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Big Sur and The Hacienda

James Andrew at the Hacienda

James Andrew at the Hacienda

After a lovely al fresco breakfast in the Cypress Inn courtyard we headed south along HWY 1 to Big Sur – around every bend there were breathtakingly beautiful views, and a leisurely itinerary provided us ample opportunity to stop here and there along the way and take it all in.

Our friend Philip Bewley suggested we make a stop at the cliff-side bar and cafe, Nepenthe in Big Sur. A destination for poets, artists, and travelers alike, it has been in business for sixty years. Designed in collaboration with student of Frank Lloyd Wright, Rowan Maiden, the building seems to grow out of the hill side. It is still a family run affair and offers the most amazing views.

We stopped for lunch at the Post Ranch Inn – a truly gorgeous treat. It’s a perfect combination of stunning vistas and equally delicious food, and as it turned out, it was a nice bit of luxury before the next portion of our journey, The Hacienda.

Our drive through Big Sur

Our drive through Big Sur

The Hacienda, aka the Rancho Milpitas, was built for William Randolph Hearst. It was one of the many projects completed by architect, Julia Morgan. Once part of Hearst’s massive estate, the Hacienda, along with a huge parcel of land, ended up being sold to the government to settle a tax debt, and said property became Fort Liggett. The Hacienda was recently opened as a B & B of sorts, and I thought it might be a brilliant addition to our itinerary – a way to experience the Hearst/Morgan collaboration as we ventured south on our way to visit Hearst Castle.

The Hacienda

The Hacienda

Long story short, this was one of those times when listening to my intuition and conducting a bit more research would have had us making alternate plans….

It was an unexpectedly long and winding trek from HWY 1 – about one and a half hours inland to get to The Hacienda from Big Sur – and as mentioned, it is actually on a military base – there was absolutely nothing nearby. Once you’re there you are TRAPPED.

The structure of the Hacienda remains intact, but sadly it currently has a rather institutional feel to it – the staff was lovely and gave us a tour of every bit of the building, but the place is in dire need of some proper decoration and landscaping. To add to our disappointment, some of our fellow guests were rather unwelcoming troglodytes (are you starting to get the picture?) and the only dinner option was supplied by the army base’s bowling alley!

As you might imagine, McBee and I thought it best to pack up our Vuitton cases and get the hell out of there. As I’ve learned, it’s often a good idea to listen to my intuition.

Perhaps only the most die hard Julia Morgan fans would want to include this on their itinerary. I certainly would never suggest it to anyone. We did however find a portion of the Hacienda that evoked its former glory, and we took a few snaps then turned in our key.

I’m sporting a Ralph Lauren cream cotton cable knit sweater with a shawl collar, orange silk shantung pants, orange suede espadrilles and a linen serape stripe scarf, Michael Kors ivory cotton knit top, Gucci sunglasses, Rolex watch, KJP Croffice Sailing belt, and my fragrance is Tom Ford Lavender Palm.

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More from Magnificent Maine

James Andrew, Maine — photo Scott McBee

James Andrew, Maine — photo Scott McBee

Our wonderful hosts went all out to share the beauty of Maine and the Cranberry Isles with us. The highlight was a splendid tour of the Cranberry Isles via a friends’ motor yacht. For lunch onboard we were treated to a delicious salad Nicoise, “Cipriani” style grilled cheese sandwiches, and bottles of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Chardonnay.

A fellow Maine enthusiast.

A fellow Maine enthusiast.

Now, it should go without saying that Maine needs to be seen by water—the pine tree lined cliffs and rocky shores, the grand old homes—it’s all just completely magical from the ocean.

Speaking of magical, as part of our tour we made a stop on Bear Island in hopes of seeing the mythical “fairies” that are said to reside there or perhaps to see some of the fairy houses that people have built for them. In my excitement, I did happen to take a wrong turn and lost my friends (I’m thinking there was possibly some fairy mischief afoot), but whatever the reason, faced with the prospect of being stranded on this little island, I opted to return to the safety of the yacht—the episode had my friends and McBee thinking that I had fallen into a well or some other hideous thing. Happily, though, we were reunited aboard and we celebrated with some dessert and a few more glasses of wine, then back home for a nap and more lobster for dinner!

For our “three hour tour” I dressed in my own Thurston Howell III inspired outfit, “Nantucket” red cotton slim pants by J Crew, Michael Bastian for Gant navy and white rugby style shirt, Gucci royal blue cotton sateen jacket and white leather loafers, white rope belt by Orlebar Brown, vintage white, navy and red silk pocket square, Gucci sunglasses, vintage Rolex watch and my fragrance is Creed Erolfa.


James Andrew at Indochine

James Andrew at Indochine - photo Lars Stephan

indochinedoor21Indochine – the name evokes images of a wild colonial confluence of cultures, and while often fraught with struggle, French Indochina produced some of the most sophisticated flavors on the planet – which brings me to Indochine the New York City restaurant – a premier destination for some of the City’s most beautiful and discerning diners.

We at WIJW keep talking about the “total sensory experience” – Indochine is that to the Nth degree – Luscious monumental tropical arrangements (refreshed every week) tower grandly throughout, a bold Banana leaf wallpaper punctuates the walls, rattan furniture for the waiting area, undulating overhead fans, deep comfy booths beckon one to crisp white linen covered tables, while unbelievably graceful wait staff serve and facilitate confidently, appearing here and there in the ambient glow of the half light – this is the perfect future/past ultra chic French/Vietnamese experience!


I can proudly say I’ve been coming here since my early days as a New Yorker some 20 years ago, and the place and the cuisine miraculously remains absolutely as fresh as my very first visit. Do eat here – the food is of course heaven realm stuff, and the presentation absolutely always demands pause for appreciation.


I’m pictured (top of post) at Indochine wearing a Balenciaga olive cotton/silk Asian inspired shirt with loop closures over a Michael Kors ivory knit cotton top with crocheted placket, white skinny jean by Diesel, woven white cotton Gucci belt with brown alligator and bamboo D ring, Gucci Asian inspired flip flops in brown velvet and woven straw and leather, and to complete the look, I’m wearing my fab KVA sunglasses created for Oliver Peoples.