Allegretto Vineyard Resort | Paso Robles, CA

When someone mentions the California Wine Country, I’m pretty sure Napa Valley is the first place that comes to mind for most people. However as some wine lovers are aware, there has been a quiet evolution going on in California’s Central Coast for the past decade or so that is offering a viable alternative to Napa Valley…if you are not already aware of this area, let me acquaint you with the Paso Robles Wine Region.


The Paso Robles Wine Region is located approximately equal distance between San Francisco and Los Angeles and is home to more than 200 wineries, most of which are family owned and operated, and has the perfect climate for producing award-winning premium wines. The Paso Robles AVA {American Viticultural Area, a designated wine grape-growing region in the United States} is acknowledged for its wide range of grape varietals including ZinfandelBordeauxCabernet Sauvignon, and most recently the Rhône varieties, including the first Syrah planted in California. Paso Robles is also receiving recognition for its original Paso blends that are unique to the area.

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Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn | Sonoma, CA

The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa, located in the Sonoma Wine Region of California, is a unique property that sits atop a natural, thermal mineral spring that was discovered by the Native Americans in the early 1800’s.

The Native Americans considered this site sacred healing grounds and as word spread over the years, a hotel was developed and people began to visit the property to “take-in the waters”. The thermal mineral spring is still active and a defining spa element at the hotel to this day.

@2016 Susan Edel

While this property is no longer the newest and trendiest resort in the Sonoma/Napa wine region, there is something to be said about a resort whose history runs deep and who has earned their rightful stature over the decades as a destination spa resort. There is a respective grandeur to the property that can only be derived through time due to a commitment to quality and service. This hotel’s allure is its rich heritage and to this day, is one of the only luxury spa resorts in the country with its own source of thermal mineral water.


The California Mission style architecture of the main building, built in 1927 after a fire destroyed the original structure, has a serene and tranquil ambiance that is echoed throughout the property.

A historic water tower with a beautiful scrolled SMI monogram stands proudly over the main building. The beautiful and inviting lobby has great detail in the large wood beamed ceilings, carved corbels, wrought iron light fixtures and large fireplace.

Although the resort is located only a mile from downtown Sonoma, the beautiful grounds along with the large majestic trees that inhabit this property create a private oasis that makes you feel as though you are in an isolated sanctuary. Once you enter the resort, there is no need to go beyond as it offers a state-of-the-art spa, gift shop, afternoon wine-tasting, and Michelin rated restaurant…although the charm of Sonoma’s downtown square should not be missed.

Guest Rooms

@2016 Susan EdelThe Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn {SMI} offers 226 rooms with most of them still utilizing the hotel’s original antique headboards.

As a complimentary welcome to each guest, a bottle of  Trinity Oaks Wine is placed in each room. This is not only a nice gesture for the SMI guest but it’s also a nice gesture for the environment as Trinity Oaks plants one tree for every bottle of wine purchased. This is one of the ways SMI maintains it’s commitment to environmental stewardship. Love it! That’s a win-win in my book.

The resort offers a variety of accommodations, ranging from the quaint Fairmont Rooms to the Signature Suites located throughout the property.

The Fairmont Rooms are located in the main historic building along with the Lobby, 38 North Bar and Santé Restaurant. These rooms are considered the entry level rooms on property. They have been nicely renovated and are the smallest in size, there are no balcony rooms but some do have fireplaces.

Something to keep in mind with these rooms is that there are some rooms on the first floor in this building that are located by the entrance and have windows facing the walkway to the lobby where all guests arrive and walk in and out of the lobby. If you are someone who appreciates a little more privacy, I might suggest asking for a second floor room. Otherwise, consider upgrading your room to a Deluxe category located in some of the separate buildings on property. See description of the guest rooms {here}.

@2016 Susan EdelI stayed in an ample Deluxe room located in one of the separate buildings on the third floor with a small balcony facing the foothills. My room faced toward the front entrance but it was set back enough which made for a pleasant setting {room 361} and I found it quite peaceful. The rooms are clean and the interior design is stylish in keeping with a historic property.

There are 60 suites on property ranging from Junior suites to Signature One-Bedroom suites. The suites are scattered throughout the property located in a quiet and serene setting. The suites are very nicely decorated and have a lot of charm and character.

My favorite suite is the Mission Suite elegantly decorated with a four-poster king size bed, separate seating area with a wood burning fireplace and a two-person oversized jacuzzi tub. All of these suites feature patios or balconies with French doors, arched doorways and Saltillo tile accents. See descriptions of all suites {here}.

This hotel has a very pet-friendly policy, providing dog beds and other amenities for your furry friends, so feel free to bring them {pet fee applied}. I will admit that this is one of the main draws for me because of how accommodating the staff is and the roomy grounds…the concierge even arranged for a dog sitter {additional cost} to take care of my dogs one day while I was away from the resort. It was very convenient and quite comforting knowing that my dogs were being cared for.

WiFi is provided throughout the resort and in-room at no cost to Fairmont President’s Club members {Fairmont’s Luxury Loyalty Program}. It’s a free program so be sure to sign up before your stay to take advantage of all the benefits it offers.

All rooms offer a coffee maker with an assortment of complimentary coffee and teas, and a mini-bar {at cost}. Complimentary coffee is also offered each morning in the lobby.


There are several dining options on property.

Breakfast/Lunch: The Big 3 Cafe offers hearty style meals for breakfast and lunch. Located on the corner of the Inn’s ground, this is a local favorite as well. Apparently their lemon pancakes are a must! Casual attire.

Late Lunch/Evening: The 38º North Lounge located off the lobby offers small plate dishes for a lite fare, mid-afternoon through the evening. I ordered a few small plates and made a dinner meal out of them. The full service bar also serves over 50 varieties of wine by glass. Casual attire.

Dinner: Santé Restaurant, a Michelin rated restaurant, is the Inn’s premier dining room serving local produce, meats, poultry and seafood. Wine Country Casual attire. Reservations recommended.

Other Options include the seasonal poolside dining at The Water Tower, Sonoma Golf Club Grill and In-Room dining that can be delivered to your room or anywhere on property. I had lunch one day delivered to a seating area in the lobby ~ a great way to relax and people watch.


The heart and soul of this property is the 40,000 sq. ft. Willow Stream Spa which has been rated among Travel & Leisure’s top 25 spas. You know you are at a true destination spa when you see more guests walking around in their snuggly, white cotton robes and rubber slippers than in street clothes.

Today, the spa has developed into a first class destination which includes approximately 25 treatment rooms, mind and body health sessions, the bathhouse, salon and fitness center. This location is now one of the only luxury spa resorts in the country with its own source of thermal mineral water.

The majority of the spa’s public spaces, treatment waiting area and bathhouse is co-ed. There is a comfortable seating area in the waiting room with a fireplace, and a healthy snack bar. The co-ed bathhouse is just off the main seating area and offers mineral water sitting pools, steam and sauna rooms, and exfoliating showers. There are separate locker rooms for the men and women.

Along with the indoor bathhouse, there is a large resort pool, and two outdoor mineral pools. One of the mineral pools is known as the Watsu Pool where you can book a wonderful floating massage. Even if you don’t get the massage, I highly recommend just floating in it for awhile. The water temperature is kept in the mid 90’s and music is piped in under the water. Float sticks are available and this was one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve ever had. I honestly would have slept there if I could have.

@2016 Susan Edel

There is a complimentary fitness center for all guests offering weights, exercise bicycles and treadmills along with the option of booking personal training sessions, yoga classes and more.

Complimentary guided hikes are offered daily throughout the picturesque Sonoma Valley foothills. The resort also loans bikes on a complimentary first come/first serve basis to guests which is a perfect way to head downtown to the Sonoma Square for lunch and some shopping. For the more serious bike enthusiast, scenic Sonoma Valley bike tours through the Wine Country can be booked for an additional fee.

You forgot your workout gear you say…well no worries, with the Fairmont Fit program and as a member of Fairmont President’s Club, guests have complimentary access to Reebok workout gear and footwear, which is delivered directly to the guest room for use in-room, in the gym or to enjoy in the great outdoors. 

Disclosure: The resort does not charge a resort feehowever, there is a $39 charge to use the spa mineral pools and bathhouse unless you book a spa treatment. In my opinion, it’s worth it because you can use the steam room, sauna, minerals pools, and other spa amenities. The outdoor resort pool is available to all guests.


For tennis and golf, SMI guests have access to one of the oldest, private membership clubs in California, the Sonoma Golf Club.  The use of this club is exclusive to its members and Fairmont guests only.

Unique to Property

Aside from all of the above, this resort also offers:

Wine tasting every night hosted by a different winery in the Lobby from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm.

A car service is available to drive guests to the downtown Sonoma Square for a meal or shopping.


You have many choices when visiting the Napa/Sonoma wine country, so what is the draw of this property over some of the others ones in the area?

Well, this is a true destination spa resort with its own thermal mineral waters, the resort is steeped in history and has been operating under the Fairmont brand since the 1990’s offering personalized service that has been consistent for decades, not to mention that any hotel that has been operating for a century or more speaks for itself.

If you are looking to treat yourself to a nice escape and to enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation, as well as being in the midst of the charming Sonoma Valley, this property is a great choice. New and trendy can be nice, but a resort rich in history offers a warmth and comfort that can only be earned over time.

Property Fact Sheet


Exploring The Russian River Valley

Napa Valley and Sonoma are world-renowned for its wines, fine restaurants and luxury accommodations. A person could spend weeks and weeks exploring this region and only scratch the surface. So with as many times as I have been to the Napa Valley wine region, it was refreshing to discover yet another sector that I have never visited…the Russian River Valley.

On my drive to the Farmhouse Inn in Forestville (see here for the full review), I drove through the town of Sebastopol and stopped for lunch at The Barlow, a 220,000 square foot culinary and art center. There were many intriguing choices but I went with the Zazu Kitchen+Farm recommended by a friend. It was an excellent choice with unique menu items, open air seating and surrounded by fun and funky art sculptures.


The Russian River Valley is in the heart of Sonoma County and has become most well-known for producing world-class Pinot Noir wine. Although Napa Valley is the more popular and polished destination, the historic RRV offers a rustic charm with an exciting incoming infusion of sophistication, fun and funk.

On the concierge’s suggestion at the Farmhouse Inn, I drove the proposed route going through several charming towns, some so small if you blinked you would miss them, but full of character just the same.

The town of Graton, now well-known for its Casino* (see hollyhan77’s comment below) seemed to be a pit-stop for cyclists who wanted to take a break at some of the coffee shops, there are a few antique and art stores and the Paul Mathew wine tasting room.

Unfortunately the Bambú Tea House wasn’t open, but it sure looked full of personality.

Freestone was one of those “don’t blink” towns but the colorful market and beautiful landscape are sure to catch your attention.

The largest (in relative terms) town on this route is Occidental. This bohemian town offers several restaurants, shops, a church, market and a hotel. I stopped for lunch at the Howard Cafe and the food was fresh and tasty…just keep in mind, you’re on “bohemian” time here so sit back and relax. 😉

It’s always a fun journey to discover new and unexpected places, and I’m definitely feeling the love for the Russian River Valley now.


Farmhouse Inn ~ Forestville, CA

DSC_8811There is a reason I titled my site No Ordinary Resort, it was my intention from the beginning to feature distinctive, boutique style hotels that offer personalized service, unique locations and experiences, and represent a one-of-a-kind property. And although I do have larger properties listed on my site, The Farmhouse Inn represents my initial concept precisely. This property may be small in size but it is huge in heart, style and luxe abundances.


Located on 6 acres in California’s rural wine country in the Russian River Valley, this property is steeped in history. The original Farmhouse was established in late 1800’s, with the addition of the migrant worker’s cottages that are still located and used on property today.

In 2000, siblings Joe Bartolomei and Catherine Bartolomei-Smith purchased the property that was in need of some TLC and became the Farmhouse owners. Over the years, they have completed a multi-million dollar property-wide renovation and expansion to create the award-winning resort it is today. The resort has received major accolades and is firmly planted on Travel and Leisure’s World’s Best List.

@2015 Susan EdelHowever the secret to their success is not just in the farmhouse-chic accommodations they have created, I believe the larger part of the siblings success is derived from their sense of pride, integrity and history as fifth-generation Sonoma County natives and their desire to honor their family’s legacy.

Since 1911, The Bartolomei family has owned and operated a ranch located only miles from the Farmhouse Inn. The family still owns and operates the ranch which grows much of the food that is prepared at the Inn along with their own winery, Lost and Found, which supports their farm-to-table concept.

Check-In Process

The check-in process is quite pleasant as you are greeted with smiles from the friendly staff. The quaint lobby is inviting and a glass of wine is offered while you are being checked-in.

Before heading to the room, each guest is invited to help themselves to the complementary Spa Bar offering natural products by SumBody such as sugar scrubs, bath salts and colorful, aromatic soaps that you slice to size. It’s a fun, interactive offering meant to enhance the unique experience in the spa inspired bathrooms of each guest room which include either a steam shower or sauna and soaking tub…and it makes for a wonderful smelling lobby!

A personal touch that I appreciate is that the Farmhouse Inn still uses an actual key which is placed on a key chain with a spoon handle engraved with an “F”. Quite charming.

Guest Rooms

There are 24 guest rooms/suites on property. The original guest rooms are the rooms located in the existing farmhouse and the cottages.

The Queen Standard rooms are located on the second floor of the original farmhouse and are the smallest rooms on property, yet they still offer a jetted tub with shower and a wet/dry redwood sauna.

The original migrant worker’s cottages have been fully renovated and are known as the King Standard and King Suite Cottages. The King Standard Cottage is a cozy room with a king bed and small sitting area with a fireplace. The cottages come with a jetted tub with shower or soaking tub with a steam shower.

(Click on any image to enlarge)

The King Suite Cottages offer a separate, spacious room divided by French doors and a rolling barn door to the bathroom which have a wet/dry sauna instead of the steam shower. In general, the cottages offer a bit more of a vintage feel with the original tile surround on the fireplaces and a small patio entrance. The cottages are decorated in a comfortable and charming manner with fun accessories. These rooms are perfect for those who can appreciate the history of the resort, like to be on the ground level close to the main building and amenities, and enjoy the feeling of staying in a private little cottage.

When it was decided that it was time to expand, SB Architects was hired to design the new barn-style buildings which effortlessly mingle with the historic buildings on site. The addition of these separate two-story buildings located toward the backend of the property now house the appropriately named Barn Rooms.

The Barn Rooms are light and airy and offer a relaxed, luxury feel. Designer Myra Hoefer, did a wonderful job in executing a simplistic design in a neutral color palate with slip-covered furniture for a fresh feel and added interesting textures and accessories that give the rooms a very warm and inviting feel. The rooms are lovely with wood paneling, gorgeous stone indoor-outdoor fireplaces, farm-style accessories such as decorative hoes, picks and weather veins, large outdoor decks with adirondack chairs and candle lanterns. The beds are extremely comfortable, and if you didn’t know better, you would think the linens just came fresh off the clothes line.

All Barn Rooms offer a spa-like bathroom designed in white marble with a deep soaking tub and separate steam shower…this is where your Spa Bar goodies that you gathered at check-in come in to play. Immerse yourself in the luxurious products and soak in your tub or enjoy a great steam shower.

Industrial style light fixtures, oversized silver hooks and vintage style faucets are fun design elements used throughout the bathroom. And I love a resort that anticipates all of your needs, amenities such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, razor and more is conveniently provided for you in a decorative box on the bathroom counter.

There are two Barn Room categories, the King Deluxe and the King Luxury. The main difference being that the Luxury rooms have a little more square footage and some have sliding barn doors separating a sitting area; however, the Deluxe rooms are quite spacious and very charming in their decor so it’s a tough call as to which category to choose.

I will say that given a choice, I would take a second floor room because of the beamed ceilings. I stayed in room 22 which is considered a King Luxury and I loved its location at the back of the property (affectionately called the old barn – only because it was the first phase, not because it’s old). The old barn offers the most privacy with rooms 24 and 25 facing the wooded landscape. Keep in mind though that some of those rooms facing the woods don’t get as much sunlight as some others. My room 22 offered a lot of natural sunlight and faced a wooded area. In the Deluxe category I would say that rooms 16 and 17 (in the new barn) would be a very nice choice, located on the second floor and facing an open grass area.

The rooms offer a complimentary non-alcoholic minibar along with a wine fridge stocked with a few bottles for purchase. A three course breakfast in the restaurant is included in your stay but if you’re like me and need your immediate coffee fix, a Keurig coffee maker is located in the room with all the amenities. It’s a beautiful thing to wake up, make yourself a cup of coffee and sit on your deck listening to the birds chirping. WiFi is complimentary and available throughout the property.


In listening to Catherine tell the story of how she and Joe decided to purchase the Farmhouse Inn, she stated that they knew the Inn was in disrepair but that the restaurant had a great chef and they knew they could build the resort around that foundation. Wow, talk about a compliment to the chef! Catherine and Joe must have had some good instincts because not only is Chef Steve Litke still at the restaurant, he is now a Michelin-starred chef. Cook and they will come!

@2015 Susan EdelDinner: The restaurant is an intimate space located on the lower level of the historic house. As mentioned earlier, the family ranch provides much of the fresh ingredients for the menu as well as items from local artisan farmers. The pre-fixe menu is a foodies dream, offering the option to choose from a 2-4 course dinner, offering a few different choices within each course. The onsite Sommelier will help you pair the perfect wine to your meal.

The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and professional without being pretentious. I ordered the Wild Alaskan Halibut which was fresh and cooked to perfection. Special touches such as printing a message on your menu to acknowledge a special event make for a very pleasant and personal experience. Seating is limited and the restaurant is open to the public so you definitely want to make reservations. The restaurant is closed on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s which provide you the perfect opportunity to explore other dining options in the surrounding area such as the adorable town of Healdsburg. Dare I say, I ordered pizza one evening that was delivered to my room {gasp} ~ but was relieved to find out that it’s not that uncommon. The Farmhouse does not offer room service.

Breakfast: A complimentary 3-course, gourmet breakfast is served each morning in the restaurant. There is also a lovely outdoor seating area for dining al fresco. The quaint patio with its bistro style table and chair setting, crushed gravel pathways, colorful roses, lavender and other plantings made me feel as though I was transported to someplace in the South of France. The menu offers a couple choices for each course and the dishes are creative and specially prepared each morning. I loved the homemade granola but it’s hard to choose with the likes of fresh pastries, pancakes, french toast, innovative egg dishes and so much more. These are the type of difficult decisions you will need to make during your stay here!


At a resort of this size, you may not necessarily expect a spa on property but in the efforts to extend a full experience, there is a very charming Spa at the Farmhouse Inn which is designed in the playful characteristics of a carriage house. The treatment rooms have dutch doors, shiplap siding, painted horse murals and a small patio. The ingredients used in the spa treatments follow the same farm-to-table concept as the restaurant uses. The spa is open to the public so reservations are recommended.

Located just outside the spa is a large pool surrounded by lounge chair seating and a hot tub. As an example of the type of personal service this small property provides, I was immediately approached by an attendant with a towel as I located my lounge chair. I would expect this at a large resort but was pleasantly surprised to receive this unexpected service here. The pool is a perfect way to spend a relaxing day.

Unique to the Property

When there is a theme to a property, it can sometimes be easy to over-do it but the Farmhouse Inn has found that perfect balance between executing farmhouse-chic while keeping it classy and offering a luxurious setting. Whimsical features such as upside-down buckets used as light fixtures, faucet-style water fountains, corrugated tin, wooden criss-cross trellises, large barn doors and so much more add a unique interest throughout the entire property. I don’t mind admitting that I was obsessed with all the light fixtures throughout the property.

@2015 Susan EdelThe resort takes on a magical feeling in the evening when the fire pits and hurricane lanterns scattered throughout are lit and envelop the property in a golden glow.

A sweet amenity offered each night is the s’mores bar located in the lobby. Each guest can help themselves to homemade marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers and enjoy sitting by the fire pit mingling with other guests.

A very special little feature the Farmhouse offers is their Elopement Package. It’s like a wedding-in-a-box. The package includes everything you need for a tiny, intimate wedding and it’s all taken care of for you. No fuss, no muss and you’re married!

And let’s not forget that this is wine country…Sonoma and Napa counties are famous for their world-class wineries and restaurants. Spend the day discovering this beautiful region, drive through the rustic and charming towns, other local activities include kayaking, antique shopping, hiking, biking, and should you want to spend the day wine tasting, the Farmhouse is happy to arrange transportation so you can enjoy a carefree day of exploring – Blink Car and Uber are also available. The Farmhouse also offers or can arrange for many activities (the resort provides great concierge services) so I promise the only thing you will be wishing for is that you had more time to stay!

In continuing efforts to provide more resort amenities, there are plans to create a fitness center and a meeting facility sometime in the near future.

In Summary

The Farmhouse Inn offers a warm, intimate and inviting atmosphere, and evokes the feeling of visiting a personal country estate. This is a perfect property to enjoy a romantic weekend, to celebrate a special occasion or to gather a group and enjoy a reunion. Visionary Elon Musk took over the entire property to celebrate his birthday.

From the warm and inviting hospitality, the fore-thought to provide such luxe amenities, farmhouse-chic accommodations along with a Michelin starred restaurant, I would say that this unique resort is an extremely alluring property to anyone looking for something different from the cookie-cutter hotel experience.


Gold Rush Country, CA

On a recent visit to the Gold Rush country in Northern California, I visited a few quaint towns and thought I would share the charm of this historic area.


Murphys is a tiny town being called “the next Napa” due to all the vineyards and wineries that have infiltrated this area.

The quaint main street has become a trendy spot with restaurants offering sophisticated cuisine such as Grounds, unique boutique stores, and of course all of the many wine tasting rooms. On any given weekend, you will find a crowd of people walking up and down the sidewalk enjoying all the town has to offer.

The iconic structure in town is the historic Murphys Hotel, established in 1856. The hotel has been host to many notable guests such as Mark Twain, J.P. Morgan, President Ulysses S. Grant and many more distinguished figures.

The hotel, in my opinion, is in need of some TLC (it’s actually a secret dream of mine to buy a historic hotel like this and turn it into a five star property – I love the juxtaposition of a historic structure with a really high-end interior) but it still holds its own in town and draws a crowd to the bar. Gordon Ramsay featured this hotel on his show Hotel Hell and gave the owners advice on how to improve the property so I hope they bring this beauty back to its full glory.


Angels Camp

Angels Camp is the home of the Jumping Frog, the inspiration for Mark Twain’s short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”

The town is a little larger than Murphys and offers many shops and restaurants. It has also maintained its historic charm, however, it has not become as “trendy” as Murphys.

These two towns are only the tip of the iceberg in this Gold Rush area. There are so many interesting little towns that it could take you a month or more to get around to them all…but it’s a great reason to come back.

For many more images on these two towns and the surrounding area, see the slide show below. Click on any image above to enlarge.

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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.


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.


@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.


@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.


@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