I've visited Monterey every year for the last three years, and during the planning of this year's trip I came across a specialty rate that worked for me, so I decided to take the plunge.
After several hours of driving from our home in Sacramento, we turned off Highway 1 and rounded a couple of tight corners to find ourselves at the front of the resort.
The Hyatt Carmel offers free Valet or Self Parking, but the valet didn't seem to make sense since the parking lot was as close to the rooms as the valet was. After being directed to leave our car where it was, we climbed the steps to the main lobby.
The resort is as picturesque as it gets, cascading waterfalls alongside the staircase to the lobby, fantastic colors of flora all around, and a contemporary architecture that helped blend the hotel with its surroundings.
It took us a moment to figure out where check-in was once we entered the lobby. Ahead of us was the restaurant and the concierge, and slightly to the right were steps to their other restaurant. Check-in was on our far right, in a seemingly confined area. I noticed there was no priority check-in, probably because this was one of their Vacation resort hotels. The desk was manned by a single clerk, and based on the space it seemed there could only be a maximum of two clerks for check-in.
The couple in front of us was told they were booked in a top floor ocean view, and they seemed surprised by it, hinting that they received a complementary upgrade. One of them mentioned he had booked the romance package, so it made sense that the front desk clerk offered them complementary Champagne glasses.
The clerk was friendly to us as well. Because we had been offered Champagne at check-in at our previous hotel (Hyatt Grand Cypress Orlando) I was surprised he didn't offer us Champagne too, especially considering our status. But I hadn't expected it to begin with and would have declined it had it been offered, so it was no real concern to me. I'm guessing it is offered solely to those who purchased a package rate.
The Diamond amenity offerings were typical: Juices and Fruit platters or Strawberries, and we opted for the 1,000 bonus points. The clerk handed us our Breakfast voucher and room keys and showed us on a map where our room was.
We left and walked down the steps to fetch our car.
After a half-minute drive around a bend, we found the parking lot and dropped off the car. We walked back on the road and wandered around some paths until we found our Ocean View King room: 524.
The first thing we noticed upon entering was the heat. It was 78 degrees outside and at least 5 degrees warmer inside. We fiddled with the thermostat (which was set to 40), then called the front desk for help. The front desk informed us that there was only heat, but that they'd be happy to send a fan if we wanted. I declined, instead opening the balcony door and a window.
Exploring the room I discovered some basic amenities: small tub/shower combo, a flat screen TV, mini-fridge, and safe. There were a couple of bonus amenities including a Keurig machine and a pair of binoculars. The TV had two HDMI inputs, but there was no input button on the remote, and the input button on the TV did nothing, thus I was not able to connect my tablet to it.
The two things unique to the room were a wood burning fireplace and a large balcony. It was when I stepped outside that I saw what my money was paying for: an incredible unobstructed view of the Pacific. After taking it in for 10 minutes or so and spotting a couple of sea otters near the shoreline with the binoculars, we headed over to the lobby to see what kind of food was available.
Along with two restaurants, the hotel also had a small bar and seating area. We took a spot near the bar and ordered a non-alcoholic daiquiri and two orders of crab cakes. We also decided to split some calamari.
The daiquiri was not what I was used to, with real strawberries blended in. It was tart, but decent. I guess I was naïve to believe that quality could match price when it came to the bar food, so that's on me. Several weeks back I paid $19 for two quality sizzling crab cakes at a steakhouse, so I somehow believed the $18 crab cakes on the menu at the Hyatt in Carmel would compare. Unfortunately, as opposed to the juicy, rounded, tasty morsels I indulged in at the steakhouse, these were flat, not that moist, and somewhat bland. The calamari was decent for the $11 price tag, but nothing to write home about.
We headed back to the room after a disappointing dinner.
On the way back to the room, we passed the inviting pool, a Jacuzzi with a view, and one of the many wood piles that fueled the fires coming from several of the rooms. Because of how hot it was, we were surprised at the amount of smoke in the air: not overbearing, but definitely noticeable. The room was still warm, so we propped open the front door while we watched TV.
When it was finally time to sleep, we kicked off the comforter and settled under the sheets. The cool pacific air made things comfortable, but I could imagine that things could get very uncomfortable if the weather didn't cooperate.
We woke up around 8:45 and packed up our things. After snapping a couple more photos, we got a table at the California Market for breakfast. Our Diamond Breakfast amenity provided for one entrée and one drink per person. I had a Point Lobos Benedict and orange juice, and she had hot chocolate and cinnamon French toast.
Breakfast turned out to be amazing, with a delicious French Vanilla whipped cream on her hot chocolate, great texture and taste to the benedict, and timely, friendly service. Aside from the view, breakfast was the highlight of the stay.
We checked out with no problem, and headed out for the Monterey Bay Aquarium before continuing to the Hyatt Regency Monterey.
Overall impression: I would have been extremely disappointed had I paid the Saturday night daily rate of $500. The room lacks in comfort and style, and the service is friendly but unremarkable. The single element that makes it worth any more than the Regency up the street is the unbeatable view and the beauty of the grounds. This resort is designed for a romantic getaway and its location caters to that element, but the hotel doesn't offer enough to make it wow. I don't regret spending the night, but think there are better options in the Monterey region for couples looking for a romantic retreat.