A “Dog Gone” Great Stay at the Hofsas House Hotel

Although summer has officially arrived, the season may look a bit different for each of us this year. Am I right? Usually, summertime finds me hopping airplanes, planning adventures, and a road trip or two. Given where we are still in the world, I’ve decided that I won’t be flying again for awhile. As heartbreaking as that is for someone like me to write, that’s not to say I won’t hit the road.

If you know me at all, it’s pretty clear that I love a good road trip. I was thankful for the few I got in before our world health crisis took off. My last trek? To the Hofsas House Hotel in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

While I love experiencing somewhere new, the Hofsas House has become similar to “family.” In March 2014, Along Comes Mary was near three years old and I’d started dating my now-husband, Mike, just five months prior. I got an invite to visit the iconic California city off Highway One and feature the hotel.

Fast forward, we’ve now had the pleasure of several returns to Carmel-by-the-Sea, and every time, stay at the Hofsas House. An extremely dog-friendly city, it’s only fitting that two very important family members have also made Carmel a second home.

Hammy and Nova got their first taste of Carmel in 2017. We’ve returned twice this year thus far, and I swear that they remembered. Our visit in February was just days before things began to get tense for our society, and COVID-19 became a household term. As the Hofsas House reopens this summer with high safety measures intact, what better time than now to remember our winter adventures in our favorite California city!

The Hofsas House Hotel of Carmel-by-the-Sea. (c) Mary Farah
I look forward to thee Bavarian folks greeting us each visit! (c) Mary Farah
Heated pool. (c) Mary Farah
Road Trip from Los Angeles to the Hofsas House Hotel

This is a route I’ve come to know well. While a lot of adventures find me cruising up the 101 with side stops off Pacific Cast Highway, we take the “easy road” and head up highway five. It’s just easier with two anxious, eager dogs in tow. Our old reliable rest stop in Buttonwillow offers plenty of grass for pup potty time, and drink and snack machines for the humans. There’s also In n Out, Wendy’s, the usual fast-food suspects, as you head north. You’ll never go for more than about an hour without rest stops or shops.

When we, at last, reached our exit, the whines and barks began. Instead of checking right in, I talked Mike into giving the sweeties a taste of what was to come. We headed right to the beach to enjoy some off-leash fun. Big mistake.

Hammy’s Off-Leash Dog Beach Adventure

Much like an over-excited toddler, our lovable dingus, Hammy, got a little carried away. I’ve let him go off-leash on dog beaches since he was a pup. He’s always known where to find us and usually stays pretty close. No trouble at all.

We arrived Saturday afternoon and granted, it was busy. We could tell the dogs were eager to get their paws on the sand, but we walked further down the stretch, away from Pebble Beach, so they could have some privacy. When the leashes came off, all seemed well. We thought it was unusual Hammy burst towards the ocean as if to go swimming, but then he started chasing some dogs. That’s Hammy. He’s having fun, all is well. Then he keeps running and running some more.

The stunning Carmel Beach. (c) Mary Farah
Puppy love. (c) Mary Farah
A Carmel sunset. (c) Mary Farah

“Where the $#@& is he going?!” I’m getting nervous. He looks completely lost; almost like the day I first found him on the streets. He looked on a mission but didn’t know for what. Mike and I are screaming and waving like banshees we’re here, but Ham has other ideas. Mike starts running as fast as he can, as do I, to grab Nova. By the time I do and leash her back up far down on the beach, I cannot see Mike OR Hammy. Anywhere. This means one thing: Hammy has headed for the parking lot and town.

When I finally make my way back to the cars, I see my men and have never been happier. I start crying. Guess where Mike found our silly boy? Heading towards our car. Like something out of a Disney movie, we think he was following our scent back to the car to wait for us.

Maybe he’s not the dingus we think he is, after all?

Check-in Time

After that fiasco, settling into the Hofsas and relaxing on our ocean-view balcony sounded like a good plan. While checking in is always a breeze, it was unfortunate this trip we didn’t get to connect with Hofsas House owner, Carrie Theis. Carrie’s grandmother opened the hotel in the 1940s and Carrie has continued to keep her family’s dreams alive. Carrie had previous commitments and was not at the hotel this weekend, but more often than not her smiling face will welcome you to Carmel.

We made ourselves right at home in our suite. Lit the fireplace, opened our wine and cheese, and sat on the balcony while the pups enjoyed their treats from the Hofsas’ Tail Wagging package. Many upgrades like the Tail Wagging and Wine and Cheese packages are available and completely worth it. The wines, cheese, and chocolate offered are all local, and it’s such a nice welcome after a long ride. Or losing your dog!

Nova approves of the bed! (c) Mary Farah
Tea time on the balcony. (c) Mary Farah
Patio view. Love the glimpse of the ocean. (c) Mary Farah

We also lucked out with a parking spot just outside our room. This made for easy access to necessities packed, but otherwise, we rarely use our car when in Carmel. The Hofsas is just minutes from the village and beach by foot.

Dog Drama Round Two: Nova’s Adventure to the Vet

It wouldn’t be complete if our little diva didn’t have an adventure in Carmel, either. After the Hammy drama, we began to notice our little lady hopping like a bunny. Not groaning, seemed ok, just unable to walk on her back left leg. Great.

Out comes the phone Sunday morning, and I find a Banfield Pet Hospital just 15 minutes away in Sand City. We’re able to drop her off, but the thought of her stuck at the vet on vacation breaks my heart. We venture to Sand City, which is absolutely gorgeous and lives up to its name (sand dunes surround the community). The staff recommends we leave her for an evaluation, and that it shouldn’t be more than a few hours.

We try to make the best of it and decide to head with Hammy to the beach again. Reluctantly, we let him go sans leash. All is well, no fracas.

And then we soon get a call from the vet. He offers an X-ray but is pretty certain it’s a torn ligament. He prescribes some pain meds (“Doggy Vicodin” as I say) and to follow up at home in a few weeks. 

It’s been a long road to recovery for her, actually, but I can finally say she’s much more “Nova” again. Playing tag when we attempt to leash her for a walk, dancing on her back two legs to get up my knee. So many quirks that used to annoy me I’m so glad to see again.

Lots of street art among town, too. (c) Mary Farah
Wish you were here! (c) Mary Farah
Visit the Hofsas House Hotel this Summer

Some of our favorite memories as a family have been made while staying at the Hofsas House Hotel. Following Nova’s vet visit, we enjoyed a wonderful Sunday brunch, shopping, more beach, and wine tasting. Yes, even the dogs are welcome to wine taste. If they could partake, I bet Nova would like a bold Red for her spicy personality. As far as Hammy, he loves to stop and smell flowers. I can see him sipping a fragrant Viognier!

Carrie and her Hofsas House Hotel team are reopened for leisure travel. New protocols include physical-distancing and heath safety measures like no housekeeping during your stay unless requested. All staff will wear masks for your protection, and offer sanitizer stations.

Can’t get enough of these dog tales? Read more about this trip in the June 2020 issue of FWT Magazine, and stay tuned as I’ll have another pooch post all about Hammy and Nova’s favorite dog treats coming this Wednesday! xo

(Special thanks to the Hofsas House Hotel for hosting us on our winter adventures.)

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