Monterey, like Paris, is always a good idea. But the Hyatt in Monterey kicks this up a notch into a great idea, as its 22 acres are nestled within Monterey Pines—making it a mini resort within a major resort. I’ve stayed many times on the main road in Monterey, which I’ve loved, despite tumbling into tourists on bike rides (I literally did this: If you see me coming on a bike, I recommend getting out of the way) and walking en pack from destination wine bar to destination craft brewery. Still, you can’t really knock Monterey, no matter how badly you ride a bike (or steer a four-wheel cruiser, just saying). Monterey is always a dreamy coastal resort; I just had no idea that the Hyatt, tucked away in its own vast corner of town, would be so dream come true.
It’s fair to say that having a comfy king-size bed in a spacious, modern room set on a golf course is a great way to start any morning, let alone weekend. We sat out on our mini patio watching the early birdies each day. While parts of Monterey can be cloudy in the morning, the Hyatt, just by the Del Monte Golf Course, seems to always be on the sunny side of the street.
But let’s get to what I’ve come to learn is the heart of the vacation: What’s for dinner? (Not to mention lunch and breakfast, which I’ll mention later.) We were invited to a feast, a special chef’s dinner to introduce the new menu at Tusca, the top-notch restaurant overlooking the greens—not that there was anything wrong with the old menu. Executive chef Paul “Scott” Blackerby led us through three courses (plus dessert), all paired with wines from Bernardus. I’m usually a Pinot Noir girl, and the Rosellas Vineyard stemming from the Santa Lucia highlands was a great find, but I lost my mind a little over the 2017 Marinus Estate Carmel Valley Bordeaux blend, which was too tasty to turn down another, well, taste. But I’ve skipped the food. Well, if the food is the heart of the vacation, at the Hyatt, the wine is the soul. And you need both.
Dinner was surprising, fun, beautiful, and not too much short of divine. Little touches like the goat cheese fritter and the Farout Ranch baby gold beets salad with gooseberry vinaigrette got the taste buds ready for the main events: Brandt Farms ribeye, Monterey Bay Salmon courtesy of Robbie’s Ocean Fresh Seafood. (Robbie himself sat just a couple seats down and told us about every bite.) I ordered the salmon in different forms all weekend, and while dinner’s was delicious (ok, both nights of dinners), the salmon burger for lunch is really what lunch is all about, if you ask me. We also tasted warm salad of Mary’s Chicken and a lot more wine, plus desserts including chocolate orange mousse bombe (and you know I had more than one of those all weekend). Without drooling too much, I really recommend—all of it.
Breakfast is just fine, too, with a huge, sweet-smelling buffet including eggs cooked to perfection, along with regular menu items brought to you super quick, in case you woke up hungry even after eating such a big dinner.
Or in case you’d like to get golfing, or check out the two pools or family games. Or the fitness room on-site, or the Marilyn Monroe Spa currently undergoing renovation—which promises to be quite something when finished. Take hike around the loop surrounding the property, or head a short distance into town (drive or grab a Lyft) for all the usual Monterey fun: the aquarium, the beaches, the wine tasting, the people watching. Just keep an eye out for those crazy surrey drivers. Carmel beckons just a couple more miles away.
If you have a big family—or a small company that feels like a family—look into reserving the President’s House in the corner of the Hyatt property. We toured it slowly and carefully, mostly because we didn’t want to leave. This 2,500-square-foot villa features a giant open living room, along with four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. But it’s the view that caught our eye: The home opens to a grand backyard with a gorgeous pool and pretty nice looking gas range setup. Did I mention it’s private and all yours? Or as I’ve mentioned to my friends: Girls getaway, anyone?
All in all, I learned why it pays to get off the usual path. The Hyatt spoiled us with wondrous food (I also recommend the strawberry lemonade, which complements the salmon so well), a casual atmosphere, another pub-style restaurant, a warm and cozy central fireplace to gather round, jazz in the evenings, and a super tranquil setting. I love the touristy part of town as much as the next, well, tourist, but I didn’t feel the need to leave the Hyatt’s grounds all weekend, and I suspect you won’t, either. (Ladies: Especially if we all go in on that President’s House.) BTW, I am always packed for Monterey.