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Review: Hyatt Residence Club Carmel

Hotel Background:
The Hyatt Highlands Inn is located 15 minutes south of Monterey, in the city of Carmel, California. The original Highlands Inn opened in 1917 and has been remodeled a few times since then.  The property is a combination hotel and residence club overlooking the Big Sur coast with picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean and set in a very nicely landscaped hillside resort.  
The view as you walk in to check-in offers a great ocean view

The seaside hotel has amazing oceanfront views and blends in the amenities of a large property with the charm of a boutique hotel.  The hotel portion of the property has 48 guestrooms including 11 suites, 32 Ocean View King rooms, and 5 garden view rooms.  

The residence club portion has approximately 92 units and offers 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom units with ocean views, horizon ocean views and some units with only garden views. 

Highlands Inn Main Lodge
Our recent stay here was in a 1-bedroom ocean view room in one of the residence club units.  The ocean view unit was on the lower level of a two level block of units in the 435-444 range of rooms. Our unit included a kitchen, living room, dining table and bedroom/bathroom.  Furniture and decorations in the room weren't exactly brand new, but very nice and fit in well with the landscape of the area.

The unit also had a wood-burning fireplace which was perfect for the cold mornings and nights.  Ample amounts of firewood is available and a washer/dryer is also accessible in a nearby building.  The over-sized bathtub in the unit was a big hit with my child and them never wanting to get out of the bath.  There are two fire pits on the property and a fitness center as well.  It was a little chilly to use the pool, but it did look inviting. 
View from our balcony
Hyatt Highlands Inn Property Map

Timeshare Presentation:
When checking in, the front desk gives you a discount card for the on-site restaurants and some nearby restaurants/shops as well, but in order to get the actual discount pass, you have to stop by the Hyatt Residence Club sales desk.

I figured we could use the discount pass and since I was curious on pricing at the Highlands Inn anyways, I stopped by the desk to grab the coupon and also signed up for a quick one hour presentation to learn more about the vacation ownership pricing.  The sales presentation was pretty low-key and no pressure to buy.  We toured a few units and were blown away by some the ocean views the units had.  I would say 208, 209, 218 and 219 have the best views on the property, although all ocean view units have very nice views.

After touring three units, we sat down and began discussing pricing.  I was aware of the resale market and was surprised by some of the comments made by the sales people, as I knew they were not being 100% accurate.  The resale market has diamond and platinum weeks for approximately half of what they are offering them for, with the main thing you'd be giving up is the Hyatt Gold Passport program exchange.  The Hyatt Gold Passport exchange is only available for those who have purchased from the developer, Hyatt.  The other thing is that the unit for the week you would want it may not be available on the resale market or may never show up there.

Once they figured out I knew a little more than the average person and wasn't going to buy a unit through them, the sales presentation ended pretty quickly and away we went with our resort credit for attending.  Also, one thing to note is almost all the units at the Carmel residence club are 1-bedroom units and are still equal to 2200 HRC points.  The sales person made me well aware of this and how a 1 bedroom at Hyatt Carmel equals a 2 bedroom unit at other locations in the system.  There are only five 2-bedroom units available and some two story 1 bedroom units as well.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn currently has offers available online for a three day-two night stay for $189 per night, but you must attend a timeshare presentation.  You can save quite a bit of money on a nice weekend getaway with typical pricing starting at upwards of $500 per night with this deal if you can stand attending a sales presentation.  There are also some other offers that may are available if you are in the area.  I've seen the $189 per night offer as low as $149/night and $99/night, if you meet certain conditions or are referred.  I was able to get the cheaper options for some friends while I was there.

On-Site Restaurants:
The restaurants located on the property are all very good and include:
  • Pacific's Edge Restaurant
    • Overlooks the Pacific Ocean and offers full views of the coastline with floor to ceiling glass walls.  I would recommend making reservations for dinner as it is a popular place and is on numerous lists, including Top 100 by Zagat and is listed as one of the Top 10 restaurants with a view by USA Today.  The menu price range is higher than average and there is an extensive wine list.  
View of Pacific's Edge Restaurant looking up at it from Highway 1
  • Sunset Lounge
    • The lounge overlooks the ocean as well, with more of a Point Lobos view, and I'd say is more for drinks and a small quick bite.
  • California Market Restaurant
    • Dining is available outside on a terrace overlooking Yankee Point or inside next to the gift shop.  Good spot for breakfast and lunch while enjoying some nice views.

Nearby Things To-Do:
  • Point Lobos State Park
    • Breathtaking views hiking along the pacific coastline.  Take a picnic basket as it's great for kids as they'll see tons of animals along the way and enjoy the scenery.  
Point Lobos State Park off of Highway 1
Breathtaking views along the Cypress Grove hiking trail
  • 17-Mile Drive & Pebble Beach
    • Enjoy a scenic drive through Pacific Grove and Pebble beach with stops along the way to take in all of the scenery, famous golf courses, and mansions.  Toll road with four entrances and a fee of $10 for entry.

Great views of the coastline along 17-Mile Drive
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium & Cannery Row
    • Kids will have blast at the aquarium and once they've enjoyed all the fish and sea life, go for a walk along Cannery Row and grab some lunch and enjoy the shops.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Carmel River State Beach Park
    • Bring a picnic or grab some snacks from the nearby Safeway and enjoy the waves crashing along the beach
Carmel State Beach Park off of Highway 1
  • Mission Ranch Restaurant
    • Owned by Clint Eastwood and includes a small Inn.  The restaurant doesn't open for dinner until 5pm, but you can get there at 4pm for drinks and appetizers.  Food is good, reasonably priced and includes a nice ambiance.  Kids will enjoy the sheep grazing out in the pasture and all of the small birds swooping in for food scraps.
Mission Ranch Restaurant
It was our first time staying at the Hyatt Highlands Inn and overall I would say it is a great looking property and worthy of your time. There are lots of kid friendly things to do nearby and there are great offers currently available to stay at the property, if you don't mind attending a timeshare sales presentation.  

If these kinds of sales presentations aren't your thing, you have a few different options including:
  • Book the hotel and pay the current rate, approximately $450 to $750+ per night
  • Utilize Hyatt Gold Passport points if you are a member in the Hyatt loyalty/rewards program.  The property is a Category 6 and would set you back 25,000 gold passport points or if using points+cash, 12,500 gold passport point and $150. 
    • You could also use Chase Ultimate Rewards points and transfer to your Hyatt Gold Passport account
  • The Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa on Del Monte Golf Course is an option as well if the Highlands Inn is sold out or unavailable.  It is in Monterey and approximately 5 minutes from Cannery Row.  
    • They also offer a reasonably priced package deal that includes breakfast and a 2-day pass to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  The package can save you money on aquarium tickets and you can fill up on a nice breakfast buffet before heading out for the day.  We stayed there for a night before heading to the Highlands Inn for the rest or our trip.
I plan on reviewing the Hyatt Residence Club and the Hyatt Gold Passport loyalty/rewards programs in more detail in upcoming posts and show you how you can save money on Hyatt hotel stays.