Atop the coastal cliffs above a blue Pacific backdrop, the grand Hyatt Carmel Highlands is a scenic setting worthy of wedding vows. Although panoramic views of the spectacular oceanscape are accessible from every room of the resort, bridal couples step outside to wed in a cliff-dwelling gazebo, where wildflowers and verdant foliage complement the shades of the sea, creating the majesty of their moment. Where nature leaves off, the Hyatt Carmel Highlands steps in.
“The gazebo setting is absolutely breathtaking,” says catering and events manager Shelly Rodriguez. “You have the beautiful Big Sur coastline as your backdrop, and the crashing waves as your soundtrack. You really don’t need to add decoration or even music. Of course, the main feature is the beautiful bride and her groom, and we are thrilled to help couples make their wedding day as special as the love they share. Our oceanfront site is the perfect setting for couples to express their love and begin their life journey.”
While many local brides have chosen this legendary setting for their nuptials, the Hyatt Carmel Highlands primarily hosts destination weddings. In the past year, brides hailing from as close as Carmel and as far as Korea have planned their weddings with Rodriguez.
“Our brides are from the East Coast, the Midwest, Ireland, Korea—really all over the world,” she says. “They learn about us on our website, having Googled ‘ocean-front weddings.’ The Hyatt Carmel Highlands is as close as you can get to the ocean without getting sand in your shoes.”
Designed to accommodate weddings and other special events on a grand or intimate scale, the 48-room Hyatt Carmel Highlands offers various wedding packages, among them a personalized elopement package to help reduce the stress and anticipation of a large wedding. The resort welcomes and encourages mid-week and weekend weddings, same-sex and opposite-sex couples, classic and contemporary ceremonies.
The event team at Hyatt Carmel Highlands has years of experience in creating unforgettable ceremonies and receptions. In addition to pampering the bride and groom, they are intimately involved in all the planning details on behalf of the whole wedding party and their guests.
“Because most of my brides come from out of town,” says Rodriguez, “we do a lot of planning from afar and then put it together the weekend of the wedding. It is uncommon for me to see my brides before then. This is why it’s so important that we have an experienced team to help our couples customize their wedding, followed by superb onsite coordination, so everything runs smoothly.”
All couples who spend at least $10,000 or more on their Hyatt Carmel Highlands wedding, are provided a complimentary wedding suite for the night of their wedding. The resort serves a four-course dinner, which includes the wedding cake. Moreover, through their expenses, says Rodriguez, wedding couples accumulate points that can be applied to stays at other Hyatt properties, worldwide.
“The points system is a great perk,” Rodriguez says. “After spending on their wedding, most couples also face the cost of lodging during their honeymoon; we help them with that.”
In addition to premier weddings, the Hyatt Carmel Highlands is known as an exceptional location for meetings, conferences and other gatherings. High-tech meeting spaces take advantage of the beautiful setting and natural light, with inspired areas for break-out sessions, such as under the coastal gazebo.
Meetings, rehearsal dinners, and birthday and anniversary parties are often hosted in the Pacific’s Edge wine room, which was the site of very first Masters of Food and Wine event in 1986.
“Today our guests are standing right where Julia Child, Gordon Ramsey and other famous chefs have stood, “ says Rodriguez. “We have multiple menus to choose among and, with the help of our amazing chef Chad Minton and sous chef Alvaro Dalmau, guests can custom-create menus, which can accommodate dietary restrictions and preferences. In addition, we are very proud that all of our food is sustainably sourced and locally farmed and foraged.”
“So much of this is the original structure in this amazing coastal setting, and we have hosted so many exquisite and now legendary events,” says Rodriguez. “One bride, who was recently planning her wedding at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands, learned her grandparents had been married here, and her parents celebrated their honeymoon at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands, as well. This is definitely a place where traditions are made.”
Situated only four miles from downtown Carmel, Hyatt Carmel Highlands has attracted families, bridal couples, honeymooners, and business and vacation travelers for nearly a century. The resort has been recognized among the world’s finest hotels as part of Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List and Travel + Leisure’s “T+L 500” World’s Best Hotels. For more information about weddings or other special events, contact Shelly Rodriguez at (831) 622-5461, or email WeddingHIGPH@hyatt.com.
A fifth-generation Northern Californian, Lisa Crawford Watson has enjoyed a diverse career in business, education and writing. She lives with her family on the Monterey Peninsula, where her grandmother once lived and wrote. An adjunct writing instructor for CSU Monterey Bay and Monterey Peninsula College, Lisa is also a free-lance writer, who specializes in the genres of art & architecture, health & lifestyle, food & wine. She has published various books and thousands of feature articles and columns in local and national newspapers and magazines.