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Way back in the middle of 2020, I booked a speculative stay at Ventana Big Sur. With cash rates approaching $3,000 per night on many dates, it’s an aspirational stay any way you shake it, even though you can occasionally score an award night for just 30,000 World of Hyatt points.
In the summer of 2020, none of us knew whether or not we’d be able to freely hop around the country by June 2021, so I was able to lock in not one but three nights at that 30,000-point rate.
Many travelers aren’t so lucky, however, and may end up booking a stay at a nearby Hyatt at the same 30,000-point rate instead.
After my phenomenal three-night Ventana visit, I decided to spend two nights at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands to see if this more accessible resort should command the identical Category 7 award rate that it currently does.
While the views are absolutely incredible, my post-Ventana visit simply served to highlight the resort’s shortcomings.
For one, the Hyatt Carmel Highlands is still operating with many of the mid-pandemic restrictions we learned to accept in the middle of last year, despite California now being entirely open for business — to the extent that masks aren’t even required around the hotel.
Still, daily housekeeping isn’t provided, a concierge isn’t available, there’s no room service at the moment and the on-site restaurant isn’t even open for dinner. That isn’t stopping Hyatt from requiring 30,000-point redemptions or tacking on a $22 resort fee on paid nights, however.
Most importantly, the hotel is ill-equipped to accommodate remote workers, making a stay impossible for anyone hoping to blend a few workdays with a leisure trip.
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The biggest issue, by far, was the resort’s horrendous connectivity. While included without an additional charge for all guests, the Wi-Fi was even slower than anything I’ve experienced on a plane within the last few years. I struggled to load the most basic websites and barely eked out a successful speed test. My girlfriend wasn’t able to check email or browse the web with her laptop at all.
I checked in with the front desk, where the first agent I spoke with insisted that no other guests had mentioned connectivity issues — an unreasonable claim, considering I struggled to browse the web in our room, near the pool and in the lobby as well.
I asked for a manager, who did acknowledge inconsistent performance. She said some guests have had better luck in the business center and lobby, but my iPhone registered the same cruddy speeds there.
The manager said she could send someone to reset the router, but I was able to connect — the performance was just incredibly sluggish throughout the hotel. So, channeling my inner Ariana Arghandewal, I asked if the hotel would refund our stay if we needed to leave.
Surprisingly, the manager’s mood improved — she actually seemed relieved and immediately said that wouldn’t be a problem, perhaps thankful to have one less road warrior on-site to complain about the shoddy connectivity.
I went back to the room and started looking for options — using my phone’s cell connection since the Wi-Fi couldn’t even handle that. With nothing comparable available nearby, we ended up finding a great deal in San Francisco and making the 2.5-hour drive up to the city.
As excited as I was to stay at Hyatt Carmel Highlands, it wasn’t worth suffering through two days of terrible Wi-Fi, potentially adding hours to each day of remote work.
I’m appreciative that the hotel was willing to allow me to check out right away and refund my booking in full, but I won’t consider returning until the connectivity issues are resolved. If you encounter a similar issue after checking in to this hotel or any other, I’d speak up quickly, and if there isn’t another solution, you might want to ask for a refund and check out right away.
All photos by Zach Honig/The Points Guy
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.