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Monterey: A world-class city with small town charm

Destination Hyatt 2009

Volume 2009

Destination Hyatt Magazine

By Karen Kefauver

The Hyatt Regency Monterey Resort & Spa on Del Monte Golf Course offers a unique blend of modern comfort and classic style. Paired with a gorgeous setting on California's central coast, the hotel is perfect for either a peaceful retreat on its 22 tranquil acres or an active adventure at world-famous attractions like Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium or the beach. Thanks to a recent $60 million renovation, this resort creates a new standard in contemporary style and top-notch service on the Monterey Peninsula.

RESORT HIGHLIGHTS

Location. Monterey is located 115 miles south of San Francisco, 70 miles south of San Jose and 350 miles north of Los Angeles. Guests arrive by car or fly into the nearby Monterey Peninsula Airport (www.montereyairport.com), which offers direct, nonstop flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Ontario, Salt Lake City, Denver, Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Golf. Ranked by Golf Digest among the top five courses in America over 100 years old, the 18-hole, championship Del Monte Golf Course, owned and operated by Pebble Beach Company, offers Hyatt guests preferred tee time confirmations.

Tennis and Pools. Stop in at the Tennis Pro Shop to reserve one of the championship tennis courts; four of the six courts are equipped with lights. After your match, take a refreshing dip in Spyglass Pool or Mark Thomas Pool. Then relax in the hot tub.

Spa and Health Club. The new 14,000-square-foot facility encompasses two levels. The ground level includes a salon and fitness facilities with top-of-the-line Life Fitness equipment. Upstairs, treatment rooms and luxurious spa suites are designed for the ultimate in pampering. Each spa suite features its own fireplace.

Biking. With a gentle ocean breeze and warm sun, biking here is a pleasant and popular activity. Rent a bike at the Tennis Pro Shop, then pedal a short distance from the hotel to the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail. The paved trail is open to runners, cyclists and pedestrians. Winding through Monterey Bay Park, this scenic path hugs the coastal line for 18 miles.

The Gift Shop. Browsing this creatively stocked store provides a fine introduction to Monterey. For a sense of the vast marine life in Monterey Bay, heck out the souvenirs from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Shop for golf attire, women's hats and jewelry. The John Steinbeck anthology CD will refresh your recollection of the author's classic novels--great listening for a drive. For a sweet treat, buy a S'mores package to roast marshmallows over the resort's fire pit.

The President's House. This distinctive suite features a luxurious four-bedroom house with a master bedroom, relaxing living room, large private pool and backyard. President's House guests can also enjoy private dining at their own accommodations in a formal dining room for up to eight people.

Regency Club. Available as a luxury upgrade when booking a room or suite, this private concierge club offers perks to resort guests who seek the highest level of personalized service. The ­private lounge offers personalized concierge service, high speed internet, business services, newspapers and high-profile magazines, and classic novels written by long-time Monterey resident and author John Steinbeck.

Complimentary refreshments include continental breakfast, mid-day snacks, and evening hors d'oeuvres paired with Monterey Peninsula wines.

Camp Hyatt. Parents can relax knowing that their children (ages 3 to 12) can participate in a variety of activities while trained camp counselors supervise them. Fun activities focus on culture, history and the environment.

DINING IN

Tusca Ristorante. Named for a blend of Tuscany's renowned flavors and California's famously fresh produce, this handsome restaurant boasts a diverse wine list that pairs beautifully with the entrees served from the demonstration kitchen. Tuscan­ inspired duo brick ovens make al forno (roasted) dishes a specialty. With a stunning view of the rolling greens of the golf course, TusCA Ristorante offers both indoor and outdoor seating. For a special experience, reserve the Chef's Table or the private dining room.

Tusca Wine Room. A floor-to-ceiling display wine cellar created almost entirely of glass holds the Wine Room's collection of acclaimed regional and international wines. The tall communal table for eight overlooks the Fireplace Lounge. The Wine Room is available for private events, such as an intimate dinner for eight or a wine and artisan cheese pairing event for twelve.

The Fireplace Lounge. Visitors can start their day with muffins, scones or homemade, bite-sized doughnuts served every morning at the Espresso Bar. In the evenings, the lounge is a popular hot spot for guests and locals alike. On weekends, a variety of jazz musicians perform at the lounge, which overlooks the golf course.

Knuckles Historical Sports Bar. With vintage surfboards adorning the ceiling, black-and-white photos of athletes forming a Wall of Fame, a huge barrel of peanuts for munching and 18 new high definition TVs, it's easy to see how this action-packed hub was voted Monterey's best sports bar four years in a row. It's ideal for sports fans and families—kids can stay until 11 p.m.

A World-Class City with Small Town Charm
Internationally recognized for its aquarium, golf courses, and jazz festival, Monterey draws visitors from around the world to these attractions. Yet there are also hidden gems to discover in the city of Monterey, outlying Monterey County and neighboring coastal cities of Carmel and Santa Cruz. Whether you have a weekend to spare or several weeks of vacation, take some time to enjoy the hospitality extended by warm and friendly Californians on the Central Coast.

Rainy season is great for a stay in Monterey, since the temperatures are moderate year-round. In the winter, the Pacific Ocean is dramatic with crashing waves, and the historic cultural treasures have fewer visitors. The summer and fall are ideal times to enjoy longer visits at the beaches and outdoor activities with the kids. Of course, the region's rich tributes to the past are always on display.

Monterey truly offers something for everyone. Golf fans who play or spectate know that Monterey is world famous for its heavenly courses. For outdoor activities, there are beaches along 99 fabulous miles of coastline and hundreds of acres of state and county parks and gardens. Strolling along Monterey's dramatic waterfront is a great way to explore some of the most popular sites in the area, like the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The aquarium enjoys a spectacular "backyard" of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary-home to sea otters, whales, sharks and fish, plants and other animals.

The aquarium is located on Cannery Row, a street renowned for its wonderful restaurants, galleries and shops. Named for John Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row, the area is a fantastic place to explore, people­ watch and dine.

Check Monterey's events calendar during your visit and see if you can catch an annual festival honoring either the artichoke, squid, clam chowder, tomatoes or wine. Jazz and blues festivals are plentiful. Golf tournaments, rodeos, car races, bicycle festivals and air shows attract sports enthusiasts. Special days commemorate authors such as John Steinbeck and Robinson Jeffers. Heritage festivals honor the area's Italian, Turkish, Scottish, Greek, Portuguese and Hispanic cultures.

Best of all, you can't go wrong in Monterey. Do as much or as little as you like and sit back and enjoy the relaxed California lifestyle and the friendly local people.

ATTRACTIONS

Scenic Monterey has treasures—the famed cannery row, picturesque vineyards and breathtaking vistas—waiting to be discovered around every corner.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, 886 Cannery Row. www.montereybayaquarium.com, 831-648-4888. Considered one of the best aquariums in the nation, if not the world, this home to more than 30,000 animals includes sharks, sea otters, penguins, jelly-fish and octopus. A hidden aquatic world is revealed through nearly 200 galleries and exhibits, plus special activities.

National Steinbeck Center, One Main Street, Salinas. www.steinbeck.org, 831-775-4721. Nobel Prize-winning writer John Steinbeck, author of such classics as The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden and Cannery Row, was born in Salinas and made the region come alive through his novels. With galleries and interactive exhibits, visitors experience a taste of Steinbeck Country.

17-Mile Drive, www.pebblebeach.com. 800-654-9300. This scenic driving tour hugs the rocky Pacific coastline and winds through the lush Del Monte Forest. Along the way, you'll see crashing waves, the Lone Cypress tree and grand mansions. Famous golf courses such as The Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill and Pebble Beach Golf Links are easily visible.

Cannery Row, www.canneryrow.com. One of America's most well-known streets is name for Steinbeck's novel. The historic Cannery Row offers shopping at its 84 retail stores and more then 20 restaurants, all within walking distance, on Monterey's Restaurant Row.

Old Monterey Market Place, Alvarado Street. www.oldmonterey.org, 831-655-8070. Year-round, rain or shine, on Tuesday evenings (4 to 8 p.m. April to October; 4 to 7 p.m. October to March) fresh produce, food stalls, Baker's Alley, plus arts, crafts and collectibles are show-cased at this colorful weekly market. Super-fresh food, local crafts, and tantalizing smells entice locals and visitors alike.

Monterey Wine Country, 831-375­9400, www.montereywines.org. Superb soil, warm sun and cool ocean breezes create ideal grape growing conditions among 40,000 acres of vineyards representing the 40 wineries, and 85 labels produced in Monterey County. Opportunities to taste award-winning wines abound at vineyards and tasting rooms throughout the Salinas and Carmel Valleys and the Monterey Peninsula.

Old Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey Harbor. www.montereywharf.com. Where once tons of sardines were shipped daily, now visitors enjoy the Wharf's many fine restaurants, gift shops, art galleries, tackle and bait shops, fishing, whale-watching harbor cruise and party boat concessions. The Wharf Theater presents quality plays throughout the year.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, 400 Beach St. www.beachboardwalk.com. 831-423-5590. California's only seaside amusement park, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2006, features 28 rides, including the Giant Dipper roller coaster. Munch kettle corn, savor saltwater taffy and feel the ocean breeze as you stroll along the board­walk. An arcade, miniature golf and bowling also provide family fun.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, www.carmelcalifomia.org. The home of director Clint Eastwood is a quaint village with pretty gardens, boutique shops and 100+ art galleries. Quirky laws (no street addresses, live music, neon lights, to name a few) enhance old-town charm in the town with a pine forest near white sand beaches.

Big Sur, www.bigsurcalifomia.org. This breathtaking 90 miles of dramatic coastline is a winding wonderland from Carmel south to the Hearst Castle. This portion of California Route 1 is designated an American National Scenic Byway and California Scenic Highway, an honor reserved for highways that are so distinctive they are destinations unto themselves. You will discover a fine collection of restaurants, inns and park hiking along the way.

Hearst Castle, 750 Hearst Castle Road, San Simeon. www.hearstcastle.com. 800-444-4445. About a 3-hour drive from Monterey, Hearst Castle, operated by California State Parks, is one of the largest of approximately 5,000 historic house museums in the U.S. Once the home of William Randolph Hearst, the estate still looks like a private residence. A wide variety of tours detail the life of William Randolph Hearst and his family and the collections, architecture, gar­dens and lifestyle at the castle.

NIGHTLIFE
If you're looking for something fun to do with your nights while staying on the Peninsula, you are in luck. Monterey has nightclubs downtown and on Cannery Row offering live music, comedy and dancing. If billiards is your game, you can find pool tables at local bars and eateries. Or maybe you want to attend a live theater production. The Monterey Peninsula has sophisticated theater groups that offer productions year-round. If you'd rather see a movie, you can catch a current film at multi-screen theaters at the Del Monte Shopping Center or many other locations.

Afterwards, you can find a bite to eat at restaurants that serve late-night fare and lounges that cater to night owls. Small coffee shops, popular with locals, are bustling with activity well into the night. On the weekends, the coffee shops often serve up live music along with lattes and cappuccinos. Brew pubs are also a popular place to enjoy the local nightlife.

Whatever your taste in music-blues, jazz, Bach, Dixieland or reggae-Monterey has a seasonal music festival for you. These well-established multi-day festivals attract some of the biggest names in the music business. Check with the Monterey County Visitor Center (www.montereyinfo.org, 888-221-1010) for dates of festivals, like the unique Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival that features a Saturday night Western dance, a silent auction and poetry events.

For jazz lovers, the Monterey Jazz Festival established in 1958, is the longest-running jazz festival in the world. Held every September on the oak-studded Monterey Fairground, the festival features 500 top jazz artists performing throughout the weekend. Past artists have included Dave Brubeck, the McCoy Tyner Trio, 2006 Grammy Award winner Dianne Reeves and blues superstar Bonnie Raitt, a nine-time Grammy Award winner. During the Monterey Jazz Festival, some performers make spontaneous appearances (as Wynton Marsalis did) at the Hyatt’s Fireplace Lounge. Year-round, the lounge is a sought-after spot for live jazz on weekend nights.

DINING
Monterey is a food lover's paradise. It is a premier dinning destination, thanks to bountiful fresh produce, superb seafood and a wide variety of restaurants.

Ranging from casual, family-style eateries to white linen fine dining, there's something for every budget. Top-notch chefs, a growing number of regional vintners and a rich assortment of cultural influences mean wining and dining here has never been more exciting.

Superior dining begins with the farmers in Monterey County's Salinas Valley who grow a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables. Recognized as the "Salad Bowl of the World," Monterey County is best known for its tender lettuce, tasty Brussels sprouts, luscious straw­berries and prickly artichokes. In addition to first-rate, multibillion dollar vegetable crops, wine grapes, nuts, seeds and flowers also thrive in the region's temperate climate and rich soils. Monterey Jack cheese, which originated here, is a common topping on many dishes.

Aside from the incredible quality and abundance of fresh ingredients, the Monterey Peninsula is also blessed with an eclectic mix of ethnic cuisine. The adventurous diner can sample a variety of textures and styles at one of many Thai or Pacific Rim restaurants or sample authentic flavors of Mexican and Italian cuisine. (Of course, if you crave a hamburger, you can find that easily too.) Don't miss out on the seafood-squid, scallops, oysters, salmon, sole, halibut, red snapper, ling cod and swordfish are brought in daily by fishermen whose families have harvested from the local bay for generations.

Monterey Peninsula's Native Americans, Spanish, Italians, Greeks and Portuguese brought a knack for seafood preparation. Chinese and Japanese cultures inspired another form of preparing fish through the canning and fish salting industries.

Italian cuisine also enjoys a rich history in Monterey. At the Hyatt Regency Monterey Resort & Spa's TusCA Ristorante, Executive Chef Mark Ayers captures the flavors of Tuscany, utilizing the freshest local, season­al produce. Homemade bread hot from the oven is a perfect way to start a fantastic dinner. After your antipasti, insalate and pasta, be sure to save room for dessert-the creamy tiramisu and cheese tasting plates are TusCA favorites.

Matter what style of cuisine you prefer, local chefs can create a memorable meal. To celebrate a special occasion, or to enjoy a candlelit, romantic dinner, choose a five-star restaurant in Carmel or Pebble Beach for its gourmet menu and award-winning wines. For casual meals, bring the whole crew to Fisherman's Wharf for tasty cuisine with a waterside view.

For down-home restaurants and an authentic fisherman character, drive a short way north along the coast to explore eateries in Moss Landing.

To fully embrace Monterey County's culinary wealth, plan a trip to one of the many award-winning wineries. Or attend one of the annual events that highlight this world-class grape growing region: the Winemakers' Celebration in August, the Great Wine Escape Weekend in November or the Passport Weekend in February.

Fans of fresh fruit may also enjoy visiting roadside stands selling strawberries or experiencing the “pick-your-own" of whatever is in season. For an insider's view of the industry, ask your concierge where you can take a farm tour, sometimes led by local chefs.

SPORTS
Golf. Monterey is heaven for golfers. With dozens of both public and private courses playable year-round, in a variety of scenic settings, the options are numerous. Ranked by Golf Digest among the top five courses in America over 100 years old, the 18-hole, championship Del Monte Golf Course owned and operated by Pebble Beach, offers Hyatt guests preferred tee time confirmations. Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill, Poppy Hills, Bayonet and Quail Lodge are among the other numerous top-notch golf courses that are just minutes away from the resort.

Scube Driving. Kelp forests and an abundance of sea life in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary make the ocean and bay popular for all levels of diving-top stops include San Carlos Beach and Point Lobos.

Sailing. Tours and charters leave from Monterey Harbor, taking in local wildlife and coastal views.

Kayaking. Guided tours and rental kayaks leave from Monterey and Moss Landing. All ages are welcome.

Whale Watching. Nothing matches the thrill of spotting a whale when you are out in the water. Whale watching happens year-round here, with gray whales in the winter and early spring, blue whales in the summer and humpbacks in the summer and fall. Orcas and other dolphins year-round. Many chartered whale-watching tours are available from Fisherman's Wharf and Moss Landing.

Fishing. Deep sea, rock and surf fishing are popular activities. Many charter fishing trips leave from Fisherman's Wharf. Fishing regulations and license information can be obtained from the state Fish & Game Department (831-649-2870).

Beaches and Parks. The Los Padres National Forest and many state beaches and parks offer campsites at beaches, meadows and forests in Monterey, Big Sur, Salinas Valley and beyond. Public community parks such as Lovers Point Park are available for walking, picnicking, kite flying and water sports. Dennis the Menace Playground features a climbing wall, suspension bridge, giant slide, adventure ship and more.

Horseback Riding. Guided tours, beach rides and trail ride packages are available near Moss Landing, in Pebble Beach and Big Sur.

Skydiving. For adrenaline junkies with no fear of heights, this is the ticket to a memorable adventure. With expert instruction and experienced pilots, sky-diving is available in the Marina at the Monterey Municipal Airport.

Hiking. Monterey County's parks and recreation areas feature various trails for the day-tripper and the seasoned back-country traveler. The Monterey Bay Recreation Trail features 18 miles of paved coastal trails for bikers, in-line skaters and runners alike. Point Lobos State Reserve offers a variety of trails that take you through meadows and woods and to magnificent beaches. The Big Sur area has something for everyone, from relatively flat nature trails through the trees or along the rocky coastline to challenging routes for all day hikes or overnight trips.

Biking. Mountain biking is popular on BLM lands on the former Ft. Ord military base, which has nearly 90 miles of trails. The Sea Otter Classic (www.seaotterclassic.com), held each spring at the Laguna Seca Raceway, is one of the nation's largest bicycling festivals.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, 1021 Monterey-Salinas Highway, Salinas. 831-242-8201. Operated by the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula, the raceway traces world class racing roots to 1950 and the inaugural running of the Pebble Beach Road Races. Major events held here include the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, AMA Superbike Series and the Monterey Sports Car Championships.

Monterey Bay Birding Festival. Birding enthusiasts flock from around the country to attend this full weekend of activities centered in the Pajaro Valley, heart of the Monterey Bay's world-renowned birding area. Sign up for guided outings to observe some of the 400 species of shorebirds, ducks, geese, seabirds and songbirds that winter among the wet­lands, sloughs, shores and woodlands. Winged visitors include the snowy plover, golden eagle, Peregrine falcon and California condor.

SHOPPING
A world-class area deserves fabulous shopping. The Monterey Peninsula is sure to entice even veteran shoppers with its engaging variety of stores. Whether you enjoy shopping for designer clothes at upscale boutiques or hunting for deals at discount outlets, shoppers have plenty of options in Monterey.

If you prefer to search for antique furnishings or are trying to locate the ideal novelty items for souvenirs, you will find that the malls, districts and streets offer a mix of major retailers, intimate specialty stores, galleries, craft shops.

One of the joys of shopping is the sense of exploration. Shopping in Carmel is truly a unique experience. While very cosmopolitan in its quality of service and style, Carmel enjoys a fairly rural setting. Thanks to its European flavor, Carmel has been dubbed "the Carmel Riviera."

The main street, Ocean Avenue, leads to adjoining blocks, which also have some exceptional shopping opportunities. These range from shopping centers to small boutiques, jewelry stores and the art galleries for which Carmel is well known. If you spend a relaxing afternoon browsing in one of Carmel's many nooks, crannies, alleyways and mini-malls, you will most likely discover a treasure that you want to take home with you.

One of the favorite local shopping centers is the Del Monte Shopping Center, (www.delmontecenter.com 831-373-2705) The modern and stylishly designed mall features 85 shops, restaurants and services all in a beautiful garden setting. Centrally located with easy freeway access and plenty of free parking, the mall includes stores like Macy's, Whole Foods Market, GAP, The Body Shop, Sunglass Hut and many more. If you need a break from browsing, stop in to visit one of the eateries for a bite to eat or catch a movie at one of the state-of-the-art theaters.

Looking for art? The Monterey Peninsula can keep you busy for a long time. More than 125 galleries and artists' studios are spread throughout Monterey County, a haven for artists inspired by the dramatic landscape, craggy coastline and wildlife of the area. Art exhibits and events are held throughout the year.

Don't forget to get creative in your shopping for souvenirs. Museums and gifts shop are fantastic places to find unique gifts. For those who enjoy Monterey’s rich historic heritage, take guided and self-guided tours of 19th-century buildings and landmarks and three historic missions and then check out gift shops at any of the area's nine museums.

Lastly, you should attend any of Monterey County's special events--the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Golf Tournament, Monterey Jazz Festival, Concours d'Elegance, Big Sur Marathon-see if you can pick out something special for yourself that will remind you of this special place.

Karen Kefauver is a freelance journalist based in Santa Cruz, CA. An avid cyclist, she specializes in feature stories on adventure travel and endurance sports. She contributes to Her Sports + Fitness, San Francisco Chronicle Magazine and the travel website Away.com. www.karenkefauver.com.

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