Posts Tagged ‘Monterey Bay Aquarium’

Winter-time Wonderland at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Saturday, December 6th, 2014
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In case you hadn’t noticed, winter has arrived. Yes, for most of the country, Winter means weather, but in California and specifically on the Monterey Peninsula, Winter is more about the holidays and wondering why scarves and gloves look cool, but are actually uncomfortable in 65 degree weather. Most importantly, however, winter and the holiday season mean family. Whether you are entertaining guests from out of town or spending time with your own, there are many options around the Monterey Bay, but none excite the group as much as the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Beyond the world-wide reputation and overall greatness, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is offering several recently new and exciting exhibits and that are sure to awaken the wonder in everyone. Tentacles, the Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes debuted to much fanfare a few short months ago and has been enchanting guests ever since. Featuring giant rooftop tentacles and multiple tanks filled with 9 types of cephalopods, the exhibit will immerse you into a whole new world of these ever-changing sea creatures.

One of the other recent exhibits is the Jellies Experience. Gain a whole new appreciation of this beautiful mysterious and sometimes dangerous ocean dweller. Eight different types are featured and their graceful water-ballet amidst black-lit rooms is something to truly behold. Their simplicity and complexity are on display all at once in an almost surreal experience.

The Aquarium’s favorites are of course on hand with Penguins, Sea Otters, the Kelp Forrest, the Splash Zone and daily feedings and classes available for everyone’s enjoyment. Most recently, viral videos of rescued sea otters have made the rounds on YouTube and Twitter, but now you can see these cuddly kits in person!

If your guests are from out of town, the Portola Hotel & Spa offers a very special Monterey Bay Aquarium Family Getaway for $199 (now through January 31, 2015). Guests will receive accommodations in a nautically inspired guest room, a warm homemade chocolate chip cookie, 25% Off* on Food & Beverage for Dinner in Jacks Restaurant and two adult tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium which are good for two consecutive days. Book Now!

This winter, if the parkas and scarves have not made it out of the closet, but you are looking for a great experience for the family, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They’ll thank you for the best present of all, quality family time!

 

Book now and stay December 1, 2014 to January 31, 2015.  Terms and conditions apply.  Based on availability. Not applicable to groups. Blackout dates apply.
*Not valid during holidays.

Family Fun – Monterey Style

Monday, March 3rd, 2014
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Explore the Monterey Bay Aquarium

A treasure trove of outdoor adventure, Monterey is the perfect location for a family vacation.  With unparalleled beauty at every turn, the Monterey Peninsula and beyond promises endless opportunities for fresh-air fun and adventure for the whole family!  Whether you’re a land or sea body, the Monterey Bay area has something for everybody.

Develop your sea legs and take off on an ocean safari with Princess Monterey Whale Watching. Offering year-round whale watching trips, you can take in the majestic view from the midst of the bay while making some fluked friends along the way!  Maybe getting wet isn’t quite your style; get your under-the-sea fix at the Monterey Bay Aquarium instead.  Located on historic Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium promises to inspire wonder and learning through its innovative exhibits and unparalleled variety of aquatic wild life.  With more than 35,000 creatures, and representing over 550 species in nearly 200 exhibits, the Monterey Bay Aquarium promises a full day of fun for the whole family.  By the end of your excursion you’ll have just about sprouted fins of your own!

Home to some of the world’s most majestic ocean views indeed, the Monterey Peninsula is more than just a marine-lover’s mecca.  With Adventures by the Sea you can explore local sites by land or by sea.  Just pic your mode of transportation, bicycle, kayak, or guided tour and experience all that the Peninsula has to offer.  Looking to head to the hills, a hiker’s paradise awaits.  Check out legendary Point Lobos for unmatched views and a chance to run into some pretty feisty wildlife or explore Garland Ranch Regional Park in Carmel Valley.

For the animal lover within, visit Vision Quest Ranch & the Monterey Zoo. Set on a 51-acre ranch and centrally located off the Monterey-Salinas Highway, the Monterey Zoo (formerly Wild Things) is home to over 100 wild, exotic, and domestic birds and animals.  Take a family trip around the world without having to drive a mile, and learn all that there is to know about these majestic creatures.

So, for your next family trip, look no further than the Monterey Peninsula.  With a little something for everyone, there’s no better place to make family memories that will last a lifetime.

Portola Team Profile: Meet Executive Chef, Jason Giles

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
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One of the great culinary institutions on the Monterey Peninsula is Jacks Restaurant & Lounge, led by Executive Chef Jason Giles. The full service restaurant, located inside the Portola Hotel & Spa is more than just a run of the mill eatery serving middling hotel fare. Jacks has won countless awards for food, wine and location during its history, and continually is evolving to keep up with the latest trends in the culinary world.

Inspired by his mother’s love of cooking and culinary heavyweights Jacques Pepin and Julia Child, Chef Giles enrolled in the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and following graduation, headed north to Sonoma where he worked at the Grill at the Sonoma Mission Inn, which is now known as the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. Chef Giles then moved south to the Pebble Beach Resorts where, as Sous Chef, he played an active role in the development and opening of Stillwater Bar & Grill.

Giles is at the helm of all the Portola Hotel & Spa’s culinary operations, including menu development for the hotel’s two restaurants, Jacks Restaurant & Lounge and Peter B’s Brewpub, as well as the creation of menus for in-room dining, banquets and special events.

As Executive Chef, Giles hand selects local produce and ingredients, many of which are brought in from the nearby Salinas Valley (better known as the “Salad Bowl of the World”) and fresh seafood from the Monterey Bay arrives daily. As a true believer in the “green food” movement, Chef Giles supports local farmers, fishermen, ranchers and dairymen, while adhering to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch® Program. He also utilizes 100% Harris Ranch Beef, as well as other hormone and chemical free meats.

In 2013, Chef Giles launched a fabulous Oyster Bar and Live Action Kitchen in Jacks Lounge, where guests can enjoy freshly prepared oysters and Champagne by the glass, while watching the Portola’s culinary team prepare appetizers and salads.

So if you are a local or a traveler from far away and you are in the mood for a wonderful meal, come by Jacks Restaurant & Lounge or Peter B’s Brewpub and experience the culinary skill of the Portola Hotel & Spa’s Executive Chef Jason Giles.

Come to Jacks and savor the local flavor!

Winter Packages 2013

Friday, October 18th, 2013
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One of the best things about the holiday season is the anticipation of opening presents. Whether you are young or old, everybody can remember begging to open presents early…”Please just one!” Well the Portola Hotel & Spa has got you covered with plenty of presents that you can open today.  The best of the Portola’s Winter Packages are now available now and ready to help you welcome all the winter season has to offer on the beautiful Monterey Bay.

Recently named one of Wine Enthusiast’s Top 10 Wine Destinations, Monterey County has become a wine lover’s paradise. That’s why the Portola’s Winter Wine Harvest Package is so special. Your package includes a nautically inspired guest room in addition to a complimentary bottle of Monterey County wine and a souvenir wine bag. Then, let their wine enthusiasts guide you to some of the best tasting rooms and vineyards the region has to offer.

If a greater level of relaxation is more your style then the perfect gift may just be the Portola’s Winter Breakfast Package. You’ll enjoy cozy accommodations, as well as breakfast for two at the award winning Jacks Restaurant & Lounge. Under the guidance of Executive Chef Jason Giles, Jacks breakfast menu features omelets made to order, eggs cooked any style all complemented by the best bottomless mimosas in town.

The holidays are all about family and the Portola has got you covered with their Winter Monterey Bay Aquarium Package for Two. Come explore the wonders of the Aquarium, just a quick walk or drive from the Portola and explore the wonders of the deep with a package that can’t be beat. Book a night’s stay with this package and receive two tickets to the Aquarium for use during your stay, and if there are more in your party, there are additional tickets for purchase the Portola front desk.

 

One of the region’s premiere events during the holiday season is the annual Ice Skating by the Bay rink set up right outside the Portola’s doors, November 22, 2013 through January 5, 2014. Located in the Custom House Plaza, a winter wonderland is staged and ready to create some fantastic memories. With the Portola’s Winter Ice Skating Package, you’ll get two tickets to the fun in addition to your well-appointed, nautically inspired guest room. Don’t miss out on this one of a kind holiday experience. Book today and let your special memories begin!

So if sunshine, a crisp ocean breeze and fun are on your list this season, then no need to check it twice – because it’s all at the Portola!

8 Attractions Not to be Missed on the Monterey Peninsula

Friday, September 27th, 2013
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 Head Concierge, Anne Roberts

Guest Post!

8 Attractions Not to be Missed on the Monterey Peninsula

By Anne Roberts, Portola Hotel & Spa, Head Concierge & Member of Les Clefs d’Or USA

Nearly four million people visit the Monterey Peninsula every year and whether they are traveling for business or pleasure, visitors are all are faced with the same problem – how to fit everything into one trip.

As Head Concierge at the Portola Hotel & Spa, I have the pleasure of playing tourist, visiting all the amazing destinations throughout the local region.  I love receiving recommendations and feedback from both locals and tourists alike, and along with my personal experiences, am excited to share my list of the top eight activities not to be missed when exploring the Monterey Peninsula.

1.  Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium should be at the top of everyone’s “to do” list when visiting the Monterey Peninsula, it truly is the best aquarium in the world! Located on historical Cannery Row (right off the Coastal Recreation Trail) at the site of an actual former sardine cannery, the Aquarium is not only home to thousands of plants and animals (more than 600 species are on display), but it also serves as a non-profit to inspire conservation of the world’s oceans. Visitors to the aquarium will be wowed by its giant live kelp forest and the popular sea life found in its many exhibits including stingrays, jellyfish, sea otters, hammerhead sharks, penguins, seahorses, blue fin tuna, yellow fin tuna and, if you are lucky, great white sharks that are temporarily housed at the aquarium from time to time. There are interactive exhibits for children and the adults can take part in special evening events that include wine and live music during the summer.

If you go…there are less  people there in the afternoon. Buy your tickets at our Front Desk and you won’t have to wait in line.

 

2.  Whale Watching

Attracting permanent marine residence and passerbies, the Monterey Bay is home to an underwater canyon that is actually much deeper than the Grand Canyon and creates a super highway for both creatures or the sea and sky. Some of the most famous visitors include a number of whale species that migrate through the area throughout the year including killer whales, humpbacks, blue whales and grey whales. There are many whale watching tours offered around the Monterey Bay, including one that is a five-minute walk from the Portola, located on Fisherman’s Wharf. Tourists and locals flock to these tours to see not only whales, but also catch a glimpse of dolphins, rare birds, seals, sea otters, pelicans, sharks and other creatures that are cruising through or have made their home in the Monterey Bay.

If you go… dress warmly with lots of layers including a waterproof option. Also, book a morning trip, as it is the best time to spot sea life.

 

3. Carmel-By-The-Sea

Located about 10 minutes south of Portola is the beautiful town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. This charming town provides visitors with shops, art galleries, restaurants and wine tasting all within one-square mile. Home to Clint Eastwood, who was once the Mayor, Carmel’s unique European-style village attracts fans from all over the world. The food choices range from superior French cuisine to American hamburgers and fries. Shopaholics will be welcomed by familiar brand names and one-of-a kind boutiques and art lovers can spend hours roaming the galleries that contain both modern and contemporary art along with everything in between. The Monterey Peninsula is lush with wineries and many of the most famous have tasting rooms located right in downtown Carmel. Wine fans should not miss the new Wine Walk By-the-Sea Passport, which guides visitors through seven Carmel tasting rooms.

If you go…don’t miss out on talking a stroll or packing a picnic to enjoy at the famous Carmel Beach, with its teal waters, white sand and views of the world famous Pebble Beach Golf Course, it is quintessential California!

 

4.  Big Sur for Lunch

The world famous beauty of Big Sur is located about 45 minutes from Portola and offers spectacular scenery that can be easily viewed through the car window.  Highway 1 provides its visitors with views of jagged cliffs, lush green pastures, waterfalls and gorgeous redwoods. Take a drive down Highway 1 and fuel up at one of Big Sur’s five-star restaurants or local watering hole. Many of the restaurants themselves offer unique views, friendly staff and spectacular, farm to table offerings.

If you go… due to its rugged terrain, the weather in Big Sur can be unpredictable so be sure to dress in layers.

 

5.  Hike Point Lobos

Known for its breathtaking views, easy to manage hiking trails and abundant sea life, Point Lobos is a great place to spend a few hours or an entire day. There are a number of hiking trails that start from the parking lot with the majority of them being perfect for beginners. The wildlife is spectacular – humpback whales migrate through the area from April until December and gray whales can be seen during their migration mid-December until mid-April. During low tide, explore the tide pools to view starfish and sand dollars and often times there is a sea otter to spot amongst seals and sea birds.

If you go… pick up a trail map at the entrance kiosk to navigate the park and beware of waves crashing on the rocks – if you get to close you will get wet!

 

6.  Carmel Valley Wine Tasting

Head down Highway 1 toward Carmel and go inland about 20 miles and you will be right in the middle of Carmel Valley, home to approximately 20 tasting rooms, restaurants, shops and galleries. Located far enough inland to avoid coastal fog and nestled next to the Santa Lucia Range, Carmel Valley provides a warm environment that is favorable to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other red varietals. The Valley is also known to produce exceptionally good Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandels. From elegant French-style tasting rooms at the Chateau Julien Winery to the laid-back walk-able environment of Carmel Valley Village, wine and food enthusiasts alike will delight in a day the taste buds are sure to enjoy.

If you go… be sure to bring clothes appropriate for warm weather especially during the summer and fall months, as it can be 20-30 degrees warmer than along the coast.

 

7.  Carmel Mission

A great stop during a day visit to Carmel is the Carmel Mission, one of the most famous missions in California. Known formally as the San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission, this Roman Catholic mission church dates back to 1770 when Father Junipero Serra served until his death in 1784. Today, it is one of the most authentically restored mission churches in all of California and is still an active parish church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Monterey. Visitors can tour the property and its museum’s that take visitors on a journey through the Mission’s history and restoration efforts. The grounds are completely breathtaking with ancient structures and sculptures, lush gardens and beautiful stained glass windows.

If you go… remember it is still an active parish so there may be weddings, funerals and other activities that prevent you from seeing everything on the grounds.

 

8.  Walking Tour of Monterey State Historical Park

Did you know that Monterey was the first state Capital of California? The Monterey State Historical Park, located just outside the doors of Portola, is rich in history providing a collection of significant historical houses and buildings with colorful gardens and overall beautiful scenery. The historical park stands to preserve places and objects that are of historical significance including 12 buildings and several residences. Among the attractions stands the spot where the Spanish explorers first landed in Monterey in 1602, the oldest building in California known as the Custom House and one of the nation’s last remaining whalebone sidewalks.

If you go…be sure and stop by the Pacific House Museum for more information on the buildings and their viewing options, as many of the historic adobes can only be viewed with a State Park Guide. Stop by my desk for a self guided walking map.

 

Visit one or all on your next trip to Monterey and stop by my desk at the Portola to say “hi”! I look forward to your impressions and receiving YOUR insider tips and tricks for getting the most out of your Monterey Bay vacation. Every day I look forward to learning something new!

Happy Travels!