Action & Adventure
Winter Fun, Monterey Style

January 21st, 2015
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For much of the country, winter fun means bundling up and heading out into the snow.  Whether it’s skiing in Utah, snowshoeing in Wisconsin or ice skating in New York, there is no shortage of traditional wintertime activities across the country. On the Monterey Peninsula, however, the mild temperature means a long trip before reaching the snow. Although, that does not mean visitors and locals on the Central Coast don’t enjoy the outdoors, they just do it Monterey style.

Wintertime brings the annual migration of the Grey Whale as they head south from the Pacific Northwest to the warmer waters of Baja California and their yearly birthing grounds. Whales can be seen from one of the many whale watching boats that depart from Fisherman’s Wharf. If you didn’t bring your sea legs with you, don’t worry. You can still spot these majestic beauties from one of the many turnouts along Highway 1. Their season runs from December through April so there is plenty of time to enjoy one of nature’s true spectacles.

Book the Portola Hotel & Spa Whale Watching Package Now!

You can also experience the wonders of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary up close and personal on a kayak or paddle board. Adventures by the Sea is a great option for rentals and conducts tours of the coastline with a skilled guide. From your sea-level seat, you’ll experience sea otters, sea lions and a multitude of birds. Bring your waterproof camera for the selfie of a lifetime.

Another outdoor option is enjoying one of the many county, regional or state parks in the area. From the inland beauty of Garland Ranch Regional Park to the seaside sanctuary that is Point Lobos, everyone from young to old can enjoy an easy walk to an invigorating hike in addition to everything else these parks have to offer. Many of the parks offer rangers or docents that can add to your experience and allow for pets and picnics in designated areas.

Sometimes the simplest thing just might be the best. Grab your friends, your partner or just a good book and a blanket and head down to a nearby beach and take in the Pacific sunset. Asilomar and Carmel State Beaches offer long stretches of white sand and plenty of room for your four legged friends.

Relax and set the rays of the day’s last light embrace you with warmth, Monterey style.

 

Food & Wine
Come On Get Happy

January 9th, 2015
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Jacks Lounge inside the Portola Hotel

The Portola Hotel & Spa and its two dining hot spots, Jacks Restaurant & Lounge and Peter B’s Brewpub have always been known for innovation. Whether it is achieving LEED®-EB certification for the hotel’s commitment to environmental stewardship, Jacks focus on sustainable and locally sourced ingredients or Peter B’s creative on-site craft brewery, there is always something new and exciting happening at 2 Portola Plaza. So when Jacks Lounge announced a revamped Happy Hour Program, the New Year just got a little bit better.

Jacks Lounge kicks the fun off daily from 4-6pm with brand new menu items featuring $5 small bites like Corned Beef Sliders, Soy Marinated Beef Skewers and Risotto Fritters. Drink specials include $4 well drinks, $6 barrel aged cocktails, $4 house white and red wines and $3 12oz bottled beer. Fridays and Saturdays feature local favorite Dino Vera performing live music in the lounge from 6-9pm. So whether enjoying a quiet bite to eat and glass of wine cozied up to the fireplace in the lounge or unwinding with friends out on the heated pet-friendly patio, Jacks has something for everyone.

Peter B’s Brewpub behind the Portola Hotel

Not to be outdone is the popular Happy Hour menu at Peter B’s Brewpub. From 4-6:30pm daily, drink specials include $4 16oz and $6 25oz house-brewed beers, $4 Margaritas and $6 Long Island Iced Teas. The food choices are wide and varied with dishes ranging from Sweet Potato Fries and Monterey Cali-Mari to The Wing Man (Buffalo Chicken Wings) and Homemade Chips and Salsa. The menu also ventures out of the Monterey Bay with regional specialties like Crispy Cheese Curds from Wisconsin, Fried Pickles from the Deep South and Pacific Cod Ceviche from Baja. A favorite place to chill is out on their pet-friendly patio with comfortable benches, fire-pits and an up-close view of the pub’s onsite brewery operation.

An added bonus for both happy hours, and really any meal for that matter, is the complementary self or valet parking at the Portola. With so many drink and dish options, live music and free parking you’ll be happier for a lot longer than an hour at the Portola Hotel’s Jacks Restaurant & Lounge and Peter B’s Brewpub!

Action & Adventure
Getting Healthy, Monterey Bay Style

January 2nd, 2015
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With 2015 here, there’s no better time than the present to begin devising a plan on how to be more healthy and active in the New Year.  No matter your fitness level, the Monterey Bay is jam packed with activities, indoor and out, that can release those endorphins and get your heart rate jumping.

Take a look at 15 activities that can help you can get a jump on making 2015 your best year yet!

  1. Sign up for a 5K or 10K that benefits a local charity AND takes you around the scenic Monterey Bay coastline – visit www.Active.com for a list of upcoming races, including the Together With Love Run/Walk benefitting the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center on Sunday, February 8,2015
  2. Rent bikes from Adventures by the Sea and explore the Coastal Recreation Trail, 17 Mile Drive and the rest of the endlessly beautiful Monterey Peninsula!
  3. Re-energize in the hot and cold pools, eucalyptus steam room or roomy sauna at Refuge in Carmel Valley
  4. Sculpt your body from head to toe at Carmel Barre in Carmel with classes available throughout the day
  5. Hike the four+ mile Soberanes Canyon Trail loop across from Garrapata State Park along scenic Highway 1 towards Big Sur for a great cardio workout and reward yourself with some of the best views around
  6. The Fort Ord National Monument is home to awesome trails ideal for mountain biking and hiking, only certain areas are open to the public, but can be accessed via the Bureau of Land Management
  7. If you are looking for a little adventure, here’s something that will definitely get your heart pumping – Zip Lining in Felton, (about a 45 minute drive from Monterey) in the middle of the Santa Cruz Mountains, visit Mount Hermon Adventures for pricing and online reservations
  8. Tennis anyone?  Reserve a court or book a lesson through the Monterey Tennis Center, just a few blocks from the Portola
  9. History buffs will enjoy walking along the Path of History, marked throughout Downtown Monterey with walking tour maps available
  10. How about some family fun? Skip, run and play at Dennis the Menace Park, also located in downtown Monterey, slides, swings and mazes await kids of all ages.
  11. Run and take in the fresh sea air, along the many white sands beaches throughout, Carmel by the Sea, Pacific Grove and Monterey
  12. Contact the local experts at Central Coast Fly Fishing in Carmel Valley and help them guide you to find the best spots for fly fishing around the county, or head down to Fisherman’s Wharf to book a charter with one of the many deep sea fishing vessels, such as Chris’ Fishing Trips
  13. Hang 10! Book a private or group lesson with Carmel Surf Lessons or Monterey Bay Surf Lessons wetsuit and board rentals available as well through both companies
  14. Visit the Concierge Desk at the Portola Hotel and a friendly staff member will help you book 9 or 18 holes at one of the awarding winning golf courses throughout the Monterey Peninsula and beyond
  15. Get up close and personal with sea otters and sea lions aboard a kayak or stand up paddle board, available to rent via Adventures by the Sea; stand up paddle board yoga classes are also available, for those with good balance

Food & Wine
Monterey, Mimosas, Brunch & More Mimosas

December 26th, 2014
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There’s just something fabulous about relaxing with a chilled Mimosa on a weekend day that makes me smile and feel completely carefree.  Add a fabulous brunch menu to the mix with great friends and I’m one happy girl!

Jacks Restaurant & Lounge right here at the Portola has recently launched a brand new weekend brunch menu, available from noon-2pm every Saturday and Sunday.  Choose to dine indoors in their sophisticated dining room, or dine outdoors on their heated patio, which is also pet friendly!

Jacks Weekend Brunch Menu is unique, and different from their famous breakfast buffet (also still available from 6am-noon), offering traditional breakfast specialties such as a Texas Benedict, Cinnamon Swirl French Toast and Quiche Florentine, just to name a few.  BUT for those seeking something a bit different, order the Peter B’s Ale (brewed on site at Peter B’s Brewpub adjacent to the restaurant) Chicken Sandwich or Roasted Salmon Nicoise Salad.  It’s like the best of both worlds, coming together, thanks to the creativity of Executive Chef Jason Giles. From seafood inspired appetizers to signature entrees, you really can’t go wrong with this new menu; it’s easy and fun and truly has options that everyone in your party will enjoy.

Oh, and did I mention Bottomless Mimosas are only $5.95?

Portola Hotel & Spa
Last Minute Holiday Gifts

December 19th, 2014
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Have you made your list and checked it twice?  I don’t know about you, but even though my list is made and I’ve checked it a million times over, it seems there is always someone I’m forgetting, or that “one last thing” that I still need to buy!

Sooo…with just a week to go, I’m getting it done, all in one shot – you guessed it, at the Portola Hotel & Spa!

Check out these cool items I was able to purchase, perfect for everyone left on my list!

  1. Peter B’s Brewpub Ugly (yet amazingly awesome) Holiday Sweater
  2. Spa Treatment Gift Certificates to Spa on the Plaza
  3. Festive Candy & Sweet Treats (perfect for stocking stuffers) at Candyland
  4. Guided Kayaking Tour Gift Certificates & Cool Outdoors Gear from Adventures by the Sea
  5. During Next Visit to the Portola, Surprise the Family with Monterey Bay Aquarium Tickets (you can purchase via our Concierge’s Desk)
  6. Unique Gifts and Monterey County Wines from Wines from the Heart
  7. Natural Health & Beauty Products at Spa on the Plaza
  8. A Phone Case with Bottle Opener or Cool Trucker Hat at Peter B’s Brewpub
  9. Monterey-Themed Souvenirs for All Ages from Monterey Swag
  10. The Gift of Travel & Dining – A Portola Hotel & Spa Gift Card; Good for Overnight Stays and Dining at Peter B’s Brewpub & Jacks Restaurant & Lounge

Happy shopping and don’t forget to take a break to re-energize (you must maintain your shopping strength) – perhaps lunch (and a glass of champagne) at Jacks. Ready, set, SHOP!