My brother and I stayed at the Monterey Plaza over Christmas 2012. There were other lower cost options in the Carmel/Monterey area including the Marriott, but we splurged a little for something better. Fortunately, we were not disappointed.
While it was a little irritating to pay a $25 daily "service fee," we were overly impressed by the number of hotel service staff and their positive attitudes. This was shown by the bellman, front desk, lobby, housekeeping -- we travel all over the world and have to say this is some of the nicest staff we have ever encountered. There were 6-10 bellmen on staff (there were alot and we were surprised), but they were running on car valets, luggage, etc. All well trained. We understand why this is an award winner from Trip Advisor -- and very well deserved.
The rooms have a classy feeling of older furniture, but they are definitely not 'dated.' It's not the W hotel -- nothing contemporary, but more like furniture of your parents. But it is very well maintained, large rooms and newer mattresses. Overall, very nice accommodations including a lovely real Christmas tree in the lobby.
We definitely would stay here again!