Archive for the ‘Family Fun’ Category

Ice Skating by the Bay – Monterey on Ice!

Friday, November 22nd, 2013
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Temperatures are dropping and the snow is falling???

It’s time to lace up those skates and let the winter adventures abound! Well maybe this is true for the folks up in the mountains, but here at sea level, we marvel at a different scene, that of the rugged Monterey Peninsula coastline.  In Monterey we don’t wait for winter to show up, we make the winter wonderland ourselves.

Ice Skating by the Bay brings on the chill, setting up shop at the Custom House Plaza, providing the perfect holiday outing for the whole family.  Set among historic adobes and Old Fisherman’s Wharf, Ice Skating by the Bay is here to help you celebrate the holidays amid a picturesque backdrop like no other.  Whether ice skating is your cup of cocoa, or you just enjoy spectating, Ice Skating by the Bay is set in the perfect location to view the breathtaking ocean, excited passers-by, and jubilant skaters, all the while sipping on your favorite warm beverage.

Found just outside of the Portola’s doors, Ice Skating by the Bay is the perfect outing for guests at the hotel.  Right outside the front door lies a world of wintery excitement and fun to be had.  That’s why Portola is offering a winter package fit for the ice skater within.  This holiday season enjoy Portola Hotel’s Winter Ice Skating Package. This ultimate getaway package includes a one night stay plus ice skating for two.  I guarantee that the time will virtually glide by when you spend it at the Portola, so grab your scarf and grab your gloves; this is a nippy adventure that you won’t want to miss!

November 22nd  through January, 5th, Ice Skating by the Bay is open Monday through Saturday from 11am-10pm, and Sunday from 12pm-8pm, you can learn more online at www.iceskatingbythebay.com, and visit the Portola’s website to learn more about this fantastic Winter Ice Skating Package.

Summertime Chillin’ & Grillin’

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
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Nothing says summertime like a backyard BBQ. From the first sizzle of a perfectly seasoned steak on the grill, everyone enjoys one of the most revered of summer pastimes. Chef Jason Giles, Executive Chef at the Portola Hotel & Spa and the brains behind the menus for Jacks Restaurant & Lounge and Peter B’s Brewpub, loves backyard BBQ’s and has graciously shared his favorite summertime recipe with Central Coast Living.

All great recipes share one core aspect, which is the quality of ingredients. According to Chef Giles, meats that are a bit higher in fat will cook better on the grill because the marbling in the meat keeps it moist and full of flavor, he personally recommends the following cuts:

  • Rib-Eye
  • New York Strip Loin
  • Skirt Steak
  • Tri Tip
  • Flank Steak

Chef Giles has a few tips that he always follows when preparing the meat.  He recommends that the meat be seasoned/marinated for a few hours before cooking to allow it to soak up the flavor of the marinade.  For a little extra zip and pizzazz, try his famous Season Salt:

  • ½ cup Kosher Flake Salt
  • 3 Tbsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 1Tbsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1Tbsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Coriander
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

This seasoning is great for beef, chicken or pork. Once the ingredients are mixed together, they need to be stored in a clean, dry glass jar.

Now that the seasoning is taken care of, it is important to focus on the best way to grill the meat. Make sure that the grill is nice and hot – if it is too cold, the meat will just steam. When the grill is warmed up pull the meat out of the refrigerator and let it start to come up to room temperature to ensure an even cooking time. Always be prepared to season the meat with salt and pepper, even if the marinade has a ton of flavor the meat will most likely benefit from a sprinkle of salt and a dash of pepper.  Once the grill is nice and hot, cook the meat to about 10-15 degrees below how it is usually grilled and let it rest for 15-20 minutes after cooking.

When the perfect steak is cooked, Chef Giles recommends adding the popular Argentinean sauce, Chimichurri as a side condiment:

  • 1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 leaves fresh basil chopped fine
  • 3 mint leaves chopped fine
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 garlic cloves minced ( or grated on a micro planer)
  • 1 ½  cup Olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To create the sauce, mix all the ingredients in a bowl EXCEPT the lemon juice.  Let it sit in a bowl for at least an hour to allow the flavors to marry together.  Just before serving add the lemon juice and taste for seasoning. It is important to add the lemon juice last, as it will discolor the herbs if added at the beginning. 

Your friends and family will think you’ve been a master of the grill with this simple recipe and cooking tips from your secret summertime BBQ hero, Chef Jason Giles.

Aquarium for Two Package

Thursday, March 7th, 2013
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Photograph Monterey Bay Aquarium©

It’s easy to find adventure when you are traveling by yourself, with your significant other or with friends, but finding something exciting to do with your family that keeps your interest can become an adventure in and of itself. That’s why the Monterey Bay Aquarium is such a great choice. Not only is it located right on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, on historic Cannery Row, but it is chalk full of amazing and educational exhibits and interactive activities for kids and adults alike.

The fabulous Jellies Experience is now open and there are countless other interesting this to experience and explore. There is the Splash Zone that allows kids of all ages to engage with ocean inhabitants and feedings at each of the exhibits and countless other things to do. The Portola Hotel & Spa offers a wonderful Aquarium Package for Two. Not only is the Portola within walking distance to the Aquarium, but this package has it all! With the Portola Hotel Aquarium for Two Package, you get a nautically inspired and elegantly appointed guest room of your choice, two adult Aquarium tickets good for two consecutive days and the Portola’s famous warm homemade chocolate chip cookie upon arrival. Additionally, you also receive a delicious breakfast buffet for two at Jacks Restaurant and complimentary use of the fitness center. Guests can also purchase additional tickets right at the front desk and the Portola’s friendly and knowledgeable staff has a host of other activities and family-friendly things to do. It’s important to remember that the Monterey Bay Aquarium is more than just a place to look at the creatures of the ocean. They are one of the foremost research facilities in the world and are the stewards of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch® Program.

So the next time you are looking a fun-filled family getaway that gives back, look no further that the Portola Hotel & Spa’s Aquarium for Two Package. You’ll be glad that you did, and so will the fish!

Holiday Survival Tips from the Portola Hotel & Spa Team

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012
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Before you know it those sleigh bells will be ringing and the holidays will be upon us. When searching from some fun, yet useful tips, I decided to look no further then the dynamic team at the Portola Hotel & Spa, so…don’t fret, no need to stress, the team at the Portola has got you covered.

Check out these fun tips from the best of the best to help you survive the hustle and bustle of the season.

  1. Try to avoid peak travel times. The worst are Monday through Fridays between 7am-10am and 4pm-8pm. The best days to travel are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Timo, Sales Manager
  2. Save for the holidays all year long, that way you will have plenty of funds throughout the season! Cristy, Group Rooms Coordinator
  3. Don’t drink and drive. Be safe this holiday season and designate a driver if you plan to go out. Kevin, Brewmaster
  4. Make charitable giving a high priority. Volunteer with your family and clock some quality time together while making a difference. Terri, Director of Sales
  5. Start your holiday shopping months in advance so that you are not cramming in all your last minute shopping with the crowds! Anna, Reservations
  6. A busy kid is a happy kid! Pack your child a fun filled backpack full of exciting, new things to do when traveling. Don’t forget the snacks and juice. Christian, Food & Beverage Coordinator
  7. Do less this holiday season; relax and enjoy more! Jackie, Marketing
  8. Wrap your gifts with newspaper (Sunday comics are great!), cloth that can be reused or wrapping paper made with recycled content – think green. Eddie, Catering Manager
  9. Do your shopping on Christmas Eve. The sales have already started and there are no crowds. Sonny, Director of Food & Beverage
  10. Consider using a smaller airport such as the Monterey Airport. You will be surprised with how many flights the regional airports offer. Janine, General Manager

Kids on the Peninsula

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012
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When most people think of the Monterey Peninsula they think of beautiful golf courses, million dollar homes and some of the world’s most famous events. Others think of miles of pristine coastline, romantic walks along the water and shopping and dining. But some do not realize the amount of kid-friendly activities available.  With as many family friendly activities as there are par fours, Mom, Dad and the little ones can have the time of their lives. Oh, and if the “little ones” are actually teenagers…there is plenty for them to do as well.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium on Historic Cannery Row is one of the world’s premiere displays of aquatic marvels. The Splash Zone is entirely devoted to kids and kids of all ages and the aquarium as a whole can keep the family interested for hours, but what about the next day?

How about Dennis the Menace Park located by Lake El Estero in Monterey? Hank Ketchum, the legendary creator of the cartoon icon Dennis the Menace made Carmel his home and this park brings the same smile to all who come. Free and open seven days a week, the park is perfect for families and offers a multitude of play structures, tunnels, bridges and a maze. The cornerstone of the park is an actual Steam Engine that can be climbed and played upon, if you’re looking for something indoors, try the interactive, hands-on Monterey County (MY) Museum.

If you are traveling with kids a little older, check out the paddle boats available for rent on Lake El Estero directly behind the park. It’s a great time and you can get up close and personal with the ducks, Canadian Geese and swans that make the lake their home (don’t forget the breadcrumbs!) Or, for a more radical departure, make a visit to the free skate park also adjacent to Dennis the Menace. With exciting elements to challenge the skills of skateboarders and in-line skaters, this park was created with input from community skaters resulting in a fantastic design overlooking the lake. Between glow-in-the-dark mini golf on Cannery Row, hiking at Point Lobos to kayaking on the Bay, an activity for every member of the family awaits!

Most all of these activities are within walking distance of the Portola Hotel & Spa making a trip to the Peninsula one of ease and most importantly fun! With green grass, picnic benches and the beach just across the street, why not order a delicious lunch to go from Peter B’s Brewpub and enjoy a wonderful day!