Archive for July, 2014

August Happenings On & Around the Monterey Bay

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
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No matter what weekend you decide to make Monterey your summer getaway, chances are there’s a festival just waiting for you to enjoy.  With everything from the Scottish and Greek Festivals to the Watsonville Strawberry Festival, there’s no shortage of good food, fun entertainment and great excitement to be had!

Start off with a weekend of sweet strawberry bliss and the annual Watsonville Strawberry Festival on August 2-3, 2014.  A two-day festival in historic downtown Watsonville, this event showcases the strawberry, one of Monterey County’s most famous crops.  Free admission to all and fun for the whole family, the festival features delicious food, premier live entertainment, an exciting carnival and the beloved gooey strawberry contest.

Also on the same weekend is the 47th Annual Scottish Games and Celtic Festival. This event brings the tartan of Scotland and the green of the Emerald Island to Monterey from 9am – 5pm on August 2-3, 2014. Featuring authentic music, dance and athletic events there are activities galore for the whole family. One of the centerpieces of the festival is the pipe band competition where teams of bagpipers and drummers toe the line to see who is best. Throw in Highland and Irish dancers, as well as arts and crafts and you have an experience not to be missed.

Next, let a quick trip down to Monterey’s historic Custom House Plaza transport you to exotic Greece for the annual Greek Festival.  A favorite event for locals and visitors alike, the Monterey Bay Greek festival offers three full days of Greek culture and excitement, set amid the charming backdrop of Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf.  With free admission you can enjoy a weekend full of authentic Greek cuisine, live music and dancing.  Kicking off Monterey’s beautiful Indian Summer, the festivities, spanning from August 30 -September 1, 2014, will have you feeling Greek in no time.

These are just three of the many exciting August activities on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula. So whether you are a local or a visitor, you’ll have the opportunity to experience some of the more colorful countries and cuisines of the world, Monterey style.

 

We can’t wait to see you here!

Live to Run – Jair’s Story

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
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Jair Sanchez, Elite Master Runner  2014 Bay Area Race

Many of the topics we cover on our Central Coast Living Blog are any number of the wonderful sights, events or activities to experience here on the Monterey Bay. Occasionally, we are lucky enough to welcome a Guest Blogger to bring an element of unique insight, but we are truly honored to have the opportunity to tell the story of one the Portola Hotel & Spa’s very special employees.

Jair Sanchez has been working at the Portola Hotel & Spa for over seven years and is currently the Kitchen Supervisor, but his journey has taken this elite runner on a much greater path. Jair began running when he was in the 6th grade. His natural talent for the sport shone through during a 1200 meter race where he took first place, but it was not until he was 19, when he ran a blistering 49-second 400 meters.

Jair took 3rd place in the 400 meters State Morelos, 1992

Soon, Jair immigrated to the United States, but because of work he put aside his pursuit of a competitive running career and concentrated on making a better life for himself. As Jair began to establish himself in this country, he was hired at the Portola Hotel & Spa in 2006 which provided a springboard to return to running at an elite level. Two years ago, Jair made a commitment to return to the rigourous training required of a competitive athlete.

Jair in 2010 over weight at 190 pounds

He has excelled for someone who was way from the sport for such a long time, but through hours of training, sacrifice, discipline and the support of the Portola, Jair has quickly become a fixture in many of the races throughout the Central Coast of California, crediting his friend and trainer Ulises Fernandez for much of his success.

While reaching  a masters level of elite running is a goal well within his sight as evidenced by a 1:15:13 time at the Half Marathon of Modesto, Jair is most proud of being able to influence his friends to live healthier lifestyles. His message to anyone who wants to improve their overall health and feel better about themselves, “It is never too late to change!”

The Portola Hotel & Spa is extremely proud to support Jair and all he has achieved and with his drive and passion, we are sure to see much more from this very special part of the Portola family!

Best Beaches on the Monterey Peninsula

Friday, July 11th, 2014
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It’s common knowledge that the Monterey Bay has one of the most beautiful coastlines on the entire planet. But with all those miles of photo-worthy shore, how can you tell which beach is right for you? Central Coast Living’s team has visited them all and here are a few of our favorites!

Located off of Highway 1, just south of Carmel is Carmel River State Beach.  With a lagoon formed by the Carmel River, this California State Park attracts a large number of migratory birds, making it a great place for birders.  Also providing access to notable kelp forests in the area, the beach is a hotspot for scuba divers and kayakers as well.  Not the best place for swimming due to its strong currents, beautiful Carmel River State Beach is better suited for a day in the sand or cozying up to warm fire for s’mores in the evening.

Just a mile north of Carmel River Beach, within charming Carmel-By-The-Sea, is Carmel Beach. Renowned for good surf, soft sand and excellent dog-walking conditions Carmel Beach is a favorite spot for locals and visitors alike.  Perfect for sandcastle building, it’s no wonder that Carmel Beach annually hosts a beloved sandcastle contest as well as the Sunshine Freestyle Surfabout, one of California’s longest running surf contests.  Even better than the sand under your feet are the evening sunsets painted where the sky meets the sea. Carmel Beach is also an ideal spot for bonfires and evening picnics.

Spanning from Monterey to Seaside, the Monterey State Beach offers a long uninterrupted stretch of sand and surf beginning next to historic Fisherman’s Wharf and ending in Seaside. This popular beach is the perfect place for many outdoor activities, such as surfing, kayaking, swimming, kite flying and even fishing. Look toward the sea and you’ll spot scuba divers emerging from the depths.  Look toward the sky and you’ll find hang gliders soaring over the dunes. Perfect for everyone, Monterey State Beach is a great place for a true California beach experience.

This next beach packs a whole lot of beautiful views and natural diversity into a single mile of coastline.  Providing public access to the Monterey Peninsula’s rocky coastline and dune habitat, Asilomar State Beach is a popular spot for every beach activity from nature walks and surfing to a romantic date night. With a quarter-mile long trail running through the dunes, Asilomar is the perfect place to take in breathtaking views or go for a morning jog.  Explore the little worlds hiding within Asilomar’s many tide pools or set up shop for an evening bonfire.  A fully accessible beach, Asilomar State Park features beach wheelchairs to allow full access to those with limited mobility.  Dog friendly and child-friendly alike, Asilomar is a great family beach.

One of Pacific Grove’s most beloved landmarks, Lovers Point Beach is a favorite for both P.G. natives and visitors alike.  With a safely protected seashore perfect for children, a rec trail wrapping around the iconic coastline, and lovely Lovers Point Park overlooking the rugged Pacific, Lovers Point is the perfect beach destination for families and visitors of all ages.  Enjoy a game of volleyball while overlooking the water, or bring your children to play in the Lovers Point Children’s Pool.  Enjoy a run on the rec trail or take your dog for a walk with a view.  Featuring bike, surrey and kayak rentals during the high season, Lovers Point has been named Best Place for a Wedding for several years running. So if you are looking for the perfect blend of romance and family fun, look no further than Lovers Point Beach and Park.

From small hidden beaches and long stretches of shoreline to rocky points and quiet tide pools, Monterey Peninsula’s cost offers something for everyone. The next time you visit Monterey, discover how many things there are to do at the beach!

The Magic of a Monterey Wedding

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
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Before you know it, the season of tiered cakes, white tulle and lifelong commitment will be upon us—wedding season. If you have arrived at the obvious decision that Monterey Bay is synonymous with wedding planning, then consider Portola Hotel & Spa as your enchanted venue.

Located on the picturesque Monterey Bay, there couldn’t be a more scenic backdrop. Featuring 50,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, including a spectacular ballroom and lush gardens, Portola Hotel & Spa can serve both intimate ceremonies and lavish Monterey wedding receptions. Everything can be handled under one roof—with creative catering services, up-to-date AV equipment, room accommodations for guests and so much more.

From bridal luncheons to rehearsal dinners to receptions, to the honeymoon, Portola is with you every step of the way. We can arrange spa pampering for the bridal party or the bride. We can assist with a golf outing for the guys. Whatever you picture for your most noteworthy occasion, we’re here to guide you to realizing your vision.

The goal of our dedicated Monterey wedding professionals is to ensure every aspect of your experience at the Portola Hotel & Spa exceeds your expectations. You pick the dress and we’ll take care of the rest at Portola Hotel & Spa.

Learn more about Monterey weddings and events at Portola Hotel & Spa.