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Feature Articles

Monterey, Gateway to Adventures

Destination Hyatt 2008

Volume 7, 2008

Destination Hyatt Magazine

By Karen Kefauver

Tucked into fragrant pine and eucalyptus trees on a tranquil 22 acres, the Hyatt Regency Monterey is perfectly situated on California' s central coast as a gateway to all kinds of adventures. Whether you like sports, wine tasting, music festivals, whale watching or just soaking in the hot tub, you can pursue your favorite activities with the help of Hyatt's friendly staff.

Be sure to allow plenty of time to enjoy the resort's stylish rooms, fantastic dining, varied recreation and attractive landscaping, all modernized during a recent $45 million redesign. The inviting new lobby, with its hardwood walnut floors and polished granite accents, sets the tone for a resort that is contemporary yet warmly welcoming. Cozy clusters of chairs in rich earth tones are grouped around a marble-based fireplace topped with an etched nickel mural. A wall of windows provides a panoramic view of the lush fairways of Pebble Beach's championship Del Monte Golf Course. Since the lobby doubles as the Fireplace Lounge, settle into a Spanish-leather lounge chair or step onto the patio to enjoy live jazz and a glass of wine with an appetizer. Later, you can dine at the resort's new TUSCA Ristorante or the award-winning Knuckles Historical Sports Bar.

When you are ready to explore town, you will discover that the famous Cannery Row and the world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium are just minutes away. The conveniently located Hyatt Regency Monterey presents a quintessential California blend of casual elegance and top-notch service.

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, non-stop 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, offers Hyatt guests preferred tee time confirmations.

Tennis and Pools. Stop into the Tennis Pro Shop to reserve one of the newly renovated 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 and then soak in the hot tub.

Spa and Health Club. Slated for completion by the end of 2008, the state-of-the-art facility will feature 12 spa suites. Designed for the ultimate pampering in a private setting, each suite is completely self-contained and filled with amenities. Select rooms will feature secluded outdoor patios and tubs with silent jets. The spa will also contain the 24-hour [email protected] health club facility.

Biking. Rent a bike at the Tennis Pro Shop, then pedal a short distance from the hotel to the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, a paved trail open to runners, cyclists and pedestrians. This scenic path spans the coastline a total of 18 miles and travels through Monterey Bay Park.

The Gift Shop. Browsing this creatively stocked store provides a fine introduction to Monterey. For a taste of California refreshment, try a flowering tea. an Arnold Palmer ice tea and lemonade or an organic juice made from fresh fruit. Shop for golf attire, women's hats and jewelry. The John Steinbeck compilation will refresh your recollection of the author's classic novels. For a sweet treat, buy a S'mores package to roast marshmallows over the Hyatt's fire pit.

The President's House. This distinctive suite features a Luxurious four-bedroom house with a master bedroom and relaxing living room. 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. This private concierge club offers perks to resort guests who seek the highest level of personalized service. The private lounge offers Continental breakfast, refreshments, business services, newspaper and evening hors d'oeuvres.

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. Wood-burning brick ovens make the al forno (roasted) dishes a specialty. With a stunning view of the rolling greens of the golf course

TusCA offers both indoor and outdoor seating. For a special experience, reserve the Chef's Table or the private dining room.

Tusca Wine Room. With a floor-to-ceiling showcase of wines, the Wine Room's collection includes acclaimed regional and international wines and cheeses. The tall communal table for eight overlooks the Fireplace Lounge.

The Fireplace Lounge. Visitors can start their day with muffins, scones or homemade, bite-sized donuts 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 athlete photos forming a Wall of Fame, a huge barrel of peanuts for munching, plus 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 stay until 11pm.

MONTEREY, GATEWAY TO ADVENTURES

Visitors come from around the world to experience the spectacular coastal community of Moneterey in Central California.

With its moderate climate, natural beauty, cultural treasures and rich historic past, Monterey offers something for everyone-beaches along 99 fabulous miles of coastline, hundreds of acres of state and county parks, plus gardens, museums, recreational activities and all kinds of festivals.

Monterey's dramatic waterfront is a perfect starting point for any visitor. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a federally protected marine area, is home to sea otters, whales, sharks and other fish, plants and animals. This amazing marine world is on display at the nationally acclaimed Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is located on Cannery Row. Immortalized in John Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row, this street has wonderful restaurants, galleries and shops.

Throughout the year, there are more than 250 events, performances and festivals in Monterey County. Annual festivals honor the artichoke, the squid, clam chowder, tomatoes and 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.

An early capital of California, Monterey offers many historical sites and interpretive centers. The Spanish exploration dates back to 1542. Spanning from the city's founding with the original Spanish presidio to the present, the military has figured prominently in Monterey. Today, the city is home to the Naval Postgraduate School and the Defense Language Institute among other prestigious institutions.

With Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz County to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Gabilan Mountain Range and San Benito County to the east and San Luis Obispo County to the south, Monterey County is larger than the state of Delaware and truly offers activities for every taste.

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, jellyfish 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 named for Steinbeck's novel. The historic Cannery Row offers shopping at its 84 retail stores and more than 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 showcased 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 with some 40,000 acres of vine¬yards, 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 rollercoaster. Munch kettle corn, savor saltwater taffy and feel the ocean breeze as you stroll along the boardwalk. An arcade, miniature golf and bowling 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) provide old-town charm to the town with a pine forest near the 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 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 looks like a private residence. A wide variety of tours detail the life of William Randolph Hearst and his family and the collection, architecture, gardens and lifestyle at the Castle.

DINING

Monterey is a food lover's paradise. It is a premier dining 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, plus a rich assortment of cultural influences mean wining and dining here has never been more exciting.

The superior dining begins with the farmers in Monterey County's Salinas Valley who produce 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 the 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 al 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 an Italian cuisine. (Of course, if you crave a hardy 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 fisherman whose families have harvested the local bay for generations. The Monterey Peninsula's Native Americans, Spanish, Italians, Greeks and Portuguese brought a knack for seafood preparation. The 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's TusCA Ristorante, the flavors of Tuscany are served up with the freshest 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.

No 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 or tasty cuisine with a waterside view. For down home restaurants and and an authentic fisherman’s character drive a short way north along the coast North to explore eateries in Moss Landing.

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

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

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. Brewpubs 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. It includes 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 and 2006 Grammy Award winner Dianne Reeves. Blues superstar Bonnie Raitt, a nine-time Grammy Award winner played at last year's festival. During the Monterey Jazz Festival, some of its performers often make spontaneous appearances (like Wynton Marsalis once did) at the Hyatt's Fireplace Lounge because year-round the lounge is a sought-after spot for live jazz on weekend nights.

SPORTS

Golf. Monterey is heaven for golfers. With dozens of both public and private courses in Monterey County 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 Blackhorse and Quail Lodge are among the other numerous top-notch golf courses that are just minutes away from the Hyatt.

Scube Driving. Kelp forests and an abundance of sea life in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary makes 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, 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 camp¬sites 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, and 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, skydiving 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 is made up of 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, 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 UD for guided outgoings to observe some of the 400 species of shorebirds, ducks, geese, seabirds and songbirds that winter among our wetlands, sloughs, shores and woodlands. Winged visitors include the Snowy Plover, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and California Condor.

SHOPPING

A world-class area deserves top-notch 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 and crafts 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 Delmonte 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, which is a haven for artists inspired by the dramatic landscape, craggy coastline and wildlife of the area. Art exhibits and events are held through-out the year.

Don't forget to get creative in your shopping for souvenirs. Museums and gifts shop are a fantastic place 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, three historic missions and then check out gift shops at any of the area's nine museums.

Lastly, should you attend any of Monterey County's special events-the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Golf Tournament, Monterey Jazz Festival, Concours d'Elegance, and 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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