By Lois Henry
There’s nothing wrong with carving out a little “me” time. For couples, a little “us” time is mandatory.
And there’s no better place for “us” time between now and the hectic holiday season than the Central Coast.
Specifically, the Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa at Shell Beach, which I first visited last year, is the ultimate “us” time facilitator.
I loved my first trip last year, and this time was no different.
The suites — with full, gorgeous kitchens — are quiet and plush. The views are spectacular. And every staff member is helpful, friendly and genuinely interested in making sure you get the most out of your stay.
Want to go horseback riding? Kayaking? Wine tasting? Rejuvenate at the resort’s La Bonne Vie spa? Just lounge around the pool? No problem. Mention it to a staffer and they’ll make it happen.
Even better, they make it happen with discounts. That worked out great for me for one of my favorite pastimes, wine tasting.
Dolphin Bay has relationships with several local wineries that allow guests free tastings and discounts on some purchases. The winery discount cards are available for all guests — so be sure and ask about them.
The beautiful Edna Valley is a short drive away and really worth the trip.
I visited two wineries, Baileyana Winery and Talley Vineyards, where my Dolphin Bay card was cheerfully accepted.
Both have excellent wines in all price ranges and since the tasting is free you get to sample a wide variety, which I did (I had a designated driver, don’t fret!).
Wine is, of course, central to any wine tasting outing. But the tasting rooms and grounds are all part of the experience.
The Baileyana tasting room is housed in a charming one-room school house built in 1909 and renovated in 1998. The hardwood floors creak, and the windows are made with old-time wavy glass.
Talley is more low-slung and modern, and the view is breathtaking. The entire back wall of the tasting room is one long window looking out over lush farm fields and rolling hills. It’s like a living Impressionist painting.
The view from my work office is a parking garage. Sigh.
Tasting rooms close around 5 p.m. which gave me more than enough time to amble back to the resort and get ready for dinner at the Lido Restaurant.
It was great last year at Lido, and this year was the same. And again, I was amazed at how creative the food was. Abalone with avocado and pork belly? Soooo good! The sea bass was delicate and so yummy I refused to leave a single bite on the plate even though I was stuffed to my own gills.
I wish I could tell you how fun the horseback riding, kayaking, spa, etc. were as well but frankly, my “me” time involved a whole lot less activity.
That’s OK. Sitting on the balcony listening to the ocean with a fire burning inside was just about the perfect “me” time for me.