Belmond El Encanto | Santa Barbara, CA

DSC_2284-C

Discretely nestled in the foothills overlooking Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean you will find an enchanting hideaway called the Belmond El Encanto. This property exudes glamour and elegance in an understated manner and offers a sophisticated comfort that is captivating from the moment you arrive.

The Property

The property has a vast history with the original craftsman-style cottages being built in 1912 to serve as housing for students and faculty in the area. In 1918, the property and cottages were converted into a hotel to serve the growing tourism market. In addition to the original craftsman-style cottages that still occupy the property today, several Spanish Revival style cottages were built on the property over the years which explains why the property has two distinct architectural styles.

@2016 Susan Edel

In 2004, the property was sold to the Orient-Express Hotel Group {now known as Belmond Hotels}, based in large part on their reputation for restoring historic properties. After a seven year and 130+million dollar renovation, the hotel re-opened its doors and is currently (2016) the only Forbes Five Star hotel in Santa Barbara.

The serene grounds consist of seven lush acres of mature plantings which include some Eucalyptus trees originally planted in the 1870’s. As you stroll down the brick walkways between the bungalows, you can’t help but be enraptured by the hanging foliage from the trees, colorful Bougainvillea, dense plantings, water features…and, oh yes, the glistening Pacific blue ocean beyond.

An arbor covered with 100-year-old Wisteria vines and a lily pond are located toward the front of the resort and is used for special events. During my stay, the area was set up for a wedding. It was quite romantic with the chairs flanking each side of the lily pond and the altar set up under the arbor…and the resident ducks don’t seem to mind the visitors.

Check-In

On arrival, you are greeted by the valet who escorts you into the main building. Upon entering, there is a small, nondescript front desk where the business of check-in is quickly conducted…and then you turn around.

As you move past the entrance, your eyes feast upon what I can only describe as a warm and inviting, upscale residential-style living area. One corner of the large room is a cozy area with rich, dark wood-paneled walls, a cushioned reading nook and an alluring fireplace; while the larger area is bright with white wood-paneled walls, small conversation seating areas and floor to ceiling glass paneled doors that fold back to expose the large outdoor patio and crystal blue ocean beyond. It feels sophisticated and decadent, as well as warm and comfortable all at once. I found it extremely welcoming.

Guest Rooms

The guest rooms are a unique aspect of this resort and what makes the property so desirable. There are 92 units {70 bungalows + 22 suites} scattered throughout the 7-acre property, ranging from standard bungalows to specialty suites {too many different categories to describe, click {here} for descriptions}. Some of the units are stand-alone, while others might have several units attached or an upper and lower unit.

{click on any image to enlarge}


The bungalows each have their own characteristics and charm, some still have the original 1920 era fireplace surround and offer unique details that give the rooms their abundant charm. All bungalows are designed in a clean, contemporary style with the same upscale residential feel as the lobby. The renovated bathrooms are large and most with double sinks, large rain shower-heads and tubs, along with radiant-heated floors and luxury amenities. Plush robes and slippers are provided and the quality of the fluffy cotton towels feel quite indulgent.

Each guest is welcomed with a complimentary bottle of wine from one of the local wineries. In general, a white wine is offered in the Spring/Summer season and a red wine is offered in the fall/winter season. Each room offers a coffee maker, mini-bar amenities and complimentary wi-fi.

I stayed in room #2601, which is a spacious unit located on the lower level of a two-story bungalow. The room is bright with two sets of French doors and a patio. A seating area in front of the fireplace creates a cozy place to relax. I would definitely recommend this bungalow as I liked its size and location; and although I was on the bottom level, I didn’t hear anyone walking around upstairs, I only heard them when they came down the exterior stairs.

Other units that are highly requested are the Hummingbird {#1001} and Wishing Well bungalows {#1201/#1202 ~ there really is a historic wishing well on property}, as well as the Oaktree Suite which arguably offers the most private setting on the property. Bungalow #401 has a large private deck and an original circa 1920 fireplace surround that I thought was charming.

Something to note is that due to how the bungalows are situated on the property, most bungalows have garden views, with a select few bungalows offering peeks of the ocean. I did not have an ocean view but I found the garden views very pleasant. A hammock near the wishing well looked quite inviting for a nap or a leisure read, but unfortunately for me, I never made it there.

Dining

Dining at El Encanto is a pleasurable experience for both hotel guests and locals alike. The Dining Room offers an elegant indoor setting for a more refined dining experience, offering California-coastal cuisine paired with a sophisticated wine list.

@2016 Susan Edel

The Terrace offers spectacular ocean views and outdoor seating for a relaxed atmosphere and has an inviting ambiance with lamp-style heaters, sophisticated outdoor furniture, friendly service, and is a perfect place to plant yourself for a leisurely evening of lively conversation, or maybe a romantic tête-à-tête. But let’s not kid ourselves, the lead attraction here is the stunning view of the Santa Barbara harbor and Pacific Ocean beyond.

For a light meal, The Bar offers appetizers and a limited menu. Live music is performed on Friday and Saturday nights.

A special treat offered each day at El Encanto is the Afternoon Tea located at The Lounge. Enjoy scrumptious pastries and scones made from scratch while sharing special time with friends or family. This is such a perfect way to celebrate a special occasion or enjoy some one-on-one time with your favorite person. Reservations are recommended.

In-room dining is an option as well. As much as I enjoyed dining on the terrace, and as much as I wanted to explore the local eateries, I had brought my girlfriend on this trip and quite honestly, sometimes you just want to curl yourself up in a comfy robe, kick your feet up and chat the night away. It felt quite self-indulgent!

Spa

As you enter the spa reception, the elegant design is quite impressive with its soothing colors, marbled walls, and delicate orchids throughout. The full-service spa offers seven treatment rooms as well as one couple’s room with a vast array of treatments including water therapies for a full pampering and relaxation experience.

All hotel guests are welcome to use the spa facilities including the relaxation lounge, steam rooms, and showers at no additional cost. The spa is open to the public for day use, so do make reservations for any treatments you desire.

This elegant spa is a perfect way to relax and rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul.

El Encanto also offers a state-of-the-art Fitness Studio with treadmills, exercise bikes, and ellipticals for those who cannot miss their cardio workout.

The saline pool is perfect in its simplistic elegance. The beauty is in the exceptional and vast ocean view beyond. Sitting at a certain angle, it may even feel that the pool spills into the Pacific Ocean. The pool is open year-round with cabana service on the weekends. A perfect way to spend a lazy day on the American Riviera.

Activities

There are endless possibilities for staying active throughout your trip in the Santa Barbara area. Starting at the resort, here are a few of the top activities that come to mind:

Bike Riding: The resort lends their guests complimentary regular or electric bikes, the electric bikes are a nice perk with the surrounding hilly terrain. I had never ridden an electric bike before and I found this such an enjoyable way to see the Mission and ride around the surrounding neighborhood with such ease. It was quite pleasurable. A bike ride to State Street or the beach, approximately 1 mile away, is a popular excursion as well.

Tennis/Golf: For tennis and golf enthusiasts, the El Encanto will make arrangements for you to play at a local club.

Shopping: A visit to State Street is a must when visiting Santa Barbara. State Street is lined with both unique shops and national brand stores, restaurants, galleries and much more. This is a fun way to get a feel for the city and spend the day. For additional excursions, visit the quaint and charming towns of Montecito and Summerland for adorable shops and restaurants.

Old Mission Santa Barbara: The historic Old Mission Santa Barbara is a highly regarded attraction for this area. Founded in 1786, the mission’s magnificent architecture makes quite a statement and the collections of colonial-era art, sculptures, artifacts and gardens are worthy of your time.

Wineries: Santa Barbara’s growing wine region is becoming a destination in itself. There are numerous tours offered or drive yourself around this beautiful region and explore the local wineries {listed here}.

Beach: And of course, there’s always the beach. Santa Barbara has a long stretch of sandy white beach perfect for spending the day playing in the surf and building sand castles.

As an added convenience for transportation, the resort has a house van and offers their guest complimentary rides within a five-mile radius.

Summary

This property is truly a five-star retreat without any pomp and pretense. It’s a secluded hideaway that feels more like staying in a luxurious guest house than at a hotel. This resort has a casual elegance that is warm and inviting, and yet feels like a decadent splurge.

The property is child-friendly but in my opinion, it feels better situated for adults. I think this property would be an ideal romantic get-a-away, girl’s spa vacation, family or friends reunion site or even a business retreat. Fido is also welcome as this is a pet-friendly resort.

For a secluded retreat offering sheer luxury and spacious comfort, I think you will find this sanctuary a pleasant escape from the ordinary.

Casa Palmero ~ Pebble Beach, CA

@2015 Susan Edel

Welcome to Heaven! Alright…welcome to Pebble Beach but this is certainly as close to Heaven as anything on earth!

Pebble Beach, California is a world-renowned destination, and for a very good reason…it is located on the most stunning coastline of Central California; it offers mild weather year-round; and it has the distinction of being the only gated city in the world ~ to say that this is an affluent community would be a serious understatement.

The great news is that you don’t have to be the inventor of the Quarter Pounder, an Astronaut, Dirty Harry, or even Charles Schwab (all residents of this community at one time) to enjoy the magnificence of this area.

Within the gates of Pebble Beach, you will not only find the exquisite homes along the 17-mile drive but you will also find three luxury hotels (The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay and Casa Palmero all managed by Pebble Beach Resorts), a Forbes Five-Star Rated Spa, an Equestrian Center, numerous high-end shops, a grocery store, gas station, post office, and oh yes, that famous golf course ~ the Pebble Beach Golf Links (actually, Pebble Beach boasts numerous public and private golf courses).

On this visit I stayed at Casa Palmero, a 24-room Mediterranean-style private estate located just steps from The Lodge and overlooking the first and second fairways at Pebble Beach Golf Links. The estate is quite discrete from the street and could easily be missed if you weren’t looking for it. Lush foliage and large palm trees disguise the stucco wall surround but once you make your way through the stately pillars you enter into a beautiful and unexpected oasis.

The Property

Once a private residence built circa 1927, the property was transformed to a hotel in 1999 as an option for the discerning guest looking for a little more privacy and seclusion. The estate offers a cozy atmosphere and evokes the feeling of being an invited guest at someone’s private villa rather than a visitor at a hotel.

Every inch of the property has been landscaped to perfection and exudes all the charm and character one would expect from a Mediterranean villa. The stone walkways lead you by manicured boxwood planters, climbing ivy, and colorful plantings. The property is layered with carefully thought-out details such as scrolled iron gates, rustic wooden doors, ornate statuary and the sound of trickling water from the fountains. Cozy sitting nooks are scattered throughout the property for a little alone time or a nice chat with your favorite someone.

The Check-in

There’s nothing more welcoming than receiving a warm and friendly greeting upon arrival. Before I could even shift into park, I witnessed several staff members walking towards me. As I got out of my car, I was greeted by name and immediately made to feel welcome. The friendly staff inquired about my trip and began informing me on all that the hotel had to offer. After a quick review of my paperwork, I was given a tour of the grounds and escorted to my room.

Something that I found refreshing was being told at check-in that all tipping is already included and factored into the bill. Any additional tipping throughout your stay is at your discretion. Quite honestly, this is common at many luxury resorts now, they just don’t make a point of telling you. Kudos for being forthright!

Common Areas

@2015 Susan EdelThe main residence is used as the communal area for all guests. A large living room with a gorgeous wood-beamed ceiling and an oversized fireplace offers a comfortable space to sit and relax or mingle with other guests.

If you do like to mingle, a great way to connect with the other guests is to attend the complimentary Happy Hour each evening located in the bar, a gathering space for the guests. You have your choice of any libation, including alcoholic beverages, and a delicious variety of finger foods including such items as sushi, shrimp, crackers, cheeses, veggies and much more. It served more as a Tapas style dinner for me. And for a little fun, how about a game of Pool in the adjacent Billiard room?

@2015 Susan Edel

Large french doors open up from the living room to the central courtyard and pool beyond. The courtyard is a great spot to hang out after grabbing your favorite smoothie at the Juice Bar and to take in the beauty of this estate. The main building also offers a large private room for small gatherings or business meetings.

Guest Rooms

The property consists of 24 rooms with some being located in a two-story building. There are five different categories ~ Estate Room, Estate Studio, Spa Room, Courtyard Suite and the Palmero Suite. Although Casa Palmero is located near the water, none of the rooms offer an ocean view. The second floor rooms do offer some fairway views and the lower units are completely designed with privacy in mind. I have to add that as much as I am a lover of an ocean view, I didn’t miss it here. Somehow the quaint charm and seclusion of this Mediterranean estate felt perfect to me.

All the rooms are spacious and designed with a distinct Mediterranean style in rich colors of burgundy and gold. Each room has a wood burning fireplace with a seating area, a large desk, along with a roomy bathroom area, soaking tub and separate shower.

The rooms are equipped with a small refrigerator, coffee station, and minibar. The minibar offers complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages that are replenished daily. There is a separate bar with a selection of alcoholic beverages which does incur a fee. For your ultimate comfort, each room offers free wifi which I found to be available throughout the resort, cozy robes, slippers, hair dryer, umbrella and their own luxurious Spa Collection brand bath amenities. As an additional perk, breakfast is included and delivered to your room each morning.

Estate Room/Studio: The main difference between the Estate Room (585 sq. ft.) and Estate Studio (703 sq. ft.) is that the Studio is a little larger allowing for a small dining table in the room. These rooms are largely located on the second floor overlooking the first fairway.

Spa Room: This room has the same footprint as the Estate Room (585 sq. ft.) with the main difference being that these rooms are located on the bottom level and offer a small private patio with a whirlpool spa. There are no Spa Rooms on the second floor. Some Spa Room locations might have upper rooms that can look down onto your patio, however, there is a trellis for an added element of privacy.

Courtyard Suite: This category is a larger version (832 sq. ft.) of the Estate Studio. Located on the lower level, it has a private garden entrance and outdoor spa.

@2015 Susan EdelPalmero Suite: There is only one Palmero Suite (1,268 sq. ft.) so if you are looking for the ultimate in luxury on this property, be sure to request this suite. You enter through a private garden patio and then step into a spacious living room with a wood-beamed ceiling, wood burning fireplace, wet bar, flat screen TV and a guest powder room. A separate bedroom has a four-poster bed, chaise lounge along with an adjacent seating area with a desk, plush chairs and a fireplace in perfect view of the bed. From this room you can step out to a small patio with an outdoor spa.

On a personal note, I stayed in Spa Suite #636 and found my room quite spacious and comfortable. I enjoyed the open concept of the large bathroom open to the to bedroom and being able to see outside from any point. I found the bed and linens so luscious and indulgent that I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. It was also a relaxing treat to have a whirlpool spa all to myself.

I also want to mention how wonderful the service is here. When I called one morning to say that I was leaving my room and could housekeeping clean it while I was gone, I hadn’t even placed the phone on the hook when housekeeping knocked on my door. That’s impeccable service!

I don’t really think you can get a bad room here but if you can stay towards the middle section of the resort, I would call that the best location. There are some end units that are located by the Spa and a parking lot where deliveries are made and I could see the top of the delivery truck from the bottom unit but it was a minor and temporary distraction. My unit was in the middle section and I could only see the beautiful trees above my privacy wall. It was very pleasant.

For the file, Casa Palmero does not allow pets. Of Pebble Beach’s three properties, The Lodge is the only dog-friendly property.

Dining

@2015 Susan EdelBreakfast: A light breakfast (pastries, oatmeal, yogurt) is included daily during your stay and delivered each morning to your room. If you want a more substantial breakfast, you can order additional items such as bacon and eggs for an extra cost. Upon check-in, you are asked what items you would like to order and what time you want it delivered. To be honest, my immediate thought was “I’ll be calling the front desk wondering where my breakfast is each morning”…but not so! Breakfast was delivered each morning at exactly the time I requested it. Just another example of the impeccable service!

24 Hour Room Service: Always available.

There are so many dining choices throughout Pebble Beach I would be hard-pressed to list them all, so here is a (link) to all the restaurants. As a guest at any of the Pebble Beach Resorts, you can dine at any restaurant and charge the meal to your room. Resort casual attire is appropriate for any of the restaurants. Here are a few of my personal favorites:

Roy’s: Roy’s located at The Inn at Spanish Bay is one of my favorite spots (of anywhere I’ve been!). Celebrity Chef, Roy Yamaguchi has mastered the Hawaiian-fusion dishes served here. The menu is fresh and unique to the other restaurants located in Pebble Beach. A personal favorite is the Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi-Mahi along with their signature Champagne cocktail. Yum! The views are stunning from the restaurant and a big attraction is the outdoor bar and the large fire-pits surrounded by benches overlooking the stunning view. When you start to see a crowd forming in the late afternoon, you know it’s time for the bagpiper that comes out each evening at sunset. It’s an amazing sight. (B/L/D)

@2015 Susan EdelThe Bench: The Bench is located on the lower level of The Lodge at the edge of the golf course and has a great view of the water. This is also a popular hangout because of the fire-pit seating option. You can sit at a private fire-pit table or a shared fire-pit. It’s actually quite fun to sit at the shared pit and chat with all the interesting people…you never know who you’re going to meet! If you’re in the mood for a pizza, this is your spot because The Bench has great wood-roasted specialties here. (L/D)

Beach and Tennis Club: All of the Pebble Beach Resorts restaurants are open to the public so you do not have to be a guest of the resort to dine at them; however, the Beach and Tennis Club is a private club only accessible to members or resort guests. It is definitely worth a visit to come see this club and have lunch in the large dining room with vaulted floor to ceiling glass windows. The view is spectacular. They have done a great job in general with the Club in creating a vintage, old school feel here that is so inviting. The Club not only has the gorgeous dining room but also offers a large crystal blue pool, nice patio with a huge outdoor fireplace and the fitness club (for all guests use), all overlooking the stunning water view. Outdoor activity rentals such as bicycles and kayaks are also available here.

Spa

@2015 Susan EdelAnother convenience of Casa Palmero is its location right next door to the Forbes Five-Star Rated Spa at Pebble Beach. This full-service spa is located in a beautiful 22,000 sq. ft. facility offering a variety of signature and specialized treatments. Guests of any Pebble Beach Resorts’ property are able to use the facility during their stay at no cost which includes the indoor whirlpool spa, sauna, steam room, and inhalation room. Utilizing these amenities is a tranquil way to start or end your day. The spa is open to the public so do be sure to make reservations if you want a treatment during your stay. Spending some time at this spa is an amazing enhancement to your overall experience at Casa Palmero.

Golf

Do I even need to address this? (smile) Pebble Beach Golf Links is the #1 Public Golf Course in America. It’s probably every golfer’s dream to play this course at least once. As most people know, this course is also host to the annual AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the world’s premier PGA TOUR pro-am that brings the community, professional golfers and celebrities alike together for charitable causes. But keep in mind, this is not the only course within Pebble Beach, there are several other public and private courses including Spyglass Hill Golf Course, The Links at Spanish Bay, Del Monte Golf Course, and Peter Hay Golf Course. A golfer’s paradise!

So you say you’re not the best golfer…not a problem, welcome to the Golf Academy! Let the Golf Academy staff members show you how to improve your game through their many state-of-the-art innovative technology processes and let them bring out the best in you and your golf game.

Shopping

@2015 Susan EdelPebble Beach offers a bevy of unique, boutique-style stores for your shopping pleasure. Shop for resort wear and unique gifts to your heart’s content here. Even the grocery market is fun to shop with a huge selection of wines…so don’t forget that credit card!

Amenities

Okay, so you still want more you say? Not a problem, I’m not done! Here are a couple little known secrets I’ll let you in on.

In the late afternoon after the last tee-off, the golf staff will let you check out a golf cart at no charge and let you ride around the entire Pebble Beach Golf Links. You don’t have to be a golfer to appreciate this. I did it and thoroughly enjoyed riding around the meticulously manicured golf course in the beautiful sunshine with the stunning backdrop of the Pacific Ocean while viewing the incredible multi-million dollar homes along the way, not to mention spotting all the wildlife that roams around. It felt like such a special treat without having to pay the $495 golf course fee!

@2015 Susan EdelAnother fun activity is to reserve two complimentary hours in one of the Lexus test drive vehicles on property. I reserved the convertible model and drove the 17-mile loop. Let me tell you, there is no better way to see the stunning homes and all the beauty of Pebble Beach than in a convertible! The resort also uses these vehicles for complimentary guest transportation between resort facilities.

And if all of the above is still not enough, I have yet another option ~ The Equestrian Center. What better way to really soak up everything Pebble Beach has to offer than to enjoy it riding a horse. Join a guided group and ride to Indian Village or if you’re not so comfortable on a horse, take a lesson or just visit the horses in their stalls.

In addition to the AT&T Pro-Am, Pebble Beach is also well-known for some of its other annual events such as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Auto Show featuring the most beautiful classic cars in the world and the Pebble Beach Food & Wine premier epicurean lifestyle event, matching 250 acclaimed wineries and 100 celebrity chefs.

Summary:

Well, I’m not quite sure how I can remain impartial here as Pebble Beach is one of my most favorite places in the world. The beauty and decadence of this community is unsurpassed and with all it has to offer, you will never find yourself bored here…and I didn’t even begin to venture into the surrounding cities and all the amazing things they offer as well.

I’ll end this by saying, if you ever want to experience what it’s like to be a celebrity and experience the lifestyle of the rich and famous, Casa Palmero and Pebble Beach Resorts will make you feel that way. The impeccable service from the warm and friendly staff at Casa Palmero, excellent culinary choices, incredible array of activities, and the most beautiful scenic location you have ever seen will leave your heart full…and longing for more!

photogallerybutton1

The Sea Ranch, CA

At the risk of repeating myself I will once again say, Northern California has some of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.

DSC_6216

DSC_6632There are a variety of towns along the California coast where the ocean views will take your breath away. Some of them are world-renowned such as Pebble Beach and others are unknown, tiny towns guarding their anonymity from the masses, yet all share the same stunning seaside.

Less than 3 hours north of San Francisco, between Bodega Bay and Mendocino, is the environmentally-conscious, unincorporated community of The Sea Ranch (yes, “The” is a part of the name but it is usually referred to just as Sea Ranch).

DSC_6243

Sea Ranch spans over a 10 mile range and offers a 19-room lodge, Sea Ranch Lodge, with a fantastic restaurant called the Black Point Grill. It is also an established community of approximately 1800 residences, with the majority of these homes being vacation rentals.

Sea Ranch is noted for its distinctive architecture which consists of simple straight-lined structures clad in wooden siding or shingles with large picture windows. There are specific guidelines to be met when building within The Sea Ranch and all exterior architectural designs are subject to a review process for approval. The beauty of these strict guidelines is that it has created a cohesive and homogenous environment that gives this community a serene and peaceful feeling.

DSC_6204

I’ve stayed at the lodge before which is lovely, however on this visit, I decided to rent an oceanfront home (The Woodland). The vacation rentals throughout this community are individually owned and managed by several different realty companies and a quick Google search for Sea Ranch vacation rentals will pull up numerous property options. A tip for you, this is an extremely large community and the homes are located on either side of Hwy 1, so if your desire is to be by the water with access to the walking trails be sure to confirm that the property is located on the west side of Hwy 1.

Staying at Sea Ranch is the perfect place to decompress and rejuvenate your soul. The view below was what I woke up to each morning. This photo was literally taken from my iPad while I was still in bed. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this each morning? It was a great way to start the day.

searanchwindow

The sunsets were even more spectacular. It was such a treat to go to sleep to the sound of the crashing waves against the rocky cliffs.

There are miles and miles of walking trails along the water’s edge and through the woods.

Sea Ranch is also a very dog friendly environment so don’t forget your furry babies.

DSC_6504Should you feel like exploring beyond Sea Ranch, there are numerous interesting places to visit such as the lighthouse at Point Arena, the town of Bodega Bay where Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Bird’s was filmed, the charming town of Mendocino and for meal options, gas and groceries visit the closest town of Gualala (the G is pronounced like a W).

Here’s another insider tip, almost everything closes down by 8:00 pm in this area. You will want to be sure that you have visited or picked up any items from the grocery store before this time or you will be out-of-luck. As mentioned above, the Sea Ranch Lodge has a wonderful restaurant but because it’s the only eating establishment within The Sea Ranch it tends to be quite busy and reservations are highly recommended. There are restaurants in Gualala but even those close down early. I was looking for a place to eat after 8:00 pm and the restaurants were in the process of shutting down. I luckily found one pizza place that had one medium dough left to make a pizza…so keep that in mind.

Sea Ranch is an amazing place to restore and rejuvenate and I look forward to returning soon.

Here is a gallery of all my images.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Brewery Gulch Inn | Mendocino, CA

While reading Travel and Leisure’s World’s Best List, I came across something that caught my attention. The #20 on this world’s best list is a 10 room inn located in Mendocino, CA ~ The Brewery Gulch Inn.

Being familiar with the small town of Mendocino, I was intrigued by this achievement and felt that I had to explore this quaint inn.

@2014 Susan Edel

After arriving at the property, I chatted with the inn’s proprietor, Guy Pacurar, who shared his story with me of how he became the owner of the Brewery Gulch Inn (BGI).

He revealed how as a young boy he took annual trips with his family to a property in Palm Springs where the owner would BBQ dinner and the guests would mingle each night. The fond memories of those gatherings stayed with him, and as the years passed it became his desire to purchase an inn and create that same atmosphere for his guests. After looking at numerous properties across the U.S., Guy chose this inn located in the charming town of Mendocino.

DSC_4787

The Property

Located about a mile south of historic downtown Mendocino, BGI is located on the East side of Hwy 1 perched on a bluff and offers views of Smuggler’s Cove and the Pacific Ocean.

The grounds are expansive and natural in habitat along with some colorful plantings, an herb garden and some quiet alcove areas. There are hiking trails throughout the property for fun exploration.

Numerous bird feeders throughout the property help to attract an extraordinary array of bird species that are located in this region such as Blue Jays, Woodpeckers, Hummingbirds, Osprey and so much more. It’s no wonder that several of the rooms at the inn are named after a bird.

The gem of the property is the back deck which faces the Pacific Ocean and is the perfect place to relax, enjoy a glass wine and watch a gorgeous sunset.

Main Inn/ Guest Rooms

@2014 Susan Edel

As you enter the inn, there is a warm and welcoming feeling as though you are visiting a favorite relative’s house. A large wood-burning fireplace resides in the middle of the Great Room dividing the intimate reception desk and small gift shop area from the living and dining room.

Arts and Crafts style furniture in rich wood tones and chestnut leather seating create a comfortable gathering room for the guests.

Large, oversized doors open up from the living area to a large deck facing ocean views for a wonderful indoor/outdoor experience. A large bookcase houses a library of literature, an extensive DVD collection and numerous games for the guest’s enjoyment.

There are guest rooms off each side of the Great Room on the first floor, and a staircase takes you up to a second and third level to the remaining rooms. As I was walking up the stairs, there was an intimate feeling of being shown to “my bedroom” and not the impersonal feeling of being directed to a room at a hotel. As I entered the room, I was greeted with some sweet amenities (delicious sea salt caramels) and a bottle of wine.

I had the distinct pleasure of staying in one of the most requested rooms, the Osprey room. The Opsrey is a corner room located at one end of the second floor with three exterior walls with large windows so the room has a very light and airy feeling and offers serene views of the property along with views of Smuggler’s Cove and the Pacific Ocean.

@2014 Susan Edel

I enjoyed the fact that there were no screens on the windows which offered a clear view of the gorgeous greenery of the trees and the property grounds. The weather was beautiful during my stay so I left my windows open letting the air flow through and allowing the sounds of the birds and the ocean to filter through the room.

The same was true for the large bathroom window over the soaking tub/shower which I was able to completely open and it almost provided the experience of taking a shower outdoors. And one of the best treats for me was waking up to the stillness of the morning engulfed in fog which was so peaceful and serene.

@2014 Susan Edel

The Raven room mirrors the Osprey at the other end of the second floor and is a great choice as well. Due to the location of these two rooms, they would be my first choice when booking a stay here. Having said that though, all the rooms face out towards the ocean view, have en-suite bathrooms (some with jetted soaking tubs), Asprey bath amenities, fireplaces, flat screen tv’s and a sitting area.

The inn does have WiFi throughout the building, however, I did find it to be sporadic while trying to use it. I also did not have any cell service while I was in the building but if I stepped outside I received service – of course, that may vary from person to person depending on their carrier.

The rooms do not have refrigerators or coffee makers, however, there is a mini-refrigerator located in the common area on the second floor with some sodas and waters for all the guests. A beverage bar in the Great Room offers a Keurig coffee maker, teas and hot chocolate which are available 24/7, along with freshly brewed coffee at breakfast time.

Dining

@2014 Susan Edel

In the true manner of an inn, and included in the price of your stay, is a full breakfast and a generous “Happy Hour” that serves more as a full dinner experience. The offering of fine food and wine is as much an integral part of the experience at BGI as the accommodations itself.

Breakfast is served from 8-10 am. You can choose to eat in the Great Room, the outside patio or in your guest room. You order off of a menu of various items such as delicious egg dishes, hearty bacon and sausages, pancakes, granola along with fruit and the daily fresh-baked pastry. It’s an amazing start to the day.

In the evenings, Happy Hour is from 5:30-6:30 pm. When your nose starts to tingle from the aroma floating throughout the inn, you know it’s time to make your way down to the Great Room.

The reception desk is converted into a bar offering wines from the nearby wineries and locally brewed beers. I love this concept, not only in the sense of supporting the local community, but also as a visitor to the area, I want to experience what is local to the region. On one of the evenings, Handley Cellars an Anderson Valley winery, was pouring their wine.

During Happy Hour, there is also a generous buffet-style “dinner” served each night. Chef Peg Davis, does an amazing job using local ingredients in the farm-to-table concept and the meals rival any first-class restaurant.

@2014 Susan Edel

Some of the dishes offered during my stay were Goat Cheese Tartlettes, Bacon Wrapped Figs, Golden Polenta Cakes, Boneless Chicken and Mild Herbed Italian Sausage with Chocolate dipped Strawberries for dessert…and that was just the first night I was there! The meal was delicious.

The following day, I considered going to a restaurant for dinner but in the end, I knew that something amazing would be served and I wanted to relax and experience all the inn had to offer (the photo is of the next night’s meal that was just as delicious).

A funny thing would happen in the early evening, it’s not uncommon for it to be a quiet environment in the public spaces during the day; but when the clock strikes 5:30 pm, the Great Room fills up with the inn guests and every table gets taken. Only fifteen minutes earlier, you would never have realized that all these people were staying at the inn. It’s that feeling of your mom calling you to dinner and everyone rushes down to gather around the table. In this case, although you may not know these people, I can guarantee you that by the end of the meal you have made some new friends.

After dinner, most everyone lingered around in the living room. I chatted and shared many laughs with several interesting people during dinner and throughout the evening, as other guests played games, read magazines or socialized with each other. By the end of the second night, the inn was feeling very “homey” to me and I felt that everyone there had become, at the very least, a friendly acquaintance. Overall the experience really exudes a family gathering atmosphere that leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy.

As my last evening ended, I began to understand the feeling Guy must have experienced in Palm Springs all those years ago…and I thought how satisfying it must be for him that he has truly recreated the experience of his youth for the guests of his own inn.

Activities

@2014 Susan Edel

If you have not been to the Mendocino area, don’t hesitate another moment to make your way to this stunning region of Northern California.

In my personal opinion, I have always believed that this is one of the most beautiful coastlines I have ever seen. Not to mention the fact that the charming historic town of Mendocino offers quaint shops, restaurants and museums, with a twist of sophistication influenced from the San Francisco Bay Area. The town is still made up of original buildings from the mid-1800’s, it’s truly the town that time forgot ~ in the best way possible.

The charm of Mendocino is frequently compared to the towns in the northeastern state of Maine and has lured many production companies to film around this area. The iconic TV show Murder She Wrote was fictitiously based on the East Coast but the exterior shots that aired each week for 12 seasons was actually filmed in Mendocino.

@2014 Susan Edel

There is so much to do within the vicinity of the inn that BGI offers the option of utilizing their Pre-Arrival Concierge services to help you plan your time effectively. Activities such as kayaking, horseback riding, hiking, whale-watching or relaxing with an in-room massage are readily available and the staff at BGI will help you plan it all.

One of the great aspects I noticed about Guy is that he seems to really know the surrounding area well and has made strong connections within the community. The bonds that he has made with community members seems to enhance and offer the BGI guest a more personalized experience while visiting the shops, restaurants and wineries in the surrounding area. On the weekend I was visiting, the town was having its annual Mushroom Festival and Guy had entered a soup cook-off…never did hear if he won or not…but it’s this type of involvement that makes him endearing.

I spent some time in Elk, a tiny town that if you blink as you drive through you will miss it…but don’t blink because it’s worth the view. I didn’t stop in Boonville but it is obvious that this is an up and coming little town making itself over into a trendy area.

@2014 Susan Edel

A huge draw to this region now are the Anderson Valley wineries. Driving north from the San Francisco Bay Area, the drive alone is enchanting as you pass llama farms and wind your way through the beautiful redwoods on Hwy 128, then as you approach the wineries, the landscape opens up to lush vineyards and rustic barns used as tasting rooms. If you are a wine lover, this is a great way to spend a day.

Summary

@2014 Susan Edel

For me, the allure of quaint properties is about the warmth and personal engagement offered that engenders a deep sense of comfort and wellbeing in your soul. If there is anything I have learned in my years of exploring luxury travel, it’s that true luxury is constituted by the emotional connection of your experience and not necessarily by who has the fanciest silk linens.

The Brewery Gulch Inn offers a very personal experience and manages to make you feel like family in the process of serving you the finest in food, wine and accommodations that the area has to offer…and the stunning beauty of the Mendocino coastline is certainly an added perk that not just any place can offer.

Coming back to Mendocino made me realize that I need to spend way more time in this area with all there is to do here.

Related Links:

Elk, CA

Fairmont Mayakoba, Riviera Maya

@2014 Susan Edel

On a spontaneous walk down the beach from the Rosewood Mayakoba, I came to the next resort, the Fairmont Mayakoba. I decided to take a look around and just happened to stumble upon the pool and bar. It was a perfect pit stop for a happy hour margarita. I was even able to charge it to my room at the Rosewood, doesn’t get any more convenient than that! Cheers!

Rosewood Mayakoba Photo Gallery

Enjoy the photo gallery to my most recent post on the Rosewood Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico

 

backtopost

 

 

Click on image to start slide show