Posts Tagged ‘Central Coast’

A Memory Garden Memory

Monday, July 28th, 2014
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So… it’s not too often that I get personal on our Central Coast Living Blog, but every July I get a little sentimental!  Nine years ago, this month I was walking down an aisle dusted with rose petals at one of the most magical venues in all of Monterey (in my humble opinion)  – the Memory Garden.  I’ll never forget walking through the Portola Hotel & Spa on my way to marry my best friend.  Each step I took through the lobby as the sun was shining through the windows; I was one step closer to becoming Mrs. Thomas.

My husband and I were immediately drawn to the Memory Garden.  The clean white walls of the adobe and enchanted garden were exactly what we had envisioned for our wedding day.  The natural flora and fauna of the garden didn’t really need any extra decorating; it was perfect just as it was.

I remember vividly, as I peeked from the gates before the ceremony, that this was it – my dream wedding, simple, romantic, elegant and quintessential old Monterey. After, we walked hand in hand to Frank Sinatra’s “It Happened in Monterey” (yes I know he’s referring to Monterey, Mexico, but it still worked) and as we gazed back at our family and friends, all was right in the world at that very moment!

Now our walks near and around the garden include our amazing six year old twins, who fondly call it Mommy & Daddy’s Wedding Flower Garden, and every time we take that first step through the gates, my husband and exchange a glance with one another, reflecting on our wedding day.

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Stars on the Monterey Peninsula

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
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With the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am now over, the celebrity count on the Monterey Peninsula may have fallen…but that does not mean that celebrity has left the Peninsula entirely. In fact, the area has been a stomping ground for entertainment’s biggest stars. From movies and music, to the arts and professional sports, the biggest names often use the Peninsula for escape, inspiration and even invention.

Star wattage on the Central Coast starts and stops with John Steinbeck. One of America’s most famous and most respected writers, many of his novels were based in and around the area. From Salinas’ East of Eden, Of Mice and Men and Monterey’s Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday, Steinbeck lived and breathed the Monterey Peninsula, as did other noted authors and poets including Robert Louis Stevenson, Robinson Jeffers and Henry Miller.

Movie stars have also made and continue to make their homes on the Peninsula. It’s no wonder with the area’s proximity to Los Angeles and slower pace of life, Monterey County and beyond, has played host to a number of notable movies, television shows and numerous commercials. If you want a closer look, check out Monterey Movie Tours Highlights include the locations from scenes in From Here to Eternity, Turner & Hooch and Play Misty For Me, just to name a few. Doris Day, Clint Eastwood and George Lopez call Pebble Beach home and let’s not forget that most of old Hollywood were at one time or another, residents or frequent visitors to the area.

How about our friends in the music industry? Well, since the 1950’s, the Monterey Jazz Festival has graced our area with the biggest names in jazz and at the time, popular music holding court at the Monterey County Fairgrounds. The popularity of that ongoing musical masterpiece let way to the seminal music experience that started it all, The Monterey Pop Festival.  Big names will often grace the more intimate venues of the area as they travel between the arenas in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. The Sunset Center in Carmel, the Golden State Theatre in Monterey and the Rodeo Grounds in Salinas have all seen world famous acts and rocker Frank Zappa, the Eagles and jazz musician Kenny G have called the area home.

If sports are your “game”, the Peninsula has plenty of high powered athletic residents. NFL coaches and referees, Jim Tunney, Herm Edwards, John Madden and Ron Rivera along with Hall of Fame Member James Lofton live here, as do Olympic athletes, Nick Cunningham, Gary Figueroa and Blake Russell. Professional baseball and softball residents include: Reggie Jackson, Pete Incaviglia, Mike Aldrete and Monica Abbott. As always, golf plays a big part of the culture of the Peninsula with many notable PGA & LPGA players either growing up here or now making their home here including Bobby Clampett, Johnny Miller and Julie Inkster.

So, if it’s star power you want without the traffic and smog of Los Angeles or the chaos of New York City, the Monterey Peninsula may just be what you are looking for – beauty and just the right amount of glitz and glamour.