The hotel has all the amenities of a first-rate conference center with extensive meeting rooms, high-speed, wireless Internet connections, exhibition halls, and a 24-hour business center tucked behind the ubiquitous portrait of J.W. and son, founders of the chain. However, in spite of being part of a triad of hotels that make up the Monterey Conference Center, the hotel has an intriguing past which bubbles under the high-tech facade. In its earlier turn-of-the-century incarnation it was known as the St. Charles, a plush resort destination for visitors to the peninsula.
This splash of romance may surprise conference-goers and please vacationers. But even without this bonus point, staying here put us within walking distance of Fishermans'' Wharf, excellent restaurants, the historic Monterey park, and the city''s many festivals. During the summer months the city''s free bus service, The Wave stops in front of the Marriott, offering yet another incentive to stay centralized.
If you also enjoy
indulging in reasonably priced, luxurious spa treatments, the Escape Spa is a new addition to the hotel where visitors can hide out from the hectic world of business buzzing outside. A variety of services, from massages to seaweed wraps and Ayurvedic Facials, coaxes the facility back toward its early resort origins. A heated pool and whirlpool in the courtyard tempt with yet another remedy for travelers looking more to get away from business and into relaxation.
The Marriott provides catering services for the conference center and has two on-site restaurants and a coffee bar. Characters Sports Bar is aptly named. After passing the late hours here twice, we grew enchanted not
by sports on multiple TV screens as the name implies,
but rather by
a colorful collection of
characters who obviously make karaoke a habit such as the group of multi-talented linguists who had recently attended the
Monterey Institute of International Studies, where they participated in a submersion course in Arabic.
We learned that most of them
shoving off for Baghdad soon. Meanwhile, they sang their hearts out and
glowingly recounted their stay in Monterey
and their nights at Characters.
And why not? The staff is delightful, the facility top-notch, the atmosphere an unlikely combination of serious business and laid-back warmth. The front desk was ever-accommodating, whether to locate Dennis the Menace Park, or
explain the significance of Doc Rickett''s Laboratory.
bougainvillea-draped balconies, whether or not you have a prized ocean-view room,
listening to sea lions barking off Fishermans'' Wharf,
you may want to cover the receiver when you call into corporate headquarters.
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From journal Monterey - First Timer's Tip
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