Gentry Destinations August/September 2016 : Page 72

TREASURE A charming inn just north of Mendocino beckons travelers looking for adventure and escape. COASTAL 72 | GENTRY DES TINATIONS

Simply Sublime

Amalia McGibbon


A charming inn just north of Mendocino beckons travelers looking for adventure and escape.

If I’m going to be awakened by anything in the middle of the night, it might as well be the moon shining like a neon sign over the Pacific. In fact, that’s the only thing that could wake you up at the Inn at Newport Ranch, built as it was on a remote, unpeopled coastline 20 miles north of Mendocino. But this is why I came here— to convene with nature, to go with the (tidal) flow. So rather than shake my fist at the moon, like I might at a city garbage truck or late-night reveler, I shuffle over to the window for a better look. Even at midnight, the view astounds.

The luxurious ocean getaway opened exactly a year ago, in August 2015, the work of renowned architects Dave Sellers and Jim Sanford. The two men put a premium on old-style craftsmanship, and the Inn’s unique architectural features include a 20-footwide walk-in stone fireplace, stained glass doors, flooring made of redwood planks milled from logs left behind by the old loggers, and a 32-foot banquet table made from a single redwood slab. There’s also a building supported by 24 individual redwood trees, from base to cathedral-like ceiling, and a hot tub on top of a water tower that presents commanding views of the epic landscape. My room, “The Captain’s Quarters,” was up in the eaves of the Main Inn, and its nautical décor is reminiscent of old sailing days.

To be honest, I evaluate luxury accommodations according to the typical categories: food, service, décor, and ambiance. Plus one more of my own devising: places to sit. How many? Where are they? Let me explain: I’m on vacation. There will be a lot of sitting. Sitting with my husband; sitting with my glass of wine; sitting with my book; sitting with another glass of wine. As a property, do you understand that? And if so, what are you going to do about it? I think it’s a classic “tell” of a well-run property when it offers you a plethora of seating options to rotate through so you can essentially stay put but feel like you’ve done so much.

To cut to the chase—the Inn does seating like it invented the very idea. Every hill and headland is crowned with a beautifully carved wooden bench or twinset of chairs. Some are in plain view, and others you have to search for, tucked away as they are on romantic, if sometimes precarious, overlooks. You get the sense that this property is the owner Will Jackson’s love letter to the land; that he knows every nook and cranny and wants to share them with you like a parent pulling out his wallet of kid photographs.

Before arrival, my husband and I wondered how on earth we would occupy ourselves on such a remote property. In fact, our days were always too short.

The Inn at Newport Ranch offers horseback riding, as well as hiking trails, whale watching, and guided ATV adventure safaris along the dramatic coast and through the redwood forests. Barbecue and picnic sites are scattered throughout the property (very popular amongst the corporate retreaters), and there’s also a recently opened on-site spa, offering services such as massages, facials, and more.

You are both welcomed and encouraged to venture off-property as well. Head 30 minutes south and stroll up and down Mendocino’s charming Main Street, or stop by the world-famous Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens (47 acres of ocean-front gardens, forests, streams, fern canyons, and bluffs). Consider quenching your thirst at one of the many spectacular wineries and tasting rooms in the beautiful Anderson Valley. My favorites were Pacific Star Winery (the westernmost winery in the country), and Lula Cellars, where we met the incredibly affable owner Jeff Hansen and his sweet pup, Honey.

A stay at the Inn at Newport Ranch includes a made-to-order breakfast as well as evening fireside appetizers and libations. You can opt to eat dinner on-site—care of innkeepers Creighton and Cindi Smith—and I recommend it highly. The Inn sources the finest local meats and seafood, and grows some of its own vegetables, herbs, greens, and flowers, resulting in fresh feasts of “comfort ranch food.” You can watch the sun set from the Inn’s wraparound porch, or spend a few hours by the roaring fireplace before turning in. To sleep, or perchance to stare at the moon.

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