Transforming the Jewel
Transforming the Jewel With posh restaurants and a luxurious spa, Pebble Beach has become more than just a renowned golf resort
From the Print Edition:
Greg Raymer, Sept/Oct 2004
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The spirit of accommodation pays off. Last year, a husband and wife from New York visited the Club XIX patio for four consecutive evenings after dinner. They smoked Gurkhas or 1955 Montecristos at $270 a stick, drank $525 Cognac and spent "at least $1,250 a night," according to Swartz. On the final night, the husband bought 15 of the $270 Montecristos to take home.
In January, Club XIX raided the nearby Park Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn in Carmel Highlands for highly touted chef Rick Edge. At first glance, the move seemed curious for Edge. Eating and drinking is to Highlands—the site of the annual Masters of Food & Wine event that brings together some of the best chefs and winemakers in the world—what golf is to Pebble Beach. Edge had star billing at Highlands, a Park Hyatt budget, and Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali, Robert Mondavi and their brethren regularly tasting his work. At Club XIX, he knew, his culinary creations would always be secondary to the golf. But when he visited Pebble Beach, Edge was instantly smitten with the clientele. With the amount of money that the resort's guests regularly spend—Club XIX's average check is $120 a person—Edge understood that the finest ingredients in the world would be within his reach. "Anything he could possibly imagine that he might want to cook with," says Swartz. Kobe beef is just the beginning.
At the spa, personal gratification is offered on a treatment menu that can climb toward four figures in half a day. Sure, spas elsewhere in North America can compete with this one, but none allow one member of the family to while away the hours encased in mud while another hooks balls into the Carmel Bay wind from the 17th fairway. And the spa also helps the resort connect to the community. You've always been able to get a tee time at Pebble Beach more easily by renting a room for a night than by buying a $10 million home along the fairway, which was appropriately democratic but tended to put up a wall that separated the resort from the rest of the peninsula. Now locals use the spa as a point of access, visiting for massages or day treatments.
From there, they might eat a meal at Stillwater's or up the road at Roy's and tell one another that they really should come to Pebble Beach more often, whether they end up golfing or not. That's an affluent year-round community that previous owners had never bothered to tap into.
>pAll of these new diversions have a strategic purpose. As long as the Pebble Beach name is synonymous with the golf course, business opportunities are limited to these properties on this stretch of coastline. But if an equity can be created that transcends these 18 holes, the Pebble Beach name becomes exportable.
The current ownership group is too smart to diminish the brand by spinning off Pebble Beach resorts as if they were Bennigan's franchises, but a well-placed Pebble Beach East or Pebble Beach South would be the most exciting new development in American luxury properties since Amanresorts crossed the Pacific. Such an idea is under consideration, though no site has been found.
When his group bought the property, Ueberroth characterized Pebble Beach as the best name in American hospitality. Five years later, his stewardship and Perocchi's vision have only made it better.
Bruce Schoenfeld is a regular contributor to Cigar Aficionado.
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