It’s not about the destination but the journey getting there. But when driving out to Monterey for the weekend, then the destination is everything. The last time we drove up the Central Coast to Carmel by the Sea, we took the scenic winding road up the Pacific Coast Highway. It was going very well until the kids started feeling queasy. So this time, we decided that we could try to get to Monterey from Huntington Beach under 6 hours, by driving up the 5 to the 101. It took slightly longer than 6 hours through not very scenic rural views. An exception was the drive through the pretty vineyards of Paso Robles.
Coming from our own beach town of Huntington Beach, the pine tree-filled landscape was a welcome change. The vista was so awe-inspiring that my son remarked it looked like we were driving into a computer screensaver!
We checked into the Hyatt Monterey and felt right at home. The hotel has a country club feel minus the snobbery. Maybe because it feels like a country club because it is located on Old Golf Course Road? (Right by the Del Monte Gold Course.) Or maybe because the staff makes you feel like you “belong.”
The Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel is set among 22 acres of Monterey Pines and is made up several buildings with 550 guestrooms including 32 suites, villas, and standard rooms. We had adjoining rooms, giving the kids their privacy, which they loved! (As you can imagine, so did we.) Between the rooms, there was a family room with a TV, sofa and coffee table. So it definitely felt like home. The understated décor was also tastefully done and very relaxing.
I met with Steve McNally, General Manager of the hotel and David Lambert, Director of Sales for drinks at the Fireplace Lounge before grabbing dinner with the family at the onsite TusCA Ristorante. Dinner was delicious and the service impeccable.
After dinner, we watched the live jazz band at the Fireplace Lounge. It was totally chill. I was told that the drummer was a local doctor, who gathered musicians to jam.
Later, the kids enjoyed making s’mores by the fire pit at the hotel’s gazebo.
The next day, we met up with the Hyatt’s Sales Manager David Lambert for a “secret hike.” He shared that it was something he liked to show hotel guests from time to time. We got up rather early for people on vacation and headed out to nearby Carmel. Let me tell you, this was a perfect way to start one’s day in Monterey Peninsula.
We drove just a few minutes from the hotel. Then, we parked our cars on the side of Hwy 1 and hiked up the Soberanes Trail, part of Garrapata State Park
It was breathtaking.
Back at the hotel, I visited the Marilyn Monroe Spa, where I experienced Marilyn’s Signature Massage. The facilities were clean and relaxing as one would expect from a hotel spa. But the splashes of red in the décor made the place playfully chic, as well. Some of the neat spa features included: walk-in rain showers, saunas, and a couples room too. The Marilyn Monroe Spa also offers salon services including hair, makeup, pedicures and manicures. You don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to avail of the spa’s services.
What’s a trip to Monterey without a visit to the Monterey Aquarium? This public aquarium located on the site of a former sardine cannery on historic Cannery Row is a destination on its own. Founded in 1984, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has permanent exhibits that represent more than 600 species including the Giant Pacific Octopus, Sea Otters, Kelp Forest. There are a lot of interactive exhibits for both young ones and the young at heart. We truly enjoyed the historic aspect of it all and of course, the up close and personal look at Life on the Bay.
After our visit to the Aquarium, we walked along Cannery Row. We talked about John Steinbeck, as my son, had just read some of his books for school. And we reflected on how inspiring all of Monterey is…how can you not write a novel or create art in such a place of beauty! We returned to the Hyatt and relaxed the rest of the evening. We went to Knuckles sports bar at the hotel for dinner and later listened to the jazz band again. Saturdays are busier at the hotel, because locals like to frequent the place too. Like I said, the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa makes you feel like you’re part of a club. We look forward to visiting again soon.