Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Carmel, California – Hotel Review

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Roasted beet carpaccio, at Pacific’s Edge

The crown jewel of the Highlands’ dining establishments is the Pacific’s Edge restaurant, which hosted the Masters of Food & Wine events for several decades.  Sitting down at a window-side table in the dining room is like having a private viewing of one of the wonders of the world, Carmel’s coastline and the Pacific.  Matt Bolton’s contemporary American cuisine was nothing short of extraordinary.

Our meal there started with an amuse bouche followed by a superb roasted beet carpaccio.  At the suggestion of wine director Paul Fried, we started with a 2004 Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile, which had nice fruity notes up front and an intense minerality and mild acidity.  Main courses of yellow-fin tuna and duck were masterfully prepared and Mr. Fried recommended a Grüner Veltliner Kamptaler Terrassen from Weingut Bründlmayer.

Pancakes, at California Market

Before dessert (crème brulée and chocolate bread pudding), Mr. Fried stopped by with a 2007 Royal Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos Red Label, which had a mild acidity and wonderful sweetness (but not too sweet), in other words a perfect dessert wine.

The California Market Restaurant is a bistro-style establishment that serves breakfast and lunch.  Although one morning it was a bit too cold to sit outside on the redwood deck (inside, the restaurant is warmed by a charming pot-bellied stove), outdoor heaters warmed the area sufficiently the next two days and the views, combined with the incredible pancakes and other breakfast dishes.  Service was friendly and efficient and the menus included local and natural ingredients.  The pancakes were light and fluffy the first day but, sadly, a bit heavier the next. Eggs Benedict were perfect and everything was beautifully presented.  Lunch menus include seafood, local produce, and sandwiches.


Gazebo with view

The Hyatt Highlands is located in one of the most beautiful places in the United States. There are many things to like about the hotel, first and foremost the views, the binoculars in the rooms, the fireplaces, free bikes, and incredible service.  The hotel’s general manager is very hands on and was almost omnipresent in my experience.  Keep in mind, however, that the Highlands is also a timeshare property so it’s likely the visitor will encounter a stream of prospective buyers in the main building, although their presence isn’t very different than what one would expect from a group holding a meeting or convention.

The rooms themselves are somewhat ordinary, but that shouldn’t stop you from going:  they do happen to frame some of the best views in the world and that, plus the natural beauty of the region, makes this hotel a very worthwhile destination.

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