CARMEL, Calif. -- The work is finally done at Quail Lodge & Golf Club. Now it's time for guests to savor every new touch and detail.
A $28-million rejuvenation has the iconic resort in Carmel Valley sparkling. Quail Lodge, just minutes from the Pacific Ocean set against a backdrop of the Santa Lucia Mountains, went into hibernation for three years before reopening in 2013. The final piece of the massive upgrade -- a renovation of the 51-year-old Quail Lodge golf course -- was completed this summer.
Quail Lodge might not have the national name recognition of Pebble Beach Resorts, but for families and golfers, it's paradise rediscovered on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula.
Quail Lodge: The resort
Quail Lodge has been building memories for guests since 1964. Being off the ocean has its privileges. The 800-acre property is a secluded getaway that's more affordable and still luxurious.
Just off the lobby in the main building, there's a snug bar and an area where complimentary daily continental breakfast is served. The back deck overlooks a pond, providing a peaceful spot for breakfast or a drink. Meeting rooms inside the building and nearby have been rejuvenated for weddings and banquets.
A maze of covered outdoor walkways, all beautifully landscaped with flowers, lead to 90 guestrooms, including 11 Garden Suites, two Deluxe Suites and two two-bedroom Fairway Villas. The exquisite little details of the suite my family shared for a weekend -- the peep hole in the front door in the shape of three quails, the built-in shelving, the sitting nooks for reading and relaxing, the secluded outdoor patio -- impressed us all.
The heated, outdoor pool felt perfect after a hot day hiking the oceanfront Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and again after my round of golf. We enjoyed more free fun one afternoon before dinner, messing around in the bocce ball courts and on the nine-hole putting course (free putters and balls are available at the front desk).
Our final day was maybe my favorite of the summer: Jumping waves at the dog friendly Carmel Beach below the cliffs of Pebble Beach Golf Links , lunch at the Hog's Breath Inn in downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea and dinner at Edgar's inside the clubhouse at Quail Lodge Golf Club. It's about a five-minute walk from the lodge to the golf clubhouse. While a wedding partied upstairs, we ate a magnificent meal on the patio below, cuddling up to the warmth of the outdoor fire pit as darkness fell.
Quail Lodge: The golf course
The work done by California-based architect Todd Echenrode of Origins Golf Design improved the 6,464-yard course where the original Robert Muir Graves design needed help. Yet it retained the character of its best holes.
The par-4 fourth hole that climbs uphill still confounds players and the pond right of the drop-shot, par-3 fifth hole still gathers balls. Holes 10-12 run through the most natural section of the property away from the surrounding neighborhood and lodge. They're all excellent.
Echenrode worked wonders to strengthen the start and end of the round. He carved fairway swales on the first three holes to spice up previously flat land. He added more contour to the par-4 16th and par-3 17th holes, taking out several ponds. Both play to table-top greens. A handful of water hazards throughout the course were replaced with drought-tolerant areas of wood chips and native plants, a nod to California's ongoing drought.
Bunkers rebuilt or repositioned in more appropriate landing zones better defend the modern game. These new-look sand traps, lined with eye-catching tufts of fescue that swallows balls, have become the signature of Quail Lodge. It's safe to say this modernized classic has never looked better.