Sunday, April 15, 2018

Hofsas House Hotel Celebrates 70-Year Family Heritage, Carmel-by-the-Sea

Hofsas House Hotel Celebrates 70-Year Family Heritage, Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel and Monterey, CA is a frequent day-trip region from the Bay area, and is a special, spiritual place by the sea.

Hofsas House Hotel View, Carmel and Monterey, CA

With each trip I take, I find something different to explore.  I am certain my daily influences every year lead to these new discoveries.    My favorite places to wander are the historical, friendly main-street, also known as Alvarado Street, in Downtown Monterey. I also enjoy the European-style Ocean Avenue in Downtown Carmel. Each place has its own personality and style.  This visit, be it just an opportunity for an overnight-stay, led me to an entirely new discovery.

My overnight stay in Carmel, CA brought me two days of an in-depth experience, and many conversations with locals.  My hotel, Hofsas House Hotel, is a convenient four-blocks away from Ocean Avenue in Downtown Carmel. I became acquainted with Carmel in a different way. This travel review I saw from Travel Pulse news is spot on – these are my insights from this trip. 

Hofsas House Hotel, Carmel, CA
  The Hofsas House Hotel, Celebrates Family Heritage.


I was drawn to the 70-year family-heritage celebration this year, created by Donna Hofsas, and handed down to her only son, and his wife, Jack and Doris, as well as the third generation of her grandchildren, Scott and Carrie Theis.  It was not easy in the 1950’s to build this type of hotel in Carmel, and acquiring all of the local community-approvals and permits required, pushed Donna Hofsas to develop the hotel through strength and persistence. 

People may still stay in one of the original cottages Donna created with her husband, called the family suite 9/10.  I enjoyed learning the history of how this hotel was developed from Donna’s granddaughter, Carrie Theis, General Manager. I immediately connected with Carrie, and loved the local Carmel community stories, as well as the stories of when Carrie lived in the Bay Area in her early years.  Carrie spent her summers helping her grandmother with jobs, like greeting their guests, and helping out at the front desk.  

"Leisure With Dignity" Mosaic Crest created by Fred Hofsas

"Welcome" Hofsas House Hotel Lobby

My family history, and recent trip to Germany, makes this discovery of this Bavarian style Hofsas House Hotel even more special to me.  My own surprise when driving up to the hotel entrance was that it is located on these hilly Carmel streets.  There is convenient and complimentary parking on site, easy to navigate steps, and pet-friendly. 

Everyone is greeted by a warm and friendly Bavarian-style welcome mural, that Donna Hofsas commissioned painter Maxine Albro to create. Albro also has an art piece at the Coit Tower in San Francisco. One will find more paintings in the lobby, the front of the hotel, and even the headboard in Room 47.  

Welcome Mural at Hofsas House by Maxine Albro
I found my hotel room quite large and comfortable.  I simply turned my huge, oversized, and super comfortable chair to face the window, and spent much of my time spell-bound by the Monterey bay views – all whilst looking out my large window and writing with my laptop.

Hofsas House Hotel Inside Room

Wine and Chesse Starter, Hofsas House Hotel

Hofsas HouseHotel, Fireplace Carmel CA

It is convenient to open the top-half of the Dutch door for air and light.  My first night sunset over the bay was glamorous, yet, there are no guarantee of sunsets, so I was grateful to witness one my first night.

Sunset, Hofsas House Hotel, Carmel, CA

And, if all of this is not enough, the delicious morning goodies of pastries, juice, and coffee await guests in the lobby entrance area. It is your choice whether you will sit and chat over the pastries, or fix a small basket and go back to your room. Coffee and tea are always available all day.  I had a small kitchenette with a microwave, as well as a refrigerator to keep my items like wine, cheese, and lunch items in. 

Morning Pastries, Juice, Coffee

I love the personal connection and energy I found throughout the property.  The employees are very helpful with directing you to parking, things to do, and tips on traversing the city.  Remember to use the balcony look-out area to sit around outside your room.  There is a heated pool, and even a meeting room available for small groups – for mindful retreats and family reunions. 




What Made Carmel Different This Time? 

Carmel is a European-style small village that is tucked away in the hills next to Monterey Bay, and the main street leads to Carmel Beach white sands. There’s a variety of tasty food, wine, and retail scenes to choose from.  Most visitors enjoy day visits, and stay within the confines of the main-street, Ocean Avenue. 

What did I do different?  I walked back and forth on each of the side streets crossing Ocean Ave. I had the historic walking tour map in hand, and insights from Carrie our Hotel Manager. Lastly, I caught fantastic sights of murals, statues, and unusual buildings, along with the normal sights of Ocean Avenue. 

Carmel Parks and Statues

Carmel is an artist community, and it is easy to visit many studios and galleries.  I discovered winetasting rooms interspersed between the art, shops and eateries.  This time I tried Scheid Vineyards, a family-run winery in Monterey County, Dawns Dream Winery who supports women non-profits, and a newer tasting room, Carmel Road, who is in collaboration with Drew Barrymore.  These vineyards had some amazing stories that were entertaining while tasting.  

Scheid Vineyards
Wine Walk Carmel, CA

Liquor Flavored Chocolates, All About Chocolates, Carmel

One item, is I wanted to say thank you to a post by @VisitCarmel on Instagram, about the City Hall building. I mentioned to Carrie about my first unsuccessful walk by, and she quickly told me to go one more block over.  I found it - the quaint Carmel City Hall. 

Carmel City Hall
There are frequent stories of the rich and famous living in Carmel. One of my favorite places to drop in, is the Cypress Inn owned by Doris Day.  Carrie told me about the local’s 96th birthday celebration, the day I was there, held at Carmel High School. 

Cypress Hotel and Doris Day Carmel CA

Don't forget to drive around Monterey Bay: Pebble Beach, Lover's Point, Pacific Grove


Food Tastes?

One of my favorites, and another hotel-staff recommendation, was Brophy’s Tavern, a local sports pub across the street from the hotel that is comfortable and ideal, even for solo-women travelers.  I enjoyed picking up a light lunch at the 5thStreet Deli as well. It would be very convenient for one to take these on hikes or beach picnics. 

Brophy's Tavern Carmel CA 
Brophy's Tavern 

Go Where Everyone Knows Your Name Carmel, CA

My dinner at Lugano’ Swiss Bistro in the Barnyard Shopping Center continued this Bavarian theme. 

Lugano's, Barnyard Shopping Center
I found a Radler Beer listed on the menu (beer infused with grapefruit or 7up) it was a first for me since my Germany trip, and was ideal with my Pork Schnitzel, Red Cabbage and Spatzli – although it all disappeared much too quickly.  My server brought me a small slice of the home-baked apple strudel to taste, and that made the finishing touches of a fantastic Swiss dinner.  

Radler, Pork Schnitzel, Red Cabbage and Spatzli

home-baked apple strudel

Lugano's Swiss Bistro Carmel

My Insider Tips: 

Don’t forget to walk around and look at windows of the Barnyard Shops which is a few minutes south of downtown Carmel before taking off after dinner.

My idea for future trips are going on the guided Food Tasting Tour and Carmel Walks. Each may be reserved online, and start at 10 am in the morning. 

My only challenge on this trip was that I found it difficult to leave my room in my hotel and explore Carmel!  When I did, I found so many treasures in my new routing. 

Is someone missing a scooter?  Another Instagram follow is Chef Pepe, Carmel
There are several Hofsas House Hotel special packages to choose from - Mindful, Artsy, Wine and Chocolate for travelers. Or call me to arrange the details of a small group two-night mindful retreat and reunion. People even stopped me on the Carmel streets and asked me questions because they thought I was a local!  

Carmel is surrounded by hills of beauty that hikers enjoy, as well as water and beach activities.  It is also a spiritual and relaxing place to turn off the electronic devices, and enjoy mindful conversations with the the locals. ~ The Fun Tour Guru

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Article written by, pictures courtesy of travel writer Donna West aka FunTourGuru. I was a guest of Hofsas House Hotel, celebrating 7 decades of European hospitality, however all opinions are my own. Enjoy more Carmel pictures on Instagram. Thank you to Carrie and everyone for this extra special retreat.  

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Germany Memories - Stories Matter

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Fröhliche Weihnachten!

Our stories matter everywhere we go! Save your memories 

 Three of my Favorite Pictures

Left Berlin, Right Dresden

Wood Merry Go Round in Dresden


Remember to preserve your favorite memories now!  The Fun Tour Guru

My favorite Germany trip story - 

Christstollen Bakery in Germany

Do you like this article? Please share with your friends.  Chat with us in the comments below! 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Downtown Siena Italy: Architecture and Impressions

Let's wander through the streets of old town Siena, Italy. 

And compare this old style architecture we find. 


Again, this is 3 and 4 stories high in places, yet without the high density feeling.  And the decorative pieces on the buildings, focal points of towers and churches, and old style homes above the shops where people live.  

  Architecture and impressions of Siena, Italy ~ The Fun Tour Guru

Which do you prefer?  


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Downtown Rothenburg ob der Tauber: Architecture and Shopping

Downtown Rothenburg ob der Tauber

I miss the spirit of this traditional style downtown gathering place for the community, crowds, music, mixed use architecture, and large window displays for shopping.  


The decorative pieces on the buildings, focal points of towers and churches, and old style homes above the shops where people live.  

This is 3 and 4 stories high in places, yet it does not have the high density feeling. 

Capture the spirit of downtown around the world ~ The Fun Tour Guru 

What does downtown mean to you?  

Tell us below in the comments or on our Facebook page (click to link in sidebar)

All pictures belong to the FunTourGuru. Contact us for usage. 

Other Germany Articles 

Food for Thought in Frankfurt Germany

Dresden's Christstollen Bakery in Germany

Thursday, August 10, 2017

How to Understand a Language You Do Not Speak

One concern people have on their trips is how to communicate when they go to international countries.  I use my own honesty and authenticity to communicate.  I asked this in my April story and interview, "What advice do you have to be comfortable with this barrier?"  

I am excited to share with you more about this topic from my fantastic guest writer.  Kristi Saare Duarte has been to over 70 countries across 6 continents, speaks 4 languages and relies on none of them to speak to locals -- here’s how:

How to Understand a Language You Do Not Speak By Kristi Saare Duarte

1997. Arusha, Northern Tanzania. In a dusty beer joint. I remember that I caught myself laughing. Embarrassed, I looked around to see if anyone had noticed. But no one was looking at me. For some reason, they didn’t find it strange that a mzungu was laughing at their joke in Swahili.

EDuarte Photography
On this, my first trip alone through Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, I realized that one can intuitively understand a language—any language—once you stop listening to the words. At that point, in the Arusha bar, I knew perhaps ten sentences and twenty words in Swahili: Habari za safari? How was your trip? Una miaka mingapi? How old are you? Unatoka wapi? Where are you from? I didn’t speak the language by any stretch. But I had understood the gist of the conversation. And those drunken Arusha men, they knew I had understood. They smiled back at me and lifted their Tusker beers to cheer me.

EDuarte Photography
That first trip gave me the travel bug. 

I practically worked to travel. Saved a dollar here, a dollar there, and then I bought a plane ticket. The more remote and dangerous a place appeared, the more I wanted to go there. Everywhere, whether at a Kurdish wedding in Aleppo, Syria, or in a Buddhist temple in Tachileik, Myanmar, I found I could communicate with the people I met, even if they did not speak a single word of English. I always managed to ask for “no meat,” without knowing the words. Of course, gestures and facial expressions help, but there’s something else in the works when you speak to another human being: listening to the space between the words. Quiet your mind while it’s busy trying to decipher the foreign words and associate them to familiar expressions. 

Instead, connect to the other person on a soul level and you’ll be surprised at how much you understand.

EDuarte Photography
I’ve tried to fictionalize this phenomenon in my novel, The Transmigrant, an alternative take on the lost years of Jesus where he travels along the Silk Road to India. In the first century, there was no universal language. Wherever Yeshua traveled, he had to learn the local language. Yet, the more enlightened he became, the easier it became for him to communicate with others, including the deaf and mute.

But you don’t have to become enlightened to communicate without words. 

Once you open your heart and are willing to receive, you will find that understanding other languages is possible if you simply quiet that doubting voice that says you don’t understand. The trick: don’t listen to the words. Just listen to the space between the words.

Four years ago, my husband and I traveled in China. By then, I had visited almost seventy countries where I had successfully communicated without words. For some reason, the Chinese people we met had no desire whatsoever to try to communicate with us. One day, we passed a Mahjong club in Xi’an and asked if we may enter. They welcomed us in. What a laugh! We had so much fun learning about who was married to whom, who cheated at the game, and told our story about where we came from and what we were doing in the Shaanxi Province. And yet, not a single word was spoken. In this Mahjong Club, they were all deaf.

When both parties are open to communicating this way, it is entirely possible for language barriers to fall away. This is known as mind-to-mind communication.

EDuarte Photography
But mind-to-mind communication is not as far out as it sounds. In 2014, scientists at Harvard Medical School, Spanish Starlab, and the French firm Axilum Robotics, sent a thought via computers from India to France to prove mind-reading is possible. And certain tribes among the aborigines in Australia have used telepathy for millennia as a means of communication.

So next time you find yourself in a remote part of the world where you cannot speak a common language and would like to order a glass of water. Think the thought first, visualize the glass, look into the waiter’s eyes, and smile. Then say the words out loud, “a glass of water.” Try it. You will be amazed.


A native of Sweden and seasoned world traveler, Kristi Saare Duarte has lived in Sweden, England, Estonia, Spain, and Peru and has spent time in over 70 countries across 6 continents. She is fluent English, Spanish, Swedish and Estonian. By day, Kristi is a professional asset manager and has worked in the fields of healthcare management, advertising, and finance. She is also a trained Reiki healer and spiritual channel. She lives in New York City with her husband.

All pictures are used with special permission from Kristi. 

Namaste ~~ The Fun Tour Guru & the spiritual side

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