Posts Tagged ‘Monterey Peninsula’

Venue Ideas for Your Perfect Monterey Bay Wedding

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
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Memory Garden behind the Portola Hotel & Spa

World famous for its natural beauty, iconic history and incredible events, the Monterey Peninsula has amazed visitors for decades. More recently, however, wedding fever has caught on in this area and not just by the residents. As destination weddings have become as much of an option as more traditional ceremonies, couples are continually looking for something different. Places such as Hawaii and Las Vegas will always be popular, as will other tropical locations, but where else can two lovebirds and their families find such a wide variety of locations for their perfect day?

Whether big or small, simple or ornate, the Monterey Peninsula offers a venue for every type of wedding. If you are looking for a natural setting many of the local, regional and state parks offer locations that are beautiful and practical at the same time. Lovers Point Park in Pacific Grove is continually voted as best wedding venue by local publications. It offers a grassy park overlooking the Monterey Bay and who can beat a place with Lovers in the name. But, if a true beach wedding is your desire, the Carmel State Beach or Asilomar State Beach are great choices that are serviced my many of the local event companies.

Meadow and forested themes are also gaining in popularity. Facebook founder Sean Parker went all out in Big Sur and there are several great locations at Pfeiffer State Park, as well as the Santa Lucia Chapel owned by All Saints Church. The outdoor chapel which is nestled in a grove of redwoods overlooks the Big Sur River offers a truly rustic experience. Breathtaking views are the hallmark of the Wedding Rock in Carmel, which sits high upon a bluff overlooking Monastery Beach. Simple yet unique, this site is managed by the California State Parks system.

One of the most popular wedding themes over the past decade is the Rustic or Shabby Chic event. While these weddings can be held at a traditional hotel or event space, their reliance on the thematic location has allowed many local historical landmarks to become something more, housing many couple’s special day. Chautauqua Hall in Pacific Grove, built in the late 1800’s, was once a place for religious events and artistic gatherings. Now, it sports a modern kitchen and a flowered garden outside.

If, however, you seek the best of everything, look no further than the Memory Garden located next to the Historic Custom House Plaza in Monterey (just steps from the Portola Hotel & Spa). The adobe walled garden offers a fountain amid Southern Magnolia trees and a lush flower garden.  This California State Park venue, is attached to the garden is the Historic Custom House which offers 19th century Spanish Maritime architecture and authentic Monterey Bay charm. Continue the celebration converting the ceremony space into your reception or change it up a bit and head on over the Portola (just steps from the garden), dance the night away in one of their ballrooms or outdoor courtyard and let their amazing event staff take care of all the details.

From the beauty of the Monterey Bay and the history of Old California to the serenity of the coastal California Redwood forests, the Monterey Peninsula offers so much for regular visitors, but it offers the ultimate in destination wedding experiences.

The Portola’s Take on Valentine’s Day

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
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It’s finally February, and you know what that means, Cupid’s arrow is flying high and love is in the air! Located in one of the most romantic destinations in California, the Portola Hotel & Spa is the perfect destination for you and your special somebody.  If you’re like me and need a little break with a dash of romance, the Portola’s Romance Package is designed to give put a little pep back in your step. Start your stay off with a complimentary bottle of Champagne and gourmet chocolate covered strawberries then, let the Portola take care of the rest while you savor the breathtaking sights of the Monterey Peninsula. Or, enjoy the day in one a luxurious nautically inspired guest room, behind the “do not disturb sign.”  This overnight package comes complete with a European-style breakfast buffet at Jacks Restaurant, bottomless Mimosas included! From the warm welcome of homemade chocolate chip cookie upon arrival, to deluxe facilities including a heated pool, Jacuzzi and poolside cabanas, the Portola Hotel & Spa will make you feel like nothing short of royalty during your getaway.

Maybe an overnight say doesn’t fit into your busy schedule? Here are some fun ideas!  

Treat your Valentine to a romantic four-course dinner at Jacks Restaurant & Lounge. Executive Chef, Jason Giles has created a wonderful menu of classic dishes touched with his commitment to sustainably sourced, local ingredients. Enjoy delicacies such as Braised Short Ribs, Velvet Lobster Bisque and Petite Fillet Mignon in our intimate dining room.  Don’t wait till the last minute to make your Valentine’s Day plans; book your Valentine’s Day experience today by calling.

If you enjoy a more casual take on Cupid’s big day, why not reserve a table at the newly renovated Peter B’s Brewpub?   Executive Chef, Jason Giles has also created a special Valentine’s Day menu that pairs a four-course dinner with a beer flight of Brewer, Kevin Clark’s house made favorites. Reserve your table by calling (831) 649-2699

This Valentine’s Day is all about choices for you and your sweetheart. Whether casual or intimate dining or an overnight experience to be remembered, trust me, the Portola Hotel & Spa is THE place to celebrate the love of your life…and take a break from the ordinary!

Celebrity Sighting Tips – It’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am Time!

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014
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A legendary location for golfers from across the globe, Pebble Beach is home to professional tournaments throughout the year. None, however, is more famous and star-studded than the highly anticipated AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.  Taking place this week through February 9th, this tournament is not only venerated for its beauty and list of champions, but also for its reputation as a celebrity magnet.  We know you come for the golf, but just in case you are trying to catch your favorite celeb or athlete in action, here are some of the best locations around the Peninsula to play “paparazzi”.

It may be early morning, but that doesn’t mean that the stars are not out and about.  Come tournament time, pros and amateurs alike are warming up before the day’s play and for many that means breakfast with family, friends or entourage. Some of the stars prefer the relatively quiet Lodge at Pebble Beach, but for those staying outside the gates; several opt to visit these choice restaurants to rub elbows with the public and to get their fill of the beautiful Monterey Peninsula.  The most promising places for star-sightings in the AM are Jacks Restaurant & Lounge, Katy’s Place, The Cottage Restaurant, located in charming Carmel-by-the-Sea and Toasties Café in Downtown Pacific Grove.

As the tournament winds down for the day, the late afternoon fun is just beginning.  Although some players may head back to their hotel rooms to rest up for the next morning, many take advantage of the exciting local scene, returning to the Tap Room for post round drinks before heading over to Spanish Bay to continue the party. Some additional popular starts for drinks are the Portola’s Jacks Lounge, Peter B’s Brewpub, Carmel’s Il Fornaio and Jack London’s. In Monterey, Cannery Row’s historic Sardine Factory is also a popular post-Pro-Am hotspot, having garnered the reputation as CBS Central due to the number of the televisions network’s announcers and executives that frequent the establishment.

For the second year in a row, Grey Goose Vodka and the Portola have teamed up to create the After Hour Lobby Lounge open Thursday through Saturday during Golf Week from 6pm-9pm. Who knows who could turn up there! In addition to the Grey Goose Lobby Lounge, the Portola, Taylor Made Golf and the NCGA/Poppy Hills Golf Course have created a Pop Up Golf Experience also located in the lobby, February 6th-8th from 5pm-9pm – everyone could use some swing and putting tips, even the pros and celebs, so stop on by and check out who’s there!

There’s no need to wait till after the tournament to catch a glimpse of you’re your favorite celeb.  If you are a diehard fan, the main driving range at Pebble Beach or the putting green by the Lodge are prime spots. The amateurs are more likely to interact with their fans and you get to see them before and sometimes after their round.  Also, the well-known Club 15, an impromptu gathering of fans beside the 15th tee, is a great place to get up close and personal. Every Saturday, they come out in force to support the tournament’s sometimes less than skilled amateurs. Additionally, fans that purchase a ticket for the AT&T tournament’s practice rounds on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, have the best shot of seeing the stars outside of the actual competition. The atmosphere is laid back and casual with many of the stars interacting with their fans along the way. If a celebrity autograph is on your bucket list, the practice rounds are your perfect opportunity, as photos and autographs will not be allowed during the tournament rounds.

For golf enthusiasts and the celebrity-obsessed alike, this tournament is one event you won’t want to miss.  Fans can buy tickets online at www.attpbgolf.com/tickets. Some say the best thing about this event is the money donated to charity which recently topped $100 million dollars. Others though, will describe the time they were behind Justin Timberlake at the bar. Either way everybody is a winner at the AT&T…FORE!

Monterey Swingfest

Friday, January 10th, 2014
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At Central Coast Living we are always surprised by the interesting facts we uncover. Did you know that California has an official state dance? We didn’t either, but it does and it’s the aptly named West Coast Swing!  It comes as no surprise, then that Monterey holds its very own festival celebrating California’s favorite dance.

Join the fun January 16-20, 2014 for an entire week of swing dancing at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel just minutes from the Portola Hotel & Spa, for the 21st Annual Monterey Swingfest. Whether you’re a pro looking to compete or a beginner eager to learn, the Monterey Swingfest promises to be a good time for one and all.

Learn from the best, including intensive workshops with the likes of Sarah Vann Drake, Torri Smith and none other than West Coast Swing legend Skippy Blair.  Swingfest offers classes for every level, from beginning to advanced, and with activities planned on most days from 10am until the wee hours of the morning, you’re sure to wear out your dancing shoes.

Featuring two types of dance competitions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, show off your skills, or merely be a spectator. Hope for the partner of your dreams to help you dance your way to the winner’s circle in the Jack & Jill contest or bring along your better half and sign up as a dynamic duo for the Strictly Swing contest.  Competition not quite your speed, then Monterey Swingfest has something for everyone, including open dance sessions for early birds starting at noon and then throughout the day so you can literally dance the whole day…and night away!

It’s bound to be a weekend of toe tapping competition and thrilling entertainment, so put on your dancing shoes and let the fun begin!

Best Bets for 2014

Friday, January 3rd, 2014
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The NEW YEAR is finally upon us and 2014 promises to be jam-packed with excitement.  With all of the fun you’ll be having, the year is sure to fly by, so don’t waste a moment. Here are some of your best bets for spending the New Year on the Monterey Peninsula and beyond.  From wine tastings to outdoor adventures, the Monterey Bay has something for everyone and is the perfect getaway for the whole family.

Family friendly and fun, the breathtaking 17-Mile Drive is regarded as one of the most scenic drives in the world.  Running from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach, this drive features awe-inspiring landscapes and legendary sites, including the Lone Cypress, Spanish Bay, and Stillwater Cove.  17-Mile Drive is perfect for a day of exploration, afternoon drive or a brisk morning jog.  Just don’t forget to bring your camera.

Beloved by Peninsula locals is the Old Monterey Farmers’ Market taking over three and a half blocks of Historic Downtown Monterey every Tuesday afternoon/evening.  Established in 1991 and attracting both locals and tourists, the Old Monterey’s Farmers Market lets you take a spin around the globe in just three blocks, sampling arts and crafts, handmade jewelry, furniture, clothing, food, organic produce, flowers and pastries from local artisans and growers. Rain or shine, you can be certain to find some good food and entertainment.

A prime location for wine enthusiasts from near and far and recently named as a Top 10 Destination by Wine Enthusiast, the Monterey County is home to many vineyards, wine-tasting rooms and festivals.  Year round, you can be sure to find a place to sip delectable samples of some of Monterey’s award-winning varietals. Explore the region’s numerous tasting rooms, experience a guided tour of a vineyard or simply visit one of the many specialty stores, you can experience the rich diversity of tastes available from our local wineries. Check Portola’s very own Wine Trolley Package!

The local region offers plenty of fun for the younger crowd too.  Home to the Monterey Zoo, nothing could be better than a day exploring the animal kingdom on a 51-acre ranch located just off of the Monterey-Salinas Highway.  Home to over 100 wild, exotic, and domestic birds and animals, “Wild Things” promises an afternoon of excitement for the whole family including special rooms available for overnight guests and special events.

For folks who fancy the outdoors, Monterey’s Adventures by the Sea is the perfect way to take advantage of all that the natural beauty the Peninsula has to offer.  Providing options to explore by land or by sea; discover beautiful Monterey Peninsula by bicycle, kayak, or guided tour.  Nothing completes a stay on the Monterey Bay like taking in the majestic sights and historic landmarks of the Peninsula with Adventures by the Sea.

One of the most famous events on the Monterey Peninsula is the internationally renowned Big Sur International Marathon. Whether you’re keen to participate or just enjoy cheering on the runners, this celebrated marathon, taking place on April 27, 2014 is one of the running world’s iconic events. The course traces 26 miles of breathtaking views from Big Sur to Carmel.  Visit the website www.bsim.org for further details and to register online and learn about other races and events throughout the year!

Each year the month of January brings the promise of new adventure and experiences and there is no place better to enjoy them all than right here on the Monterey Bay.

Cheers to a wonderful New Year!