Enthusiastic golfers revere California's Monterey Peninsula as a holy land of their sport. This summer, Lynette Owens & Associates (LOA) brought its Insurance Advisory Board to this West Coast mecca for its sixth annual summer meeting, and while the golf was heavenly indeed, insurance executives learned there are more reasons to make a pilgrimage to Monterey than just its hallowed fairways.

The group--15 insurance executives and eight member property representatives, plus LOA staff and guests--stayed at the Monterey Plaza Hotel, hosted by director of sales, Mike Boyer. Their three-day meeting included morning educational sessions highlighted by professional speakers (see page 132), and afternoons and evenings exploring the Monterey area.

The hotel itself is unique, located on Cannery Row, halfway between the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Fisherman's Wharf. Guest rooms literally hang out over the bay, and it's not unusual to see harbor seals and sea otters swimming about in the kelp beds just offshore. Kayaking seems to be the official sport of the area, and Adventures by the Sea, an outfitter across the street from the hotel, can get a rank beginner paddling in half an hour. Several of LOA's guests did just that, cruising their colorful kayaks along Cannery Row's rocky coastline or drifting in the kelp to view the wildlife.

When Boyer says his property is "more than just the hotel itself," he's got the whole pennisula in mind--galleries, shops, restaurants, kayaking, fishing, wineries, and lots of golf. One evening the Monterey Bay Aquarium--a short walk away--was the site for dinner. A dramatic, two-floor-high tank filled with sharks, turtles, and fish served as backdrop for a delicious evening. Seafood was not served.

On another night, Monterey Plaza catered a dinner at Holman Ranch, a lovely (and in this case, groovy) hillside estate overlooking Carmel Valley. The theme for the party was the Psychedelic Sixties, and it didn't take any coaxing to get attendees to revert from golf shirts and Reeboks to beads, tie-dye, and sandals for this ever-so Californian theme party.

Two afternoons were reserved for a golf tournament, with the first round played at the inland Rancho Canada Golf Course and the second at the exclusive Poppy Hills Golf Course, just off Monterey's scenic 17-Mile Drive. Initially, the group's devoted golfers were reluctant about their scheduled activity for the third afternoon of the meeting--after all, it wasn't golf--but Mike Boyer had something else in mind: car racing. About half an hour from the hotel, Laguna Seca Raceway is home to the Skip Barber Driving School, which accommodates groups for half-day, full-day, and multi-day racing programs. Even before the LOA group was out of the classroom, it was clear this half-day experience would be the highlight of their trip. Donning one-piece driving suits and hefty helmets, the insurance executives squeezed into their appointed "Formula Dodge" race cars. Low to the ground, with an open cockpit, the sleet machines looked every bit the Matchbox fantasy, and to speed around the professional raceway (even tracking behind a pace car) was a thrill, long to be remembered.

Member Property News The Greenbrier--Kevin Rosa The venerable 670-room property will launch the Greenbrier Golf Academy (designed by John Jacobs Golf Academy) in late 1998 to complement its 54 holes of championship golf. Two of those holes, those nearest to the clubhouse, are being relocated and redesigned by Sam Snead. The five-star, five-diamond resort offers 70,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 16,500-square-foot exhibit hall, as well as 20 tennis courts, horseback riding, and a 30-store shopping arcade.

Halekulani/WaikikiParc/Kapalua Bay Hotel & Villas--Janet Kato White Halekulani Corporation, which has successfully positioned its Halekulani property for the high-end traveler to Waikiki Beach, is now managing its first resort outside of Oahu. Fronting Maui's Kapalua Bay, the plantation-style Kapalua Bay Hotel opened 20 years ago as a RockeResort and, after an extensive restoration project, reopened in November with 194 rooms and 15 villas, three 18-hole golf courses, and meeting space for up to 200.

La Quinta Resort & Club--Laura Gydesen There are only two Gold Medal golf resorts in California: Pebble Beach and La Quinta. La Quinta, which has two courses on site and two at PGA West ten minutes away, will soon have a lot more than golf, 30 tennis courts, two grand ballrooms, seven presidential suites, and 45 acres of beautifully landscaped desert to offer its groups. The resort will open a 20,000-square-foot spa in April 1998, with treatment rooms opening to patio space for private outdoor treatments. Continued

Monterey Plaza Hotel--Mike Boyer The big news at this year's Insurance Advisory Board host property is construction of an 8,000-square-foot, rooftop spa and four hospitality suites. The $5 million project began late this fall and should be completed by next summer, giving this 285-room, service-oriented property even more to talk about than its oceanfront location in the heart of Cannery Row, within walking distance of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and a short drive from some of the world's most acclaimed golf courses. The independent property offers ten meeting rooms for up to 350 people.

Registry Resort-Naples--Jeff Hewitt Drawn to the beauty of Florida's Gulf coast and the upscale ambience of Naples, meeting executives are also attracted to this four-star, four-diamond resort by its three nearby golf courses and plentiful meeting facilities. The Registry offers 474 rooms including 74 suites, and 38,000 square feet of meeting space.

Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage--Stan Hershenow The Ritz broke ground this month on The Cove, an 18-hole, Tom Fazio-designed golf course that will add the final piece to this nine-year-old, 239-room resort that sits on a bluff overlooking the desert valley in Rancho Mirage, CA. The property prides itself on innovative theme parties, including those that use its new Ritz Ranch event area, its poolside setting, or the croquet lawn. Also new: the Ritz-Carlton Spa, which opened in 1996 with more than 30 body treatments, and a hair and nail salon, which opened this year.

Continental Airlines--Linda Ferguson Continental has supported the Lynette Owens Insurance Advisory Board since the group's inception, building a strong relationship with insurance executives as it has with the flying public. Continental once again earned first place in the Frequent Flyer/J.D. Power and Associates customer satisfaction survey in the long-haul (500 miles or more) category. Linda Ferguson, sales manager for conventions, meetings, and incentives, urged executives to look into the airline's World of Thanks individual rewards program and its convenient E-Ticket electronic ticketing option. *