Little cozy town of Carmel is a popular tourist destination and has hotels to accommodate every taste and preference - old historic and shiny modern ones, but nothing stands out quite as much as La Playa Carmel, or simply La Playa. The queen of the area was closed for 10 months due to extensive renovation, and re-opened a couple of months ago, just in time for its 110th anniversary.
The hotel started as a mansion and that part of the entire hotel is now around the main entrance. It was built in 1905 by the landscape artist Christian Jorgensen. It is overlooking the impressive bluffs and the rocky Pacific coast covered in cypresses and pines. The house resembled Carmel Mission and was artist's gift to his wife. Even today we can see a star stained-glass window near the entrance, which was a stone tower when it all started.
The couple didn't live in the house for very long as it soon became a popular place for artists and writers to meet during the bohemian period of Carmel. The Jorgensens decided to move a bit further from it all and settled in a new house on Pebble Beach.
The mansion remained as a salon for intelligentsia and in 1916 became a "home hotel", kind of like a bed & breakfast or luxurious boarding house. The owners kept changing and the hotel kept expanding. Eventually it had 20 more rooms, a kitchen, a dining room, and was costing $2.50 per night to stay at. As time went on it added the first pool in Carmel, a new building, a 2-level patio from bricks, and ever changing and expanding landscape.
As years went by and lots of things changed, La Playa remained true to its heritage - it was always a quaint retreat and a creative space for art gatherings. In 1980s the hotel became known as a place where Silicon Valley corporations took vacations. In fact, the first Apple Mackintosh computer was partially developed there during Steve Jobs' retreat stays at La Playa. The Apple was later banned from the hotel between 1983 and 2013 due to the enthusiastic celebration of the Mac team and their shenanigans in the buff for all the horrified guests to see.
La Playa underwent a renovation in 2012, during which rooms were updated to become more like beach cottages with new mattresses, silky sheets, and new TVs in every room. Old world charm, however, remained untouched, just refreshed and slightly modernized. The renovation efforts didn't change original casement windows, old doorknobs, floor to ceiling built-in mirrors, and shell ceiling lights. Those attributes blend into the new decor perfectly while reminding us of the history. Every room is unique and offers not only beautiful views, but also the spirit of time.
Some important changes were invisible, but much needed - soundproofing, new plumbing, new electricity wires, and Internet cable. The hotel went big on sustainability, from wastebaskets with recycling compartments to renewable materials in furniture, carpets, and even picture frames.
The two areas where you will feel like a time machine took you back to 1940's is the bar and lobby. The tiled staircase curves right under the stained glass window, which spills light on countless brides that have stood there with their bouquets through the decades of love stories and celebrations.
The famed hotel has had its fair share of weddings for sure. Some couples were locals, some came from a far, but all of them always have La Playa in their hearts. There is a couple, for example, who married at La Playa hotel in 1986 and then spent every anniversary there despite moving to Virginia 22 years ago. To gather stories like that, the hotel hosts an anniversary website, where visitors can share their La Plays history.
This year La Playa is inviting all guests who married or spent their honeymoon or anniversary there, to come back and stay for just $110. To get this rate guests will have to document their historic stay at the hotel and supplement with pictures if possible.
It's the guests who are receiving gifts this year, not La Playa itself. In addition to one night special rate for past guests, everybody else can enjoy the $110 stay for a night if booked together with one regular rate night. Some dates are not available for that and the number of rooms is limited, so all participating visitors will have to be flexible.
For more extravagant guests, $100,000 will buy you an entire fully-staffed property for a week. It can be your 75-room private mansion once again. You can bring all your family and friends and enjoy a careless week lounging by the pool, playing chess in the garden, or biking around town. You will start your day with champagne buffet and end it with celebration into the wee hours. Select dates are available through the end of the year, but don't wait to book it.