California Madonna Inn Resort & Spa Review

CaliforniaDecember 20, 2014


TITOISM: “I’m Peter Pan and I’ll never grow-up (for) I am born already grown. In fact, I wanted to meet the rest of the world long before I even knew how to take a breath of fresh air!”

“A funny thing happened on our way to Alaska during the Fall Season of September 2014 and I can’t wait for you to read about it. You see, precious memories may fade for some people, but not so for us; for traveling is our incredible business!”

Starting out on our third journey of the year, my better-half and I unceremoniously departed our cabin around 11:00 o’clock on a Tuesday morning. She and I had decided right away that the first sojourn during our last road trip of 2014 must guarantee an extraordinary beginning. Especially, since our last major stay will most certainly produce extreme euphoria for the two of us. In fact, this third excursion of the year should be the most thrilling of them all and that’s because, we are finally traveling to Alaska driving, mile by mile.

For us, touring Alaska had become a lifetime dream and now, we’ll actually be able to erase it from our “Bucket List.” Furthermore, we can proudly announce to our friends that my wife and I have finally traveled to every state in “these” United States. How’s that for loving one’s country? Nevertheless, our first stop has to mentally place both of our minds into the perfect travel mode, ever. This is why we finally agreed to make our first stop-over…the legendary Madonna Inn and yes, spending at least one night at this particular resort was definitely on our Bucket List!

The Madonna Inn (Resort & Spa), a landmark on California’s Central Coast for over 50 years, is positioned on a thousand acres of pastoral countryside in San Luis Obispo, California, and depending on traffic conditions since our cabin is located in the San Bernardino Mountains, this current road trip should only take us about four hours.

By the way, the historic Hearst Castle, the Central Coast Wine Country and the alluring beach-lined California Coast… are only a short ride away. For many years, Glorietta Valentino and I have involved ourselves in countless journeys traveling up and down the state of California occasionally stopping at our old stomping grounds. Needless to say, I’m talking about Ventura, Ojai, Santa Barbara, Arroyo Grande, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, Gilroy, Carmel, and Monterey; San Francisco and Napa Valley; to name but a select few.

Some of these visits were for business and others were about pleasure, pure pleasure. Albeit, this time, she and I would additionally make numerous stops in Oregon and Washington on our way to Vancouver, Canada; where after a few days stay, the Norwegian Sun Cruise Line would take us on an informative voyage to Alaska. However, not before we first enjoyed the celebrated-distinguished Madonna Inn and a host of other remarkable sights along the way. Besides, we desperately wished to see if this organization was “all that it was made-out-to-be.” Please remember, Tito Luv and Glorietta Valentino have spent numerous years waiting to have a legitimate reason to stay overnight at this renowned spot. Yet, I still personally wondered deep down inside, if it was truly worth the wait!

To begin with, (Architect) Alex Madonna and his (Interior Designer) wife Phyllis were determined to build the Madonna Inn (Resort & Spa) in order to express their combined unique vision of elegance and serenity. So, they built a first class resort at the heart of California’s Central Coast, thereby, introducing patrons to all the comforts of home while traveling on the road.

Four hours later, after a pleasant drive filled with appreciated Southern California landscape, our third Hertz (rental) SUV of the year pulled into the driveway at the Madonna Inn. Next, I remained in the vehicle while Glorietta entered the resort’s office to check us in. By the way, the Inn’s rooms in building number three are all entered from the outside located just above the parking lot. Nonetheless, this enthusiastic author was completely caught off guard once he found out that his “Better-Half” had chosen a suite on the very top floor. “Are you kidding me?”

IN BUILDING NUMBER THREE…there are no elevators! Consequently, I kept asking myself why she would do this to me as I begrudgingly climbed up three steep levels of cement stairs carrying a host of luggage, all the while feeling the blazing sun’s stinging rays blasting down upon my neck and back. To me, it seemed like a shaky beginning to a somewhat fabulous trip, if you know what I mean. Still, I must admit that once we arrived at our room and opened the door, the room itself surprisingly…just ate us alive with glamorous elegance and tasteful decor, not to mention the picturesque view from the top floor. Oh well! So far, so good!

In the Madonna Inn’s brochure our room is called the “Tall and Short Room,” because the room had been designed for tall and short people. I noticed right away how each piece of furniture was designed in different heights and sizes with the bed being tall on one side and short on the other. I’ve also been told that even though this room’s name remains the same today, it’s taken on a new charm suitable for any size or shape, and I agree.

The Tall and Short Room…This cozy room’s “soft pink-rose color” uniquely flattered its nonchalant temperament. By the way, did I mention the bathroom’s pink French Bidet or the private outside two seat balcony which undoubtedly heightens one’s stay, especially, when dining on a variety of selective breakfast morsels taking-in adorable bucolic views showcased in a panoramic background? Yes! Yes! And Yes!

On another note, each of the Inn’s one hundred and ten rooms are individually decorated with delightful themes and colorful schemes that include impressive fireplaces adorned with hand-placed native rock; romantic honeymoon suites; European, Old West, Spanish and Hawaiian-style retreats. Incidentally, be sure you ask the Inn’s management to show you their famous “all-rock” rooms with waterfall showers.

Another specialty that this resort Invites patrons to take advantage of…are the services of “Spa at Madonna Inn,” which offers practical contact with licensed massage therapists and estheticians performing exceptional multi-sensory spa experiences with expert guidance while paying noteworthy attention to detail. There’s also an exercise room filled with sensible exercise equipment.

Later in the day, after Glorietta and I had settled into our Tall and Short Room, we strolled around the resort grounds and were attentively surprised, once we viewed the all new European-style pool that features a 30 foot beach-style entry designed in a configuration. Therefore, allowing lap swimming. As a matter of fact, the surrounding area is enhanced with a 45-foot cascading waterfall. Its water evenly flows into a seductive lagoon below. In addition, there are two powerful jetted spas. One is located at the edge of the bluff and the other one’s tucked back near the gazebo and waterfall, introducing guests to a relaxing oasis. And last, but certainly not least, hotel and spa guest are welcome to relax and unwind at the Terrace Pool Bar.

For those who prefer the great outdoors, be sure to spread the word to your friends and neighbors that there’s not only swimming and spa services available, but also, golf, tennis, biking, hiking, horseback riding and numerous other activities provided for your entertainment enjoyment. Of course, few visitors leave the Madonna Inn Resort & Spa before visiting the Ladies and Men’s Boutique, Gift, Souvenir and Sundries Shop and please don’t forget the Classic Gourmet and Wine Shop. Of course, we purchased numerous gifts from the resort’s gift shops including several chic goblets. Glorietta even ordered additional goblets to be delivered through the mail to our cabin. Now, that’s what I call having a really good time.

Furthermore, I could tell you about the many business meetings, flawless receptions or extra special occasions held at a variety of festive banquet facilities, such as the Garden Room, Venetian Room, Round Room, Gay 90’s or Balcony. However, you should contact the Madonna Inn in order to find out information about the proper venue for your private get-togethers.

For larger events such as weddings, concerts or tradeshows, ask for information about The Alex Madonna Expo Center. But, most of all, remember when you need help contact “Guest Services,” they (these folks) stand ready and able to serve you. Yet, with all the words I’ve just written on these pages being read, the ultimate thrill of the Madonna Inn Resort &Spa is their wining, dining and entertainment. Believe it! Believe me! After all, I spent some of the most memorable, satisfying, enjoyable hours on location at a specific spot that I promptly learned to not only like, but, to respect for what they do in life. And just what does this organization do in life? They’ve become an institution that goes out of their way to thrill you legally with lodging, activities and whatever else you’re looking to do. And guess what, these people do it the old fashion way. They earn your money with comfort, service and dreams. Yes, it’s expensive there. But, without a doubt, you’ll certainly receive your money’s worth. When all is said and done, this organization reminds me of the old types of businesses who provided the best money could buy, which is a very special service that’s all but disappeared since my youthful days.

The famous Copper Café and Pastry Shop serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a setting full of old world charm with elaborate woodcarving, copper and brass accents, and custom-etched glass offering Danish and French pastries or maybe a slice of pie from the bakery’s oven. Unfortunately, Glorietta and I didn’t have time to visit this spot. On long trips staying true to our schedule is a must. Oh well, I guess we’ll already have something to look forward to on our next stay.

The Gold Rush Steak House

Dining at this noteworthy establishment is a must for sophisticated epicureans who desire to partake in a captivating atmosphere, yet sharing another evening of the “up-most” gratification. It’s the place where educated culinary palates rule the personal interests for a split second in a person’s life. Or, just maybe, it could be another important occasion attended by Bad Pappytuckers and Mean Motor Scooters who’ve decided to create a new legendary night of their own, for all to remember.

BECAUSE…this author and his lady were only staying over for one night, we resolved to forgo the Silver Bar Cocktail Lounge which presents dancing and live entertainment and therefore, critique the steak and seafood dinners served in Alex Madonna’s “Gold Rush Steak House.” Man oh man, was that the proper choice for an evening of relaxation. In the beginning of this story I announced, “That a funny thing happened on our way to Alaska!” This, ladies and gentlemen, is when it happened!

Upon entering the restaurant, Glorietta and I were immediately seated in a magnificent breath-taking dining room. The entire room had been decorated with beautiful chandeliers, along with pink tables enclosed by circular pink alternated booths. It was a scene right out of an old movie when people wined, dined and danced the night away with style and grace. She and I could tell right away that this experience was going to be an unbelievable evening of remarkable cuisine.

SINCE…I review restaurants for a living, the two of us acknowledged right away that Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steak House must be an award winning dining experience renowned for its outstanding menu, spectacular décor and exceptional service. I’m only sorry that you (the reader) weren’t there with us to party the night away. First of all, after being seated, out of nowhere two menus instantaneously appeared on the table in front of us, “like magic.” That’s when I noticed right away as I read the restaurant’s history printed inside our menu, that actor John Wayne had been one of Alex Madonna’s partners in the cattle business. Read on and I’ll tell you why!

For one thing, anyone who has had the privilege of feasting at such an accomplished dining spot, to you my words shall merely repeat your personal rhetoric; for when it comes to fine dining, this resort’s restaurant stands up to its competitors with flying colors. The Gold Rush Steak House serves oak-pit-barbecued steak, fresh seafood, chicken, vegetarian entrees and a host of other dishes. Obviously, they also perform such duties while featuring superb wines and decadent desserts. My only regret is that I could not have eaten my entrée twice. What you’re about to read is a reviewer’s culinary tale of integrity and I am proud to say that that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

As usual, depending on what one orders, the average price on the menu fluctuates and that was fine with us, because, Glorietta has never enjoyed eating meat. Even as a small child, she felt that it was a ridiculous waste of chewing time. So, with this in mind, she eagerly ordered a delectable seafood dish, the Abalone (Cayucos farmed Abalone lightly breaded and sautéed; then, served with a lemon Chardonnay Sauce). Her entrée brought extreme pleasure to our taste buds and at the cost of $64.00; the Abalone was well worth the price and yes, we’d order this entrée again if given a chance.

I immediately thought to myself, “What a marvelous way to begin a “Bucket List” dining experience. In fact, together, she and I usually share every dish we order. That way, the two of us can truly appreciate a business establishment’s creative efforts, when I go to write their review online (!

The honest rule to remember is…anyone can visit an eatery on any given day and have either a good meal or a bad meal depending on their situation, at any time. But, I sincerely appreciate a good restaurant that can rock my culinary world with each bite or sip. SOMETIMES …it takes several visits and this is the reason why I constantly travel.

The Surf and Turf was priced at $100.00 (Filet Mignon and an Australian Lobster). The menu described the dish as “11 ounces, of our trademark Fillet Mignon and a full pound of Australian Rock Lobster, served with fresh lemon and drawn butter!” Just as I was about to order the Surf and Turf, our waitress promptly appeared informing me that the Gold Rush Steak House offered a “Special” tonight. It seems that the Filet Mignon and an 8 oz Australian Rock Lobster was being offered for only $64.95 tonight. Without hesitation, I quickly jumped on the “Tonight’s Special,” but wasn’t sure if I should have given-up the other 8 ounces of my lobster tail. Oh well, only time will tell!

Unfortunately, I must admit that over the last eight years, I’ve had to cut down on ordering meat, because of my doctor’s instructions concerning “bad” cholesterol. As a matter of fact, it’d been less than a year ago since I had my triple by-pass open heart surgery; which of course, is considered a major operation. However, spending an extraordinary evening at the Madonna Inn had been listed on our Bucket List for years and also, the fact that I heard a quiet dramatic voice whispering softly into my sixty-eight year old ear telling me to go ahead and choose the evening’s special. Yes, my conscience, with a smile on its invisible face informed me that a real man only lives once and after going through the past traumatic months since my operation, I just could not help but order the mouth-watering Fillet Mignon and Lobster. To quote the late great comedian, Flip Wilson…”The devil made me do it!” He did! He really did! And after placing my order, I sat there with great anticipation of what’s-to-come. Now, please sit back ladies and gentlemen and be sure to read this review very slowly…as I describe a fantastic meal that’s as good as it gets. Oh yeah!

To begin with, my illustrious golden prose of great satisfaction sincerely wants you (the reader) to continue visiting my international travel web site at, over and over again. Then, once you’ve become familiar with my writing style, you’ll realize that when I call a situation, this author/entertainer/businessman, tells it, like it is! Once I commit to expert reasoning on a specific subject or subjects, after 68 years living on planet Earth, I simply tell the truth in spite of others becoming slanted on a variety of issues. I just don’t care. Someone once stated that “The Truth is the Light,” or words to that effect. Remember?

The first move I made was to order a glass of wine, Madonna Inn Castoro Cellars, Paso Robles, Cabernet Sauvignon ($8.50 a glass, or $22.00 a bottle); a wonderful dry red wine of invigorating true taste. One half of my precious glass of vino would be sipped between tasting their “Foccacia” bread and then, enjoying scrumptious soup and a delightful fresh salad. Naturally, the second half of my vino should disappear along with my entire entrée. Therefore, lessening the obligation and dedicated load of a happy time.

Yes, the pleasurable dark dry red wine right away began to relax our conversation even more and at the same time, it prepared us for what was to come. This was a business night. But, this was also to be a romantic evening. On this opportunity, we both were winning and by the way, each entrée is served with homemade soup or salad; baked potato or rice pilaf; fresh baked dinner rolls or Foccacia bread.

The selective sprinkling of fresh crisp vegetables on my salad plate, topped with a proper dash of dressing, is a nice way to begin such a meal of progress; it really is. Then, to savor their tasteful home-made soup presented a joy within itself. But, they’re not to be the main performance of this evening, merely adjectives to nouns. The Big Bang had yet to come.

Of course, we both engulfed our baked potato, slowly, yet, swiftly; which means, not-so-fast that I must wait a long time for an entrée to finally arrive, or the dish is presented much too soon to further complicate a completely relaxed, unhurried occasion. Up until this point, everything served was very flavorful and agreeable. To me, soups and salads are simply soups and salads. They’re either good or they’re not. Well, you can take my word when I say that they were actually delicious. However, you know what I was waiting for, an eleven ounce steak and one half pound of cold water rock lobster. That even sounds funny to read or speak aloud. Why, I’ve eaten some of the best steak and lobster since my youth. Of course, I wasn’t paying for it. Back in those days, I was still a kid. Oh, the joy of parenthood!

Once the Surf and Turf was decorously placed in front of me with old time class and elegance, I asked Miss Valentino if she’d like a wee small bite of the Madonna Inn’s Filet Mignon. She politely answered with a,” No, Thank you! You know what I think about meat, especially, steak!” That’s when I asked her to please do me a favor and try a taste of my steak just to see if she thinks how I think on this particular item. First of all, once “me” lady placed a piece of the Madonna Inn’s Filet Mignon into her mouth, her eyes lit up like the Times Square Christmas Tree-Lighting, in New York City. As the lady’s eyes met mine, she did indeed see that same wonderful look in both of my eyes. I mean, good is good. But, great! Oh heck yeah! This steak was unbelievably good. I relished each fork full.

A few minutes later as she asked me for an additional piece of Filet Mignon, she murmured in a most satisfying (voice) way that, “If meat always tasted like this, I’d have eaten more meat doing my life! And quite naturally, I unequivocally agreed head on with no remorse. If it’s not the best steak I’ve ever eaten, then, it’s the best steak I’ve had in years and you can certainly tell your family and friends that I, Tito Luv, stand behind my opinions.

The Filet Mignon’s coloring glowed and smelled almost perfect, what a piece of art. Next, this fresh moist cut, medium prepared entrée fit comfortably into our mouths as though we were softly chewing a banana. There were no hard parts of meat ruining the sensation. This piece of meat was agreeably tender, indeed. All the time I spent chewing and sucking the sweet juice from the steak, it was joyful. Each tender bite produced another round of “happy mouth,” again and again. Gazing back and forth at one another offering compliments and praise, fit right in with our romantic mood. I’m sure that somewhere out there in television land, Tony the Tiger is yelling how great the meal is. Well, yell on, Tony, my friend!

Once I sank my mouth upon the cold water Australian Rock Lobster, our dining moved up to another new level. The best lobster in the world comes from South Africa, Australia or Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Stating it simply, cold water lobster is more tender, succulent, and sweeter than warm water lobster. No brag, just fact. That’s simply the way it is. I didn’t make the rules. However, I did taste the cuisine and I do possess an educated palate.

Afterwards, we walked around visiting several gift shops, investigated wines, etc., and spent our money with a happy feeling. So, this is “thee” place that we’d had on our Bucket List for years, huh? My friends, after this wonderful experience, I can’t wait to remove others from our list!

This includes $19.71 for Room Tax; $3.94 for City of Slo Bid Assessment; $15.00 for Resort Fee; $1.50 for Resort Fee Room Tax and $0.30 for Resort Fee City of Slo Bid.
This includes…$64.95 for 1 Filet & ½ Lobster; $64.00 for Abalone; $7.95 for 1 slice of Pink Champagne Cake and $8.50 for 1 glass of House Wine equals $157.03 plus $30.00 Gratuity.
TOTAL COST OF ROOM AND MEAL (But, not including gifts and goblets, etc.) FOR ONE DAY: $424.58


For an extra special time away from home in order to thrill your significant other, business associate, or maybe to celebrate your own life, do yourself a favor. Visit the Madonna Inn Resort and Spa. You’ll be glad that you did. Then, you can also remove it from your “BUCKET LIST!” By the way, please tell Madonna Inn’s Guest Service s that Tito Luv and Main Performance USA International (Travel) recommended them to you! Ciao

100 Madonna Road
San Luis Obispo, California 93405
(805) 543-3037

By Tito Luv

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