Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Carmel, California – Hotel Review

By Jonathan Spira on 14 August 2012
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Overlooking the Pacific Ocean roughly 120 miles (190 kilometers) from San Francisco is Carmel-by-the-Sea, often just referred to as Carmel.   Thanks to its location on the Monterey Peninsula, it is blessed with beautiful views and borders Big Sur, a sparsely-populated mountainous region covering 90 miles (140 kilometers) of coastline, bursting with flora and fauna.

The drive from the Bay Area to Carmel can be accomplished via California State Route 1, a highway that runs along the coastline, and the beauty of our drive set us up for the splendor of the region and the views we would soon be enjoying from the historic Hyatt Carmel Highlands, originally known as the Highlands Inn, where the first guests started arriving almost 100 years ago.

Emtering the property, it was immediately clear to me what its attractions were, but I’m not talking about the warm greeting from the bell staff, nor about the courteous check-in, nor even about the historic buildings, many of which are original.  Rather, I’m referring to the views, which the Highlands Inn was designed to highlight.


Bedroom and adjacent bath, downstairs level

Our one-bedroom Ocean View Townhouse was a two-level suite.  The bedroom, with a Hyatt Grand Bed was downstairs. The bathroom, larger than many hotel rooms,  opened up directly onto the bedroom and featured an extra-large soaking tub in the middle (making it possible to soak and enjoy the views at the same time).

Upstairs were a kitchen, dining area, and living room with the all-important fireplace.   The kitchen was well stocked with silverware, mugs, plates, and glassware, not to mention gleaming new stainless steel appliances and lots of counter space.   The living room was comfortably furnished although the style of the furnishings and décor seemed more appropriate for a casual beach house, not a luxury lodge.  The dining area seated four and the chairs were comfortable.  A small terrace, with two chairs, proved to be a serene setting from which to watch the sunset.

Living room fireplace, upper level

For me, it was the fireplace that really made the suite. The hotel provides large quantities of logs to each room and has a staff member dedicated to ensuring that the logs are of a very good quality, so as to provide roaring fires.


A small writing desk extended from the chest of drawers in the bedroom, paired with a comfortable but not very ergonomic desk chair.  Internet was free and sufficient for most purposes.  I did find that I was more comfortable using the dining area for work since it was a more open space.

For meetings, the Highlands has several indoor and outdoor spaces including the Surf Room, which can accommodate 120 attendees, and the Gazebo Deck, which brings the meeting and the ocean together, complete with the sound of waves crashing against the rocky cliffs.   Dramatic ocean views are included at no extra charge for all meeting venues.

Smaller meeting room with big ocean view

The fitness center is small but of course also has great views.  Given the expansive nature of the property and the multiple staircases involved in going between buildings, some degree of fitness activity is built into every stay regardless of whether one visits the fitness center or not.

While there is no spa on the premises, guests can make an appointment for the Accista Spa at the nearby Hyatt Regency Monterey.  Accista is the Ohlone word for Monterey and it was the Ohlone Indians who were indigenous to the region centuries ago.  The drive over to the spa is roughly 15 minutes and there is parking right in front.  The spa itself is beautiful and transmits a soothing presence from the moment you walk in.  We booked a couples’ stone massage and it was relaxing and relieved some muscle aches.  The waiting area was beautifully designed and calming in nature.

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