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Asilimar Arts & Crafts Retreat in Central California

Asilomar Conference Grounds is a unique retreat into California's natural heritage and architectural history.

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Retreats can be awe inspiring, reinvigorating, and community building if they are planned with nature at the heart of the experience.

Located along the Pacific coast within minutes of Monterey, Carmel, and Pebble Beach, Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove offers just such an inspiring nature-nook venue for meetings, conferences, and special events such as weddings, and retreats. Whether you're planning an educational conference or a corporate retreat, Asilomar welcomes groups with service, planning, and catering, in a truly inspirational setting.

A total of 313 guest rooms, disbursed throughout the grounds, can easily accommodate groups and families of all sizes. Many buildings feature a common living room with a fireplace that can be used for informal socializing. Built in 1913 and designed by California’s first female architect, Julia Morgan, well-known for her work on Hearst Castle, another ARAMARK-managed property, Asilomar is a cozy, peaceful sanctuary set among the Monterey pines and cypresses.

Living Architectural History

The Arts & Crafts architectural style exemplified in the buildings at Asilomar by noted architect Julia Morgan, built between 1913 and 1928, as part of a movement that influenced architects, designers and craftspeople. The movement had its roots in late 19th century Britain, where architects wanted to reform design and bring back the quality craftsmanship of the work itself. The goal of the Arts & Crafts movement was to establish a harmony between the architect, the designer and the craftsperson – and to enable them to create well-designed, expertly crafted, affordable furnishings and other items.

Several of the Asilomar Room types are located in buildings designed by architect John Carl Warnecke and built in a style complementary to that of Julia Morgan's.

Julia Morgan was true to the California Arts & Crafts style when she designed Asilomar. Here, the buildings were designed from the inside out, with the main character and expression found in the interiors. Open spaces and natural light dominated, with the craftsmanship of the structures becoming the art of the building.

The use of local wood and stone was fundamental. Weaving patterns together out of lines, colors and textures, the result was a lovely rhythm and harmony. Repetition of form was created throughout each building, echoing its character. A fireplace was often the centerpiece of a room, as Morgan felt that it represented the soul of the structure.

The Arts & Crafts movement also promoted the idea of a social reform of sorts (which to many meant merely a change in the working conditions) primarily along the lines of the restorative powers of the "simple life" of art and craftsmanship. This led to workshops, which were held in rural surroundings where arts and crafts were promoted as being the key to that "simple life."

Unfortunately, although the Arts & Crafts movement was based on high ideals and a desire to bring art into the most ordinary items, it couldn’t flourish without the age of prosperity into which it was born. An over-dependence on wealthy clients eventually led to its demise during the Great Depression.

Today, as the world experiences the intervention of computers into the industrial manufacturing process, designers have turned their attention to the Arts & Crafts movement of a century ago for inspiration in recreating the clean lines and fine craftsmanship of that era.

Green Thread® Environmental Program

ARAMARK Parks and Destinations, the managing agent for Asilimar, is committed to protecting and improving the environment by reducing their environmental footprint. They also offer expertise and practical solutions to clients to help them reduce their environmental impacts. The corporation developd and implementd long-term environmental stewardship programs and policies within the areas of sustainable food; responsible procurement; green buildings; energy and water conservation; transportation; and waste stream management. Aramark calls these programs and policies Green Thread® as they weave throughout their business operations every day.

Sustainable and Organic Cuisine

Asilomar Conference Grounds, employs as executive chef, Danny Abbruzzese who has focused long-term efforts on sustainable and organic cuisine.

Guests at Asilimar enjoy the authentic taste of California's Central Coast from a fresh, sustainable menu. At its heart is the simple use of quality local ingredients such as beef, fish, vegetables, fruits, cheeses and wines prepared with delicate seasoning , and with attention to sourcing from regional farmers, ranchers and fishermen.

While the Asilomar menu allows you to enjoy healthier food choices, it also allows the state park to reduce their carbon footprint and help support the local economy by working with local producers.

This is a unique conference facility within a state park. Since ARAMARK took over operations at Asilomar Conference Grounds in late 2009, the chef and his team have revamped the food and beverage operations, which include a full catering menu, group-style dining, and eight live action stations at Crocker Dining Hall.

Rustic Local Neighbor along Central California's Beach

A hidden gem in Pacific Grove, Asilomar Conference Grounds draws upon its rustic setting and beachside location to highlight local ingredients, including fresh fish, sustainable fruits and vegetables, and California cheese and wine. The center has a long-standing tradition of working with local suppliers to serve high-quality ingredients and seasonal specialties.

Asilomar Conference Grounds is also a proud partner of the neighboring Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program, which certifies that seafood suppliers obtain fish from sustainable environments. In 2008 an official partnership with the Seafood Watch Program committed Asilimar to following new practices that guide its purchases of sustainable seafood

Asilomar Conference Grounds is committed to continually refreshing the menu to include new seasonal variations, fresh vegetables and seafood options for meetings, weddings and special events and the staff at Asilomar works with meeting and event planners to create a unique group-style dining experience that facilitates interaction among guests and the kitchen staff.

Asilomar Conference Grounds

Asilomar, which carries a loose translation for “refuge by the sea,” is adjacent to Asilomar State Beach and along the shoreline of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

For more information on Asilomar Conference Grounds, visit

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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