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Mariposa Inn & Suites: Monterey’s Hidden, Renovated Surprise

It’s not an official name, but travelers to the Monterey Peninsula have the largest selection of motel and hotel rooms along “Motel-Hotel Row” in Monterey.

KingFireplaceThe properties extend from nearly downtown Monterey toward Highway 1 on Munras Ave. There are a handful of choices on the east side of the street and a vast selection on the west side. Budget locations to a new suite-dominated property, national chain-operated locales to family owned facilities, if you’re in need of a room in a central location, it’s a hard place to beat.

With rare exception (the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February or Auto Week in August) visitors can usually find a reasonably priced room, ideally situated between downtown Monterey and only a few miles from Carmel.

If there’s a downside, some of the locations are more than 50 years old, and their respective reputations as “inexpensive charm” have digressed to a more appropriate description — “in need of renovation.”

The last property on the west side of Munras Ave., just prior to entering the Highway 1 is Mariposa Inn & Suites. Like many of its neighboring locations, the Mariposa Inn & Suites is nearly 50 years old. And earlier this year, its owners and the new general manager, Joy Anderson, decided the Mariposa Inn had seen better days. A complete renovation began this spring.

The Mariposa Inn & Suites has 50 rooms, smaller front-of-the-property rooms near Munras Ave. as well as a variety of single and double-floor executive suites and spa suites.

With the exception of garage parking that resembles a public parking garage (not that there’s anything wrong with that), any signs of the motel’s yesteryear are gone. Décor colors “Jewel Tones” — purples and browns and golden — replaced drab. A local artist’s underwater renderings of Monterey Bay sea critters decorate the walls. Raised sinks, iPod stations and “green” considerations like environmentally constructed sheets (35 percent bamboo) are standard features, and so is cleanliness.

All rooms also have a microwave oven and refrigerator and a vast list of other features: gas fireplace, air conditioning, cable television with premium HBO, hair dryer, ice bucket with glasses, coffee maker, workspace, clock radio and ironing board and iron.

Wifi and Ethernet are available throughout the property. And The Mariposa Inn & Suite’s renovation also includes small details, a new modern logo of the Mariposa butterfly, for example, is featured throughout the location.

“The comments were getting is that even though the rooms are contemporary, they have a warm feeling,” explained Anderson, who with her husband assuming managing (and living) on the property less than a year ago. “We’re just trying to go a little more upscale than some of the other places.”

During my recent four-night stay, I had a top-floor suite. It had a king-sized bed, fireplace, flat screen television above the fireplace and a small flat screen television in the sitting room.

Anderson is quick to point out the Mariposa Inn & Suites has one issue — it’s hard to find. That’s not exactly true, and it’s not a bad thing, either. A new stone sign for the Inn is situated on Munras Ave., although it’s sufficiently illuminated at night. More important, most of the rooms are not visible from the road, and that adds to the quietness of the location.

During my stay, I also discovered a new section of Monterey. A half-block south, Munras Ave. connects with a residential neighborhood that features parallels surface streets that progress into downtown Monterey. Most mornings during my stay, the back roads made for an ideal running route to the famed two Fisherman’s Wharfs and back.

A substantial continental breakfast is available daily, with a small indoor eating area and a few tables outside, near the entrance to a vast pool and garden.

The Mariposa Inn & Suites is also convenient for at least two additional reasons. It’s located across the street from the Del Monte Shopping Center (shops, restaurants, movie theaters) and it’s also on the route of Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST). Visitors who wish to travel to nearby Carmel but don’t wish to bother with parking can conveniently utilize public transportation.

As the Christmas holiday approaches, Anderson will introduce a shop and dine special. Mariposa Inn guests who visit the shopping center can bring their gifts to inn’s staff. They’ll wrap the items for free when the guest returns at the end of the next business day.

(Mariposa Inn & Suites, 1386 Munras Ave., Monterey, CA 93940. Tel. 831-649-1414, 800-824-2295; General Manager: Joy Anderson, E-mail: gm@mariposamonterey.com; Web site: mariposamonterey.com. Single rooms with queen beds are priced beginning at $99, single rooms/with king beds begin at $119.)