There’s something different about spending time in Carmel near Big Sur; somehow the clock becomes immaterial.
Part of it could be the proximity to the beautiful hills and natural areas, the fresh air or the calmer pace of life. But for the most part, it has to be the wondrous, awe-inspiring cliffs over the Pacific Ocean and stunning vistas that force all drivers to stop and get out of their cars.
That’s the aspect that Hyatt Carmel harnesses the best – proven less than five minutes after I met up with my brother, Mike, sister-in-law, Tess, and her mother, Marie.
“That is the best view I have ever seen in my life,” said Marie, who is also a world-traveling physician. We met in the front foyer and made our way to the back common area and dining rooms where anyone would be content spending the day just gazing out the bank of windows. I would know, because it’s where I spent a significant amount of time with Hyatt staff later in the weekend watching whales poke their heads up to get a breath of fresh air – fitting perfectly with what a trip to Carmel provides its visitors.
The word “picturesque” doesn’t come close to doing it justice. The views are so good that you’d be happy if you just had a tent set up near the resort site. But instead of that, they set guests up in units that can only be called what they are: luxurious. Hyatt seamlessly blends the amenities of a major five-star hotel with an oceanfront retreat. Guests can enjoy their own personal, breath-taking views from the condominium-style units and spend the day relaxing at the pool and spa. Or it’s just as easy to take advantage of the outdoors – the Hyatt offers mountain bike rentals and guided hiking trips on the coast that blow any hiking trail in L.A. out of the Pacific blue waters.
Pair the views with the food from Pacific’s Edge restaurant on site, and it’s a recipe for pure bliss. The fish tacos I ate for lunch put me right in “vacation mode,” and had me thinking about them again hours after we left the table. In the evening, we were drunk with joy as the fine dining sent us into euphoria.
A trip to the Hyatt during any month of the year would promise to be one you remember. But it might be worth holding out until April, when you can also enjoy the Big Sur International Marathon. It’s just as much of a draw if you aren’t one of the 10,000-plus runners that race along the winding coastal roads through the tall trees and out near the cliffs. Runners from 49 states and 37 countries participated this year in seven races that vary in length from a 3K to a full marathon.
“Course entertainment” is one of the signature features unique to the race. According to organizers, it was the first marathon to incorporate music along the course. As runners climb hills and navigate the course, they are greeted by musicians and bands playing everything from smooth jazz to rock ‘n roll. Nearly 30 groups of performers – including bag pipes, Taiko drummers, rock bands, school orchestras and a man playing a grand piano – entertain participants and onlookers.
If you walk the course less than half a mile from the Hyatt, you will come across a true haven for anyone looking to enjoy the day without actually participating in the race, the Carmel Highland General Store – a treasured spot to sit and watch runners travel along the coast. What looks like an extremely charming rest stop transforms into a gathering place for locals and visitors. A buffet table filled with food and treats is free for everyone. A five-piece band plays tunes while onlookers sip coffee or mimosas and chat with others as they look out over the Pacific as runners pass by.
Don’t worry if you can’t make it in April, though. There’s plenty of other ways to fill your weekend and freeze the hands on your watch, as the Hyatt is within driving distance to other top destinations in the area. The concierge can help guests explore Big Sur, or visit Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey Wine Country, the Maritime Museum, Pebble Beach Golf Course, Hearst Castle, Carmel Mission Museum, National Steinbeck Center and Point Lobos Nature Reserve.
The Hyatt Carmel Highlands is located at 120 Highland Dr. on the Big Sur coast. For information, visit highlandsinn.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html.
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