Asilomar Conference Center, for me is a bit strange and many of its strange components are very much appreciated by me. First, this is a government facility, owned by the State of California. It is a state park run by a private company contracted to manage the facility. It is a conference center that is quite large and located in a terrific plot of land between Carmel and Monterey right on the beach. In years past you typically can not plan to stay here if you are not part of a pre planned conference so booking a room can only take place within a few weeks of your arrival. It was really difficult to plan to stay here months in advance. They only open rooms when large groups do not fill up the place, like for conferences. This place validates those, like me, who can not or do not like to plan ahead. I call the center or use my computer to see if I can get a booking just days before arriving. It is a dice roll whether you will be able to book a room. I feel like I win the lottery when I can get a room. However, since Aramark took over running this facility, it appears to me that booking into this resort can be done at any time. I really recommend that you go to their web site as it shows days that are available. http://www.visitasilomar.com/accommodations.aspx
Location, location, location. You simply can not conceive any better spot in California for this conference center. You are so darn close to the ocean, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Point Pinos Lighthouse, Pacific Grove shops and down town Monterey. There are many wonderful restaurants in the area.
The Asilomar grounds is a real positive and they are large. This is a terrific spot to just hang out and vegetate. The Asilomar property is right on the beach. Only a road separates the Asilomar grounds and the Asilomar State Beach. There are numerous hiking opportunities along the beach and on the Asilomar grounds. They also have special information posts just outside some Asilomar buildings where you can use your cell phone to scan and launch a web site to learn about items close to where you are standing.
You may possibly save money by lodging at Asilomar when you compare total pricing with other facilities. The rooms are about $130 for 2 people (this price can change) but this includes a terrific breakfast valued around $20 for each person. So doing the math, you are getting the room for about $90 when not including meals.
No TV except in the bar (no audio). I list this as a positive if family members wish to discover one another again and not be distracted by the idiot box.
Free wifi and the signal is really strong. I was able to play the computer game, World of Warcraft, a most impressive indicator.
Many rooms come with a decent size balcony with two chairs.
Many rooms come with a fireplace stocked with paper and wood ready to light. They give you a combination to a storage locker typically located quite close to your room so you can pull out extra fire place fuel. We build a fire every night that we stay at Asilomar and really enjoy the smell, added warmth and crackling sounds.
I really value being able to open a window to get fresh air. Most rooms come with sliding glass doors and windows that can be cracked open for fresh air.
The air is clean and free of noise. For those who remember the fog horn located rather close to Asilomar, it has been removed.
The heater in our last room was terrific and quiet. I have stayed in many hotels and motor inns where the air conditioner and heater was way too loud.
Social Hall is where you check in and it contains a gift shop, pool tables, coffee shop with coffee drinks and full bar.
Asilomar also offers a swimming pool.
The rooms are a bit Spartan. The room furnishings are really basic. The rugs on the floor are not thick.
With each visit to Asilomar, you will not have any idea of what building and room you will be staying in. Some buildings and rooms are better than others.
You may have to lug your luggage a distance from vehicle to room.
No coffee maker.
Pocket door to bathroom is a negative for me. I really do not like pocket doors as they have issues for not completely functioning properly. They will make noise, not slide, not lock.
The grounds, roads, buildings seem to be laid out by someone who had no sense of proper organization. At Asilomar, the most direct and closest path is not in a straight line.
Finding a parking place is sometimes a challenge.
If you rely on WiFi to get cell phone e-mail due to lousy cell tower signal, you must use your cell phone web browser to log into the Asilomar authorization web site and enter the user name and password given to you when you got your packet of information. If you notice that the e-mail messages have not been updating, you might have lost this link and need to start it up again. I found their Wifi coverage to be excellent.
For the rich, famous, and pampered this place will disappoint. For the budget conscious, progressive hippie, ecologically and environmentally sensitive and appreciative of weird, this place may appeal. From my budget conscious, affinity for the unique, this place gets my approval. I really love having breakfast in the Checker Dining Hall where muffins, toast, cereal, drinks are laid out on a huge lazy Susan on top of a larger round table. As you enter the dining hall you meet a person who takes your meal ticket given to you when you registered for your room Seating is designated by this person. They may ask you if you are participating in a group or conference. If you are, you will be sent to tables reserved for the appropriate group. If you are independent from any group as we always are, you will be told to go to a table for open seating. Remember the table number this person tells you. You then walk into a cafeteria type line where you can select from a limited menu of items and are handed your food on a plate. You get to sit at a large table with off the road people you do not know if you are not part of a group. These people are sometimes quite a surprise and enjoyable or dreadfully boring. The feeling is like being at a summer camp, instead of being waited upon like a typical restaurant.