Asilomar State Beach and its accompanying conference center are among the most well-known destinations on the Monterey Peninsula. It’s surprising, therefore, that several other nearby locations are among the same area’s most unheralded accommodation choices.
Built in 1983, Pacific Gardens Inn has undergone a recent ownership change, just in time for the 28-room facility’s 25th anniversary.
“What we offer is totally opposite of what you would experience in downtown Monterey,” explained new owner Robert Boerner, who lives four blocks from the inn with his wife Lorraine and sons Dean and Eric. “I don’t mean anything disrespectful to any other style property. But here, it’s more like staying in Yosemite or being in the woods.”
Situated among Monterey cypress, pine and oak trees, Pacific Gardens Inn offers simple, reasonably priced accommodations all made more endearing by the nearby forest and oceanside footpaths.
During a recent two-night visit, my wife and I and another couple each stayed near the street in two rooms in adjacent building. The property has five buildings, with varying sizes featuring one queen bed to family-oriented suites. Nearly all of the rooms feature natural wood-burning fireplaces
The rooms and a circular driveway and parking lot are all configured around the small lobby and accompanying sitting room. It serves as the breakfast area and as the afternoon gathering place for the inn’s daily casual wine and cheese social.
Our upstairs room was casually appointed, clean quiet and spacious, and it had the expected features — refrigerator, ironing board and iron, hair dryer, coffee maker, telephone, cable television and alarm clock.
The Monterey Peninsula isn’t known for its particularly strong water pressure. But the Pacific Gardens Inn was a surprise. The shower pressure was powerful and there was plenty of hot water. One small extra touch: Each room features a popcorn maker and popcorn.
A continental breakfast — sweet rolls, muffins, fresh fruit, bagels, scones and several beverage choices — is served daily in the casual lobby sitting room. A guest use computer is available as is the local daily newspaper and other area publications.
On both mornings of our stay, I ran along the nearby road — the famous 17-mile drive — that parallels the Pacific Ocean. It’s accessed via a short walk through the Asilomar parking lot and then along a wooden plank walkway. One morning I ran toward Pacific Grove, the next day toward Carmel and the picturesque views approaching Point Joe.
Although I didn’t see any wildlife on my runs, several deer meandered onto the property and entertained breakfast guests one morning. They’re a common site, according to Boerner, who says he does little hedge trimming at the inn thanks to deers’ appetites. Foxes and raccoons are also common in the area.
“I think we have guests here who just like to relax and not have any of the intimidation factor of hotels,” said Boerner. “If people want to come over to breakfast in their pajamas they do it and they feel comfortable.”
Boerner is an involved owner. He’s spent two decades in the hospitality industry, most notably working for Pebble Beach Company. During our stay, Boerner mingled often with guests, and he’s quick to offer an assist recommending a local restaurant or his expertise on the area’s sightseeing highlights.
Boerner’s outgoing personality and the inn’s low-key approach making it a favorite for visiting professional golfers and celebrities. Comedian/actor Bill Murray and Champions Tour player Scott Simpson, for example, are frequent guests.
(Pacific Gardens Inn, 701 Asilomar Blvd., Pacific Grove, CA, 93950. Tel. 831-646-9414; 800-262-1566; Fax 831-647-0555; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: www.pacificgardensinn.com.)