In Carmel-by-the-Sea, the Theis family is celebrating 70 years of European hospitality in their Bavarian-inspired Hofsas House Hotel.
The Hofsas House Hotel is within walking distance to the beach, multiple restaurants and shops, and several tasting rooms.
The hotel is also within just minutes driving distance to Monterey, Pebble Beach, Big Sur and Pacific Grove. The Hofsas House’s boasts 38 spacious rooms (all unique) with fireplaces, private balconies, wet bars, kitchens and patios, and the Dutch doors in every room allow guests to welcome in the ocean air.
Before I jump into all the amentities the Hofsas House has to offer, I want to talk about the hotel’s rich history, and what makes the hotel so special. On the Saturday morning of our stay, Andy and I met with Doris Theis, the mother of the current owner of the hotel, Carrie Theis. She was such a joy to interview and she filled me in on a lot of the history of Carmel as well as the Hofsas House.
The Hofsas House story begins with a woman named Donna Hofsas and her husband Fred. They moved to Carmel from Los Angeles in the late 1940s, and purchased four cottages in town. They lived in one of them and rented out the other three. The cottages were the humble beginnings of the hotel, as the main building was built in 1957, adding 25 more rooms.
Donna commissioned her friend, artist Maxine Albro (also famous for painting a fresco at Coit Tower in San Francisco) to paint a Bavarian-themed mural which has since been restored and still remains as a lovely welcome to guests. A swimming pool was also added at that time, making Hofsas House Hotel a Carmel destination.
Fred Hofsas created the mosaic coat of arms, the Latin inscription translates to English as “Leisure with Dignity”.
The various additions to the hotel proved to be very stressful on their marriage, and eventually Donna and Fred divorced. Donna retained ownership of the hotel and in the mid-1960s, she added the north wing and a meeting room. Also around that time, she built her house, and the cottage she had occupied became a family suite (Room 9/10) and is still available to guests today, as well as the three other original cottages.
In 1981, Donna passed away, and her only son Jack took over the Hofsas House Hotel. Which brings us to Doris, the incredible lady I spoke with about the history of the hotel. Doris was Jack’s wife. Together, they had two children: Carrie and Scott. The hotel was very much a family affair and Jack ran the hotel until 1996, when he passed away. Doris and Scott then took over the management from 1996-2000.
Then in 2000, Carrie Theis returned to Hofsas House to become general manager. Carrie was no stranger to the Hofsas House Hotel, because she had been escorting guests to their rooms since she was 8 and working behind the welcome desk at check-in since she was 12. Carrie had pursued a college education and a career path of her own, however, felt it was important to carry on her grandmother’s legacy of service and hospitality at the hotel.
And the hospitality is really what keeps the guests coming back to Hofsas House Hotel. I’m told that there are many guests that return because they know the history and the family and there is simply no other place in Carmel where they would rather stay.
I can understand that. My first visit to Carmel was in June of 2013 and I stayed at Hofsas House Hotel. It was my birthday weekend and incredibly special. I think once you know the family and the history of the hotel, you just have to stay there. For me, it’s like being part of the hotel’s legacy. Below is a shot of the bedroom in which we stayed during this visit.
Below is the incredible view from outside our room.
Hofsas House Hotel is located on San Carlos Street, north of Fourth Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea. For more information, call (831) 624-2745 or visit www.hofsashouse.com. You can like them on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.
Before I go on to recommend some dining in the area, I’d like to list some add-ons the Hofsas House offers that you can book during your stay:
• First is the Monterey Wine and Cheese Pairing (which we enjoyed, there were two cheeses and a bottle of wine in our room upon arrival) for $30. It’s pretty wonderful to finally get to your hotel room and there’s a chilled bottle of wine with cheeses waiting for you!
• Champagne and Cheese Pairing with Hofsas House engraved flutes for $50.
• The Carmel Wine Walk-by-the-Sea Passport for $65.
• In-room his and her couples massage starting at $160 for 45 minutes.
• Decoration of room in a romantic, anniversary, or birthday theme for $75.
• Golf packages that start at $65 per person including cart.
• 2-day pass for the price of one Monterey Bay Aquarium tickets.
And right now and valid until December 31st, 2016, you can celebrate Carmel-by-the-Sea’s 100th Anniversary and Hofsas House Hotels 70th Anniversary with a History Tour! Delight in the special charms of Carmel on a leisurely, fun and informative two-hour guided walk past enchanting Fairy-tale cottages, through secret pathways, hidden courtyards and award-winning gardens. At the end of the tour, you’ll feel like a local. Cost is $25 per person. Guests who book this package will also receive a Carmel-by-the-Sea history book complimentary upon arrival (value $26.00). Learn about the 100-year history of Carmel-by-the-Sea. When booking use promotion code: HHWALKS. (Block out dates apply.)
On Friday evening, we were hoping to visit, Dametra Cafe. Since the restaurant was completely booked, we ended up at Mediterranean Restaurant (the sister restaurant of Dametra and just a few doors down). I have to say, if you can’t get a table at Dametra, Mediterranean is the next best thing. OK, well, except for a few menu items, it’s exactly the same thing. And you even get the same live music! They did not host our dinner, but I am recommending them as a favor to YOU! If you like Greek-Italian-Middle Eastern food combined, you should check it out!
Another routine in Carmel for us is a lunch stop at La Bicyclette. It’s my annual excuse of the year to eat a high calorie lunch and love every bite. 🙂 Right now they have a cassoulet special (you must try). And they have a gluten-free dough which they can substitute for any pizza on their menu (I picked the fig, arugula & prosicutto). Pretty much heaven with the Alsatian sparkling rosé we had.
On Saturday evening, we visited Lover’s Point walked around the coastline for a while, and then and went to the Beach House at Lover’s Point for dinner. It was one of the most beautiful walks I have ever taken and the weather was still really cooperating. It wasn’t cold or rainy that evening.
The Beach House at Lover’s Point is a very popular restaurant. I highly suggest making a reservation and then arriving a little early to have a drink at the bar. The restaurant is right on the water, so the views are spectacular.
For dinner we started out with a Brussels sprouts appetizer. It was prepared with roasted garlic cloves, chorizo, butternut squash, shaved parmesan, smoked paprika oil. I am probably the biggest fan of Brussels sprouts you’ll ever meet, which is funny because I HATED them when I was a kid. Not anymore. Especially when you throw in chorizo AND cheese! This was an interesting dish and I loved the roasted garlic cloves that added a a slightly sweet flavor–balancing out the spicy sausage.
For my entrée, I ordered the Crab-stuffed Petrale Sole with sautéed spinach, smashed potatoes, saffron cream, shaved fennel, micro green salad. I am getting hungry all over again just looking at the picture and remembering the textures of the tender crab and flaky sole and the creamy sauce over the potatoes.
Andy had the Hazelnut Crusted Sand Dabs with charred Brussels sprouts, pumpkin gnocchi, cipollini onions, beurre blanc, arugula pesto, and balsamic glaze. We shared both entrées because they were equally fantastic. By the way, the chef could have put pesto, hazelnuts, or balsamic glaze on a shoe and I would probably eat it. #allmyfavoriteingredients!!
In closing, I’d like to tell you about two upcoming events at the Hofsas House Hotel! One is the hotel’s 70th birthday celebration on Monday, November 7th, at 10:00am.
The event will begin at with coffee and light bites from Paris Bakery, then at 10:15 there will be a ribbon cutting with the Carmel Chamber and a Champagne toast with birthday cake at 10:30. There will also be a property tour and history discussion of the hotel’s 70 years.
Additionally, there will be a raffle to win an overnight stay! To RSVP (required by November 1) to marci at chatterboxpublicrelations.com
The second event is a little closer to the holidays. On Saturday, December 3rd, the 5th Annual Fundraiser for The Carmel Library Foundation will be held. The event will be a Gingerbread House Making morning/afternoon for the family. Together, families can create a gingerbread house to take home and display throughout the holidays. Children will receive one gingerbread making kit, hot cider and a cookie for a $25 donation to the Carmel Library Foundation.
Adults that want to attend will receive a glass of wine of award winning Monterey County wines from Twisted Roots Winery and can enjoy a gourmet cheese and fruit and tray for a $10 donation to the Carmel Library Foundation. Additional glasses of wine can be purchased for a $5.00 donation to the Carmel Library Foundation. (The $10 donation for adults does not include decorating a gingerbread house.)
There will be two sessions and you can sign up for 10:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m.
Cost: $25 per child and $10 per adult (Adult does not include decorating a gingerbread house. The cost to decorate a gingerbread house is $25. All proceeds benefit The Carmel Public Library Foundation.)
Call Carrie at the Hofsas House (831) 624-2745 to make a reservation.
I’d like to extend my gratitude to the Hofsas House Hotel for hosting us during our stay in Carmel and being a direct ambassador to the 5th Avenue Deli and the Beach House at Lovers Point during our stay. Happy birthday to Hofsas House Hotel and happy 100th birthday, Carmel!!
It’s no secret that Andy and I love wine. I mean, that’s how we met. So, when I was invited to stay at the Vendange Carmel Inn & Suites, a beautiful wine-themed inn about a mile from downtown Carmel, I was more than excited to visit.
When we arrived, Andy and I met with one of the Inn’s proprietors, Brian Lee, and he gave us a little background on the property, and the story behind its concept.
He explained that in 2012, he and his brother Jonathan bought the 86 year-old block of lodging with flowered wallpaper and $40 per night rooms. At the time it was called the Carmel Crystal Inn, and was not exactly the type of place travelers would recommend on TripAdvisor.
Brian then told us about coming up with a new name for the property, and how he and his brother remodeled everything they could without ruining the hotel’s historic integrity. As far as what they should call their new venture, Brian had attended UC Davis, (a university well known for its viticultural program) and had a lot of exposure to wine-centric terms during his time there. He also thought about how the number of wine tasting rooms in Carmel had multiplied since his return from college. He figured putting a wine-themed stamp on the new place (especially a local one) would create a solid brand. So, he pulled “Vendange” (a French word meaning “grape harvest) from the wine making lexicon. More specifically, it’s a French word describing late harvest fruit.
Along with the rename, they finished the bathrooms with stone and Spanish marble, gave each room brand new furniture (including one of the most comfortable beds on which I have ever slept), linens, duvets and down pillows. They landscaped the grounds, drained a foul-smelling pond and put in a gorgeous fire pit in its place, and renovated the lobby with fixtures that compliment the hotel’s history and also reflect the family’s love of wine.
The Lee brothers then partnered with local winemakers (beginning with Twisted Roots). The wineries (13 of them now) sponsor themed rooms and suites that reflect their wineries’ personalities and the feel of their winery’s tasting rooms.
“We wanted to do a theme, but we wanted it to be modern and not antiquey, like so many other places in Carmel,” Brian told us, “We live in wine country, so we chose a wine theme. We wanted to work with the wineries because they make very good wines and we support local businesses. It seemed natural to partner with them. It’s a win-win situation: They get the exposure (and references), and we get the theme.”
After learning a little about the history of the Vendange, it was time to check in!
We were a little hungry from our drive (about 3 hours from Sacramento), so Andy and I really enjoyed the wine and cheese reception (5-7pm on weekends in the hotel lobby). There are both white and red wines from which to choose (so you can do a little tasting), and a few cheeses, salami, grapes, nuts and crackers. It was fun to chat with some other people who had also just arrived.
Then it was off to take a look at our home for the next two nights: The Ventana Room:
The Ventana room was decorated handsomely with custom canvas prints, and the winemaker’s story on the room wall. In the living area, there was a Ventana Vineyards wine barrel that had been converted into a custom snack bar, designed to hold Ventana Vineyard branded snacks and wine for sale. There was also a throw on the bed embroidered with the winery’s logo, and the wall had small vines from the vineyard affixed to them.
Here are some scenes from inside the room:
I was impressed to learn about the green features of the hotel including water saving shower heads and insulation made from recycled blue jeans. Also, the gardens on the grounds are on a drip irrigation system.
I can’t say enough about the bed. Not only was the bedding gorgeous, but the mattress was just the right balance between soft and firm. I felt so refreshed when I woke up both mornings. 🙂
One of my favorite things about the Vendange is the landscaping and the fire pit. Andy and I had a great time sitting outside both evenings after dinner and enjoying a little more wine by the fire. There is live music by the fire pit in the summer.
Here’s what to expect at breakfast time: A spread of fruit, bagels, pastries, granola, yogurt and coffee, and it’s there for guests from 8-10am. If that’s not early enough for you, there’s Carmel Bakery & Coffee Company on Ocean Avenue about a mile away from the hotel (they open at 7am).
The parking lot even has a wine theme, and the lines to indicate the parking spaces are painted a deep purple inside of white. Here’s Andy’s car parked just outside our room.
Wineries that have a room decorated at the Vendange include: Blair, Cima Collina, Dawn’s Dream, Galante, J. Lohr (a Paso Robles winery that sources Monterey County vineyards), Joullian, Manzoni, McInTyre, Otter Cove, Ross’ Place, Tudor, Twisted Roots and Ventana. If you belong to one of the wineries’ wine clubs, you’ll receive 25% off the rate when you stay in their room.
Vendange is conveniently located a short drive away from the Monterey Peninsula Airport, just off of scenic Highway 1, with free parking for guests. They are minutes away from downtown Carmel’s shopping and fine dining, scenic 17-Mile Drive, and the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Vendange Carmel is located at 24815 Carpenter St., Carmel, CA 93923. Telephone 831.624.6400, fax 831.624.5111. Website: www.vendangecarmel.com, email: reservations at vendangecarmel dot com.
Well, I’m kind of in the mood to celebrate. The past few days have gone way better than my past few months. I started this morning by calling the bank and paying off my school loan. I start working again tomorrow after being laid off twice this year. So that means I get to proceed planning for Andy’s birthday. And, tomorrow is 21 months together! Yep, longevity like a McDonald’s cheeseburger left in a coat pocket! 😛
Anyway, if I could pick a place to celebrate right now, I’d go back to Fandango Restaurant in Pacific Grove. We dined there the last night of our Carmel weekend in June. The staff sat us right by the fireplace at a table for two. It was a little chilly that evening and the perfect little nook for our perfect little dinner.
The restaurant was named for the dance (scroll to about 30 seconds in), fast and often furious. The “dance” at Fandango began in 1983, when a man by the name of Walter Georis decided to turn an old house into a restaurant. Among the first customers were Pierre and Marietta Bain, who eventually became the owners in 1986. Pierre was no stranger to the hospitality industry when he took the helm–his family has operated Grand Hôtel Bain at Comp-sur-Artuby in the south of France since 1737, and he had been the manager of Club XIX at The Lodge at Pebble Beach for several years.
Shortly upon being seated, you are greeted with a bowl of olives, an ample cube of butter and a loaf of fresh bread. The olives have been a staple since the beginning and something the owners feel would be missed by loyal customers if they were to disappear. That’s Andy in the background, frantically flipping through the wine list (which is more like a Bible at Fandango, and I mean that in a good way). Jaw droppage took place when he spotted a 1929 Chateau Lafite Rothschild. OK, maybe another time. 😉
Since the Bains purchased Fandango, they have added an upstairs dining room with its own kitchen, and converted the outdoor patio into a new dining room. What did not change is the atmosphere, the charm of the restaurant and the classic European food. Dishes like steak frites, paella, osso bucco and duck a l’orange offer something pleasing for any palate.
We followed up with another appetizer. A classic that happened to be on the specials menu that evening. A caprese salad. The tomatoes were beautiful and just coming into season. It was perfect. I just love fresh basil. It’s probably one of my favorite summer ingredients. It’s the ribbon that ties together the acidity of the tomatoes, the butteriness of the olive oil and the creaminess of the cheese. 🙂
For our main courses, Andy
and I 😉 decided on this bottle of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, because it complemented both entreés. (You know me, I could drink rosé with everything!)
Andy ordered the short ribs, a regular menu item, which are slowly braised in red wine and served with seasonal vegetables.
And I ordered the petite filet and shrimp duo (also a regular menu item). It was served with broccoli and scalloped potatoes. The shrimp were cooked in butter, garlic and wine (scampi). The steak was served with green peppercorn, cognac, wine sauce. I usually order a steak rare so that if it is over-cooked by a little it still comes out suitable for me at medium rare, and I don’t have to send it back. This one came exactly as I ordered it, because this is a place that handles meat and seafood with precision.
These were just two appetizers and two of many classic dishes served at Fandango. I was tempted by other selections such as the lamb shank, a cassoulet, the lobster tail and even curious to see their take on a hamburger and fries! Other less paleo-friendly selections include canneloni with veal, salmon fettucine, pasta puttanesca, spaghetti siracusa and tortellini maison.
COMING SOON! Fandango Restaurant is celebrating the mushroom for the whole month of September. Pierre and Marietta have created a dish called Mushroom Provencal and are including it with soup or salad to start and dessert to finish for only $14.95. Available September 1-30 (for lunch only).
There are several recipes on Fandango’s website so you can enjoy the restaurant’s favorites in the comfort of your own home, or if you are more interested in learning about the story behind Fandango (it’s a pretty fascinated and celebrity studded one!) you can order the book here. PS: It has a ton of recipes in it, too! I was lucky enough to have Pierre himself sign my copy. 🙂
You can find Fandango Restaurant on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here. I would like to graciously thank Pierre and his staff for a wonderful meal and service. I am looking forward to dining at Fandango again soon and sitting across from Andy at our table by the fireplace. 🙂
Remember a few weekends ago when Sacramento felt hotter than Christie Brinkley in the Uptown Girl video? (Here’s a link for the children in the audience). Well, Andy and I were able to escape the brutality (before melting) on a little getaway in Carmel, kindly hosted by the Hofsas House Hotel.
It happened to be my birthday weekend, which made the trip even more awesome. And again, so happy to have Andy in my life and to treat him to fun couple of days in return for treating me to great wine and occasional dinners out, as well as most of dinners made at his home on the weekend. Below is the front of the part of the hotel in which we stayed. I have never seen such great landscaping in my life as I saw in Carmel. All the flowers and plants just seem to love the cool (but not cold) climate.
Upon on our arrival, this spread of wine and cheese (from The Cheese Shop) was waiting for us (a $30 upgrade for hotel patrons), along with a lot of information about the hotel, and two passports for The Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea.
For visitors to Carmel, the wine tasting passport is $65 which entitles the buyer to one $10 flight at each of the ten tasting rooms. It can be used in one day or spread out over a weekend, several weeks, or even months. The Wine Tasting Passport is available for purchase at the Carmel Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center on San Carlos between 5th & 6th in Carmel-by-the-Sea or for purchase online here.
The Wine Walk by-the-Sea is a self-paced self-guided stroll to ten tasting rooms in the 1×1 square mile of Carmel-by-the-Sea: Blair Estate, Caraccioli Cellars, DeTierra Vineyards, Figge Vineyards, Galante Vineyards, Manzoni Cellars, Scheid Vineyards, Shale Canyon Wines, Vino Napoli and Wrath Wines.
Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea offers the opportunity to savor superior still and sparkling wines without ever having to think about transportation, parking, or even dinner plans. Each tasting room on the Wine Walk will offer recommendations for dinner or call to make reservations. As an added bonus, corkage is waived for bottles purchased at a Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea tasting room at participating restaurants for one bottle per visit, per party. You can find Carmel Wine Walk-by-the-Sea on Facebook here, or follow them on twitter here.
We decided to wait until the next day for the wine walk, as we had dinner reservations at 7:30pm at Mundaka. Before dinner, we sat on the balcony of our room, enjoying the wine and cheese left for us and the beautiful view on an unusually warm evening.
We also were treated to the Sunset Beach Package (available July-October 2013).
The Hofsas House Sunset Beach package Includes: Wood and starter for a 3 x 3 foot beach fire, Comfy oversized beach blankets to relax upon, all the fixings for s’mores including marshmallows, Hershey bars, graham crackers and long handled roasting sticks (for 10 people), and a safety flashlight.
Total cost for this upgrade is $60. Return the beach package tote bag and skewers and you will receive a $10 refund. Beach fire must be ordered from the Hofsas House 24 hours in advance and subject to availability. This particular package can be booked through the Hofsas House concierge or if reserving online use Booking Code: HHSunset.
Speaking of upgrades, there are several at Hofsas House. Other packages available are:
1. In-room his and her couples massages starting at $160 for 45 minutes.
2. Hotel room decoration (for a special event: anniversary or birthday theme) for $75.
3. Beach fire setup including flowers, s’mores, blanket, flashlight and message in the sand for $139.
4. Golf add-ons (Hofsas has partnerships with 6 area courses) starting at $65 per person (including cart).
5. Two-for-one admission Monterey Bay Aquarium tickets.
6. Champagne and cheese pairing with Hofsas House engraved flutes.
Included with your stay at Hofsas House is a continental breakfast, abundant with fresh French Roast coffee, tea, juice, fruit and pastries from a neighborhood bakery. For those of you like myself who do not eat wheat, there is also fruit available. Most importantly, there is a refrigerator in your room, and you can pack necessary breakfast items. We brought a Tupperware container full of cantaloupe. Below is a picture of the lobby, warm and welcoming.
Below is a shot of the Brut Rosé from Caraccioli Cellars. We stopped at two wineries on the Carmel Wine Walk By-the-Sea and Caraccioli was one of them. If you’re lucky, a sweet young lady named Anyssa will wait on you. You can find them on Facebook here. And on twitter here.
The other tasting room, and actually part art gallery we stopped by was Figge Cellars. Along with superb wines, the tasting room was also a unique art gallery with pieces like the one below. You can find them on Facebook here and on Twitter here.
In Carmel-by-the-Sea, the Theis family is celebrating six decades of European hospitality in this Bavarian-inspired Hofsas House Hotel.
The Hofsas House Hotel is within walking distance of everything Carmel has to offer, including a stunning beach, fine restaurants and shops, and the aforementioned wine tasting. It provides peaceful respite and European charm just minutes from Monterey, Pebble Beach, Big Sur and Pacific Grove. The Hofsas House’s 38 spacious, one-of-a-kind rooms boast European comfort and lovely views, not to mention amenities like fireplaces, private balconies, wet bars, kitchens and patios. Large suites provide the perfect stay for newlyweds and everyone else seeking an extra special getaway. Dutch doors in every room allow guests to welcome in the ocean air, and free WiFi enables them to stay connected if they wish.
The Hofsas House Hotel family works to ensure every visitor’s experience is special, striving to offer the highest quality personal services. or the personalized concierge services for guests and their families, including their four-legged family members, who are welcome, as well. The pet fees are as follows: $25 fee per night for one dog, and $40 per night for two dogs. If you mention you would like the “Tail Wagging Package” you’ll get these items with your room upon arrival:
1. A Hofsas House dog frisbee
2. Special dog bed
3. Letter from the onsite pet concierge Cajun
4. Tips and recommendations for your four-legged friends stay
5. A Package of treats
6. Coastal Canine Magazine
7. A special amenity package from California Pup
Hofsas House Hotel is located on San Carlos Street, north of Fourth Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea. For more information, call (831) 624-2745 or visit www.hofsashouse.com. You can like them on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.
I’d like to extend my gratitude to the Hofsas House Hotel for hosting us during our stay in Carmel and being a direct ambassador to the wineries and restaurants we visited during our stay.