What an amazing hotel and beautiful area! My husband and I were at Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa for 5 days. I joined him on a business trip and we had a couple of days to spend on our own. (So it was a pleasure/relaxing trip for me). This hotel is A++. It is absolutely gorgeous -- sits overlooking Monterey Bay. If you can get a room with the view, I'd definitely recommend it -- way worth the price. The hotel amenities are great and it's beautifully decorated – from the lobby to the individual rooms. The food and atmosphere of both their Schooner's Bar (that also has outdoor seating overlooking the bay if weather permits) and newly renovated restaurant were great too - upscale and fresh.
The first few days we were there, the weather was not great - overcast and stormy. Although the rooms are very well insulated for noise, the waves were a bit loud the first few days. It wasn't really that bothersome, though, as it was kind of peaceful to hear the waves washing up and down the beach.
Out our hotel windows, we could see alot of activity including boats and sea otters. Plus many of the rooms facing the water have small balconies with a table and two chairs -- very nice.
From the hotel, we took several short walks down Cannery Row - which is right next to the hotel. There are several restaurants and quaint shops there as well as historical insights into the old canneries that used to be located there. At the end (just a couple of blocks) is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/, which is very popular and has programs to save/rehab both sea otters and white sharks. We ran out of time so didn't have a chance to check it out further.
One of the greatest parts of our trip was to be able to walk just past Cannery Row along the ocean shore toward Pacific Grove. There's a fabulous trail and wide walking/biking path and the views are stunning of the waves crashing on the beach. The best part for me was to see the huge number of seals basking on a sandy beach just down from the aquarium. They were there every day and were awesome. (See my photos).
The other fun thing we did while we were there (when the sun came out) was to take two short drives - one about 20 mins to the 17-mile drive around the Pebble Beach area. Beautiful area, golf courses and mansions. We had lunch at the Tap Room (bar) at Pebble - my husband was in heaven. The second drive we took was a bit longer (maybe an hour) down the coast to an area called Big Sur. Again, the road goes right along the coastline and the views of the big green hills rolling down to the ocean are tough to beat. (See photos). Overall, it was a fabulous stay at the hotel and the area sightseeing was beautiful and fun. I'd recommend the hotel for either business or pleasure.