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Marina Dunes Resort

Article by: Norm Goldman
Paintings by: Lily Azerad-Goldman

As we recently discovered, California's coastline roads often hide neat surprises in the most unexpected places.

Ten miles north of Monterey scattered across 19 acres of secluded sand dunes we found a perfect example where location is a resort's defining amenity.

Marina Dunes Resort opened its doors in 1999 and was the first oceanfront development approved by the California Coastal Commission in 24 years. No doubt, it must have been no easy feat to secure its approval, as owner and San Luis Obispo developer John King will probably confirm.

The main question in our minds was how did King manage to gain permission to build the resort and how would it affect the Environment? It is to be noted that Marina Dunes is regarded as one of the most important dune systems in California.

To give you some background information, the area was formerly an industrial site and sand quarry. Some locals pointed out to us that before King came along it was often used as a dumping ground where debris, antiquated machinery and old tires could be found scattered all over the place along with the remains of concrete structures that once had been used for refining and storage. It had also been subjected to a great deal of sand mining. Not a pleasant sight!

In order to gain approval from the Commission, the resort's operators had to agree to ameliorate the area by way of a dune' restoration plan. This would include the seeding of indigenous plant species, as well as protecting endangered wildlife. Consequently, the resort committed itself to fund a permanent dune restoration program, making this the first of such programs on the Monterey Peninsula. (This is a wonderful example as how government and private industry can work together and collaborate in protecting the environment.)

The program entailed the eradication of ice plant and the planting of native dune species in the hope that eventually these dunes will be returned to their pristine condition. It also necessitated the protection of rare birds as the Snowy Plover as well as providing buckwheat for the Smith's Blue Butterfly.

To cut down on noise and air pollution guests are provided with golf carts and are informed that their cars are to be left in the parking lot. This caused some friction between my wife and myself, as we both wanted to sail through the property's brick paved pathways to our bungalow.

To finance the program there is a fifteen dollar per day restoration fee that is tacked onto your bill.

Romantic Getaway

The splendid setting of Marina Dunes Resort makes it easy to focus on romance. Whether a couple is getting married, on their honeymoon or celebrating their anniversary, the resort provides an environment where they can enhance their feelings for one another and celebrate the reasons they are together. Moreover, it is magical place to put the heart at ease.

It is the perfect refuge that is worlds away from the pressures of everyday life where you can enjoy nature, listen to the sound of the ocean gently lap the shore at night from gorgeous ocean view rooms while snuggling up with a glass of wine in front of a cozy fireplace.

Or, how about a stroll along the shoreline of the state beach just minutes from your cottage where you can surf-fish, beach comb, picnic, sunbathe, bird watch, walk the boardwalk, hang glide or simply set in for a nap on a chaise barely aware of the resort in the background.

Marina Dunes Resort is justly proud of its accommodations. The design of its ranch-style bungalows and their subtle colors perfectly blend in with their surroundings so as not to distract from the natural beauty of the dunes and the Pacific Ocean.

Our bungalow had a sizeable ocean-view deck that was great for just admiring the dunes and its surroundings.

All rooms are beautifully appointed and come with a wet bar, king bed, bath/shower combination, remote control television, honor bar and telephones with data port capability for computers and faxes.

Premium designer fabrics are used in quality bath linens, luxurious bedding and soft furnishings. Suites have separate sitting areas with a leather loveseat and chair, wrought iron and small dining tables, two chairs, two televisions, a granite-topped desk and. The bathrooms come with double sink vanities and a separate shower. It should be mentioned that about half the lodging on the property are operated as time-shares; however, the bungalows facing the ocean are only for resort's guests.

Besides the bungalows there is a free-standing, 120-seat restaurant, branded A.J. Spurs and a year-round, heated swimming pool, an oversized hot tub as well as a children's pool, a massage and spa service, a recreational trail that follows the coastline begins just minutes from the resort and if you are really up to it, you can walk all the way to Monterey-a distance of several miles.

Wedding Destination

As a wedding venue, the resort offers more than space. You have the option of exchanging vows on a serene stunning beach looking across Monterey Bay or on the resort's gorgeous lawn behind the Main Lodge. The latter can accommodate up to one hundred and twenty seated or two hundred standing guests.

If your celebration is smaller or more intimate, indoor weddings can take place in the Gallery that can accommodate thirty seated guests or the Sunroom, both of which feature large picture windows and a romantic fireplace. The reception can also take place in the Main Lodge that accommodates up to fifty seated and ninety standing guests.


Marina Dunes Resort
3295 Dunes Drive
Marina, California 93933
TEL: 831-883-9478