tunnel scaled to accommodate a horse and rider (or small carriage).
There are 171 accommodations in the mostly two-story structure; mine was an extra-large, ground-floor room with 14-foot ceilings. The entryway held an armoire closet (with safe) and a piece housing a fridge and Keurig coffee pot. Inside, the room featured a king-sized bed, a sitting area with a pull-out sofa (rooms with two queen beds are also available), a desk and French doors opening to a terrace abutting the courtyard.
Cello Ristorante & Bar, extends outside to an open-air, covered terrace and serves Mediterranean-inspired food by executive chef Justin Picard prepared from fresh ingredients sourced from local, Central Coast farmers, ranchers and fisher-folks. Local wines include a selection of Allegretto wines.
The resort offers complimentary activities families can enjoy together: a swimming pool, bocci ball, ping pong and tandem bikes among them. Adults appreciate the six treatment room spa with its wide corridors and high ceilings, its couple’s suite, lounge, sauna and outdoor terrace.
The concierge can arrange visits to wineries and fun options, including horseback riding and water slides and wave pools at the Ravine Water Park. Real beaches on the Pacific Ocean are just a 30-mile drive through the hillsides across Route 46, in Cambria.
It’s been nearly 40 years since Mauna Loa Volcano on the Big Island of Hawai’i erupted, but things suddenly changed late in the night of Nov. 27, when the sleeping giant came to life. This eruption, occurring inside Volcanoes National Park in the center of the island, has sent lava flowing in what is known as the “northeast rift zone.”
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