Sanctuary Beach Resort Monterey Bay Review

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Pacific Ocean view from Sanctuary Beach Resort. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

My husband and I recently discovered a hidden gem in Monterey Bay. While that may be an over-used phrase, I truly feel like we found the perfect sand dollar on the beach, metaphorically speaking. You see, my parents have lived in Carmel since the 1970’s. My husband and I were married in the area and our children, now grown adults, grew up walking barefoot on the beaches of Monterey Bay. It turns out that we drove past Sanctuary Beach Resort in Marina, California too many times to count. Located off Highway 1, right before the Monterey exits, we were missing out on something special. Fortunately, we are aware of its presence now and we look forward to sharing this Northern California beach hideaway review with you.

The 60 room Sanctuary Beach Resort sits on 19 acres of sand, looking out to Monterey Bay and neighboring on protected Marina Dunes Preserve. If this is a romantic stay or special occasion, splurge for room 711, a panoramic ocean front suite, complete with a natural gas fireplace. I say natural gas, because Sanctuary Beach Resort goes out of its way to be a green property with numerous eco-conscious initiatives such as onsite recycling, energy-efficient lighting, biodegradable to-go food boxes and drinking cups, non-toxic cleaning products, drought resistant native plants and a car-free area back by the cottages and suites. (The car-free option is also a great safety feature for those traveling with young children, grandchildren or pets.)

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Pet-friendly beach bungalows & suites. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Speaking of pets, every room and suite at Sanctuary Beach Resort is pet-friendly. If you have a dog that loves long walks on the beach, this is the place to stay. And did I mention that the property has a doggie snack bar at the hotel entrance with your pet’s name on the chalk board? Our Labrador Retriever felt right at home here.

Our room, an ocean front, upstairs suite with private balcony, rented for $250 – $290 per night, $329 – $390 on weekends. Traveling with family or friends? Connecting rooms are available. Our room included a king bed, sleeper sofa, wet bar, bathtub with separate shower, hair dryer, robe and L’Occitane bath amenities. There was a 42″ flat screen television in the room, but the ocean was our local entertainment.

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If you are staying for several days, you’ll want to visit the highly-acclaimed Monterey Bay Aquarium and the golfer’s will enjoy nearby Bayonet Black Horse Golf Course.

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Salt Wood Kitchen whole fish for two on the menu. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Salt Wood Kitchen and Oysterette

We timed our Monterey Bay arrival to beat the San Jose area traffic and had made a reservation for dinner at Salt Wood Kitchen and Oysterette. The innovative restaurant is on property at Sanctuary Beach Resort and is open to guests of the hotel, as well as the general public. As is everywhere on the resort, the restaurant is pet-friendly.

We opted for dinner on the sunset deck, complete with fire pit and heat lamps. I’m not a huge fan of raw oysters, but the live fire option with loaded toppings won me over. At Salt Wood Kitchen they offer whole fish for two (but ours could have fed four) everyday on the dinner menu. Their Parker House rolls, served a top a basket of warm stones, are also wonderful! Sanctuary Resort’s answer to happy hour is their “Sunset Session” from 3-5:00 p.m. at Salt Wood Kitchen. The resort offers small bites from the grill and cocktails such as Rye Manhattan, Ramos Gin Fizz, Pimms Cup and French 75 to name just a few.

After the sunsets on the Monterey Bay, head over to one of three fire pits on property. There are s’more kits in hotel rooms, along with the mini bar – all items are an additional charge.

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Breakfast basket photo © Nancy D. Brown

Breakfast in bed
After a restful night’s sleep, wake up to a custom breakfast picnic basket delivered to your door -breakfast baskets are available for an additional fee. We selected coffee, orange juice, yogurt and granola, quiche Lorraine for me and a breakfast sandwich for him, accompanied with fresh fruit. We switched on the gas fireplace and watched the sun make a glorious appearance over the water, all from the comfort of our ocean front suite. I briefly considered going for a morning swim in the pool, but opted for a brisk walk on the beach, instead. Regretfully, we checked out of our Sanctuary retreat; Big Sur was calling.

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swimming pool, sanctuary beach resort, marina, california
Swimming pool and hot tub photo © Nancy D. Brown

Need to know:
Check in: 4:00 PM Check out: 10:00 AM
Rates range from $189.00 – $649.00 depending on the season. Monterey Bay AAA hotel rates are available. The resort is located 15 minutes from Monterey Fisherman’s Wharf and two hours from San Francisco. All rooms are pet-friendly with a $50 per night fee. Nightly wine and cheese reception from 4:00-5:00 PM. There is no resort fee and Wi-Fi is complimentary. Bicycles are available for guests on property.

Insider tips:
If you are considering a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, purchase your tickets in advance online. My personal recommendation is to get there as soon as the aquarium opens. Save playtime on the beach for the afternoon and enjoy Salt Wood Kitchen at sunset. For additional insider tips follow luxury travel writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter or Instagram @Nancydbrown and @sanctuary_beach_resort Instagram and @sanctuarybeach on Twitter.

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If You Go:
The Sanctuary Beach Resort (855) 693-6583
3295 Dunes Drive
Monterey, California 93923

Sanctuary Beach Resort review, video and all photography by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. As is typical in the industry, I received a complimentary media stay, however, all opinions are my own.