When Portola Hotel & Spa, a charming coastal retreat along California’s Central Coast, began renovating its meeting spaces, the design team knew exactly where to turn for inspiration: Monterey’s beautiful landscape and iconic landmarks.  


The hotel recently completed an extensive $1.83 million renovation of its De Anza and Bonsai Ballrooms, as well as the De Anza Foyer, a project that helps solidify Portola’s reputation as the leading destination for meetings, conferences, weddings, and other social events in Monterey.  


While establishing the design vision for the meeting spaces, designer Robert Polacek looked to Monterey’s iconic landmarks, the Old Fisherman’s Wharf (a three-minute walk from the hotel) and Cannery Row (just a mile away) as the muse. Polacek, the creative director and partner at RoseBernard Studio, and the hotel team wanted to create spaces that were uniquely Monterey, and did so in ballrooms with weathered wood and Pacific blue tones, while also drawing inspiration from local flora.   


Portola Ballrooms

The renovations included new carpet and wall covers, additional art and elevated décor, restored crown moldings and updated light fixtures, and match the feel of Monterey, says Terri D’Ayon Joyce, the Director of Sales & Catering at Portola Hotel & Spa. “They’re gorgeous and bright—we achieved what we set out to do with creating the coastal feel,” she says. 

Portola - De Anza Foyer 


Ahead, learn more about the unique, only-in-Monterey meeting spaces at Portola Hotel & Spa, a 379-room, high-end hotel that matches the seaside charm of California’s Central coast. 



Coastal-Inspired Meeting Spaces 


Last year, Portola debuted a renovation of The Club Room, a 4,500 square-foot space with a fireside entrance, a private dining room, and an outdoor patio.


To guide the transformation, Polacek zeroed in on the Pacific Coast and Point Pinos in particular, studying the sea-faring history. Point Pinos is located on the Northern tip of the Monterey peninsula and is home to the Point Pinos Lighthouse, which is the West Coast’s oldest continually operating lighthouse. Built in 1855, the lighthouse not only aided in navigation for mariners, but it was a gathering place for social events and Emily Fish was nicknamed “The Socialite Lightkeeper” because of the parties she held in the lighthouse. 



Club Room Portola



The Club Room’s design includes carpet patterns that mimic crashing waves and bronze lighting fixtures that stir up images of the lanterns you’d see on a historic ship, ultimately providing planners with a warm ambiance. 




In total, Portola has 60,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space with the adjacent Monterey Conference Center, including the recently renovated ballrooms that include the 10,655 square-foot De Anza Ballroom that can accommodate up to 1,000 attendees, the 3,287 square-foot De Anza Foyer as well as the 2,546 square-foot Bonsai Ballroom where 200 guests can meet.  


The attention to detail and dedication to celebrating the unique character of Portola’s surroundings ensure that every event held here is both memorable and distinctly Monterey, D’Ayon Joyce says. 


Next up on the renovation cycle is Peter B’s Brewpub, which is Monterey’s original craft brewery. Led by Head Brewer Natalie Mika, flagship and seasonal beers are brewed on site and guests can enjoy them in unique spaces like the Barrel Room, which can host groups of 16 or less around a reclaimed wood table crafted by a local artisan. 



Portola’s Charming Outdoor Spaces  


Portola’s prime location makes it a top spot in California for meeting planners. No need to rent cars—beaches, farmers markets, art galleries, wine tasting rooms, the Fisherman’s Wharf, Cannery Row, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium are all close by.  


In addition to the high-end ballrooms and board rooms, Portola has unique outdoor venues that take advantage of Monterey’s Mediterranean climate and boast coastal and garden charm. The Cottonwood Plaza on the third floor is strung with bistro lights and The Memory Garden, a historic outdoor event space for up to 500 guests, features blooming flowers and a charming adobe wall and fountain.  


Portola Outdoor Spaces


Jacks Terrace is outfitted with bistro lights, lanterns hanging from a tree, fire pits and comfortable seating and is an ideal spot for dinner parties, receptions and banquets. At the Upper Custom House, which can accommodate 300 guests, planners can stoke some friendly competition with the bocce courts.




“Our weather is comfortable year-round, and we have tremendous outdoor space to enjoy it,” D’Ayon Joyce says.