November 21st, 2012
Before you know it those sleigh bells will be ringing and the holidays will be upon us. When searching from some fun, yet useful tips, I decided to look no further then the dynamic team at the Portola Hotel & Spa, so…don’t fret, no need to stress, the team at the Portola has got you covered.
Check out these fun tips from the best of the best to help you survive the hustle and bustle of the season.
- Try to avoid peak travel times. The worst are Monday through Fridays between 7am-10am and 4pm-8pm. The best days to travel are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Timo, Sales Manager
- Save for the holidays all year long, that way you will have plenty of funds throughout the season! Cristy, Group Rooms Coordinator
- Don’t drink and drive. Be safe this holiday season and designate a driver if you plan to go out. Kevin, Brewmaster
- Make charitable giving a high priority. Volunteer with your family and clock some quality time together while making a difference. Terri, Director of Sales
- Start your holiday shopping months in advance so that you are not cramming in all your last minute shopping with the crowds! Anna, Reservations
- A busy kid is a happy kid! Pack your child a fun filled backpack full of exciting, new things to do when traveling. Don’t forget the snacks and juice. Christian, Food & Beverage Coordinator
- Do less this holiday season; relax and enjoy more! Jackie, Marketing
- Wrap your gifts with newspaper (Sunday comics are great!), cloth that can be reused or wrapping paper made with recycled content – think green. Eddie, Catering Manager
- Do your shopping on Christmas Eve. The sales have already started and there are no crowds. Sonny, Director of Food & Beverage
- Consider using a smaller airport such as the Monterey Airport. You will be surprised with how many flights the regional airports offer. Janine, General Manager
November 14th, 2012
When it comes to holiday baking I’m always on the search for something new and different that will “wow” family and friends. I decided to go straight to the top and asked Executive Chef Jason Giles at the Portola Hotel & Spa to share one of his favorites (that was also easy enough for a rookie baker like me) and VOILA, he had the answer! So here it is, Chef Jason’s Pumpkin roll, delicious and completely doable! Enjoy and happy baking!
Chef Jason’s Pumpkin Roll
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (after reducing on stove see below)
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch jelly roll pan or cookie sheet.
- Pumpkin filling tends to have high moisture content, so I like to gently cook the pumpkin puree in a skillet over low heat for about 10-15 minutes to remove excess water and intensify the pumpkin flavor. Cool completely before adding to recipe.
- In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir in pumpkin puree, eggs, and lemon juice. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Spread the mixture evenly.
- Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 15 minutes.
- Lay a damp linen towel on the counter, sprinkle it with confectioner’s sugar, and turn the cake onto the towel. Carefully roll the towel up (lengthwise) with the cake in it. Place the cake-in-towel on a cooling rack and let it cool for 20 minutes.
- Make the icing: In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and sugar with a wooden spoon or electric mixer.
- When the cake has cooled 20 minutes, unroll it and spread icing onto it. Immediately re-roll (not in the towel this time), and wrap it with plastic wrap. Keep the cake refrigerated or freeze it for up to 2 weeks in aluminum foil. Cut the cake in slices just before serving.
November 9th, 2012
California is known for many things – surf, sand and sun immediately come to mind, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would add ice skating into that thought. Unless you are from Monterey, that is! The Portola Hotel & Spa is proud to announce the return of the wonderfully unique Ice Skating by the Bay. Beginning November 17, 2012 and running through January 6, 2013, “Ice Skating by the Bay”, located at the historic Custom House Plaza (behind the Portola) features the thrill of a holiday tradition, while overlooking the beautiful Monterey Bay.
The Portola Hotel & Spa is inviting everyone from near and far to experience this treat with their Stay & Skate Free Package. This ultimate family package includes a one night stay PLUS ice skating for two. The package also includes a nautically inspired guest room, hot cocoa for the family in Jacks Lounge, warm homemade chocolate chip cookie upon arrival, the Portola Pirates Program & Scavenger Hunt for children between the ages of 3 and 12, complimentary 24 hour fitness center, outdoor heated pool, relaxing cabanas & Jacuzzi! All that, and the rates begin at only $179 per night. So if you are looking to experience the feeling of holidays gone by or introduce your family to a something new this season, book your Stay & Skate Free Package at the Portola Hotel & Spa.
…Be sure to book now though, before it’s too “skate”!
November 2nd, 2012
Photo © Big Sur Food & Wine
Big Sur has been the location of movies and commercials and an inspiration to beatniks and metaphysical practitioners. It is beautiful, rugged and has been called the “greatest meeting of land and sea” by poet, Robinson Jeffers. And, while several thousand people call it home, interestingly, there is no actual city or town of Big Sur. What better way to properly celebrate this wonderful mish-mash of quintessentially Californian attributes, than to have a food and wine festival in its honor!
The Big Sur Food & Wine Festival runs Thursday, November 1st through the 4th and features a bevy of out of the box food and wine centric events, just like the region itself. Friday’s offerings feature the beginning of the Hiking with Stemware series with allows participants to take in the beauty of Big Sur on foot along with the beautiful taste of some of the area’s best wines. The events feature meals al fresco from local chef’s and are often paired with an inside look at artisan producers from around the state.
Evenings embrace the wild mystery of the area with events like the Wine & Swine and a series of Winemaker’s Dinners. These limited seating events feature small batch wineries paired with the creations of local chefs. The nighttime activities conclude with the After Parties at the Henry Miller Library. This venue has played host to a Who’s Who of American creative genius from Jack Kerouac to The Red Hot Chili Peppers and this weekend features music, wine, food and fun.
There is a wonderful mix of events throughout the weekend so you can choose to try a taste or go whole hog. The event organizers have graciously provided shuttle transportation for some of the events so be sure to check the Big Sur Food & Wine website for more details. As food and wine festivals go, this one may give you a little more than you bargained for; and that’s a good thing!
October 24th, 2012
Known as the “Best Spa in Monterey County”, (as voted by the readers of the Monterey County Weekly seven years in a row) Spa on the Plaza, at The Portola Hotel & Spa has recently announced the addition of Naturopathic Doctor, Ashleigh Putnam, ND. In addition to some of the area’s most unique spa and beauty services, guests can now experience something like no other day spa in the area.
Naturopathic medicine focuses on the use of natural therapies to cure common everyday ailments that are caused by acute or chronic conditions. Naturopathic doctors provide an in-depth diagnosis by focusing on the internal as well as the external factors that may contribute to a problem and then treat it through a specific combination of natural and traditional medicine. This could consist of herbal medicine, homeopathy, counseling, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, pharmaceuticals or natural supplements combined with a regular schedule of diet and exercise.
Dr. Putnam believes in empowering her patients through a combination of education and preventative care. By discovering the underlying cause of an ailment or injury, Dr. Putnam focuses on the core of an issue, in turn treating the whole person with a completely holistic approach in a truly peaceful environment.
Contact Spa on the Plaza to learn more about Dr. Putnam and their fabulous menu of featured treatments and packages. Visit us at www.spaontheplaza.com .
October 19th, 2012
The Salinas Valley is widely known as the “Salad Bowl of the World”. From strawberries and lettuce to artichokes and broccoli, much of our nation’s produce comes from this fertile region. So it should come as no surprise that one of the fastest growing events in Monterey County is the Salinas Valley Food & Wine Festival. The fun begins on Saturday October 20th at noon and runs until 5pm. Featuring world class wine and gourmet food, the event highlights the culture of the Salinas Valley and takes over six square blocks of Oldtown Salinas. The event is free to the public and those wishing to taste wine and beer can purchase a wristband.
In addition to the gourmet highlights of the day, a variety of art and activities are also available including musical acts performing throughout the day and a classic car show. The National Steinbeck Center also plays host to a VIP Pavilion starring an additional 150 vendors. In addition to food exhibitors the VIP Pavilion an additional 50 wineries and 30 breweries will be on site. The Portola Hotel & Spa’s very own Peter B’s Brewpub will be on site, pouring some of their famous craft beers. So come experience the bounty and the rich culture of the Salinas Valley at the Salinas Valley Food & Wine Festival!
October 8th, 2012
The Monterey Peninsula has always had an affinity with film. As one of the most beautiful places in the world, many filmmakers and commercial directors have utilized varying landscape and scenery of the area as backdrops for their work. From Turner and Hooch to From Here to Eternity, the Monterey Peninsula always seems to make a cameo.
Now in its fifth year, the Carmel Art & Film Festival runs October 10 – 14, 2012 in Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, and boasts screenings of almost 100 films in four different categories: features, documentary, short, and student submissions. In addition, the Festival also promotes a growing art and music segment showcasing renowned Los Angeles artist Thierry Guetta, a.k.a. Mr. Brainwash and L.A. based musical act, Shyboy.
The 2012 screening venues are as eclectic as the event itself with the Sunset Center, Golden Bough Playhouse, Carmel Center for the Performing Arts, Carmel Youth Center Theaters, and Carmel Beach; all holding viewings throughout the week. Awards for the films include: Best Narrative, Best Documentary, Best Short, Best Student Film, and the Clint Eastwood Filmmakers Award. The Carmel Art & Film Festival also includes several parties and post screening events where attendees can mix and mingle with the filmmakers, celebrities and VIP’s. Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit the Carmel Art & Film Festival Scholarship Fund, a 501 (c)(3), supporting and encouraging young people to advance their work in art and film through education. It’s a great event for a worthy cause.
Lights, Camera, Action!
October 5th, 2012
Wine is one of those strange and wonderful things that for some is the means to a good time and for others it is the time itself. It is the most ancient of libations and one that through the ages has been enjoyed by princes and paupers alike. There are many ways to experience wine. It could be over a fine dinner or at home with friends, but nothing beats experiencing wine at the source; the tasting room. And nothing complements the tasting room like an expertly guided tour of several of the region’s best aboard an open air Wine Trolley. With more grapes grown in the Monterey County region than in any other area in California, Monterey County wines are quickly becoming some of the most sought after varietals in the country. Your five hour guided tour stops at five of the area’s finest boutique wineries while taking in the sites along the way.
Your package also includes a stay in one of the Portola Hotel & Spa’s nautically inspired guest rooms, a warm chocolate chip cookie upon arrival and breakfast buffet for two at Jacks Restaurant. In addition you’ll also receive complimentary corkage fees at Jacks Restaurant & Lounge and access to the outdoor heated pool, relaxing cabanas, Jacuzzi and state of the art fitness center.
Fine wine, a journey of discovery that awakens the pallet, comfortable lodging and more. Salud!
For more information about the Wine Trolley Package for 2
September 26th, 2012
Fall means leaves change colors and kids go back to school,
But it also means witches, ghosts, goblins and ghouls
Bats and broomsticks and things that go bump in the night,
It’s costumes and candy and fun and a fright
But Halloween is more than scary things,
It’s friends and family and doorbells to ring
Trick or Treat is heard on that special day
Here’s some Halloween themed events throughout the Bay
The staff at the Portola Hotel & Spa loves Halloween – check out our staff’s favorite picks for a spook-tacular time during your October visit.
- Get lost at the Haunted Monterey Mirror Maze
- Boo! Take the Ghost Trolley of Old Monterey
- Saturday, October 19th learn how to make scary sock monsters at the Monterey County Youth Museum (reservations required)
- Visit Borchard Farms’ Endless Corn Maze & Ghos Town
- October 20-27, explore the Point Sur Lightstation during a Halloween Ghost Tour (reservations required) (831) 649-7139
- Learn about scary spiders and slithery snakes during Science Saturday on October 27th at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, costumes encouraged!
- Pick out a pumpkin and explore the Corn Maze at Earthbound Farms
- Trick or treat! Explore downtown Pacific Grove, Saturday, October 27th from 10am-5pm and take the kiddos trick or treating at local stores, restaurants and boutiques
- Glow in the dark, black light mini golf at Oceans 18
- Pumpkin Pandemonium at Del Monte Shopping Center – crafts, costumes, candy and pumpkins for ghosts and goblins of all ages – October 31st , at Del Monte Shopping Center
September 11th, 2012
Photo by Doubilet©
If you are lucky enough to grow up around the ocean you’ll almost certainly develop an appreciation for the great big blue and if your childhood was spent landlocked, chances are that you’ll want to experience as much of the ocean as you can. For all the ocean you can handle, plan on attending the BLUE Ocean Film Festival. The BLUE Ocean Film Festival, September 24-30, 2012, is being held right here in Monterey and is a global film festival and conservation summit for underwater filmmakers and marine researchers. While an “industry” event, it is open to the public and is more than just insiders talking fish. It’s a true celebration of the ocean and all its wonders. Since it is a film festival, there are entries and submissions from all over the world, each showing a new and different perspective. Some of the films are true art and some are more documentary in style, but after you attending just a few minutes of the festival, you will come to appreciate what a wonderful natural treasure you have right in front of you.
The home of this year’s festival is the Portola Hotel & Spa. As Monterey’s first and only LEED®-EB (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™ certified hotel, it’s only natural (no pun intended) that they partner with the festival to host some of the events. Selected films then tour the country as part of BLUE On Tour, but nothing is more powerful than watching a submission and then walking outside to look out upon the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. A truly wonderful experience.
For tickets to the Blue Ocean Film Festival visit www.blueoceanfilmfestival.org