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We have just returned from 3 nights at the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa in San Luis Obispo. This was our first getaway without the kids since we moved to California and we were really looking forward to it. I chose the Sycamore 99.9% because every room comes with a hot tub piped with water from the local mineral springs, how cool is that? So our expectations were high, but how well did Sycamore deliver? Here’s my complete review.
Review of Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort
One week prior to our reservation we received a confirmation call from the resort. Some people really count on confirmation calls, but for me, it was a bit unnecessary. It would have been a good opportunity to make spa or restaurant reservations though.
Once we got on the road Friday we called ahead and asked them to fill our hot tub for us. Sycamore has a quiet time so we knew we wouldn’t be allowed to fill it ourselves if it got too late. They agreed to have the tub filled before our arrival which we quoted as 10 pm.
We decided to drive straight through dinner so we ended up pulling in at 9:30. My first impression was that the resort was much larger then I had been imagining! The parking lot was packed but there were still a few spots open near reception.
The receptionist was surprised to see us (we were earlier than we’d planned) but was able to get the check-in process taken care of quickly and painlessly. It was completely standard except we did have to sign a waiver stating that we understood the rules related to the hot tub and would follow them.
The receptionist provided all the standard information about the restaurant and spa hours, as well as the free yoga classes, held three times a day.
After check-in, I was surprised that we were not able to drive to our room. We were staying in the West Meadow across the road and we had to wait for a porter with a golf cart to carry us over. I would be curious to know whether the porter would have been waiting had we arrived on time, but we had 15-minute wait, one that would have been much more enjoyable if the lounge had still been open. The distance itself was quite short and we only relied on the golf cart that one time for our baggage. At check-out, we carried all our baggage ourselves.
The King Suite
The West Meadow Suites appear to have been built on a flood plain since all the suites are elevated and connected by raised walkways. There were stairs and ramps going up to the suites and one set of stairs was right in front of our door.
The porter was friendly and got us settled into the “Compassion Suite” quickly. He dropped off our bags and showed us how to turn on the fire (just the flip of a switch!) and we went right to work filling up the hot tub. They hadn’t taken care of it yet since we arrived early, but we still had plenty of time before the 11 pm quiet time.
We puzzled a bit about the appropriate temperature for the hot tub, neither thermometer or guide was provided, but we quickly realized that full heat was just about right. The tub took about 15 minutes to fill.
There was no cover provided, so we had to completely drain and refill the tub everytime we used it. It felt like we were wasting quite a lot of water and we also had to clean the leaves out each time. It wasn’t much of an inconvenience, but it could easily have been solved with a cover.
While the tub was filling up we took a quick tour of the suite and then cuddled by the fire. Having a gas fireplace was fantastic and we took full advantage on the chilly nights and evenings.
Our King Suite had a foyer with a wet bar and two wine refrigerators, a living room with pull-out sofa and fireplace, the bedroom with window bench, a sink room with his and her’s sinks, and a bathroom with a double shower head. The back patio could be reached through sliding doors in the living room and the bedroom.
From the patio, I could look over a wall towards the neighbors hot tub. I could see the top of our neighbors head when they were walking on the patio but I definitely couldn’t see their hot tub and we barely heard them. If your neighbor is being slightly noisier then you would like, just turn your jets on and the problem is solved!
Some friends happened to stay in one of the “historic” rooms just a few weeks before our visit and had mentioned that the room was a bit run down. Our room was advertised as “newly renovated” but I was especially critical based on my friend’s report. I was very happy with the room and even with my extra critical search, I was only able to find a few minor dings on furniture or chips of paint around the doorknob. Definitely, something to keep in mind when choosing historic vs renovated!
Another thing to note, and this was my biggest complaint about the entire stay, the hot water in the shower is “on demand” and we had to run the water for 10-15 minutes to get it to turn hot. Even then, it was never as hot as I would have liked.
We were thrilled to have some alone time, but we agreed that the setup would still have been perfect if we’d brought the kids. They could have had the living room and we could still have used the hot tub without disturbing them at night.
We were staying at the Sycamore Resort for New Year’s weekend, so finding ourselves surrounded by fall colors was a pleasant surprise! The view from our back patio was a gorgeous mess of orange leaves which regularly fell into the hot tub.
From right in front of our suite, we could hop on the Bob Jones Trail for a 2-mile walk to Avila Beach or we could follow the Sycamore trail 1.5-miles past reception for sweeping views of the Central Coast.
Just on the west side of the bridge, there was also a bizarre partially completed structure that I found quite beautiful. I meant to ask what it was supposed to be but forgot before we left.
The orangish-tan buildings were all very beautiful and seemed quite in place with the fall colors. There was a lawn area by the parking lot with chairs and tables and we saw quite a few people taking advantage of it in the afternoons. The spa and extra hot tubs (available to rent by the hour for those not staying at the hotel) were mostly hidden from view.
On our second day, we rented bikes from the gift shop and rode into San Luis Obispo. The bike rental process was quick and painless and they provided helmets and locks for our trip.
The last morning as we were leaving we spotted a turkey walking through the parking lot! It was gobbling away and not in any hurry so I chased after it for a picture. Although this was the only wildlife we saw on the property, we saw quite a few species of birds on our walk to Avila Beach.
The Garden’s of Avila
We made reservations for the special New Year’s Eve dinner at the Garden’s of Avila. We were seated at 5:30 and only had to share the restaurant with one other couple for at least half an hour. The New Year’s Eve pre-fix menu was a bit limited, but we really enjoyed everything we had.
Our final morning we had breakfast in the lounge and that was quite nice. They had fresh squeezed orange juice (my ultimate breakfast favorite) and a roaring fire going. We never ordered room service, but it was available as a limited version of the restaurant menu.
Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa Final Verdict
I would absolutely recommend a stay at the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa.
- The location is fantastic with the option to walk to Avila Beach, bike to San Luis Obispo, or take a very short drive to those and several other beaches. This is a wonderful place to spend some extra time in nature!
- The mountains and beaches in this area are really special and I’m finding myself quite taken with the entire Central Coast!
- Having a private hot tub is truly luxurious, especially when it’s filled with healing mineral water! The bright orange leaves falling from the trees made the experience even better.
- Having a gas fireplace that instantly warms the room at the flip of a switch was awesome. This was something I appreciated a lot more than I would have imagined. If you want the fireplace, make sure you ask because it may not be included in all rooms.
- The resort restaurant, Garden’s of Avila, was delicious and we also ate at a phenomenal spot in San Luis Obispo, Giuseppe’s. My guess is there are a lot of good eating spots to be found here!
As always, nothing is perfect. Everything I noted about Sycamore Springs was minor, but take a look in case these things would bother you more!
- Some rooms are historic while others are renovated, if you are particular, make sure you get a renovated room for the more polished accommodations.
- The hot water in the shower was fairly inadequate. After running for 10 minutes the water was perfect for my husband but never quite hot enough for me.
- Refilling the hot tub for every use seems unnecessary and wasteful. Maybe try asking for a cover if this bothers you.
- There was some highway noise that I believe could have been reduced by adding curtains above the window bench.
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