Whole Life Magazine

June/July 2014

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Page 21 of 43

T he road to Mendocino from San Francisco simply will not allow you to obsess about urban woes. Tortuously winding through redwood groves and verdant hills, it insists that you focus on nothing but the scenery and potentially errant oenophiles who've had one taste too many at the wineries dotting Highway 128. But once you arrive at Stanford Inn by the Sea, throw open the French doors and step out on your patio to a glorious view of lush gardens, contentedly grazing horses, donkeys and llamas, and a near-360 of sunset over the Paci c, instant amnesia sets in, allowing you to forget not just the drive, but any lingering concerns from your workaday world. Perched on a hillside facing the ocean, with the crystalline Big River running along one side of the nine-acre property, the Stanford Inn is that perfect balance of graciousness and homey ambience. Several two-story buildings comprise 41 rooms and suites, all with wood-burning replaces needing nothing more than a match to get the home re burning. Rooms are comfortable and inviting, and the chocolate chip cookies that await you— vegan, of course, as is all food served on site—are delicious. We must have dawdled too long on that winding road because we arrived too late for dinner in the Inn's Ravens Restaurant, but a two-minute drive took us to Café Beaujolais, an authentic and delicious French restaurant in town. A er a lovely meal we slept deeply that night, the windows of our Big River one-bedroom suite open to the salt air, wisps of ower fragrance dri ing up from the gardens. We were tempted next morning to linger on our private patio, but there's so much to do at the Stanford Inn that it's been described as summer camp for adults. We started our day with a quick Jacuzzi and swim in the greenhoused salt-water pool, bougainvillea blossoms strewn gently on the water's surface; then took bikes (complimentary for inn guests) for a glorious ride along Big River. A er gluten-free wa es and a gorgeous fruit salad at the Ravens (complimentary for hotel guests), we explored the town. Gi shops and art galleries proliferate, and the restored Mendocino Hotel, built in the 1890s, o ers a historic respite. We missed the Pomo Indian artifacts at Grace Hudson Museum, but it was fun to explore Ford House Museum, built 1854, now a visitor center for Mendocino Headlands State Park. We hurried back to Stanford for half-price happy hour and enjoyed a fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice cocktail in the sprawling main house before heading out on a tour of the grounds and gardens with knowledgeable proprietor Je Stanford. Je and his wife Joan have been pushing the boundaries of what's possible in eco-hosting for decades, and he is a delightful conversationalist, generous with his abundant wisdom (and colorful history) on a wide range of subjects. He introduced us to chief gardener Matt Drewno, a gardening wizard who oversees a kind of experiment in optimizing soil and seeds. Fully an eighth of the organic produce used in the restaurant kitchen is grown onsite. Deep relaxation at a sustainable vegan resort By Abigail Lewis STANFORD INN BY THE SEA Photos: Caitlyn Andrews, Abigail Lewis, Mitchell Ritter. Additional photos courtesy Stanford Inn 22 wholelifetimesmagazine.com WLT-JUN-JULY-26.indd 22 5/26/14 2:09 PM

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