The World’s a Green at Hyatt Regency Monterey
The Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa on the Del Monte Golf Course, just a couple of hours’ drive from San Francisco, is actually on the golf course, so it’s practically a gigantic golf club. I could’ve guessed the theme from the address at Old Golf Course Road, but until I saw it with my own eyes, I couldn’t have imagined the magnitude of the Hyatt Monterey.
Recently renovated to an astounding grandeur, Monterey’s largest conference hotel has 550 guest rooms, 40,000 square feet of multi-use function areas, and lots of green open spaces that even include a dog-walking trail.
The Hyatt Regency Monterey features swimming pools and fire pits, the luxurious Accista Spa, the Stay Fit 24-hour fitness center, and even the Monterey Bay Racquet Club. There, you can get a free rental racquet and get a lesson from tennis director Hans Roemer, who teaches the noble sport to hotel guests daily.
Hotel guests stay in dozens of little buildings scattered in the vicinity of the 17th and 18th holes, and to get from building #1 to building #20 takes a power walk or catching a ride to your destination in a golf cart driven by a polite hotel staffer.
Turn away from the front desk upon check-in, and you hit Knuckles Sports Bar, where the walls are made of recycled materials from basketball courts and bleachers; all TV screens are tuned to various games; and you can pour beer from taps right at your table.
The Hyatt Regency Monterey is a pet-friendly hotel, and dogs on a leash are as common a sight here as men in business suits headed for meeting rooms or families with children playing ping-pong or grilling marshmallows by a fire pit.
There is plenty to do and enjoy here even for a non-sports cat person, as I discovered on my walk around the grounds. First, I found a cat house built specifically for a stray feline who used to receive occasional food handouts and eventually got his own residence here. His name is Tiger, he is a well-fed tabby, and doesn’t mind some behind-the-ear scratching from a strange woman.
Second, I got a massage at the spanking-new Accista Spa. It’s a gorgeous modern facility with plush relaxation rooms, soothing music, and an assortment of teas, nuts, and fresh berries to keep you serene but energized. The spa employs wonderful massage therapists who use aromatherapy oils from Ajne, an organic parfumerie and apothecary in neighboring Carmel-by-the-Sea.
I so enjoyed my pine-and-lime massage oil that the next day my husband and I took a little side trip to Ajne for some highly individualized perfume. Every scent is selected for each customer based on a character-traits questionnaire administered by the husband-and-wife Ajne team – Jane Hendler, the president and organic perfumer, and Rex Rombach – the creative director and distiller.
Third, I made a dinner reservation at the hotel’s fine dining TusCa Ristorante, where chef de cuisine Johnny de Vivo serves some mean cured meats, fruit de mar with locally-caught fish, a blood-orange caramel dessert, and other Tuscan-California delicacies. After dinner, we stayed a while at the Fireplace Lounge in front of the restaurant, where a singer accompanied by a live band performed Cole Porter classics.
Bright and early the next morning, we started for the Big Sur coastline. The air was filled with an ocean breeze, the water was azure, and wild irises, California poppies, and miniature succulents were blossoming on the cliffs above the Pacific. We headed for the Big Sur Coast Gallery and Café, with its impressive collection of contemporary American art. The Gallery occupies two recycled water tanks made of seasoned redwood planks. Round windows, narrow staircases, and a cute little patio adorned with lightweight hanging art pieces add to the appeal of the glass, metal, ceramic, painting, and photography collection that makes the Coast Gallery a not-to-be-missed stop along California Highway 1.
White marble contemporary sculptures grace the entrance to the gallery. Café tables hide under red umbrellas on the roof of a tank. After a recent renovation and reopening, the café is geared toward serving seasonal local and organic produce. A charcuterie board prepped by chef/manager Matthew Farmer on the day we lunched contained California-grown caper berries and quince jelly; Red Hawk, Mt. Tam, St. Pat, and Humbolt Fog cheeses from the famed Cowgirl Creamery; and Fra’ Mani salami from Berkeley.
That night, we dined at Pacific’s Edge at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. The restaurant has a comprehensive wine list and serves abundant and well-executed fresh seafood dishes, yet it is best known for its views. Overlooking the Pacific, its floor-to-ceiling windows provide sunset views from every seat in the dining room. If you think yourself lucky for getting a table right by the window, prepare for a sunset invasion with flashing cameras. There is always a moment in the nightly ritual when most diners jump to their feet and run to the glass wall for that perfect shot of a Pacific sunset.
Hyatt Regency Monterey is located at: 1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey, CA 93940. For information and reservations, call: 1-831-372-1234 or visit their website.