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The Wine Country of Monterey and Carmel

January 27, 2009 By: Mark Rogers Home-Based Travel Agent
 


California’s Monterey Peninsula is a seaside community that combines small-town America with West Coast sophistication. There are numerous recreational and cultural activities, including 20 world-class golf courses, a variety of hotels, shops and restaurants and an assortment of parks and natural areas. Annual festivals and events include the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Monterey Blues Festival, Cherries Jubilee, the Great Monterey Squid Festival and the Monterey Wine Festival.

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Mission Ranch in Carmel

Carmel is two miles south of Monterey. In this scenic town, visitors will find Carmel Beach; the historic Carmel Mission, built in 1771; a selection of regional restaurants; and an abundance of charming hotels and inns.

Hotel Options

Visitors will have plenty of accommodation choices, including small inns, brand-name properties and full-scale resorts.

Hotels in the pipeline include a $100 million Fairmont Hotels and Resorts property, expected to open in 2010. The luxury mixed-use resort, which will be north of Monterey in the Central Coast city of Seaside, will include a 330-room hotel; 24,000 square feet of meeting space; a 14,000-square-foot Willow Stream Spa; dining options; a pool; and a residential component, including 170 condominiums and 125 single-family lots.

The Salinas City Center Company has announced plans to construct a new hotel and condominium property in downtown Salinas. Plans call for a facility with 140 to 160 hotel rooms, 120 to 160 luxury condominium units and meeting and convention facilities to accommodate up to 500 participants. Construction is expected to begin this year, and the property will open no later than 2011.

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An outdoor cafe in Carmel

The Hyatt Regency Monterey Resort & Spa on Del Monte Golf Course recently completed a $60 million renovation to all of the property’s 575 guest rooms and 32 suites, its President’s House, lobby and front desk area, restaurant and exterior landscaping.

The resort is also adding a 12,000-square-foot spa. The new spa is scheduled for completion early this year, with a complete construction cost of $6.5 million. The spa will have 10 treatment rooms, including six specifically designed for either wet or dry treatments, and four spa suites. The hotel is on 22 landscaped acres with half the rooms overlooking the Del Monte Golf Course, while the remaining rooms have courtyard and garden views. Rooms overlooking the golf course are priced $40 higher. All 575 guest rooms have the Hyatt Grand Bed and T-Mobile Wi-Fi access. Travel agents can reach out to Lynne Gatanaga (831-657-6572,
[email protected]), the hotel’s leisure travel manager.

The Bernardus Lodge & Winery is a 57-suite boutique luxury resort in Carmel Valley. The resort’s suites are situated in nine single- and two-story adobe village-style buildings nestled along a terraced hillside. Stone wood-burning fireplaces are available in some suites. All suites have views of the Santa Lucia Mountains. The best views are from suites on the second floor; book Suite #40 for the very best mountain views at the property. The hotel has a Mobil Four-Star spa—the newest treatment is a bourbon-and-vanilla scrub. Advance reservations are recommended and can be made by contacting the spa concierge (831-658-3560, [email protected]). Agents can direct inquiries to the revenue and reservation manager, April DeShields ([email protected], 831-658-3505).

Getting There

Monterey is approximately 120 miles south of downtown San Francisco (about 105 miles from San Francisco International Airport), about 75 miles south of San Jose and 325 miles from downtown Los Angeles (about 310 miles from Los Angeles International Airport).

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Exploring a Literary Heritage

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The Steinbeck House

John Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row was set along the California coast and based on his friendship with Ed Ricketts, a hard-living marine biologist. Visitors to California’s Monterey coast and Salinas Valley can dip into the region’s Steinbeck heritage in a number of ways.
In its heyday, historic Cannery Row was a lively industrial street made famous for canning sardines and as the setting for Steinbeck’s novel. Today, Cannery Row has more than 30 restaurants, nightclubs, world-class hotels and hundreds of shops. Outdoor activities include hiking, biking, scuba diving and ocean kayaking along the rugged shoreline of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. A prime attraction is the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Visitors can join a guided 1.5-mile walking tour that starts with the historic Hovden Cannery exhibits at the Aquarium and then ambles along the streets of Cannery Row and the waterfront, with stops highlighting key locations from the history of this celebrated street, including the lab where Ed Ricketts prepared and shipped marine specimens. The tours cost $5 and are given Monday-Friday.

The other must-see area for Steinbeck fans is Salinas Valley, an agricultural region that Steinbeck christened “The Valley of the World.”

A full day can be enjoyed in Oldtown Salinas. The National Steinbeck Center contains the John Steinbeck Exhibition Hall, where rare artifacts from the Nobel Prize-winning author’s life are displayed, and where interactive, multi-sensory exhibits add extra dimension to his literary efforts. The hall also has seven themed theaters showcasing such films as East of Eden, Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. The 1955 movie East of Eden—which shot James Dean to fame—was filmed on location in the Salinas Valley. Head to the row crops around Spreckels and the Salinas Valley to get a feel for the film’s scenic locations.

Visitors can also make tracks for the Steinbeck House, the author’s birthplace and boyhood home. This Queen Anne-style Victorian house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s been lovingly restored and is now a restaurant that serves lunch.
Summertime tours of the Steinbeck family heirlooms, mementos and photographs are offered on Sunday afternoons from 1-3 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day.


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