by Carmel L. Mooney
I believe having grown up on the Monterey Peninsula, I’m a bit of an expert on the area and as such I’m also a bit picky about family-friendly properties and dining in the area.
One place that has stood the test of time in my book and the hearts of so many visitors to the area, is the luxurious Martine Inn in Pacific Grove, California.
The location of this gorgeous property sets the stage for the perfect family vacation as it is only a few short blocks of walking distance to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, and great dining like the Sardine Factory, a locals’ favorite for generations.
Don Martine, a savvy businessman, entrepreneur, and famous car collector welcomes road-tripping families at the Martine Inn in the fashion that was customary in the 1800s, for those of affluence and privilege.
A beautiful balance of warmth and unpretentious hospitality, sheer class and luxury, and lovely ambiance make this a delightful family-friendly stay through and through.
We indulged in the lovely cocktail and hors d’oeuvre hour, while we savored the spectacular view of the bay and resident sea mammals. Occasionally we used the binoculars provided in the parlor, for gazing at frolicking cormorants and playful otters.
The delicious and plentiful cocktail hour food was served on fine antique silver, china, lace, and finery and was so beautiful and bountiful a presentation that truth be told, it could suffice as a meal.
Deviled eggs, homemade dips, hummus, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables galore were enjoyed by all as Frank Sinatra oldies serenaded us from the parlor.
Our family enjoyed playing billiards on a century-old exquisite antique pool table, strolling along the coastline, and sitting by the fountain in the delightful garden courtyard.
We decided to dine at the award-winning Sardine Factory only a couple of minutes away and it was perfect in keeping with the theme of a luxurious and impeccable stay on the bay.
Our room was cozy, opulent, and comfortable at the same time. And listening to the surf crash at night only added to the enjoyment. The Martine Inn offers a Family Suite which is the perfect setup. Twin beds in one room and a king bed in the parents’ room are one choice and they will also provide a futon for a child in selected other rooms as well.
Before leaving the Martine Inn we loved our chef-prepared breakfast overlooking the Peninsula. Don’s chef has been preparing outstanding culinary delights for guests for over two decades.
If anyone is a Road Trips expert it is owner Don Martine, and in more ways than one! Don is a world-renown collector and racer of MGs. Don has a restoration shop near the inn where he restores MGs and builds the engines for his beautiful collection. Many cars are on display as well as a fascinating collection of his historic helmets, paintings, trophies, and other racing paraphernalia. It’s nothing less than amazing to listen to Don share his passion, his talents, and his stories about these magnificent automobiles that have inspired most of his life.
Don’s chef can accommodate special groups, and twelve-course dinners and offers a sumptuous Thanksgiving Dinner as well. The traditional Thanksgiving Day fare – Turkey, Ham, and Duck, with all the trimmings, is served with Gorham Silver from the 1890s.
At Thanksgiving, each guest is hand-served additional helpings from the lavish buffet. The fire is roaring, the waves are crashing and all those gathered together are immersed in the spirit of thankfulness and good cheer. Thanksgiving at the Martine Inn is an American Tradition, held in the 1890s mansion, overlooking the Monterey Bay.
Anytime families visit they will appreciate little extras, such as teas and coffees served on fine china throughout the day along with delicious cookies, a blazing fire in the parlor, gourmet breakfast, and a departing travel bag filled with homemade baked goods and thoughtful road trip goodies.
It’s a memorable experience from arrival to departure with sheer delight sandwiched in between.
Carmel L. Mooney is a travel columnist and the editor of Road Trips for Couples.