Locals living in the Monterey Bay area know about hidden beaches, where to walk your dog off leash and the best places to go for fresh caught fish. Today, I’m going to let you in on a little secret that I should probably keep for only my best friends. One of my favorite recent hotel finds was Sanctuary Beach Resort in Marina, California. It’s one of those beach hotels where you ask yourself “why didn’t I know about this place?” It’s located conveniently off Highway 1, between Monterey and Seaside.
Marina doesn’t have the name recognition that Cannery Row, Pebble Beach, Big Sur and Carmel Valley rely on. Instead, it’s got off the beaten path-cred. In fact, my husband and I have zoomed past this eco-friendly resort more times than I care to admit due to its tucked-away location. The entrance is rather simplistic, but once you park your car and register with reception the fun begins. If you are traveling with your four-legged friend, he or she will be in heaven as soon as they step in the front door.
Pets visiting Sanctuary Beach Resort have their name written on the welcome chalk board. If you happen to own a Labrador Retriever, you’ll be very aware of the bottomless bowl of dog treats and clean water dish next to it. Our dog thought she had hit the mother lode. The scene kind of reminded me of taking a shot of whiskey with a beer chaser; substitute dog bones & water for the alcohol and you have one happy puppy!
As for hotel guests; you’ll be happy too when you hop on the golf cart and are whisked away to your room with a view. We scored with an ocean front, upstairs suite with gas fireplace and a private balcony. We could watch the sunset from the privacy of our pet-friendly balcony or join other guests sitting in Adirondack chairs on the beach by the fire pit.
Anyone who has traveled to Monterey knows that agriculture is very important to this part of the state. Nearby Salinas is called the salad bowl of the world; responsible for growing nearly 70% of the nation’s lettuce and nextdoor neighbor Castroville, grows world-famous artichokes, while Watsonville is bursting with strawberries and Carmel Valley boasts row after row of vineyards. The scenery takes center stage at this resort, but the food is not to be missed.
You’ll want to show up for the complimentary cheese & wine party, held nightly from 4-5 p.m. on the lawn. If you like an early dinner, make reservations at the on-property Salt Wood Kitchen and Oysterette, timed with the sunset. Dine on the (pet-friendly) back patio with the heat lamps and yes, more fire pits. Order the whole fish for two – fresh fish from the Monterey Bay – it’s an Instagram-worthy presentation and it tastes as good as it looks. There’s a private dining room attached to the indoor dining area, perfect for a wedding reception or private event.
After a day on the beach, by the swimming pool or on the beach volleyball court, save room in your tummy for s’mores. There’s s’mores kits in room, along with other goodies by the honor bar, but the kits carry Pebble Beach level price tags.
The next morning we were ready to enjoy our breakfast picnic basket filled with items that we had selected the night prior. There is an additional charge for the breakfast basket, but the quality of the baked goods, quiche and granola were quite impressive.
Rates start at $189, depending on the season, with prices rising on weekends. Rates include wine & cheese reception, complimentary wifi, robes in room and complimentary parking. The eco-friendly resort utilizes drought resistant landscaping (we have water issues in California) recyclable food boxes for leftovers and biodegradable drinking cups. I also liked that the resort was car-free by the beach suites and family-friendly cottages. Make your reservation directly online with the Sanctuary Beach Resort or through an online booking site such as Travelocity.
Sanctuary Beach Resort review and photos by San Francisco-based travel, food, and wine writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Sanctuary Beach Resort for review purposes, however, all opinions are my own.