I’m typically not a fan of chains, even high end ones, largely because I often feel that there’s very few unique characteristics to a property. Of course, I have been proven wrong on this view point a number of times, most notably at one of our favorite Ritz Carlton properties: Dove Mountain in Arizona, which we reviewed last year and has a big wellness focus, which is very integral to WBTW’s focus: Transformative Travel. Earlier this month, we had an opportunity to experience the Hyatt Carmel Highlands property in Carmel California, a lovely oasis nestled into a mountain and surrounded by trees, all while also boasting epic views of Big Sur and the Pacific Coast. What we love most about this Hyatt is its natural surroundings and the fact that it looks out onto the ocean — a mix of large hotel amenities with the charm of a unique hotel getaway. This lovely oceanfront hotel is 3.2 miles from Carmel River State Beach and less than ten miles from Cannery Row, which for those who haven’t been, is a must do for shopaholics. Also here are great cafes and restaurants as well as beautiful ocean walks.
What We Loved
The natural wood burning fireplaces are one of the features we loved the most, so it rises to the top of the list. Other unique add-ons that are noteworthy include their complimentary mountain bikes and for families, they offer on-site babysitting services, so you can get the R&R you need, even with kids in tow. Note that while they do not have a spa on the premises, they do offer in-room spa services, which we didn’t take advantage of, so can’t speak to the quality of the services offered or the experience.
There’s also a Les Clefs d’Or Concierge on the premises and for those trying to escape from the pressure of day-to-day work but still need to be connected, they offer ATT 3G a cell phone network host. If you want to escape from wifi and the connected world, it’s also very doable — you can get lost in the nearby mountain and go on hikes or bike rides or take a walk along the beach. Also worth raising is their 3 outdoor Jacuzzis. I’m always astonished at large properties that only have one hot tub for far too many people many of them close early. Who doesn’t want to soak in a tub after dinner?
Speaking of flexibility, their StayFIT fitness center is open 24 hours and they even offer private yoga classes upon request.
For later lounging about, their Lobos Lounge offers great day and evening views.
They have a great outdoor heated pool as well btw, which is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. Since we experience so much June and July gloom in the Bay Area, Carmel makes for a great early summer getaway when it’s cloudy, foggy and cool and….it’s only about an hour and fifteen minute drive.
The Hyatt Carmel Highlands has 48 non-smoking guestrooms, which include eleven suites, 32 Ocean View King rooms, and five Garden View rooms. As you’d expect, they have fridges in all the rooms, some have kitchenettes and there’s daily newspaper delivery. For those traveling with families or are there for extended stays, they offer dry cleaning upon request. High-tech amenities include a flat screen TV with cable and satellite channels, iHome stereo with iPod docking station, dataports and high-speed DS3 wireless Internet.
For folks who live in the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s worth noting that they have 5,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, private dining, a dedicated wedding coordination team and special catering upon request. Activities nearby include several golf courses, including Pebble Beach, Spy Glass Hills Golf Course, Blackhorse Golf Course, Bayonet Golf Course and Rancho Canada, all within ten miles or less. For tennis lovers, the Mission Tennis Ranch is only 5 miles away and there’s horseback riding, wine tasting and kayaking nearby. If you are traveling with children, you should definitely visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium (it’s wonderful) and historians will appreciate the Carmel Mission Museum and the Maritime Museum.
Nature On & Around the Property
Below is the view from our room in the 300 block — you can also get rooms closer to the ocean for more grandular views and ocean breezes.
They have fire pits around the property where you can relax with your family or a group of friends. They also have BBQ pit areas where you can cook on the premises as well, making it a great addition to a Family Travel Stay Listfor the Carmel and Monterey Bay area. A bird visits as we finish lunch on the patio of their more casual dining establishment, which has fabulous views of the ocean below.
The outdoor gazebo area where they hold private events and weddings.
They offer complimentary bikes where you can take rides up or down the hill – both sides offer breathtaking views.
The Lounge Areas
The public areas are also very relaxing, from the fireplace that greets you in the main lounge, a spacious area with big couches, tables and a tea/coffee display. They offered us complimentary bubbly when we arrived which was a nice way to begin our Hyatt stay. In the evenings, they have live music four nights a week, including one of the nights we were there. It was a solo piano player who takes requests and yes, we danced.
Casual and Fine Dining
California Market is their casual restaurant on the premises — I’d suggest dining here for a casual lunch or brunch on their outside patio. There are fabulous views of the ocean and a lovely breeze. You can opt for something more traditional like pancakes with bananas or one of their healthier salads. Both the Caesar (with shrimp or chicken) or their Seared Tuna salad are delicious! Add to it one of their freshly made lattes, a Margarita or glass or Chardonnay and you’ll be relaxed for the rest of the day!
For fine dining, head to their elegant and award-winning restaurant Pacific’s Edge, which has views from three windows facing the Pacific Ocean – wow! Suggestion: get a 7 pm reservation so you have plenty of time to take in the views before and after sunset.
We had oysters to start with — who wouldn’t if they’re available?
Some of our suggestions include an unusual preparation of Yellowfin Tune Tartare, which they serve with avocado, chilled potato yuzu puree, crispy quinoa, lime aioli and they sprinkle the plate with seaweed powder. My favorite app which I ended up having as my dessert, is their Burrata, which they serve with yummy burrata cheese of course, heirloom tomatoes and Opal Basil blossoms (it was so divine!!!) Also on the “to-die-for” list is their Scallop Ceviche (third photo below) made with coconut milk (OMG), ginger, lime juice, red onion,green chilies and cilantro.
A great choice for vegetarians is their Zucchini Carpaccio or their Wild Mushroom soup, which they make with locally foraged mushrooms, crispy mushrooms and ramp oil. They also offer a traditional Caesar which I would have liked to try. For mains, if you’re in the meat mood, they have Short Ribs, a Colorado Lamb Loin, an Aged Ribeye or a Filet Mignon from Niman Ranch. Since we were on the ocean and had ordered Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, we went for the Yellowfin Tuna served with cumin crust, bok choy, fennel salsa, watermelon, pistachios, and Enoki mushrooms as well as the Pacific Wild King Salmon, which they serve with a lentil salad, cilantro oil and crispy leeks. (both pictured below). Other seafood options include Dayboat Scallops with grilled asparagus, romensco sauce and shishito peppers with crispy basil and the Chilean Seabass with almond gazpacho, basil oil, grapes and sun chokes. YUM!!!
Have a sweet tooth? Then, be sure not to miss out on their chocolate cake with a nice hot cappuccino. We took ours to go so we could head to the bar for some live music, which I’d encourage. Two thumbs up! It makes for a great romantic getaway from the San Francisco Bay Area or Los Angeles and if you have kids in tow, there’s plenty of outdoor activities to do in the area, including bike rides, nature hikes and of course swimming.
HYATT CARMEL HIGHLANDS
120 Highland Drive
Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923
Note: we were hosted by the Hyatt but all opinions expressed are entirely our own.