1700 17 Mile Drive
The goosebumps shot like a lightning bolt from the back of my neck to the tip of my toes as I entered into Google Maps the address for The Lodge at Pebble Beach. Over four months of anticipation, and a lifetime's worth of dreaming, had finally reached a crescendo; we were en route to the most famous golf resort in the world.
Of course it was the golf which was responsible for all of this excitement, with The Lodge being relegated to a mere bonus feature of our two day visit to this storied resort. There are few places in the world with the power to overrule my mild obsession with hotels, but one of them is most definitely Pebble Beach.
The final 15 minutes of our drive into the resort were some of the most surreal of my life. We pulled off Highway 1 and approached the gate for the 17 Mile Drive. There my mind was officially blown; Pebble Beach is so awesome, they charge sightseers $10 for the privilege of driving by. OK, some will argue there's a lot more to the 17 Mile Drive, but let's be honest, it's Pebble Beach which draws them in.
|The unassuming entrance to The Lodge|
What was left of my brain self destructed as we turned onto the small road leading to The Lodge. The final round of a Senior PGA Tour event was taking place, and here we were driving right through the middle of it. The marshalls between the 2nd and 3rd holes literally had to stop the spectators from crossing the road just so we could pass. Did I mention we did all of this with the top down on our rented Mustang convertible?
|Yes...I was a little excited.|
Unlike many resorts, The Lodge at Pebble Beach is without the bustling porteco with valets and bellman running every which way. Instead, a small round-a-bout adjacent to the putting green is where guests park while checking in to the resort. Since I was now DWB - driving without brain - I passed right by it and had to do an awkward U-turn right in front of four US Open champions. I was only slightly mortified.
|You can't really blame me for being distracted.|
To my utter disbelief, the desk agent didn't seem to carry the same level of enthusiasm as I did at that moment. The check-in process took about 45 seconds, and there were no more than 14 words exchanged between the two of us. Usually this sort of thing would set off an air raid siren in my head, but I was riding on such a high that the agent got a free pass.
|I'm told the trophy on the far left is sort of a big deal.|
The Lodge is comprised of several buildings which surround the clubhouse area, as well as the 18th green of Pebble Beach. We were fortunate to score room 335, where a tall hedge was all that separated our front door from the first tee of the golf course. Just as my brain had started to regenerate, I heard someone announce: "Now on the tee...3 time US Open Champion...Hale Irwin."
|#1 tee...Our room was directly behind that sign.|
After the bellman set up all of our luggage, I took a look around the room and realized that something wasn't quite right. We booked a standard room with a garden view, however I was looking at something far too big to be considered "standard." I was convinced we had scored an upgrade, which set me off on a frenzy of exploration.
Although it was basically one giant room, the sleeping and living areas felt separate in their layout. There was a full sofa and sitting chair which faced the flat screen TV, the most incredible mini-bar I've ever laid eyes on, and to top it all off...a fireplace. Sure, it was the middle of summer, but it was also 50 degrees outside, and how often do Floridians get to the chance to make a fire...in a hotel...in July?
A separate dressing area led to an awesomely appointed bath, complete with both a garden tub and shower. For some strange reason, the closet only had a single bathrobe, however walking back to the living room I found the second one...MJ was already wearing it over her clothes.
Perhaps the best thing about the room - aside from the fireplace and minibar - was the outdoor patio. The serenity of the space was enhanced by a small fountain, and if I listened closely, the sound of crashing waves could be heard in the distance. Sadly, it was a little too cold to fully enjoy the patio, but I could easily burn an entire day right here with my Kindle.
Exhausted from all the exploration, I plopped on the comfortable sofa still doubting this was a standard room. I was convinced we had been upgraded to a suite, and since I needed to have my story straight for this article, I decided there was only one way to know for sure. The person who answered my phone call was in no better mood than the front desk agent, but they were at least able to settle the debate...I wish all hotels had this definition of "standard."
|Standard = Complimentary use of a Lexus.|
We set off to explore the rest of the resort, which first meant that MJ had to somehow get me past the golf shop, otherwise we would be there all night. Thankfully, there were a few other shops that she could browse, while I looked at each and every shirt with the familiar Pebble Beach logo. OK, so the real reason I took so long was the Senior Tour event was still wrapping up, and there were many famous faces roaming around the area.
After doing a great deal of financial damage in the golf shop, we walked down to The Beach and Tennis Club. I don't play tennis, and I'm not really a fan of the beach, but this was my kind of heaven. The enormous pool deck extended right to the edge of the Pacific, and was the perfect place for MJ to kill six hours while I was on the golf course.
|Best hot tub ever.|
A short walk from our room was The Market, which had everything from souvenirs and wine, to light bites and coffee. We decided being at Pebble Beach warranted a toast of champagne, so we took a bottle of our favorite back to the room to pop open before dinner.
|Of all my stays in hotels, this was definitely a first.|
Which leads me to the worst part of our entire experience at Pebble Beach. The concierge had suggested the Stillwater Grill for dinner that evening, and I was certainly a fan of the opportunity to dine overlooking the 18th hole. This turned out to be a very expensive mistake.
|The lobby lounge and Stillwater Grill.|
The food at Stillwater was average, which might have been overlooked were it not for the abysmal service. Having worked in the service industry, I am usually apt to give someone a free pass - see: desk agent above - but this was off the charts bad. It is the only time I can recall walking out of a restaurant completely disgusted, and perhaps even worse, feeling utterly ripped off. My advice: Drive to Carmel or Monterey for dinner.
|The main building of The Lodge|
As I alluded to earlier, the underwhelming service at The Lodge wasn't just limited to Stillwater. My impression was that The Lodge allows their location at Pebble Beach to do all of the heavy lifting in terms of the guest experience. The need for the staff to shine is diminished because all one has to do is look out the window to the 18th green, and the shortcomings of service are quickly forgotten. In addition, The Lodge has a captive audience, with anyone looking for a guaranteed tee time on the golf course being required to stay at least two nights. My hope is that the staff was simply worn down after a few busy days of hosting the Senior Tour event, and perhaps we just caught them at a bad time. Either way, that excuse isn't good enough for the guest that's visiting for a once in a lifetime experience, at rates which would rival Manhattan on New Year's Eve.
Just as soon as it began, the long awaited visit to Pebble Beach was over. While the experience as a whole will forever be near the top of my travel memories, The Lodge by itself was a bit of a mixed bag...a spectacular room and setting partially offset by lackluster service. Still, over the course of two days I never once stopped smiling or lost sight of the big picture: This was Pebble Beach...every golfer's dream, and I was living it.
If You Go...
- Free in-room WiFi.
- For souvenirs visit the P.B. shop in Monterey. Same stuff only cheaper.
- Make sure you're not actually dreaming.
Enjoy Your Stay