Hotel Review: Hyatt Carmel Highlands
Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Overlooking Big Sur Coast & Highlands Inn, A Hyatt Residence Club
Category 6 Property
Award Cost: 25,000 Hyatt Goldpoints a night
Cash + Points: 12,500 + $150 (excluding taxes/fees)
Long time ago, Hyatt Carmel Highlands was originally a Park Hyatt Hotel. Now it is split between being a Hyatt Residence Club and Hyatt Hotel. This property is considered a Category 6, with the basic daily room rate (Garden View) going for $399 average a night. On points, the same Garden View is attainable for only 25,000 Hyatt Goldpoints a night. Yielding at least 1.6 cents per point. Which is pretty good considering I value Hyatt points at 1.4 cents.
This past Thanksgiving weekend Rodalyn & I decided to do a weekend getaway down south and stayed at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. Before Thanksgiving, we had the fortunate event of getting status matched to Diamond for Hyatt. With Diamond status you get 4 upgrades into suites annually. These expire in February 2016, so I had to quickly put them to use. Usually, I like to redeem hotel stays all on points that way I pay $0 out-of-pocket for a hotel. However, with Diamond Suite Upgrades (DSU), you can not upgrade a room fully booked on points. Your only options is to book either on a fully paid or cash + points stay. Thus, we decided to do Cash + Points of 12,500 + $150 and the DSU for our stay. With the DSU, we were able to go from a Garden View room to an Ocean View Townhouse Spa Suite. The retail cost of this room was $689 (excluding taxes/fees) a night. That’s an increase value of at least $290 for using one DSU.
Driving down Highway 1 is one of the most spectacular scenic views of California. We were luckily to be entertained with this stunning sunset view as we were making our way up to the hotel. The hotel was built on top of a hill overlooking the Pacific ocean. The compound was over 12-acre and it’s so huge that we actually got lost in it. We had to get directions from a hotel staff where the main building was. Once at the lobby, the host checked us in and offered us a welcome drink of champagne. Which we gladly took. Before we headed to our hotel room we sat at the sunset lounge and drank our champagne. Again, this hotel is unique as it’s both a hotel and Hyatt Residence Club. As I was sitting in the lounge I can overhear sales pitches on other seats. I’ve had my share of timeshare pitches and I always find it amusing debating with a salesman about the point system.
On our way out we decided to look at the map of our hotel room location. We noticed that there was not that much guest parking near our room so we asked the host the best way to reach our room. He mentioned that valet parking was complementary and they can easily drop off our bags and park our car. Since the room was easily accessible from the main building we decided to leave our car and take a walk. Since it was an overnight stay we didn’t have that much luggage.
Oceanview Townhouse Spa Suite
We got lucky as the room we checked into was an end unit, room 501. At first, we got startled by a maintenance guy downstairs. He was there fixing a light-bulb and excused himself for the inconvenience. Besides that encounter, this room completely blew me away. One major wow factor was that it was a two-story suite. That’s right! Two stories!? They weren’t kidding when they said it’s a “townhouse” suite. The upstairs included a full bathroom, full kitchen, living room with a fireplace, and balcony. The kitchen itself was similar to a vacation rental home. It was fully equipped with a stove, microwave, cooking utensils, and fridge.
The balcony had two seats and a small table, perfect for the two of us. On our way out onto the balcony, the sliding door fell off its track and I actually had to re-position it back. You would think that a high end property like this would at least get some decent sliding doors. Nonetheless, we weren’t deterred away from the beautiful view.
We noticed a lot of smoke in the air. This was due to other guests utilizing their in-room fireplace. After the sunset, we decided to use our own fireplace. The resort already provides wood and newspaper for burning. However, we did run into the issue of not being able to find a lighter or matches. We had to call the front desk in order for them to bring us a box of matches. Once that was provided it was easy to get the firewood going. We ended up relaxing for quite some time in the living room with nothing but our voices and the sound of the firewood cracking. It truly felt like a home away from home.
Downstairs, is where you’ll find the king bedroom and master bathroom. There is a desk at the foot of the bed which has a huge window besides it that shares the same view as the balcony. On the desk there was a card offering $100 off stay or 10,000 Hyatt Goldpoints if we attended a presentation. The desk itself didn’t have any outlets on it like most Hyatt properties. You had to connect on the wall which was underneath and hidden behind it. I found it kind of troublesome for business travelers who need to work on their laptop for a bit. Additionally, I noticed none of the nightstand near the bed had no accessible outlets. If you plan to charge your cell phone over night you would would need to charge near the bed on an outlet along the wall besides the window.
It felt kind of odd having an open view of the bathroom into the bedroom. Even though there were spacers to separate the two rooms overall it felt like an awkward design. Additionally, the hot tub was too big and took up too much of the space. You literally had to walk around it just to get to the bathroom sink. I believe they could have just gotten rid of the jacuzzi and made the shower bigger. I wasn’t in awe with the shower space. You could barely fit a body into the shower let alone have any space to turn around. That’s how small the shower was.
Overall, all the staff were fantastic. The maintenance guy who I initially bumped into our room offered to get some extra wood for us when he overheard me talk about the fireplace. How very thoughtful of him. As for housekeeping I had them make a couple of trips into the suite. First was to bring matches for the fireplace, second was to bring our welcome fruit platter & drinks, and last was to do turn-down service for the night. Each time they came it was always a different staff member and they seemed very pleasant.
One thing I thought that was over the top service was that front desk called about 3 hours after checking in. Thanking us for choosing Hyatt Carmel and wanted to follow-up if everything was to our liking. Even though this was a Hyatt Residence Club, I was never pressured at anytime to attend a presentation.
Points of Interest
The hotel is about a 10 minute drive south from Carmel By the Sea. Downtown Carmel is a fantastic location to grab some inexpensive food if you don’t want to eat at the hotel restaurant.
Brixby Creek Bridge is another 15 minutes down south from the hotel and is a historical landmark to take photos.
Another activity you should do while your staying at the Hyatt Carmel is the 17-Mile Drive. It’s about 20 minutes away from the hotel and this drive is a scenic road. It offers some of the best views of Monterey Peninsula.
If you plan on taking a trip down Highway 1. I would highly suggest staying a night at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. The sunset view from the hotel itself is worth it. While it’s location may not be easily accessible and you need to drive to nearby locations. I don’t mind the drive as Highway 1 isn’t called a Scenic Highway of California for nothing.