From our years in the workfield, one of the things we learned is that executives always host retreats or off-sites. Apparently, these outings are the source of all great ideas and are key to running a successful venture. So, we decided that what the first year of Instant Grativacation was missing was an escape that we could do in the name of business. Not ladies to make the same mistake twice – we started planning our 2013 retreat months before we even rang in the New Year.
Since Instant Grativacation is big on adventure, but light on funds, we were looking for a deal. Thanks to the plethora of daily coupon sites, we were able to quickly find an affordable getaway in Monterey, Calif. Just a couple hours south of San Francisco, Monterey was the perfect weekend destination. It is far enough to feel like you went somewhere, but not so far that we would spend all of our time in the car.
As ladies who love to dine, we like plan our trips around the food. So, after a quick drive from the Bay Area we headed to downtown Carmel for lunch at 400 Degrees Gourmet Burger & Fries. Open less than a year, the restaurant promised burgers, fries and shakes made from locally sourced ingredients. It also offered tablets at each table for a high-tech ordering experience.
Famished from our trip, we wasted no time and got busy ordering. I went for the Kobe burger with American wagyu, soused onions, smoked cheddar cheese, crispy potatoes and 400° spread, while Elisabeth ordered the Jack burger with jack cheese, roasted green chili, pickled onions, avocado and 400° spread. As if our monster-sized burgers weren’t enough, we also indulged in an order of garlic fries and beer battered onion rings.
A quick diet coke crisis later (how do you request more? Order another via the tablet? Flag down one of the food runners? Go up to the counter?), and we were satisfied and on our way.
Still reeling from our delicious lunch and looking to kill time before we could check-in to our hotel, we decided to enjoy some wine tasting at some of the many tasting rooms in downtown Carmel. With so many to choose from, we took a very non-scientific approach and went with the first one to cross our path, which happened to be Galante Vineyards. Galante was right up our alley, as it specializes in red wine, and they were generous with the cheese and cracker palate cleansers.
The host was quite nice, and didn’t even bat an eye when someone who clearly had already enjoyed more wine than us shattered a glass and screamed like she was auditioning for Psycho. Not wanting to conform to convention, and despite a love for red, we both walked away with a bottle of white. As it often happens, the first tasting then gave way to a second one at Shale Canyon Wines.
Feeling satiated and relaxed, we decide to make our way back to Monterey to check-in at Casa Munras Hotel and Spa. Our Bloomspot coupon did us right and got us a concierge king room complete with fluffy, terry cloth robes and a fireplace. The novelty of the fireplace did not go unnoticed, so we sunk into the large cozy bed and tuned into Burlesque (which happens to only be good after wine tastings). It was the perfect way to end the day and prepare for our night out on the town.
Find out what happens when night falls on Carmel in part two!