Hyatt Santa Barbara on the Highway 1 south driving route

Last year I made a trip to southern California and stayed at three Hyatt Hotels in Santa Barbara, Westlake Village and Irvine. Recently Brian Kelly, The Points Guy, posted about his Thanksgiving stay at Hyatt Santa Barbara. Reading his review reminded me I never actually wrote a post about my Hotel Mar Monte stay Thanksgiving week 2010. The hotel is now called Hyatt Santa Barbara.

Highway 1 runs by my house in Monterey and becomes the Big Sur coast road just about five miles south once past Carmel. Highway 1 Big Sur driving can be 100 miles of highway bliss or hell, mostly depending on the weather.

California rainy season is generally October through April. 90% of the annual rainfall occurs in these months. You do not want to drive Highway 1 along the Big Sur coast during a Pacific winter storm. When we get one to two inches of rain in Monterey, the Santa Lucia Mountains of Big Sur generally get four to ten inches of rain. The cliff-hanging Highway 1 pavement has a tendency to wash into the sea when heavy downpours mix with the roadside sandstone. There were several weeks in 2011 when the road between Carmel and Big Sur 37 miles south was closed for repairs.

The best thing about the central coast California rainy season is the beautiful weather when it is not raining. Days usually reach a high near 60 degrees. Summer months are about ten degrees warmer along the coast and it is entirely possible to drive the Big Sur coast and not see anything but gray fog when you visit in August.

Highway 1 Big Sur

Ninety miles south of Monterey-Carmel is Hearst Castle. The Hearst Ranch is 82,000 acres of forest and cattle range land in operation since 1865. Hearst Castle is a 165-room estate designed by architect Julia Morgan from 1919 to 1947 for all around wealthy guy and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. The estate is now part of Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument. This place tends to be crowded and guided tours at $25 per adult are required to see the estate grounds.

Hearst Castle on the hill seen from Highway 1.

I actually drove up to the visitor center only to learn the next available tour was a two hour wait on a weekday in November. Highway 1 turns inland from the coast about thirty miles south of Hearst Castle at Morro Bay and only skirts the coast briefly one more time at Pismo Beach for the next 80 miles. Vandenberg Air Force Base is a major Pacific region missile base that controls and restricts public access to a huge section of coastline in northern Santa Barbara County.

Google maps - Highway 1 goes mostly inland from Morro Bay to Gaviota State Beach

I continued south to Santa Barbara and my reservation at the Hotel Mar Monte.

Hyatt Mar Monte, Santa Barbara

Hyatt Santa Barbara

Hotel Mar Monte was acquired by Hyatt in 2010 and there was remodeling going on while I was there. I haven’t been back in 2011. Pictures of the guest rooms on the hotel website indicated the room furnishings may have changed, but my photos look quite similar to the photos The Points Guy showed in his post from a stay last month.

The roof was being retiled during my stay in November 2010. The lobby in the Hyatt Santa Barbara website photos looks upgraded.

The Room Dilemma – Should I Stay or Should I Go (and ask for a different room)

This was one of the few times where I went back to the front desk twice to ask for a better room. The first room given to me overlooked the construction waste dumpsite. The room actually had a decent view of the ocean, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the parking lot garbage patch.

The front desk then told me they had a room with a balcony and since I was a diamond member I could take that room upgrade. Great I thought. Turned out though the balcony room did not face the ocean and provided a nice view of the parking lot and Motel 6 across the street.

Hyatt Mar Monte balcony rooms.

Mountain view room and Motel 6 across street from Hotel Mar Monte.

Back to the desk for the third time and I received a room that was to my liking. I generally don’t complain too much about the rooms I am given, but I felt I needed an ocean view room when staying as a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond member at an uncrowded hotel across the street from the beach. Although, I still received the only room in the wing without a balcony.

Hyatt Santa Barbara sunrise.

The room itself was a standard room with a comfortable bed and all modern conveniences.

Hyatt Santa Barbara

Hyatt Santa Barbara - TV, microwave and refrigerator in cabinet.

Hyatt Santa Barbara is a historic beachfront hotel built in 1931 in a Spanish Colonial style.

Hyatt Santa Barbara exhibits many Spanish Colonial architectural elements.


Hallway to Bistro 1111 at Hyatt Santa Barbara.

Hyatt Santa Barbara Bistro 1111.

The pool is a nice feature of the hotel. The roadside location can mean a bit of street noise at times.

Hyatt Santa Barbara pool.

Hyatt Santa Barbara is across the street from the beach.

The bad thing about waiting a year to write up a hotel stay is remembering details. I had two gorgeous photos of the pool and lobby, but then remembered that these were actually photos I took at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort which is just north of Hyatt Santa Barbara. I didn’t even realize I had walked over to the Doubletree Resort until I jogged my memory writing this post and realizing the pool and lobby photos were a different hotel.

Fess Parker's Doubletree Resort pool at night.

Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort Santa Barbara lobby.


Hyatt Santa Barbara Fitness Room

Hyatt Santa Barbara Fitness Room.

There actually wasn’t that much to the grounds of the Hyatt Santa Barbara with most of the landscaping gardens located alongside the beach road. The interior area was mostly parking lot when I stayed at the hotel.

Hyatt Santa Barbara ocean view balcony rooms.

Hyatt Santa Barbara garden bench across from beach.


Brian Kelly mentioned a $20 valet/$15 self-parking fee to park at the hotel in Nov 2011. This is another hotel where I scored free parking on the street next to the hotel during my Nov 2010 stay. I don’t know if the parking regulations have changed since 2010. The rules during my stay were unrestricted parking except for 1-3pm Mondays when street sweeper comes through the road.


Unmetered parking on block with Hyatt Santa Barbara entrance if you are lucky.


Passports with Purpose: There are still two days left to enter the Passports with Purpose raffle for a chance to win 110,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points with a $10 donation to Passports with Purpose by Friday, December 16. We are trying to raise $80,000 within the Travel Blog community to build libraries in Zambia with the organization Room to Read.



About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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  1. Driving Highway 1 was always such a great time when I was younger and first had my license. Growing up in California was such a treat I have to say and I went to UCSB so it was that much better! We take for granted those drives along the coast! With the top down and on a sunny day it is one of the best things you can do! I love traveling to Santa Barbara, especially by the 1. You get so pumped for your trip and time spent in the sun! Love staying at the Sandman Inn ( Cheap and the best area.

  2. The Hyatt Santa Barbara is a really nice place to stay actually. They have fun bicycles to rent right outside the place as well the beach is right across the street! One of the best memories I ever have of Santa Barbara is riding those surreys all along the bike paths along the beach on one of the most gorgeous days I have experienced. The last time I was in Santa Barbara I was at Summer Solstice and I loved every minute of it. Stayed at the South Coast Inn ( Close to countless beaches and the wineries as well!

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