The Hyatt Carmel Highlands overlooking Big Sur is perhaps one of the most alluring Hyatt resorts in North America. Since I would be driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, I made it a point to stay at the resort on the Cash + Points rate. As a category 6 resort, the rate was $150 + 12,500 points per night and it also meant I could use the Suite upgrade which confirmed me into an Ocean View Townhouse Spa Suite. Daily rates were usually around $399 for low and shoulder season though it can run up to $700+ for peak summer season.
Arriving in the evening past sunset, I left the car by the entrance porch while I proceed up the stairs to check-in at the main lodge. The check-in area is a small alcove to the right upon entering the main lodge and I was provided my lodge number though the receptionist was not very helpful in giving me directions as she just told me to pass the lodge number to the bell desk who will assist me.
The room was actually quite close to the main lodge though for guests whose lodging are quite far, the resort does have buggies available. Since it was already dark out, we drove for a bit nearer to our room so we could unload our luggage closer. There was a bell boy to help us with the luggage which I tipped for the service.
Room No:502 Category: Ocean View Townhouse Spa Suite
The room we were assigned was more like a 2-storey loft apartment. There is a spacious living room with its own fire place and balcony with one of the best views of the ocean along with the main lodge and the pool. Beside the living room is a dining table for 4 people. The living room also has a full-sized sofa bed that can be converted into a bed.
The townhouse suite also contains a full kitchen with a functional oven, full-size fridge, microwave, toaster, kettle, and all the cutleries for cooking and baking. This would be useful for an extended family vacation for sure!
The main floor also has a full second bathroom on the right of the entrance. with an enclosed shower cubicle. Amenities and bath towels were also supplied in this bathroom.
The main bedroom is actually located at the lower storey and accessible by a stairway on the left upon entering the suite. There is a large king bedroom in the middle of the room with a work chair and desk complete with another flat screen TV.
The main feature of the room is the spa bathroom that comes complete with a jacuzzi bathtub, a separate walk-in shower, an enclosed toilet and a walk-in closet that is located in the corner alcove underneath the stairs. A sliding verandah style door separates the bedroom with the bathroom so it might not be the most private with friends or family as it is not lock-able.
The hotel has 2 main dine-in restaurants, one is called Pacific’s Edge and located past the main lobby with seats facing the ocean right at the edge of the main lodge. This restaurant is more formal and serves dinner. The other restaurant is called California Market Restaurant and is where breakfast and casual meals are served at. The hotel also has an in-room dining menu and a spacious lounge area on the lobby for drinks and light snacks.
Due to the hotel’s remote location, there are little dining areas nearby and the other option would be to drive down to the town of Carmel-by-the-sea or further to the town of Monterey. It is also best that one rents a car to get to this hotel as it is located slightly uphill and thus offers a vantage point to see the Pacific Ocean and the Big Sur coast.
Other facilities in the hotel that makes it a resort are the swimming pool located just below the Townhouse Suite, accessible by a stairs. The outdoor patio on the California Market also provides a view of the pool and the ocean. There is also a small fitness centre located on the ground floor lodges that makes up the rest of the resort.
With the rooms being spread out the hotel grounds also make for a nice morning exercise especially with the slight gradient considering the hotel’s hill-top location. There is a lush garden with ocean views all around and when it gets chilly at night, the hotel even has a fire pit with chairs. Marshmallows are optional!
There is also a huge lounge in the lobby area that most guests could hang out in if it gets to hot to explore and during the day this is where the marketers try to sell guests the timeshare in Hyatt Vacation properties. Most guests staying even will get a call that gives them 10,000 Gold Passport points though I did not care for it since if you wanted to participate in the sales pitch, I believe a Google search will allow you to get some discounted rates.
As I mentioned earlier, the hotel does make you a captive guest and we ordered room service dinner on one of the nights, where I had their wild mushroom ravioli containing chanterelle, hazelnut, bloomsdale spinach, with sage- brown butter and my companion had a Dungeness crab cake. I do believe the full menu from the Pacific’s Edge Restaurant can be had for room service. We had the dinner with some wine and cheese that we had pre-purchased from our trip to the Napa Valley.
For the complimentary Hyatt Diamond breakfast, we could have it in the California Market restaurant or have it in the form of room service. I believe it is a main entrée for up to 4 person plus juice and coffee/tea, which would be similar to other Hyatt hotels. This is also one of my favourite benefits of being Hyatt Diamond. I had Californian-style eggs benedict at California Market and ordered room service breakfast the next morning. I do have to say the quality of breakfast here was somewhat disappointing. So was the dinner we had, as California does have a lot of fresh ingredients and both meals were average with the coffee tasting somewhat awful.
The highlight of staying here though is the ocean view, and the sunset is remarkable! I could just lay all afternoon by the balcony with a good book and some refreshing ice-cold drink! Having the balcony inside our suite makes it really convenient and we made sure to spend one of the evening sipping wine and taking some sunset photos.
When I retook at the whole stay, I think the property itself is somewhat old and requires some updates to the room and furnishings as they were showing some wear and tear. It is not a property I would pay to visit for $700 but I wouldn’t mind a rate of $150 + points for a night away if I am staying in the Bay Area as the hotel is does have a resort feel and makes for a very nice base to visit the nearby Pacific coastal towns of Monterey, Pebble Beach and Carmel-by-the-sea. I would definitely make full use of the kitchen to whip up some food by buying groceries from these towns the next time I stay here though or just dine at the restaurants in Pebble Beach!