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Fine hotel properties ‘stay calm and carry on’ and this is clearly the case with the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa, located on historic Canary Row, a short walk from the world renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Having visited this hotel property often during the past fifteen years to celebrate “Seafood Watch” at the Aquarium, I am keenly aware of the state-of-the-art upgrades and constant improvements being implemented to insure guests the best experience possible. The Café on the lower plaza is a colorful addition where guests can enjoy breakfast while watching the fascinating sea life activity in the water below, or the colorful and entertaining daily kayak classes. The inviting Fire Pit on the Plaza also offers a comfy venue to enjoy morning coffee with a newspaper or an evening cocktail during sunset.

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

This location in Monterey is a favorite for visitors, and walking along Canary Row to peruse shops, restaurants, wineries and to smile at the tribute sculpture to John Steinbeck, located in a small park enroute to the Monterey Bay Aquarium is invigorating. The history of this area is told beautifully at the Aquarium museum, and gives visitors a new understanding of the hard life the early residents of this area experienced as sailors and cannery workers.

Shopping is just plain fun, from Indian costumes, to sips from local vintners and bites from renowned seafood haunts it’s exciting and it’s all good. The Monterey Bay Aquarium takes visitors to a world of wonderment, and is offering special exhibitions “Tentacles” and “Jellies” that take you on a magical journey into the mystery of sea life. Feeding time for the otters always draws a huge crowd, and the otters seem to be born entertainers. The gift shop, which is filled with sea inspired items, offers souvenirs and clever gifts for adults and children.

Canary Row Street View

Canary Row Street View

Monterey Bay Aquarium now has a fantastic cafeteria style restaurant where visitors can find a variety of delicious and affordable food and beverage choices. The grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup is a childhood flash from the past luncheon combination that’s wonderful. This new setup is far more family friendly than it has been in the past, however, they still have a private dining room section for kid phobic visitors.

After a day of swimming with the fish or shopping til you drop the recommended escape hatch is the Monterey Plaza Spa, located on the hotel rooftop, where the Jacuzzi patio offers amazing views of the MontereyBay, and guests can savor food and beverage items from the hotel menu. The spa has a full service gym with the latest in technological workouts offered, where guests watch TV to catch up on current news while keeping their bottoms in shape.

During this visit the Vista Blue Spa was holding an open house for guests and members that featured some delightful appetizers and cocktails for guests to enjoy while touring the spa, and perusing the many products and gifts available for sale. Spa employees were giving special demonstrations in the beautiful workout area. The Vista Blue Spa menu is overflowing with wonderful treatments that can be preceded or followed by a visit to their steam and sauna facilities. The spa gift shop offers all the latest products used for specialty spa treatments, as well as beautiful workout clothing and style items. The ambiance of this heavenly spa with a panoramic view of the ocean brings on instant bliss. According to spa director Mary Low, “It’s such a pleasure to work in this beautiful environment every day. I do look forward to coming to work.”

SchoonersChef1LambPlatter14

Chef Boris Ilabaca with Lamb Entrée

Schooners Coastal Kitchen Restaurant and Bar was once a rather formal venue, but has been reinvented as a Nuevo nautical delight, with a “farm to fork – sea to table” mission.  The room is modern, but chic and offers amazing ocean views with dinner to be enjoyed at tables or in cozy booths. James Waller, hotel Executive Chef has a talented group who are designing and serving some innovative presentations of old favorites, and creative new dishes that deserve notice. The Chef du Cuisine Boris Ilabaca, who is of Irish and Basque decent creates a lamb dish with favas any guest would love, especially when preceded by the signature rich and creamy artichoke soup. All seafood served in Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar is in agreement with the Seafood Watch Guide, a program the Monterey Bay Aquarium designed to raise consumer awareness about the importance of buying sustainable seafood.

Filet of Beef & Stuffed Lobster Entree

Filet of Beef & Stuffed Lobster Entree

The old line steak and lobster dish of bygone days at the restaurant has been improvised into a dish for two that combines a filet & whole lobster stuffed with shrimp and scallops that is that is modern in presentation, and down to the last bite magical in preparation, but the before dinner crème de la crème delight is a raw seafood appetizer served on a frozen block of pink Indian salt that is without doubt one of the most uniquely delicious appetizers I have ever experienced. Fine Monterey County wines and imported wines are included on their menu. The SLH Pinot Noir, recommended by Diego Anea, the hotel Director of Food & Beverage, was a perfect pairing for our Schooners dinner selections.

This venerable property has always been renowned for their decadent pastry creations, but the beautiful Lemon cake dessert, followed by two perfect chocolate covered strawberries was a unique fete accompli, and such a pleasurable ending.

Schooners Dessert

Schooners Dessert

The rooms and suites at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa are elegant, so comfortable and offer breathtaking ocean views. Every amenity desired is at your fingertips in this excellently run hotel. Vice President and General Manager John Narigi, along with his skilled staff provide optimum service to guests, while being warm and friendly at all times. Mr. Narigi, often invites guests to join his staff for wine & cheese tastings by the fireplace in the elegant Piano Lounge, where a bevy of wonderful cheese and local wines can be sampled, including Hahn and SLH local wines.

For golfers there is transportation to nearby courses and special rates. Monterey is considered a number one golf destination in the world by many golf aficionados. For visits to the aquarium they provide a free shuttle every twenty-minutes that picks up in front of the hotel. Getting around in the MontereyPeninsula area is easy, with maps and personal directions always available at the concierge desk. Enjoy!

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Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

400 Canary Row

Monterey California

(831) 646-1700

www.montereyplazahotel.com

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Bonnie Carroll

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www.lifebitesnews.com