I have to confess that, until today, I was not a fan of timeshares. My only experience with timeshares was a high pressure sales pitch from a resort in Los Cabos, Mexico back in 2007. Recently, I had the good fortune to stay at Hyatt Carmel Highlands on the Big Sur coast. The historic property offers a mixture of hotel rooms, combined with the Hyatt Residence Club. The combination is the best of both worlds for hotel guests, as they have the opportunity to access unlimited room options from garden views to opulent suites, depending on your price point and desires.
My one bedroom ocean view suite, #309, is a personal favorite of Robert Redford. Actually, he prefers the suite above mine, but I still feel that I have the right to say that I slept near Robert Redford – swoon! I can see why he calls this place his home away from home. Like Cheers, the fictional Boston-based bar where everyone knows your name, Hyatt Carmel Highlands is like an old friend. Many of the staff have been here for years and truly do know your name. In fact, Bartender Neneto has been serving up handcrafted cocktails at Hyatt Carmel Highlands for 20 years. He makes a mean White Peach Rum Punch with mango rum, peach schnapps, pinot grigio, lime juice, lemon juice and orange juice. It’s as tasty as it looks.
And while I’m name dropping, did I mention that Steven Tyler stayed at this Hyatt hotel recently? His daughter was married at Post Ranch Inn and Mr. Tyler stayed nearby at Highlands Inn. Guests love the Highlands Inn for its remote location on the Big Sur coast and its casual laid-back elegance, yet is is only minutes from Carmel-by-the-Sea.
If casual is more your style, try the fish tacos at California Market. Composed of wild salmon, seabass and halibut, these tacos are not only finger lickin’ good, the fish is sustainably caught. In fact, all seafood on the menu at both Pacific’s Edge and California Market are in compliance with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. Feel good about your dining selections as you watch Blue, Fin, Grey and Humpback whales swim on by. The grey whales use the Monterey Bay canyon as part of their migratory path on their way to birth babies in Baja California and when they work their way back to Hawaii.
If this is a splurge vacation, there are three specialty suites on property, each one-of-a-kind. Point Lobos suite offers three fireplaces, with two bathrooms and views of Point Lobos. Big Sur suite comes with a large deck and a wood-burning fireplace. Sunset Suite features a queen bed and Jacuzzi with, drum roll please, killer sunset views. For those preferring sensibly priced rooms, opt for the garden view rooms. They don’t come with a fireplace, but guests are able to use the outdoor fire pit and it has an amazing view! Purchase a s’mores kit in the California Market store and you’re good to go! (You can also order light bites from the room service menu offered by the fire pit.)
What’s the difference between the timeshare units and the hotel rooms? Timeshare units feature kitchenettes, living room and wood burning fireplace. Ideal for families, the living room sofa converts to a bed and the king bed has sliding wood panels nearby for additional privacy, essentially creating a second bedroom. All hotel rooms – except garden view rooms – feature wood burning fireplaces. All Hyatt rooms offer Bushnell binoculars in room for whale watching or spying on your neighbors (I’m kidding on that last remark, of course!)
History of Highlands Inn
The property dates back to 1917 when it first opened for guests traveling along the Pacific Coast Highway. You can actually see the original hotel walls in parts of the building that utilized the granite quarried from four miles away.
Need to know:
Check in: 4:00 p.m.
Check out: 10:00 a.m. timeshares 12:00 p.m. hotel rooms
There are eight hotel town homes and 48 hotel rooms on property. Hotel rates range from $390 – $900 depending on the season and occupancy level, check the website for details. There is a daily resort fee of $20. which covers internet, bike rentals and fitness room. There is not a spa on property, but Marilyn Monroe Spa is nearby in Monterey next to the Hyatt Regency Monterey.
There are three hot tubs scattered about the hillside property and one outdoor swimming pool adjacent to the main lodge. If you appreciate complimentary water bottles and chocolates left on your bed, you’ll get turndown service on your first night, but you’ll need to request turndown thereafter (or you may simply request water and chocolates.) Please note that while Carmel-by-the-Sea is very pet-friendly, Hyatt Carmel Highlands is not pet-friendly.
Book one of the guided hiking tours and you can set it up perfectly tailored to your degree of difficulty and length. I just had a hip replacement, so I appreciated an easy stroll around Point Lobos, while active adventure lovers can request a tour of hidden beaches and secluded coves. (Additional fee involved.)For additional insider tips follow @Nancydbrown on Twitter and @HyattCarmel.
If You Go:
Hyatt Carmel Highlands (831) 620-1234
120 Highlands Drive
Carmel, California 93923
Article, photography and video by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Hyatt Carmel Highlands, however all opinions are my own.