Hyatt Carmel Highlands

Last week, my wife, son, and I vacationed in California at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands.  The hotel is on Highway 1 just south of Carmel and just north of Big Sur.  The Hyatt Carmel Highlands is a Hyatt category 6 hotel.  As such, rooms are available for 25,000 points per night.  And suites are available for 40,000 points per night.  We opted, instead, to pay with Points + Cash: 12,500 points & $150 per night.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Point Prices

During the brief period in which Hyatt was matching almost everyone to Diamond status, my wife was able to match her Hilton Gold status to Hyatt Diamond (and she later matched her Hyatt Diamond to Hilton Diamond!).  With her new found Hyatt Diamond status, she had 4 suite upgrade certificates that would expire at the end of February.  So, we called to apply one of the upgrades.  Interestingly, online, the Points + Cash rate was not available for one of the nights we wanted, but the phone agent was able to book it without trouble.  And, the upgrade too was easily applied.  We then had a confirmed booking in the Ocean View Townhouse Spa Suite which would otherwise sell for $689 per night:

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Suite Price

I previously wrote that those without Diamond status can book the Points + Cash rate and then use 6,000 points per night to upgrade, for a total of $150 (+ taxes) and 18,500 points per night.  It turns out, though, that Hyatt cannot combine points + cash with 6000 point upgrades.  As far as I know, the only options for those without Diamond status are: 1) Book a suite for 40,000 points per night (3 night stay minimum); 2) Book a regular room and check to see if you are offered an option to buy up to a suite via the eStandby program (one commenter was offered the upgrade for only $39 per night); 3) Book the suite directly; or 4) Book a two night package through their timeshare sales department and negotiate an upgrade (I have no idea if this would work, but its worth a try).  You can find their timeshare offer here.

The Hyatt Carmel Highlands suite is a two story townhouse with a living room (which has a comfortable pull-out sofa) and fireplace), kitchen, and bathroom on the main floor.  The master bedroom & bath is downstairs.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Review

Overall, we loved the vacation.  The Hyatt Carmel Highlands and the surrounding area are incredibly beautiful.  Thanks to having diamond status, breakfast in their California Market restaurant was free.  If we didn’t have diamond status, though, we could have easily made more use of the suite’s full kitchen.  We passed on the hotel’s extremely expensive dinner restaurant: Pacific Edge, but we did order room service a couple of times and it was very good.  On Valentine’s Day we had reservations for the restaurant, but cancelled.  We later learned that we missed out on dining with Robert Redford.  Bummer.

Our townhouse suite was very comfortable, and the views from the suite balcony were amazing.  Going north, the hotel is only about a mile from the incredible Point Lobos State Park.  A few miles past there, you get to the beautiful towns of Carmel and Pacific Grove.  And, just past Pacific Grove, you’ll find the famous Monterey Aquarium.  Just to the south of the hotel is perhaps the most stunning parts of Highway 1 – in the area called Big Sur.

I’ll let photos do the rest of the speaking…

Living Room:

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Living Room

View from balcony (looking to the right):

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Balcony View

Sunset view from balcony (looking to the left):

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Balcony Sunset View

Kitchen:

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Kitchen

Full bathroom on main floor:

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Upstairs Bathroom

Master bedroom (downstairs):

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Master Bedroom

Master bathroom (downstairs):

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Master Bathroom

Point Lobos State Park:

Point Lobos

Point Lobos 4  Point Lobos 2

Pacific Grove:

Pacific Grove

Monterey Aquarium:

Monterey Aquarium

Bixby Bridge (on Highway 1, south of Carmel Highlands):

Bixby Bridge

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (on Highway 1, south of Carmel Highlands):

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park 2

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Andrew Molera State Park (on Highway 1, south of Carmel Highlands):

Andrew Molera State Park 2

Andrew Molera State Park

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. FM- When attempting to upgrade from a Cash and Points booking and no Diamond status, do you call the hotel directly to upgrade with the 6000 extra points or call Hyatt?

    Thanks

  2. Greg, a couple of notes from a Californian:

    1. Those aren’t condors; they’re just swirling turkey vultures. They’re missing the while plumage beneath the wings, and they’re smaller than condors. A flock of condors would be truly historic at this point.

    2. Highway 1 through Big Sur isn’t called Pacific Coast Highway. It’s technically called the Cabrillo Highway at that point, but virtually everyone just calls it Highway 1.

      • To quote a bird nerd friend of mine, “If there’s any doubt that it’s a condor, it’s not a condor.”

        Take a closer look at some of your photos, because condors sometimes associate with those swirling groups of turkey vultures. There may be one in there somewhere.

        • And regardless, just because the turkey vultures aren’t condors doesn’t mean they’re not impressive animals.

  3. Also, was there no bathtub or is it just outside the photo?
    Thanks for the review. I’ve got my eye on a stay there. It looks like such a beautiful hotel, and we loved that area when we lived in the Bay Area. I’d really like to take the kids there sometime and add in a visit to the Monterey Bay aquarium.

  4. Hey Greg,

    Similar to Chris S., I questioned whether any of these are condors. Turkey vultures are common along the coast and they are large compared to most birds with a six-foot wingspan. California condors are immense with an adult wingspan around nine feet.

    Adult California Condors have white feathers underneath.

    The key to confirmation is spotting a tag on the wings. Condors are so rare, about 50 on the Coast, they are tagged with large number ID.

    A group of condors is not unheard of in sightings. I questioned a friend who said she saw five condors at McWay Falls (in your Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park photo) in June 2014. Then I saw her photos and they were all tagged condors.

    I have only had two confirmed condor sightings around these parts in past decade.

    I will look for my Loyalty Travelet post from 12-12-12 when I photographed two condors, mom and son, at Garrapata State Park about eight miles south of Hyatt Highlands Inn.

  5. Hi Greg, I’ve heard from Hyatt’s Twitter account 6,000 point suite upgrades can’t be done with cash and points bookings. Was the agent just misinformed? Is there a specific way in going about confirming such an upgrade?

    • I’m pretty sure the agent was misinformed, but I guess there’s a small chance that the rules for upgrading with points are different than the rules for upgrading with a diamond upgrade. Anyone else know for sure?

      UPDATE: The Twitter agent was correct. I’ve updated this post.

      • I know they won’t let you use points to upgrade certain rates such as AAA. I did t really press the issue when it was brought up, but if anyone has a different experience, I’ll be sure to next time 🙂

  6. Thanks for your review, especially as there are a few f FTs who post discouraging comments about this property. Management here is wonderful and so is the staff We own a vacation ownership at this property for the past 4 years and always show up in mid July to enjoy all the beautiful sights that your photos capture so well. In addition, there are several very nice wineries in Carmel Valley.

  7. Thanks for your timely review – my wife and I will be using our 2 free nights there next weekend!

    I can’t wait. First 2 nights away from the kids since they started popping out 4 years ago. Glad there was a cat 6 to “blow” our free nights on just a couple hours away.

    • I got a similar upgrade last year using the eStandby upgrade.

      Overall it’s a great property in an awesome location. You can also get a pretty good deal if you don’t mind attending a “sales presentation” as the property is also a vacation owenership, i.e., timeshare location in the Hyatt Residence Club.

  8. “Dining with Robert Redford” and sitting in the same restaurant eating as Robert Redford are two completely different things.

  9. Nice review! I’m scheduled to visit this hotel next week and booked an ocean view king with my free Chase Hyatt Visa nights. It looks like a spectacular place. One question though-my sense is that the hotel is technically above or east of Hwy 1 even though you cannot see Hwy 1 between you and the ocean in any of your or the hotel’s pictures. If this is the case, did you ever hear any road noise coming off Hwy 1?

    My thanks again for the excellent presentation!

    • Highway 1 is down through the trees. Not really a problem. At night very few cars on that road anyway. We left the small windows open at night to keep the room cool, and nothing woke us up. YMMV.

  10. We were in room 504 in early Feb. Great property and location!

    A couple notes:

    1) The sofa is a pullout, great for parking the kiddos upstairs. Not so great when you have to trot up and down to find lost blankies, etc.

    2) The jacuzzi tub in our room had weird controls. The handles weren’t labelled for hot/cold, nor for direction of on/off, nor did they have stops at end of travel. So we kept having to futz with them to figure them out, it is idiotic ergonomics. Also the jacuzzi tub has some push-button controls for the jets with icons, and no placard, so you have to experiment to figure it out. We had the problem repeatedly that we couldn’t figure out how to turn it off. We’d hit something that would seem to turn it off, then 20 minutes later it’d come back on and the 2nd time same button would shut it off. We got in habit of not draining water for some while just to make sure jets wouldn’t come back on while empty of water.

    3) There is a Safeway a few miles north on the right.

    Lovely property, will probably burn more DSU here!

  11. Like others, I need to find out if suite upgrades are possible for non-elites. I’m thinking about pickinng up the Hyatt CC and as such would have 2 free nights. However, we’d need a suite (travelling with a 19 month old is not fun otherwise). Like others, I need to find out what the rules are for suite upgrade (in my case I would have 2 free nights + points/cash for additional nights possibly). I’ll probably have to call and ask, although I’m not always confident I’d get accurate information. Hoping someone else can chime in with any experience with this..

    • Unfortunately, you cannot apply a suite upgrade to a free night booked entirely with points or with free night vouchers. Your best bet (if you go the Hyatt credit card route) is to book one night with points & cash and upgrade that with points (assuming it can be done — I believe so) and then book the next two nights with your certificate. Then, hope that the hotel is generous enough to keep you in the suite for the whole stay.
      .
      Another option is to get Ultimate Rewards points (by signing up for the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus card, for example), then transfer points to Hyatt, then book points + cash, then upgrade with 6,000 points per night.

      • Sounds like hyatt free nights aren’t very valuable for non-elites who will only stay at suites?

        If I go with YMMV option#1 and book 1-2 nights on cash+ points w/ 6k suite upgrade and then use the two free night certs on the back end and they opt to boot us mid-stay my wife wouldn’t be too pleased! Thoughts on calling the hotel and asking directly? It’s one of those things where I’m not sure if its wise to call but at the same time I’m not interested in YMMV being told to pay up or leave the suite mid-stay.

        I have plenty of points, enough to cover the entire 3-4 night stay in fact. My main goal was capitalizing on the Hyatt CC before the ship sails and the Carmel location has been on my radar for a while now.

  12. Wow, I was wrong about the suite upgrades! Just called Hyatt Gold Passport and spoke with an agent and then a supervisor who both confirmed that you cannot apply 6,000 point upgrades to a points+cash stay. I will update the post ASAP.

  13. That location is in my top 5 in the world for sheer beauty. Plus the speak English and it’s not island food! Thanks for the write up.

  14. Here is my Loyalty Traveler post of the two condors I saw on 12-12-12 feeding on a sea lion carcass. http://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2012/12/12/wild-california-condors-of-big-sur/

    As far as mis-identification of birds goes, when I was at TBEX Toronto in 2013, I went on a canoe paddle tour and the guide pointed out a swan, stating it was a rare Trumpeter Swan. I took about a hundred photos and later that same day saw another similar looking swan (same one?) and took dozens more photos.

    After posting my photos and stating how remarkably fortunate I was to see two rare trumpeter swans in one day, I did research and realized the color markings were wrong. I had photographed a common species Mute Swan.

  15. I should know the answer to this, but if you book with cash + points, do you then earn points for your stay (where booking with points would not earn any points for the stay)? Thank you

  16. On a somewhat unrelated note (I did not know where else to post this), I recently (early February) went to the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall using my wife’s and my free nights from the credit card sign up. We used three nights, and booked a standard room over the phone with the gold passport service. When we arrived, we were told that we were upgraded to a swim up suite for free! They told us we were upgraded simply because I was a platinum member (automatic with the credit card)! The only explanation I could think of was that we were there at a slow time of the year. We loved it, and it was definitely a good use of the free nights for us!

  17. FM: What was the itinerary for your trip? (Where did you fly into, and how long did you spend in Carmel and anywhere else?) Trying to plan a trip to that area myself.

    • Flew into SFO. Arrived Sat night. Stayed first night at Marriott SFO Waterfront. Hertz car was supposed to be waiting for us at the hotel the next morning but was actually at a different Marriott so we had to Uber over there to pick up the car (Hertz was no help). Drove to Hyatt on Sunday. Friday returned to Marriott SFO Waterfront for one night since we had a 6:15 am flight the next morning. Was able to leave car there.

      Sunday: most of day spend driving through horrible traffic. Arrived at glorious property and didn’t want to get back in car. Ordered room service, watched sunset, time in hot tub near pool, talked with neighbors on next balcony. Was a great evening actually

      Activities during week there: lots of hiking; drove the $10 17 mile drive (and stopped often to climb rocks and walk about); Monterrey aquarium; drove scenic oceanside road from aquarium through Pacific Grove (just as nice as 17 mile drive in my opinion and free); and did the Carmel Food tour (great way to experience Carmel if you like wine)

  18. After looking at those pictures. Last time I was there was 5 years ago. I can’t wait to go back again. Thanks for sharing and reminding me.

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