Just for you, loyal readers, we sacrifice another of our weekends just to bring you more Critical Golf resort reviews. This time we trek down to the Inn at Spanish Bay, owned by the Pebble Beach Company and located within the famous 17-Mile Drive. The reasons to stay at the Inn at Spanish Bay are clear: exceptional views, its location on the gorgeous California coastline, and a golf course next to the Inn amidst dunes overlooking the Pacific. The staff is extremely friendly, capable and attentive though not overbearing, and the environment is warm and welcoming with California informality…no stuffy awkwardness you might find at some old school resorts.

Within the Inn at Spanish Bay you will find rooms well-kept and of moderate size, though they lack the latest and greatest features such as power-curtains, massive televisions with HD, or the like. Well, there is a wall-mounted phone right next to the toilet (remember when that defined luxury?). There are approximately 270 rooms in total, so the resort is still small enough to maintain a sense of intimacy, even with a dedicated conference room wing of the Inn (sounds like a prime location for a future Critical Golf company retreat!).

Adjacent to the Inn and overlooking the 1st tee of the Links at Spanish Bay is the Clubhouse, which houses the Pro Shop, a dining room/bar and the Spanish Bay Club. The Links at Spanish Bay isn’t our favorite course in the area (I’ll save the complaints about the greens and the relative unforgiving nature of the course for later), but no matter how many balls you lose, you can’t help but enjoy the ocean views. Make sure to get in rounds at Spyglass and Poppy Hills as well. If you’re flush with cash you won’t want to miss Pebble Beach, and if your wallet is feeling light, Pacific Grove Golf Links is a fun low-cost alternative with some dramatic ocean scenery.

While the primary draw for the Inn at Spanish Bay is the golf course, there isn’t an overbearing feel of a golf-specific resort, which means that visitors who don’t play golf won’t feel like outsiders. There is lots to enjoy, including the fire pits outside the Lobby with glimpses of the Links and magnificent ocean views and the walking trail that winds through the dunes and course down to coastal trails and beaches. There is also the Spanish Bay Club fitness center, which has a wide selection of equipment and weights along with a pool, and a tennis center next door. Though guests can have massages in-room or at the Club, one of the downsides is the lack of a full spa on-site. For those that need the full experience, it is a 4.5 mile trip over to the Spa at Pebble Beach – bummer (although they do offer shuttle service if you don’t have a car). For shoppers, there are a handful of retail stores at the entry to the Inn, with an assortment of items including resort wear (lounge it up!), jewelry, spa products, and even bedding. If that isn’t enough, you are only 6 miles from the town of Carmel-By-The-Sea with lots of shopping, art galleries and restaurants. There are a handful of dining options at the Inn, from bar menus to fine dining. We didn’t find a standout, with views exceeding the food.

If you are looking for a resort that is brightest/shiniest with the highest level of accommodations and dining across the board, the Inn at Spanish Bay may leave you wanting more. What you will get, however, is very good service from an attentive staff, exceptional views, and proximity to the California coastline. And every night, a bagpiper closes the course in Scottish tradition, winding his way from the Links to the fire pits at the Inn. Not a bad a way to end a day indeed.

Fitness Center
Pro Shop

Inn at Spanish Bay: View accommodations



91 / A-


Throughout our stay the service level was extremely strong, from contact prior to arrival, check-in, on the golf course and when dining. The staff was friendly, unfailingly polite, and never left us waiting.

Spanish Bay Resort

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90 / A-


We were booked in the Inn’s “Forest View” room, which is one of the more, ahem, fiscally responsible of the options. Others include the Garden Room (with a view of some trees, some grass, and some parking lot, but just fine for those looking to save some dollars), Scenic View (which might more accurately be called “Not Really An Ocean View’) and Ocean View. All rooms are approximately 460-470 square feet. Most rooms, but not all, have a small balcony or patio, and a gas fireplace.

Spanish Bay Forest Room

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Our room was clean and well kept, more cozy than glitzy, but certainly comfortable. As advertised, we looked out into the pines of the Del Monte Forest, with a view of a sliver of the 11th hole tee box. Rooms also featured complimentary Wi-Fi.

Other features included:

91 / A-


The Spanish Bay Club, a two-floor fitness center, is just a short stroll away, located in the Clubhouse building next to the Inn. The use of the Club is included in the daily $25 resort fee, with no additional fees for the exercise classes.

Spanish Bay Club

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The Club is just off the main entrance to the Clubhouse. You’ll walk past the pool area, which includes seating around a 25 meter heated pool and whirlpool, to the welcome area. Off the entry lounge is a complimentary juice/water bar area, an exercise room just behind the front desk, and a small assortment of workout gear available for purchase lining the walls leading to the workout room. Downstairs are men’s and women’s locker rooms, which were quite nice even though this wasn’t a full-service spa, as well as 2 massage rooms. The locker room features a steam room and sauna, and ample space to get ready for your workout.

The fitness center was clean and up-to-date with a very helpful staff. The area with machines and free weights is not overly large, with a confined area off the main workout area for free weights and stretching. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to enjoy views toward the coast from one of the three window-facing treadmills, which may ease the pain somewhat.

Features include:

In addition to the Spanish Bay Club, just across the street is the Tennis Pavilion, featuring eight courts, two of which are lit for night play if you still have enough energy after golf and drinks. There is an additional fee for use of the courts ($15 per person per day). There is a full Tennis Pro Shop here as well, and a number of options for lessons – both private and group clinics. Also available at the Tennis Pavilion are bicycle rentals for an additional fee ($20 for a half day, $30 for a full day).



One of the negatives of the Inn is the lack of an on-site spa. Massages are available in-room (50 minutes for $210) or at the fitness center (50 minutes for $145) but other than this, you’ll need to travel 4.5 miles over to the Spa at Pebble Beach (located at Casa Palmero, adjacent to the Lodge at Pebble Beach). You should allocate between 15 and 30 minutes depending on whether you are driving or taking the complimentary shuttle. When we are looking for some R&R at a spa, particularly this high-end, we much prefer it to be on-site.

If you do venture over to Pebble Beach, know that you will in the blink of an eye do as much damage to your wallet there as you would paying for the course’s greens fees. If your wife or girlfriend is going to be spending time there while you are on the links, make sure your credit card limits have been adjusted appropriately. There are a tremendous number of massage options, body and facial treatments, flotation wraps (I don’t even know what those are), a full salon for hair and nail care, and “Shave Services” for the fellas. There is even “chakra balancing” with gemstones, if your game is really on the rocks (bada-bum-bum). Hey, whatever it takes to shave a few more strokes…

92 / A-


The Spanish Bay Pro Shop, located steps away from the first tee of the Links, has a very good selection of both men’s and women’s golf clothing and a variety of accessories – and in case you are worried about missing the televised tournament that day you can keep on top of the action with one of the four televisions in the store.

Carnoustie was the brand most prominently displayed in the shop during our visit, though there are also selections from Nike, Fairway & Greene, Ashworth, and (since you very well might need it, depending on the day) Zero Restriction. They have a good-looking selection covering all types of apparel, from jackets and shirts to shorts, pants, and a number of shoe options (we are partial to spikeless golf shoes).

Outside of clothing, there is a limited range of clubs (primarily putters), and an assortment of accessories from logoed Spanish Bay golf bags, hats, flags, balls, flasks, shot glasses (seriously?), and coasters. If you are looking for a bagpiper logo, you’ve come to the right place.

87 / B+


Within the Inn at Spanish Bay are two primary restaurants, Roy’s and Peppoli, with more limited bar menus available in the Lounge and bar. At the neighboring Clubhouse is another informal restaurant with attached bar. Though not required, we do highly recommend reservations at either Roy’s or Peppoli. Virtually all restaurants offer exceptional views over the dunes and course to the Pacific Ocean.

The pricing at the restaurants wasn’t exorbitant, and though we continued to be impressed by the service, we found the food to be below our expectations. We were happiest with the appetizers by the fire pits and live music in the Lobby Lounge than anywhere else.

Spanish Bay Resort

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Following our round at the Links at Spanish Bay, we had drinks and appetizers at the bar adjacent to STICKS overlooking the first tee. There are televisions throughout the bar and a fireplace in the corner. We found the service and food fair at best, consistent with past visits.

The other dining option at the Inn at Spanish Bay is Peppoli, a quieter and more fine-dining atmosphere with a main dining area about half the size of Roy’s serving dinner, also with views to the Pacific. Next to Peppoli is Traps, a bar with televised sports that serves drinks and dinner or late-night suppers, and on the weekend of our visit, featured live music as well.

We weren’t enthralled by the dining, and would recommend that visitors who have the time consider other alternatives in the area.

88 / B+


Given the number of guests that come to play golf, it isn’t surprising that the Inn and course are closely connected.

88 / B+


Our Forest View room ran $815/night, taxes and resort fee included. The resort fee covers parking, access to the Spanish Bay Club, Wi-Fi, and gratuities for all staff with the exception of the dining rooms and golf course. The $9.75 entrance fee to 17-Mile Drive is also waived – you’ll get a placard for you car that allows for quick access through the 17-Mile Drive gates during your stay…take that to the bank!

Unlike some golf resorts that have reduced greens fees for guests, at Spanish Bay you’ll pay the full fare for a round on the Links, though a cart is included at no cost to resort guests. We deferred as the course is quite walkable. For those staying multiple nights and playing two or more rounds, packages are available, but you won’t necessarily see a price break. As an example, a package consisting of 2 nights at the Inn, plus one round at Pebble Beach (value $495) and a round at Spanish Bay ($260) or Spyglass ($360) runs for $2,000, excluding tax and resort fees. Like In-n-Out, just because you are buying a bundle doesn’t make it any cheaper.

For those wondering, there aren’t many advantages to staying at one of the Pebble Beach Companies when visiting the other Pebble Beach hotels or golf courses – you can consider them entirely separate properties. The few benefits you receive are the ability to charge back items to your room, the shuttle service running between locations, and perhaps the most important, the ability to make tee times further in advance than non-resort guests (up to 18 months in advance).

Spanish Bay Resort

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At more than $700/night all-in for the least expensive room, the Inn at Spanish Bay certainly isn’t an inexpensive option. Your dollars get you a friendly and attentive staff, an Inn that features exceptional views to the Pacific, and a course on-site and in close proximity to other courses that should be on your list to play. With all non-suite rooms roughly the same size, we would recommend either saving your dollars and selecting a Garden View room, or, if this is a particularly special trip, considering the Ocean View rooms. Whichever type of room you select, keep in mind you are saving money…compared to The Lodge at Pebble Beach and the intimate Casa Palmero, that is.

For those looking either for a special vacation away, or a guys’ trip for golf during the day and cards in the bar at night, it’s an incredibly relaxing setting and one we recommend.

One Response

  1. Great breakdown. I proposed to my wife during our round at Pebble and stayed at their suite facing the 18th. It was a surreal weekend. We are celebrating our 5 year anniversary and planning to stay at the Inn. Thanks for the write up.

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