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“Dated but comfortable”

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Asilomar Conference Grounds
Ranked #10 of 17 Hotels in Pacific Grove
GreenLeadersGold level
Reviewed December 1, 2013

There's so much that could be done to improve Asilomar, and yet it remains a favorite because of the tranquil setting, no tv (in rooms) and no phones. Oh, and don't forget the deer, beach, dunes, boardwalk and ocean just outside. There's a heated pool, bike rentals and nightly bonfires (you can purchase a s'mores kit).

That being said, although there is some refurbishing underway, ye olde rooms are just olde and in need of ye olde freshening.

A recent major refresh of the historic lobby, with its fabulous fireplace, pool tables, piano and famous hot cocoa, is really Nice. The staff here is excellent. However, like many state parks run by Aramark, it still seems a little bit like a government operation.

Our room, however, was very comfortable, with a fireplace and what seem to be nice, newer beds.

In terms of picking a room, we recommend an upstairs unit. The thin walls and ceilings make downstairs too noisy. While some have a partial ocean view we wouldn't pay extra for it given the proximity to the water. A fireplace is nice though, and free wood is provided.

Last, the food here is regrettably just sad. No matter how good it looks, prepare for mediocre. If only it were as sumptuous as the setting and architecture. While it's palatable and convenient, there are better choices a few minutes away by car in town. Breakfast, by the way, is served only until 9 am, which is great if you're attending a conference, but not so much if you want to sleep in.

  • Stayed: November 2013
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2  Thank Blahblahb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed November 30, 2013

Our family has been staying here for twenty years. It was always a highly anticipated and wonderful get away. It's an excellent home base for trips to Carmel, Point Lobos, Big Sur, Cannery Row, Monterey and the MB Aquarium which are all close.

It's a great "Conference Ground." It's a fabulous camp atmosphere on one of the most beautiful beaches in California. IT ISN'T A RESORT. Aramark in it's mission to squeeeeze every possible dime out of the location is calling it a "Resort." Not so, not even close.

They have jacked up the rates to all time highs and discontinued the "TRADITIONAL" breakfast that was a fixture for decades. Going down to breakfast and sitting with visitors from all over the globe was so awesome. Aramark just doesn't understand or care about the human connection aspect of their responsibilities at Asilomar.

You can still get the breakfast if you want to pay more than twice what you'd pay at any nice cafe for the same food.

The rooms are large but rustic, I like that. No TV (no problem for us) but the wifi is sporadic (big problem for us). Some "ocean view" rooms aren't unless you have x-ray vision and can see through trees. The bed was GREAT!!! We slept better than at home. Ocean view rooms, fireplaces, toilets, etc. are all upgrades and add additional lodging fees. (just joking about the toilets, I think)

Our room was pretty beat up this time but they are doing renovations. When everything is all spiffy the rates will probably go up again. We heard lots of remarks by other guests and a number of disingenuous excuses by embarrassed staff. To conclude, Aramark has ruined this destination for us.

Room Tip: If you want a real ocean view, ask for one of the Longview North. It's the only wing that actual...
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  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank edukehtoer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 29, 2013

I went to a conference at this location, and was surprised at the rustic accommodations and limited amenities. To be honest, I only glanced at the website briefly, but it looked very luxurious, and when I saw the cost I was convinced this must be the case. So I was quite surprised when I arrived to find no TV, no phone, no fridge and wire hangers in the closet. The room could have been better lit, and the heating was not very responsive. Wallpaper was peeling in the bathroom. I knew that the price included all meals, and honestly, the food was really good. I have some food allergies and am trying to eat healthier in general, and I had no problems meeting these goals with their menu options. The food was abundant, fresh and tasty. There are so many buildings on this property, and all are walkable. We had our conference meetings in the same building as our hotel rooms, so very convenient. A short walk will get you to the beach in no time. Overall it was a good experience, just some initial surprise at the accomodations.

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled on business
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1  Thank Canyontraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 16, 2013

Asilomar is lovely, convenient, but pricey. Rooms have no television or telephone, which wasn't a problem for me. Breakfast is not included and cost $14.00 extra. But the most disappointing aspect of Asilomar was that, after booking and rechecking my reservations several times, the front desk still had the reservations wrong. I booked for a small group, and had to haggle with the front desk for the historic rooms we'd reserved. One traveler in our group was charged for other people's breakfasts, including two children's meals. There were no children in our group. There were no apologies for any inconveniences. I'd rather camp than stay at Asilomar again. I'm sorry to say that. I used to live just a few blocks away, and always have enjoyed my visits there for conferences.

Room Tip: Be ready and willing to stand your ground if there are any errors in your reservations. Double and t...
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  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled on business
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Thank tehret
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 13, 2013

The grounds are very nice and the lodging and grounds are a 5 minute walk to the beach at Pacific Grove. The rooms are large but plain, the bathrooms could use some updating, and the beds are comfortable, but IMHO there isn't anything spectacular about Asilomar other than the grounds and the location. We had a room with a queen bed and 3 single beds for $180 on a Sunday night. That's a bit on the pricey side if the room is the only thing you're considering; but, again, it's all about the location. Breakfast is not included with the room (a separate adult breakfast is $14). There are outdoor gas fire pits near the rooms, and you can order a s'mores kit to roast marshmellows and make s'mores. Yum.

  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with family
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Thank TaiC242
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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4  Thank Alice514
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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Thank citysuburb
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 Blvd, Pacific Grove, CA 93950-3704
Phone Number:
Location: United States > California > Monterey County > Pacific Grove
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Green Hotel in Pacific Grove
#4 On the Beach Hotel in Pacific Grove
Price Range: $150 - $227 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2 star — Asilomar Conference Grounds 2*
Number of rooms: 312
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This refuge by the sea is a tranquil oceanfront retreat cradled by pine forests and white sand beaches. Situated along the shoreline of California's famed Monterey Bay, Asilomar offers historic lodging with views of the forest, surf and sand, plus unique conference spaces. ... more   less 
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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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