Pebble Beach, California is a vacation playground for the rich and famous with $1,000 per night hotel rooms and $500 rounds of golf and spa treatments. There are three hotel resorts in Pebble Beach with The Lodge at Pebble Beach, Casa Palmero and The Inn at Spanish Bay. Off-season package rates for November 23 to March 31 start at $525 per night for Spanish Bay and packages including a round of golf at Pebble Beach Links and Spanish Bay/Spyglass Hill start at $1,975 (Spanish Bay) or $2,195 (The Lodge) for two nights and two rounds of golf.

The Lodge at Pebble Beach seen from Carmel Beach

The Lodge at Pebble Beach seen from Carmel Beach

The less affluent enjoy Pebble Beach each month by the thousands after paying $10 for the privilege to drive a vehicle through one of the private gates into the 5,300 acre oceanfront community on the Monterey Peninsula. TripAdvisor has more than 2,600 reviews of 17 Mile Drive and a 4.5 out of 5 circles rating.

Walking or cycling into Pebble Beach is free.

Del Monte Forest Hiking Trails

A far lesser known aspect of Pebble Beach are the network of hiking trails through the Del Monte Forest. Trails crisscross Pebble Beach between Carmel Beach in Carmel-by-the-sea south of Pebble Beach and the Inn at Spanish Bay bordering Pebble Beach to the north. A boardwalk along Asilomar Beach leads to the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove.

The hike takes two to three hours to walk six miles one way. Trail markers are difficult to follow with places where several trails intersect and no signage indicating the most direct route across the forest for hikers seeking to walk between Spanish Bay and Carmel.

Del Monte Forest Preservation Organization offers a pdf map showing the trail network. The map and a smartphone help with navigation. http://www.dmfpo.org/resources/dmf_hiking_trails2011.pdf

Pebble Beach Hiking Trails Carmel Bay to Spanish Bay

Yesterday I walked along Pebble Beach hiking trails from Carmel Bay to Spanish Bay and back in a 12 mile walk across Del Monte Forest. Here are photos and thoughts from the trails.

Carmel Beach

Coastal Access route to Carmel Beach runs between Pebble Beach and Carmel houses.

Public interest laws in California (1972, 1976) created the Coastal Access Program requiring new development on the coast to maintain public access to the coast and beaches. The concern at the time 40 years ago was growth of California’s population and coastal construction of new homes and businesses would restrict access to the beach as new developments turned public access trails and roads into private lands.

There have been many hotels built on the California coast since 1972. New hotels must allow a public right of way to access the beach, even if in some cases, like the Monterey Plaza Hotel at Cannery Row, the public access means going through the hotel stairway. InterContinental Monterey The Clement had to build a public walkway that passes in front of the restaurant windows and hotel courtyard patio sea view.

Pebble Beach has been a private corporate land holding for more than a century and much of the largest remaining contiguous native Monterey Pine forest is a result of the 5,300 acre Del Monte Forest and Pebble Beach being in private ownership. The Del Monte Forest Conservancy and Pebble Beach Corporation maintain the trail network.

Pebble Beach links

Multi-million dollar Carmel home with Pacific Ocean view and view of Pebble Beach Golf Links on the bluff above Carmel Beach.

Free parking is available on San Antonio Avenue north of Ocean Avenue, the main commercial business street of Carmel-by-the-sea running between Highway 1 and the largest beach parking lot.

Carmel gate

Carmel Gate entrance to Pebble Beach

Carmel Gate is where many visitors enter Pebble Beach and pay $10 for the 17 Mile Drive along the coast. Tip: Your gate receipt can be submitted to your server at a Pebble Beach restaurant or bar for a $10 credit on your meal and drinks.

Trail warning

Trail Advisory for Del Monte Forest warns of 5%+ slopes.

While still on the flat roadside trail entering Pebble Beach at Carmel Gate, a trail warning sign is posted. The trail quickly goes from near sea level to over 700 feet in elevation. Whether you start at Asilomar/Spanish Bay or Carmel Beach, the trail climbs to near the highest elevations of the Del Monte Forest and then drops back to sea level.

The Redondo Real Trail is the section of the Del Monte Forest uphill from the Carmel gate.

 

Redondo Real Trail

Del Monte Forest achieved early acclaim with the opening of 17-Mile Drive in 1881. After purchasing the property in 1919, Samuel F.B. Morse initiated plans for the thoughtful development of the forest, working with engineer Mark Daniels to create a system of greenbelts, bridal trails and roadways throughout the forest. Morse, himself an accomplished horseman, completed much of the work on horseback.

The trail segment ahead is part of the original Redondo Real Trail, the primary bridal trail that ran along much of the perimeter of the Del Monte Forest. Although most of the original trail does not exist today, the natural beauty of the Del Monte Forest and its coastline is easily explored on foot or horseback along more than 25 miles of hiking and equestrian trails.

Redondo Real Trail

Redondo Real Trail is named for original 19th century horseback riding trails of Del Monte Forest.

Del Monte Forest

Most of the Monterey Peninsula was bought up in the 1880s by a holding company owned by the four railroad magnates of California: Collis Huntington, Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker and Mark Hopkins. Hotel Del Monte, built by Charles Crocker, was a western resort playground comprising 20,000 acres of hills, beaches and Monterey Pine forest. Del Monte Foods brand name originates from an Oakland based supplier of coffee to Hotel Del Monte in the 1880s. Historical Resource: California’s Most Historic Resort Hotel Del Monte

Monterey pines are native trees to only three places along central coastal California in Ano Nuevo north of Santa Cruz, the Monterey Peninsula and Cambria near Hearst Castle 90 miles south of Monterey. The largest remaining native forest of Monterey pines are on the Monterey Peninsula. Millions of acres of Monterey Pine forest are planted worldwide as a timber resource, however, only about 10,000 acres of native Monterey pine forest remain in California. The most genetically diverse Monterey pine trees are within the Del Monte Forest of Pebble Beach.

Monterey Pine

Monterey pine

Hotel Del Monte was one of the leading sports resorts in the western United States. The Del Monte Park Preserve offered 7,000 acres of forest and miles of coastline for horseback riding and carriage rides for day excursions taking hotel guests from the Hotel Del Monte in Monterey around the Monterey Peninsula. Since WWII, Hotel Del Monte has been part of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, a graduate degree research university.

Del Monte Forest-1

Redondo Real Trail, Del Monte Forest Pebble Beach

Redondo Real Trail in Del Monte Forest. I came across a wild bobcat at dusk near this spot on my return hike to Carmel. A bobcat looks similar to a house cat, except for the stubby tail and they are 1.5 to 2 times the size of an average domestic pet cat at about 20 to 30 pounds. I have come across bobcats before in Monterey County. They are generally calm and in my encounters we stare at each other for a minute of more before the bobcat walks away.

Bobcat seen on trail at Ventana Inn, Big Sur May 2012. A little scary to encounter, but very cool.

Redondo Real Trail follows the Carmel gate road and then crosses over the road to a path running alongside multi-million dollar homes. I passed by one home listed at $1.1 million. The house was very basic 1970s. The house below is likely a $3 to $4 million home or even more.

Pebble Beach home

Last house before entering Jeffers Forest.

After crossing a road, the trail continues up the hill through a large stretch of Monterey Pine forest. The Pescadero Canyon Trail hooks up with Fire Road 20 and the trail passes near Poppy Hills Golf Course.

Del Monte Forest-2

Del Monte Forest in one of the largest contiguous native Monterey pine forests remaining in California.

I believe this is the area known as the Jeffers Forest which is believed to be the largest contiguous native Monterey pine forest remaining today and considered the most genetically diverse trees within the Monterey pine species on the planet.

Del Monte Forest-3

Del Monte Forest is considered the most genetically diverse Monterey pine forest remaining in the world.

Del Monte Forest Conservancy manage about 700 acres of forest within Pebble Beach and another 600 or so acres are being added to the protected forest lands to be preserved.

Del Monte Forest Conservancy

Del Monte Forest Conservancy manages about 1,300 acres or 25% of the land in Pebble Beach.

These protected lands represent about 25% of all land in Pebble Beach protected from development.

Del Monte Forest-4

Del Monte Forest hiking trail marker.

The trail descended down the hillside from 700+ feet. The Bamboo Trail leads to fire roads and trails into the S.F.B. Morse Botanical Reserve.

Del Monte Forest-5

Crawford Trail through S.F.B. Morse Botanical Reserve, Del Monte Forest, Pebble Beach

I walked for nearly two hours through the Del Monte Forest without coming across another person on the hiking trails.

SFB Morse

S.F.B. Morse Botanical Reserve

In the past decade there was a proposal by the owners of Pebble Beach to build another golf course near this Reserve area in a location called Sawmill Gulch. The controversial Measure A approved by Monterey voters in 2000 called for a new golf course that would have removed around 18,000 Monterey pine trees. In 2007 the California Coastal Commission blocked the development project due to the environmental impact from the loss of native Monterey pines.

Monterey pine-2

One of the largest Monterey pine trees I saw on my hike.

The solitude of the Del Monte Forest trails on a lovely September afternoon offered a relaxing and refreshing walk.

When I arrived at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club Dunes golf course, I came across another person playing a solo round of golf. The man was the first person I had seen in two hours. The Dunes Course was built in 1926 and is almost as old as Pebble Beach Golf Links (1919).

MPCC Dunes Course

Monterey Peninsula Country Club Dunes Course (1926), Pebble Beach.

The trail along Sawmill Gulch runs along the gulch edge of the Dunes Course. The trail is hard to see in places since the ground is cleared in much of the golf course space and signs all around the course are posted stating Private Property/No Trespassing.

MPCC green by trail

Sawmill Gulch Trail beside MPCC Dunes Golf Course.

Sawmill Gulch is actually a gulch covered in foliage with water flow when it rains. There was no water to be seen in late September during the severe drought currently afflicting California.

MPCC Shore Course

Monterey Peninsula Country Club Shore Course at Spanish Bay.

Monterey Peninsula Country Club also has the Shore Course.

The afternoon fog was moving in as I reached the Pacific Ocean at Spanish Bay.

Spanish Bay beach

Rock towers at Spanish Bay beach, Pebble Beach.

The beach at Spanish Bay is said to be the place where Gaspar de Portola, Governor of Baja California, camped in November 1769 on an expedition seeking Monterey Bay. Portola did not realize he was within two hours walking distance of the harbor he sought from the records by Spanish explorer Vizcaino in 1602.

Portola returned in 1770 and the Presidio of Monterey was founded.

Having taken three hours to reach Spanish Bay, I had to pick up the pace for the return trip to walk six miles back up the hills to reach Carmel before sunset.

Spanish Bay golf links

Spanish Bay Golf Links, Pebble Beach.

Spanish Bay Golf Links is a Scottish style golf course along the shore. There is a public access boardwalk between Asilomar Beach in Pacific Grove and The Inn at Spanish Bay resort.

Inn at Spanish bay

The Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach

The return walk was fast-paced and tough going uphill from Spanish Bay up into Del Monte Forest. Two hours and 15 minutes for the return hike and once again there was nobody else on the trails as I walked the six miles back to Carmel.

View from Inn Spanish Bay

Point Joe seen from The Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach.

I made it back to my car 15 minutes before sunset. I’d love to show a great sunset photo, however, the fog had dropped low making for no bright sunset.

Encountering the wild bobcat on the Redondo Real Trail during the last ten minutes of my 5.5 hour hike was a welcome sighting to end the day. Great sunsets are far common to see than bobcats around these parts.

The 17 Mile Drive is one way to experience the beauty of Pebble Beach. Del Monte Forest hiking trails are a different perspective of Pebble Beach with glimpses of the Pacific Ocean visible from the hillsides through the Monterey pine trees.

*****

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

Hilton HHonors hotel reward category changes October 8, 2014 is an announcement from Hilton that 20 hotels will increase in reward category and 12 hotels will decrease. One hotel made a two category jump from 1 to 3, effective September 10, 2014.

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Club Carlson 30% bonus on purchased points by October 31 is a promotional offer whereby you can buy up to 52,000 points for $280. The normal annual limit on purchased points is 40,000 per calendar year. This offer allows you to buy from 10,000 to 40,000 points at $7.00 per 1,000 points and receive a 30% bonus, for 13,000 to 52,000 points.

Club Carlson buy points Oct31

The purchase rate of $5.39 per 1,000 points is okay, but I’d only go for the offer if I had a specific hotel in mind and needed points as a cheaper rate alternative. The Club Carlson Visa card one free night on reward stays makes this offer a good deal if you need more points for a two-night reward stay.

Another consideration is this offer can be a good end of year purchase to max out your points buying in 2014. There might be an even better bonus offer in the last two months of 2014 on the purchase of Club Carlson points. Or not.

The 40,000 points purchase limit is a calendar year limit, so if you buy 40,000 points with this deal, receiving 30% more points for 52,000 points, then you can buy another 40,000 points (plus any bonus points offer) from Club Carlson again beginning in January 2015.

Loyalty Traveler Analysis

Assume you want to stay at a category 6 hotel like Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago at 50,000 points per night. The nightly room rate of $228.60 after tax is $532.18 for two nights on a non-refundable advance purchase rate.

Club Carlson Visa card members can book these two nights at Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago for 50,000 points. Even if you need to spend $280 for 52,000 points with this current points sale, that is a savings of $252 on the published rate for the hotel.

Radisson Blu Aqua rates

$280 for two nights at Radisson Blu Aqua is a good Chicago deal when buying Club Carlson points and redeeming for a two-night stay as a Club Carlson Visa card member.

That is just one example of many where buying points can be a good hotel rate savings strategy.

*****

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

Hilton HHonors cast your vote to choose your reward is a member opportunity to vote by October 4, 2014 for the next HHonors promotion.

  • Double Points
  • 1,000 points per night on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

The promotion offer with the most member votes will become the end-of-year HHonors global promotion running November 1 through January 31, 2015.

My vote goes for the 1,000 points per night since I won’t be spending much more than $100 per night for any of my stays. Also, my stays are more likely to be on weekends.

A person who spends more than $100 per night, and say someone who is staying on $250 per night reservations, will be better served with double points. High spenders win out on double points promotions, whereas low spenders tend to do better with fixed bonus points offers.

HHonors Choose Your Reward

The graph results visible after my vote showed 1K Bonus points with a slight lead. Note: the live results graph shown after my vote is different than the one seen in the graphic above where Double Points is slightly in the lead.

HHonors Cast your Vote thankyou

I voted for 1K Bonus Points and received the message response. My HHonors Gold elite membership counted for three votes.

Votes cast by Diamond membership level will count as four, votes cast by Gold membership level will count as three, votes cast by Silver membership level will count as two, and votes cast by Blue membership level will count as one.

There is an additional opportunity to vote for a charity that will receive $200,000 from Hilton HHonors. The two runner-up charities will receive $50,000.

HHonors Charity

Save the Children was a big leader over MercyCorps and Oxfam in third with what appeared to be more than twice the votes of the other two combined.

  • Mercy Corps is a leading global humanitarian agency saving and improving lives in the world’s toughest places.
  • Oxfam is a world-wide development organization that mobilizes the power of people against poverty.
  • Save the Children invests in childhood – every day, in times of crisis and for our future. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm.

Hilton HHonors has certainly found a unique way to get members involved in their next promotion. We should know what October Hilton brand stays mean in terms of promotion bonus points sometime after October 4, 2014.

*****

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

IHG PointBreaks Sep 29-Nov 30 now bookable for hotel reward nights at 5,000 points per night. This is a great deal for hotel points since it is easy to buy IHG Rewards Club points quickly at the rate of $70 per 10,000 points through Points & Cash reward bookings that are canceled. IHG Rewards Club also has periodic opportunities throughout the year to buy points at even lower rates. This means PointBreaks hotel nights are typically valued as $35 hotel nights. Some of the hotels on the PointBreaks list are likely over $200 per night on some dates, although most hotels tend to fall in the $90 to $130 per night range.

Loyalty Traveler – PointBreaks and the IHG points trick in pictures

Personally, I do not find this list of hotels too useful for my travels. I might be able to use the Interstate 5 hotel in Westley when visiting a friend in Modesto or perhaps Bakersfield if I drive to Las Vegas in the next couple of months.

Just a reminder that IHG Rewards Club added a PointBreaks terms & conditions restriction a couple months ago limiting members to only two PointBreaks award stays per hotel during a specific promotion period.

IHG® Rewards Club PointBreaks is a Reward Nights special offer. PointBreaks are Reward Nights priced at 5,000 points at selected hotels for a limited period of time, instead of the standard redemption rate. IHG® Rewards Club PointBreaks Reward Nights are based on availability and PointBreaks locations may be added or deleted at any time. Due to the limited availability, each member may only book two PointBreaks Reward Nights reservations per hotel during the special offer time period. The PointBreaks special offer may be restricted, suspended, modified, or substituted at any time without notice. Reward Nights booked through PointBreaks may not be sold or used for commercial gains. Doing so is a program violation and may result in the freezing of your account, the forfeiture of all point transfers, rewards, vouchers, or merchandise issued pursuant to point redemptions and any accrued points or miles in your account, as well as cancellation of the account and your future participation in the Program. All other Reward Nights terms and conditions apply.

IHG Rewards Club T&C

One strategy I may use is to book a paid night followed by a PointBreaks night at the Holiday Inn Denver for a qualifying stay for the current IHG Rewards Club Into the Nights promotion. SPG’s current promotion invalidates a paid night followed by an award night on consecutive nights at the same hotel. The entire stay will count as an SPG award stay. As far as I know, IHG Rewards Club paid night still counts even if combined with an award night for the same hotel stay. That is a point I hope to test on a Holiday Inn stay in November. Loyalty Traveler My IHG Rewards Club Into the Nights offer.

IHG Rewards Club PointBreaks Hotel List

United States

ALABAMA
HOLIDAY INN HUNTSVILLE-RESEARCH PARK
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SELMA

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In August I wrote about THEhotel in Las Vegas rebranding to Delano, a Morgans Hotel Group luxury brand. In the Delano rebranding email, I received an invitation for the Morgans Hotel Group Global Card based on being an Mlife Noir card holder, which is a status I received courtesy of being a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond member invited as a media attendee to the Hyatt Gold Passport-Mlife launch party in July 2013 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Making my once a month or so visit to my mailbox yesterday, I found a standard letter-size black envelope among a multitude of white letter-size envelopes. One of the white envelopes was from Nordic Choice Club with a lovely two-tone blue membership card and a letter entirely in Norwegian, except for the job title of the letter signer as Program Manager Nordic Choice Club.

The black envelope looks to be hand addressed in gold ink in semi-cursive penmanship. Black background stamps depicting firework starbursts behind an American Flag are the only other colors on the front of the black envelope. The back side of the black envelope has Morgans Hotel Group and their New York address printed in gold color letters.

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One of the new features I like about Hilton HHonors is their periodic listing of new hotels. The list of 62 Hilton Worldwide new hotel openings June 30 to October 8, 2014 coincides with the release of HHonors category increases at 20 hotels and category decreases for 12 hotels effective October 8.

HHonors new hotels-Q3-1

Conrad London St. James is one of the big stories here with the InterContinental Westminster being rebranded in just two years since it opened. Loyalty Traveler – InterContinental London Westminster rebranding to Conrad in September 2014.

An elusive category 1 in Johor Bahru, Malaysia across the bridge from Singapore offers a cheap reward destination at 5,000 HHonors points per night when SIngapore is busting your travel budget.

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George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin were married this weekend in Venice, Italy at Aman Canal Grande Venice hotel. California star gazing is typically not my Loyalty Traveler media interest and luxury hotels priced at 1,000+ per night are an infrequent type of hotel stay in my travels. I was intrigued to learn about the couple’s wedding hotel location in Venice.

On the home page of the Aman Canal Grande Venice are hotel awards like:

Condé Nast Traveler
The Hot List 2014
Best New Over-the-Top Hotels

Aman Venice overlooks the Grand Canal in San Polo, the smallest of the six sestieri (districts) of Venice. Named for the Church of San Polo, it is also one of the oldest parts of the city, known for its beautiful palaces, churches and market.

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IHG Rewards Club PointBreaks Sep 29-Nov 30 preview list of 160+ hotels at 5,000 points per night is available in this post, however, these hotels will not be available to book at the discount rate until sometime later today or maybe tomorrow.

The other thing is this list only shows the city and you need to click the link to find which hotel is one PointBreaks. Again, this is only a preview list before the official launch of PointBreaks Monday September 29, 2014.

Hover your mouse over the link and you can quickly see which hotel brand is participating in each city. The only InterContinental Hotel on this list I noticed is Nha Trang, Vietnam.

This link will take you to the IHG PointBreaks page where the hotels below, sometime in the next 24 hours, will replace the hotels currently on the PointBreaks list.

UNITED STATES

Alabaster, Alabama
Huntsville, Alabama
Selma, Alabama
Heber Springs, Arkansas
Jonesboro, Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas
Rogers, Arkansas

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Clarion Collection Folketeateret Oslo is one of the top ranked hotels in Oslo for TripAdvisor reviewers. The hotel is usually #2 behind The Thief, a luxury waterfront hotel opened in January 2013. I visited the hotel two times during my stay in Oslo, even though I did not stay at Clarion Collection Folketeateret. The property is appealing to me for its proximity to Oslo Central Station for easy airport and rail access. The top floor lounge library was one of the most relaxing hotel spaces of all the hotels I visited in Oslo.

Nordic Choice Hotels link for Clarion Collection Folketeateret Oslo.

Clarion Folketeateret

Clarion Collection Folketeateret is in 1935 historic theater building and about 200 meters from Oslo Central train station.

My first night in Oslo, I stayed at Clarion Royal Christiania directly across the street from Oslo Sentralstasjon. Clarion Royal Christiania is more of a business conference hotel and knowing what I know now, I recommend Clarion Collection Folketeateret as the better hotel of the two. The pool is the one feature of Clarion Royal Christiania not available at Folketeateret. At some point there will be construction in the vacant lot across from Folketeateret. Oslo is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe and no space remains vacant for long.

There is an important distinction to know in the brand names for Nordic Choice Hotels in Scandinavia. All hotels offer complimentary breakfast in the different Nordic Choice brands of Clarion, Clarion Collection, Quality, Comfort and Ascend Collection hotels. Read More…

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