Seaside attractions in Monterey

Seaside attractions in Monterey; (c) Soul Of America


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Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa is tucked behind majestic pine trees, just southeast of Highway One in Monterey, California. Located on 22 verdant acres the amenities-rich retreat has much to offer within and nearby — Jeanette Valentine, Soul Of America.

Walk into the bright and airy lobby, and you almost feel as if you’re still outdoors. Wall-to-floor windows overlook the legendary Del Monte Golf Course, shedding bright light into the open space. The décor relies heavily on a cream and tan palette with plenty of natural textures in the furnishings, floor coverings, and table art to evoke an al fresco vibe.

No crass fluorescent lighting; no heavy, bulky counters, and absolutely no wasted space. The lobby is functional and compact, while also managing to be welcoming and inviting. It’s a tricky balance that I see throughout my visit.

Just steps beyond the sleek, check-in area is a lounge that beckons weary travelers with leather sofas, ubiquitous wait staff and a massive, stone and wood fireplace open on four sides. In contrast to the gloom of many hotel lounges, natural light streams through skylights overhead, adding to the room’s openness.

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Order drinks from the bar, or if you wish to imbibe in more upscale beverages, cross the hallway to the Tasting Studio. The cozy outlet offers tastings of boutique wines from nearby McIntyre Vineyards.

Despite the sophistication here, the Grand Hyatt Monterey is at heart a resort for families. You can tell by the foosball, air hockey, and ping-pong tables near its main pool; by the life-sized chess set nearby, by the popcorn machine in its sports-themed restaurant, Knuckles, and by the resort’s offering of S’mores Kits – graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate – for roasting the treats over a fire pit covered by a gazebo.

Even Rover is welcome. For an extra $80-85 per night, a man’s best friend receives a letter of greeting, a dog bowl, and a special “Welcome Amenity.” And the concierge will help you find local pet services. The spacious two-room suite featured an Asian-inspired décor: Angular, yet comfortable sofa and chairs, teak-inspired furnishings, and a lovely view of the main pool. My favorite feature was the shower, golden marble almost the size of a miniature room in itself. With a rain shower and strong water flow, I never wanted to leave it.

Monterey Hyatt Regency

Monterey Hyatt Regency lounge

Sports fans will find nirvana in Knuckles, just off the main lobby. The walls on one side of the room are comprised of floorboards from an actual basketball court. Across the room, memorabilia including pool cues, vintage wooden skis, and leather football helmets hang as if in a museum. A barrel of fresh roasted peanuts and the popcorn machine are nearby.

The hearty fare – burgers, nachos, Buffalo wings, and the like – was tasty and served quickly. But what floored me were the flat-screen televisions – 24 in all, some on the wall of individual booths. I’d love to watch March Madness in this place.

I especially looked forward to the Accista Spa, and the new facility didn’t disappoint. After changing into fluffy white robes, my boyfriend, Patrick, and I was treated to side-by-side massages in a shared suite. (Kudos to the staff for its flexibility. Initially, we were booked in separate rooms. We preferred a shared experience, and were accommodated with little fuss.)

From the plush sofas, soft music, and plentiful fruit trays in the spa waiting area to our 500-square-foot suite (soaking tub included), the Accista Spa experience is one of relaxation and elegance. The first floor of the two-story facility houses a reception area, and retail space offering many of the fragranced products used during spa treatments, a hair salon, and women’s and men’s locker rooms.

As an avid gym rat, I was disappointed that the fitness center was difficult to find from our room in a far wing of the property; the walk reminded me of a hunt for buried treasure. We strolled to the other end of the property, entered another building, walked down the stairs, turned left at the landing … and so on. Luckily, the facility was worth the trek. It was well-lit with new machines (outfitted with iPod docking stations) and even provided tightly rolled towels chilled in a mini refrigerator, a very nice touch.

Monterey native son John Steinbeck once said, “Many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased.” 
Though the Hyatt Monterey has a few kinks to be worked out, it offers enough of a quality experience to inspire guests to long revel in their vacation memories.

An Exquisite Dining Experience

The Hyatt Regency was kind enough to invite us to dinner at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands, overlooking Big Sur in nearby Carmel. Prepared by Executive Chef Matt Bolton, the three-course meal was fabulous.

I ordered a heart of palm salad, beautifully presented with arugula and wisps of cucumber slices. The second course was a large delicate and buttery Dayboat Scallop nestled in a Sunchoke puree. For an entree, I chose the California Sea Bass (caught just that morning, we were told). I’m usually not a fish eater, but I took my chances and was pleasantly surprised. Subtly flavorful, it was nicely complemented by the sharpness of the parsnip puree and the saltiness of the Applewood smoked bacon. For oenophiles, the dining room offers 1,700 labels and more than 24,000 bottles of wine.

Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa on Del Monte Golf Course
ADDRESS: 1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey, CA
PHONE: 831-372-1234

Big Sur and Hearst Castle

Add a couple of days to your getaway. See one of the world’s greatest places where coastal land meets the ocean – Big Sur. Take California Highway 1 south of Monterey and enjoy 70 miles of fabulous cliffs, beaches, waterfalls, a classic lighthouse, and the world-famous Hearst Castle built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, the Google of his era. There are still wild zebras roaming his fenced-off land that you can see from the highway. There are inns & cafes along the way so you can stop many times or stay overnight.

McWay Falls along Big Sur; credit BrockenInaglory


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