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“Understanding is the key to enjoying” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Asilomar Conference Grounds

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Asilomar Conference Grounds
2.0 of 5 Resort   |   800 Asilomar Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA 93950   |  
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Ranked #10 of 17 hotels in Pacific Grove
GreenLeadersGold level
Northern California
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4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Understanding is the key to enjoying”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 5, 2013

I think the key to enjoying a stay at Asilomar is to have it very clear in your head exactly what the place is, and what it isn't. In a previous life one of my job duties was to help plan an annual conference at Asilomar, and to tabulate the results of the participant satisfaction survey. So years later, when I decided to check the place out for myself as an overnight guest, I had a pretty good idea what awaited me.

What Asilomar is:
*A former YWCA with buildings designed by famed architect Julia Morgan. The original (aka "historic" buildings) were built to be rustic like summer camp. They are 100 years old. The floors creak and the walls are thin. No, there are no televisions or telephones in the rooms.
*First and foremost it is a conference center, so their focus is not on providing the kinds of amenities one would expect in a luxury hotel. It is NOT a luxury hotel.

What Asilomar isn't:
*A resort or a spa.

The reason I decided to take a solo trip to Asilomar was that I wanted a quiet getaway for just me. I wanted someplace that was near the beach, but not a noisy, bustling beach like at Santa Cruz. I wanted something that was rustic and free from urban distractions, where I could just sit and read a book, maybe listen to some quiet music in front of a roaring fire. I had planned on getting one of the older "historic" rooms, because I'm always willing to give unique lodgings a try (and they're a bit cheaper), but the only availability was in one of the newer "Asilomar" rooms, which were built in the late 70s or early 80s, but were designed to complement the existing style. This ended up working in my favor, because the historic rooms don't have in-room fireplaces, and I very much enjoyed having the fire. Yes, the rooms could do with some updating, particularly in the bathroom. A new vanity would do wonders. But I was there for rusticity, not marble counters. My room was in a building that was across the road from the main compound. Con: walking up a small hill; Pro: beautiful wooded area. My room was large, and the stone fireplace dominated the room. Bundles of wood and kindling, as well as matches, are provided. There was a nice little balcony with a woodsy view. Be sure to get a second story room for the balcony. The first floor rooms have a little patio, which isn't as private.



Asilomar State Beach is a very short walk from the main buildings, through the dunes, and across a moderately busy road (drivers do yield consistently). The beach is great. Not too big, not too small. The sand is white and clean (except for what washes up in the tide) and the waves were better than I've seen in Santa Cruz. It is animal-friendly, and it's fun to watch dog owners play with their pets in the waves. There are some rock outcroppings with small tide pools. There is a boardwalk through the dunes that allows people to walk all the way up to the Inn at Spanish Bay, if one so chooses. I've heard they have a bagpiper there at sunset, but he must have had the day off. Signs say that bonfires are not allowed, but I saw numerous groups disobeying that particular rule-- some were even seated right next to the sign that said "No fires."

Meals are at Crocker Dining Hall. Breakfast is generally included for overnight guests, but the dinner prices are pretty exorbitant. So for dinner I chose to get take-out from the Fishwife restaurant which is across the street, well within walking distance, from the grounds. Based on my sole piccata, I would recommend them. I chose to dine in my room, with my fire and bottle of sparkling wine, but if you choose to eat at the restaurant, I advise calling ahead for a reservation. I was somewhat nervous about breakfast in the morning, because I know that seating is family-style around large round tables, and I'm kind of a keep-to-myself kind of girl. I also know that service is a cafeteria-style/family-style hybrid, and I had this idea in my head that we'd be using old-school sectioned metal trays. I don't know where I got this idea from, except that I keep thinking of Asilomar as summer camp. The reality is that they take your meal ticket and direct you to a (short) line where the entree is served on restaurant-quality white china. There is only one hot entree offered, but I was more than happy with the selection (chorizo hash with scrambled eggs). If you're not crazy about the hot entree, alternate options such as cereal, oatmeal, or Greek yogurt, with granola or other toppings are available at the counter. At the table there is a lazy Susan in the center with various pastries, fruit, orange juice and coffee. I had to hunt down tea and hot water. Fortunately I was seated with some nice people, and the conversation was pleasant. My only real complaint about the meal setup was that there are no trays to help you carry your food to the table. So balancing my entree, bowl of yogurt and glass of milk was difficult.

I have to admit, that my main issue with the place is the cost. In my world $200 a night is pretty steep. Of course, in the Carmel/Monterey/Pacific Grove area that's a decent price. If you're looking for a charming inn, there are plenty of those around. If you're interested in a unique experience, with a little history, and you've got an open mind, give Asilomar a go.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
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Washington, DC
Top Contributor
92 reviews 92 reviews
28 hotel reviews
Reviews in 38 cities Reviews in 38 cities
58 helpful votes 58 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 30, 2013

I stayed here two nights in a newer room with a balcony and a fireplace. i stayed here a few years ago and was in an original arts and crafts room, which i initially was disappointed not to have this time. but, the balcony was so nice to have as was the fireplace. these rooms are dated but clean and have everything you need. the wifi is excellent in the rooms and common areas. the grounds are well kept and you absolutely cannot beat the location. i found the food in the dining area to be restrictive (you get what you get with very few choices) but very good - always lots of fruit and salad to be had as well. the main lodge is nice. i found the reception staff to be sometimes welcoming and engaged and other times bothered. i can only hope i get to go back to asilomar again!

Room Tip: some of the rooms are very far from the main lodge and dining house - you should try and request a c...
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Frankfort, Michigan
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 30, 2013

We elected to stay in one of their historic rooms and it was exactly as presented on their web site... small, dark paneling, small bathroom and quaint. To be honest, next time I might opt for one of the new rooms instead. It's a great location and property and I'm generally a fan of historic properties.... but a little more space and a bigger bathroom would be better for two people. There's no room for your suitcase and not much light in the room. It appears that the newer rooms have outdoor balconies which would be nice. The lounge in the main building is gorgeous... big fireplace, pool tables. The property is on the ocean via a short (under 5 min) walk along their boardwalk. I was surprised to find that breakfast is an additional $14 per person. There is Wi-Fi in the rooms but no TV or phone service. The location isn't walkable to anything... it's a get in your car place.

Room Tip: Historic rooms are small, dark paneling, few windows and small bathrooms with shower stall only... l...
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Top Contributor
140 reviews 140 reviews
31 hotel reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
121 helpful votes 121 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 20, 2013

Traveling through the Carmel/Monterey, California area, Asilomar is a unique place to stay. Asilomar is a "Conference Center" that caters to small and large groups for "Off-Site" Meetings. Asilomar is a great location for this, but a bit "dodgy" for a overnight hotel location. The good news; Asilomar is located right next to the small, charming City of Carmel, California and Asilomar is very "price competitive" in this area. However, the Arrowmark operated, California State owned facility is like staying at a Boy Scout Camp, read "shared rooms", minimal dorm room style, and poor food on site. It is what it is. no dinners on this site.

My suggestion is if you are traveling through the area... Pick another place to stay.

Room Tip: There are some dorm rooms near the Pacific Ocean, of course we were not located there.
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Fremont, California
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
32 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 18, 2013

We stayed here over the July 4th weekend. Its quiet environment and close proximity to the beach make it a good choice for family retreat. The rooms are sparsely furnished. As advertised, there's no TV or phone in the room, but free WiFi is available. Another inconvenience is that they only have a couple of ice machines (freezers) for the entire site. It's also very dark outside the buildings at night, so you might have some trouble getting around. Breakfast is included but it's just average. The lines might be long if there are large groups around. Its price in general is not cheap, but it would be a bargain during the Monterey Car Week in August as all other hotels and motels jack up their rates to some ridiculous prices.

Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
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Vacaville, California
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 17, 2013

If you want beautiful views, a peaceful place to relax, the perfect place for yourself or the family, then Asilomar is for you and yours. I just got back after three days of attending a conference. It's hard to believe I was at work and yet I am so relaxed. The grounds are large so getting some exercise is a given, but the scenery is so beautiful and the fresh air is amazing. The rooms are comfortable, not luxurious, but have all the necessary amenities. The beach is just steps away. Even the deer come out and play. I went two years ago with my family and had a terrific time also. Work or play I recommend Asilomar for a great place to stay when going on a vacation that is more relaxation than get up and go.

Room Tip: Upstairs to get a good view of the beach or Pebble Beach golf course.
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Green Features: I thought they did a good job. Recycling in the rooms.
  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tiburon, CA
Top Contributor
244 reviews 244 reviews
51 hotel reviews
Reviews in 66 cities Reviews in 66 cities
101 helpful votes 101 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 15, 2013

We have stayed at Asilomar four times and love the ambience; relaxed, great views, the ocean at your doorstep, wildlife. The gamble , if you are not with a group, is that you cannot specify the room block that you would like. Some are a lot more modern than others. Some are downright gloomy.
This time we had a nice room in a more modern block, with a balcony and views of deer and squirrels close by.
Our room had two double beds, but there was no reading light at the second bed. The sliding door to the balcony was badly corroded and very difficult to latch closed, so they installed a drop-down bar instead of fixing the door. The shower head was encrusted and would not move from one position. Taps were all set to deliver a thin stream of water, in the name of conservation; however, all it does is make you use twice as much of the thin stream. Two basins and a very efficient bathroom extractor fan.
There is no TV in the rooms but it is being considered. WiFi was available in our room but was a bit weak.
Breakfast is no longer included in the price of the room and costs $14 per person. It is a good breakfast but choice is now more limited than before....only one choice of egg, and is expensive for those who wish to have a light breakfast. To cater for the light breakfast there is now a small, but nice cafe in the visitor center, with oatmeal, fruit and pastries, as well as coffee.

Room Tip: Try to get a room in a more modern block. Avoid the older rooms.
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Green Features: While they have some commendable practices in and around the grounds, the rationing of water in the bathrooms is a bit silly.
  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Asilomar Conference Grounds

Address: 800 Asilomar Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA 93950
Phone Number:
Location: United States > California > Monterey Peninsula > Pacific Grove
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #10 of 17 hotels in Pacific Grove
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:2 star — Asilomar Conference Grounds 2*
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Also Known As:
Asilomar Conference Grounds Hotel Pacific Grove
Asilomar Conference Grounds Pacific Grove
Asilomar Conference Center
Asilomar Hotel

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