Author: Jill Weinlein
Date of Trip: July 2015
I’ve been staying at the Asilomar conference grounds located along the Monterey Penninsula in the Pacific Grove community for years. In fact, the first time was during a conference while I was in college. Afterwards it was for a one night stop before venturing up to San Francisco.
It’s a step above glamping. No camping in tents, instead there are basic lodge-style rooms in a picturesque setting among tall Monterey pine trees, pine needles decorating the ground, squirrels and Blue Jays calling to one another.
Owned by California State Parks, and managed by Aramark, there have been a few changes, but not a lot. Gone is the complimentary hearty “camp-style” breakfast in the Crocker Dining Hall. Now guests have to pay $12 per person.
Touted on the website as “Rustic Charm and Simple Elegance,” I’d say rustic, yes and elegant…no.
The rooms haven’t been renovated for years. They are clean, but very simple. Most of the rooms have two double beds and minimally decorated bathroom. There is a balcony or patio with views of the grounds.
There is no television or telephone in the rooms, so it was annoying when the guest next to our Whitecap North room blasted a portable television at 7 a.m. Bring earplugs, because the walls are thin. The property recently installed a wi-fi throughout the property.
In the evening there are S’more box kits available at the newer Phoebe’s Cafe for $10. Guests congregate around the firepit talking, drinking wine and roasting marshmallows.
What I love about this property is the location. It’s located next to the much more expensive Spanish Bay resort along the 17-mile drive. In the early evening, deer are nibbling on the tender green grass growing on a golf course. We saw at least 10 on the night we walked over to the nearby area.
There is also an expansive white sand beach with baby powder sand. Watch the surfers, while combing the tide pools searching for smooth sea hares, squirting sea anemones and hermit crabs. Dolphins come up for air along the surf and seals frequent this area. Pelicans and seagulls soar above in search of a tasty morsel.
It’s a great hub to stay at before or after experiencing the following nearby attractions:
1. Monterey Bay Aquarium: Located on the site of a former sardine cannery on Cannery Row in Monterey, this multi-level aquarium is very interactive with over 600 species that include a fantastic Jellyfish and shark exhibit.
2. Rent a kayak and explore the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. It encompasses a shoreline length of 276 miles and 6,094 square miles of ocean and supports one of the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems.
3. Point Pinos Lighthouse is between Lighthouse and Asilomar Avenues. It has been here since 1855 and is the oldest continuously-operating lighthouse on the west coast.
4. Carmel by the Sea offers charming shops, a picturesque beach and some terrific restaurants.
5. 17-mile Drive starts in Pacific Beach to Carmel. You’ll pay a fee per car at Highway 1 Gate to the Carmel Gate. You will drive by a beautiful forested area and along the oceanfront, passing celebrity multi-million dollar homes, three golf courses, two luxury hotels and the famed Lone Cypress tree. There are multiple photo stops along the way. Keep an eye out for deer grazing on the green golf courses.