A September 2004 trip
to Santa Cruz by Kindsis
Quote: My boyfriend and I took a weekend trip with my grandparents, who were visiting from out of state. We went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Carmel, and, finally, to the Hearst Castle.
The property is quite large with many two-story buildings with four to six units per building in each one. We had a king-sized bed with a gas fireplace in the bedroom and a livingroom and kitchenette with another fireplace and queen-murphy bed. The room worked great for us because we (my boyfriend and I) were traveling with my grandparents and wanted separate sleeping quarters without having to get two rooms.
The furnishings are very comfy - knotty, pine style chairs and an oversized sofa for unwinding at the end of the day.
One of the highlights of the hotel is the beatiful gardens on the property ranging from a certified organic kitchen garden, to a rose garden, gazebo garden, and even an old bedroom set that has been planted with a beautiful array of greenery and flowers.
The fireside lounge is also a very relaxing place to sit and have a glass of wine or a cocktail fireside before dinner -- we did just that.
The staff at the desk is very friendly and attentive.
My only complaint was that we really wanted to go in the hot tub after dinner, but found that it was closed due to the heater breaking earlier that night. The staff did offer to have us go to one of their other properties, but we didn't want to travel that far.
Also, the ceiling didn't seem to be too thick because I could hear the people walking in the room upstairs, but it wasn't a bother to me personally.
Overall, I would highly recommend the Cambria Pines Lodge. We already want to go back again just to relax and enjoy the scenery.
It is only 10 minutes from the Hearst Castle and it is next door to the Cambria Nursery (owned by the same people I think) that is definitely worth checking out!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 4, 2004
Cambria Pines Lodge
2905 Burton Drive
Cambria, California 93428
We rented a cottage for one night that was actually just down the block from the main hotel property. The cottage was cute, but I felt that it was very expensive for what it actually was. There was one bedroom with a queen-sized bed and a small and funky bathroom with a slanted roof. The latch on the bathroom door was broken and was apparently "fixed" with some kind of hardware. It was hardly fixed, and for $335 per night, I felt they could have had more high-quality furnishings.
Additionally, the small TV in our cottage could only be viewed by sitting on the window seat -- not from the couch (sleeper sofa) where I slept, nor from the chairs in the living room. A bit odd in my opinion.
The grounds of the hotel are beautiful though! The gardens were blooming with all kinds of colors, and the Terrace Grill restaurant has a lovely view of the grounds below, including the sparkling pool.
We ate brunch at the restaurant, which I thought was also a bit strange. On Sunday, they have a breakfast buffet that appears like a regular buffet with fresh fruit, pastries, a waffle station, and an omelet station. However, we soon realized you have to pay $13.50 for the buffet, which is just fruit and pastries, or, if you order anything else on the breakfast menu (a full breakfast), then the buffet is only $1 more or something. But if I ordered a whole breakfast, I probably don't need the buffet. Also, if you wanted the waffle and omelet, that was an extra $5 or something. Overall, I thought the pastries and fruit were delicious, but the way they set up the payment for the buffet wasn't planned out very well and seemed, well, stupid.
If I were stay here again, I'd try to request an ocean-view room inside the hotel. The cottages are cute but they are fairly small and really close together.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 4, 2004
La Playa Hotel
8th Ave & Camino RL Carmel
My entree was a grilled escolar with a brushetta sauce on top (tomatoes, basil, and garlic). The fish was grilled to perfection and very tasty.
The chicken spring roll appetizer was tasty, but a bit of a disappointment for $9. There were four pieces that were less than 2 inches long (and they were cut on the diagonal). They didn't vary too much from regular egg rolls, only in price.
The restaurant itself is very small and intimate with a Japanese fishing theme inside. The walls are wood, and I believe all of the tables are booth style.
Overall, the food was very good and I would recommend it.
Flying Fish Grill
Carmel, California 93923
The Aquarium is located on the edge of Monterey Bay on the central coast of California in the town of Monterey. The street it sits on is Cannery Row, made famous by the world-renowned author, John Steinbeck. It was formerly the site of a sardine canning factory and now, inside the aquarium, you can see some of the history and equipment they used.
Once inside the aquarium the exhibits are broken up into sections with the downstairs area hosting two fascinating exhibits - Jellies in Art and the newest exhibit, Sharks Myth and Mystery.
The Jellies in Art exhibit has a combination of pieces of art ranging from fabulous hand-blown, glass anemones by Dale Chihuly, to realistic glass jellyfish to abstract paintings interspersed with real life jellies (aka jellyfish).
The Sharks exhibit is really well done. As you walk through the exhibit, you also walk past tanks of sharks and cultural exhibits from various parts of the world and interactive displays such as movies, ancient masks, storytelling, and even shark rubbings and paper hat making for kids. There is something for all ages here, and it is truly a beautiful exhibit of sharks and rays that explores their roles in various cultures and myths and mysteries that surround them.
The main part of the aquarium hosts many types of sea life, with some of my favorites being the giant tuna tank (the outer reef tank), which, as of today, hosts the world’s longest-living great white shark in captivity. She looks just like a mini-Jaws.
I also like the giant rust colored jelly tanks, which are mesmerizing to stand and watch. The otter tank is also a must see to observe these cute and playful creatures frolic about. And last but not least is the large kelp tank that hosts a variety of fish that seem to be suspended, just gently floating, rising and falling with the motion of the waves.
The gift shops at the aquarium are also really neat with something for everyone.
Even the food at the cafe is reasonably priced with many nutritious meals for everyone.
If you haven't been -- GO!!!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 4, 2004
Monterey Bay Aquarium
886 Cannery Row
Monterey, California 93940