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.
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.
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.
I continued south to Santa Barbara and my reservation at the Hotel Mar Monte.
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.
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.
The room itself was a standard room with a comfortable bed and all modern conveniences.
Hyatt Santa Barbara is a historic beachfront hotel built in 1931 in a Spanish Colonial style.
The pool is a nice feature of the hotel. The roadside location can mean a bit of street noise at times.
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.
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.
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.
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.