8 January 2008

Book Now for Monterey

If you’ve always dreamed about visiting the Monterey area for the Monterey Historic Automobile races, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and the many other events that take place during this car-lovers’ week, scheduled for August 9-17, you can’t make your hotel reservations too soon.

Many long-time participants book for the next year before they go home each year, and you’ll find that some of the nicest places are already booked for 2008. Reflecting the high demand, nearly all hotels and B&Bs raise their rates sky high for what is their busiest week of the year.

But all is not lost. With a little diligence and the facilities of the Internet, you should be able to find lodging. Depending on what you want to do, you can even find fairly reasonable rates if you’re willing to drive a little bit. Here are some tips:

The hub of all activity is in Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula. Here you’ll have a choice of high-rise and seaside hotels, and some of the most charming bed-and-breakfasts in North America. But count on spending several hundred dollars a night everywhere during that busy week.

If you plan to attend the RM and Russo & Steele auctions in Monterey, as well as Pebble, Concorso Italiano, and the Quail, but don’t want to pay those rates and are willing to give up the charm – you won’t be in your hotel room much anyhow – check out the old hotel strip along Fremont Avenue in Monterey/Seaside.

Marina, the neighboring town to the north up Route 1 is an even better bet for availability and lower rates. The intersection of Reservation Road and Route 1 has a cluster of chain hotels. This location is also ideal if you’re going to both the races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and events around Monterey, since Reservation Road is close to Concorso Italiano on the old army post and is the easiest route to the track.

If you are only going to the race track and maybe to the classic car event and auction at the Quail Lodge, Salinas on 101 may be the most convenient place to stay, since it is only 15 minutes from the track, 25 minutes from the Quail, and isn’t burdened by the incredible traffic jams in and around Monterey and Carmel. It should be one of your least expensive options, too.

With the Internet, you can easily get a list of all possible lodging places plus maps to help you locate a place that fits your plans and budget. However, you will still need to work the phone, since nearly every hotel and inn removes their rooms from online accommodations services for that week, preferring to favor their long-term guests and negotiate directly for the highest rates they can manage.

For Monterey, Carmel and Pacific Grove, the regional tourism site http://www.monterey-carmel.com/ provides an excellent listing of the nicest lodging places, as well as listing regional attractions. If you or your family want to enjoy the region’s charm as well as the car events, and you are willing to pay five-star rates, check out http://www.bedandbreakfast.com/ and specify Monterey and Carmel.

For the most comprehensive listings of lodgings in the Seaside, Marina, and Salinas, all you need to do is do a search on Google or Yahoo for “Lodging Seaside,” or “…Marina,” or “…Salinas,” and the search engine will give you a long list of possible accommodations, along with maps, rates and contact information. From there, it’s just a matter of working the phone for as long as it takes you to get a reservation for whatever part of the week you’ll be in the area.

If you have an RV, or some basic camping equipment, you might even camp in the Laguna Seca Recreational Area, within the track grounds. Campsites are very inexpensive and it is a great experience to be around the track before things start in the morning and after the track goes quiet at night. But these sites book up very quickly and even February or March may be too late. Their website doesn’t provide online reservations, so call 888-588-2267 for availability, rates, and reservations.

But wherever you decide you want to stay, don’t wait. The best rooms, regardless of rates, are already booked by the regulars, and even the obscure and outlying hostelries will be booked by June.

One more tip for now. Tickets for all the major activities are readily available by internet or onsite, so you can wait until later to make plans. The only exception is The Quail, the most exclusive public event, which limits tickets to make sure it has “the right crowd and no crowding” as Brooklands used to claim. If you want to be among the favored, book now, since the event sells out early every year. Visit www.quaillodge.com/thequail.cfm for more information.

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