Chaminade is one of those places that defies easy definitions. It’s a conference center, operated by Benchmark Hospitality. It’s also a resort, complete with fitness center, heated pool, and luxurious spa. In short, it’s a great place to take groups who want to get some serious business done while enjoying a relaxing environment that stimulates all the senses, from the view of Monterey Bay and the Santa Cruz mountains, to the smell of eucalyptus that saturates the air, to the feel of the fabulous fabrics in the newly renovated Spanish-style furnishings in the guest rooms, to the huge spread of dining choices, of which I guarantee you’ll eat too much. The continuous refreshment breaks also dealt a serious blow to my diet, but after the ice cream bar, I no longer cared.

I visited Chaminade recently for a brainstorming session that used the open space format, which some facilities find difficult to accommodate because it requires a lot of breakout space for small groups. Not a problem at Chaminade, where we spread out from our main meeting space to an adjoining room, and sunny spots on the terrace and by the fountain. Another group was in-house, but the staff made us feel like we were the only ones around its 12,000 square feet of meeting and function space and 12 individual meeting rooms (most of which have windows, which is a huge plus in my book).

When we weren’t burning up our brain cells, we enjoyed the sunny spring weather by wandering the many hiking trails that meander around the property and offer amazing views just when you least expect them. The spa was another favorite with our group, which enjoyed the massages, body wraps, and facials. For me, an early morning workout in the state-of-the-art fitness center was the perfect way to start the day.