California California Hotels Hyatt Gold Passport Hyatt Hotels Monterey Peninsula

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Big Sur Coast townhouse and view

Hanging out in the Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn usually feels close to home for me. The hotel location is set above Highway 1 on the hillside with a sea cove view to Point Lobos State Park in the north and a sea view to a few very expensive homes on the rocky point in the south.

Most of my stays at the hotel have been in an Ocean View Townhouse Spa Suite in the 504 to 507 numbered rooms range.

The location quiets down at night as few cars venture south on Highway 1 to Big Sur late in the evening.

The Highlands Inn is about the views in a truly unique place, even for California.


tree moonlight

Moonlight over the Pacific Ocean at 7:00am early morning looking west.

The bright moon in a clear early morning sky danced on the waves. When I looked out the window, the ocean appeared covered by fireflies blinking over the water. After a few seconds I realized the moonlight was twinkling on the waves making it seem like a large part of the ocean surface had been covered with blinking holiday lights.

Three tall Monterey pines in the foreground and the Pacific Ocean in the background is the upstairs balcony view of the 505 room and surrounding townhomes.

Three trees dawn

Three Monterey pines near dawn at 7:00am.

Three pines in sun

Three Monterey pines mid-morning 8:30am.

Three pines in fog

Three Monterey pines in fog at 4:00pm.


The three Monterey pines are part of the view from the upstairs townhouse balcony 505. Not much privacy when the neighbors come out at the same time. Hope you are feeling social.

Weather changes quickly this close to the Pacific Ocean and a warm sun can become a chilly wind sun or the reverse throughout the day as the ocean breezes change the air temperature.

#505 Townhouse design

upstairs sitting room

The door entry takes guests into the upstairs room. There is a bathroom and closet when you enter. The kitchen space, dining table and living room with a small balcony complete the top floor.

We loaded the full-size kitchen refrigerator by transferring a bunch of stuff from home for our stay. Safeway is at Rio Road on the south end of Carmel three miles north of the Highlands Inn. Late November through January is Dungeness crab season for the central coast. Dungeness crab is available year-round, but outside the window of fresh crab season, most crabs are frozen.

fresh crab

Safeway had fresh crabs at $4.99 per pound. They were $6.99 at Costco. Picked up four crabs at Safeway, about two pounds each for two in-townhouse crab meals.

As a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond member, I received a card for each morning of our stay to receive free breakfast for two at California Market or room service with tax and tip included. Breakfast is about a $50 affair for two and the Diamond free breakfast is a good value here. We ordered the Point Lobos breakfast with poached eggs and crab meat on English muffins.

Needless to say we love our crab here in Monterey.


There are basic pots and pans, dishes and cutlery in the Hyatt townhouse room. I brought my own crab pot and shell cracker for lunch dining. The sink is large and a dishwasher is opposite the refrigerator.

A single cup Keurig coffee pod machine provided coffee or tea option. Housekeeping gave me extra pods for coffee the first morning which I did not use. Nice to know they were there.


We were struck by how few wall hangings are present in the units. Kelley loves to see stuff hanging on the walls.


The Bushnell binoculars on the end table are a vital tool for a Highlands Inn stay, especially in the mid-December to mid-March when gray whale migration peaks between Alaska and Baja Mexico. This photo shows roll-up blind barrier to the balcony sliding door.


Living room couch with railing over downstairs stairway. The natural wood aspect of the wall art is nice, but appears to basic for my taste.

dining table

Square dining table and column lamp.

The top problem during our stay was the TV reception. Hey, who wants to watch TV in a place where looking outside the room is one of the most picturesque scenes imaginable?

But, we did want to watch TV.

This was NFL Championship weekend with the four remaining teams vying for a Superbowl appearance. TV reception for the football games was the worst we have experienced since 1996 in rural downeast coastal Maine with a TV antenna. Some channels had decent reception, but not the football game channels.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands #505 Downstairs Floor

The dozen stairs are steep and could be a challenge for some guests.


TV cabinet-dresser at bottom of stairs.

Downstairs TV and desk

The only chair downstairs is the desk chair.

Your eyes quickly pass over the bedroom to view the equally large open space bathroom at the bottom of the stairs.

spa tub

Bathroom has large spa tub and holds two persons comfortably.

The shower is a quicker option and the toilet is behind the closed door by the sink. A large closet is available for storing luggage and stuff.

tub partition

A series of three sliding doors partition the bathroom from bedroom if you want privacy.


Shower at Hyatt Highlands Inn downstairs bathroom.

Just remember that California has now officially entered into drought water rationing mode after the driest year on record and no rain yet in 2014.

In 2014 this area may face strict water use controls. Typically tourists in hotels are not too impacted by the restrictions.

Hyatt bed

I slept great in this bed and the pillows were soft. Frequently I toss and turn if the pillow or bed does not feel good to me.

downstairs view

Downstairs bedroom view from room 505.

It never fails that I return home from the Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn and realize that I missed taking photos of parts of the room. The outside view is a magnet for my eyes that keeps me from thinking about photographing the inside.

The inside of the room would be much more of an issue if I were looking to buy a timeshare at the property. The townhouse spa room on two floors in the middle of the hotel property is a room that always pleases me at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands.


Sample winter rates at Hyatt Carmel Highlands:

Friday, January 24 – Monday, January 27, 2014 (3-night stay).

Ocean View Townhouse Spa Suite similar to room 505 shown in this post.

$2,092.63 at $609 daily rate after resort fees ($66.30) and taxes ($199.33).

The hotel is Hyatt Gold Passport category 6 at 25,000 points per night.

My stay was free using two confirmed suite nights as my enrollment bonus in December 2012 for the Hyatt Gold Passport Visa card. That deal is no longer available.

Part 1 for this post is Whale Fountains at Hyatt Highlands Inn, California

Whale pod-3

Gray whale pod photographed from room balcony.


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.

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  • Jeff January 22, 2014

    Ric,I just received the Hyatt card and part of my sign up bonus was two free weekend nights, then one free night annually at a category 1-4. The way I understood the offer, the two free nights allowed any category and I planned to use one of the nights at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. You mentioned the offer was no longer availalbe. We you referring to the suite or is the initial two free weekend nights limited to category 1-4 also?

  • Ric Garrido January 23, 2014

    @Jeff – I was only referring to the suite upgrade for Diamond members.

  • stuckinTraffic January 26, 2014

    FYI just got a targeted offer $158 per night(for 2 nights) for mid week now through March 28 plus 10K bonus Hyatt points to listen to a 90 minute timeshare sales pitch. Not sure if it is targeted, the only requirements are must be over age of 27 and must have income over $100k, US resident. Looks like Hyatt is whale hunting.

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