Stay at Sonoma’s Best / Les Petites Maisons (The Little Houses) – April 14, 2012 – Sonoma, CA.
I stayed in the Deux Jardins Cabin. Darling, charming, precious, there aren’t enough adjectives to describe this fantastic property. You feel like you are in your own little house with all of the gracious amenities. The cottage is bright and cheery with hues of yellow and deep red. The bedroom has a queen size bed with premium linens and a large closet. The bathroom has a shower/tub combination. There are two amazing sitting areas, one with a full entertainment unit (DVD, Satellite TV, CD) and one with a dining area. The separate kitchen is fully equipped. A perfect place for a small family, or a romantic honeymoon weekend. You are so close to all of the great wineries, and restaurants. What a great way to end your day in Sonoma Wine County in this beautiful little gem.
Gayle and Tom Jenkins are the owners of this property, which includes Sonoma’s Best, which is a true gourmet café and wine store. You will know from one meeting that they truly care, and want you to have the best experience possible. Tom and Gayle make you feel very at home. The amenities include: Queen bed with goose comforter and pillows, 100% Cotton triple sheeted beds, Air Conditioning, DirecTV (complete package) with full home entertainment system (DVD, VCR, CD, tuner and multiple speakers), Hair Dryer, Iron and ironing board, Private outdoor garden with outdoor seating with teak table and chairs, Naturally clarifying shampoo, conditioner, lotions and soaps made with all-natural ingredients, Robes, Dining table and chairs, Living room seating with leather sofa and/or chairs and ottoman, Fully equipped kitchen designed for everyday use including: Refrigerator, gas stove and oven, microwave, coffeemaker and tea kettle, toaster, blender, Glassware, including wine glasses, dinnerware, flatware, Calphalon cookware, all necessary utensils, Wireless Internet, Expedition Sport bicycles on request, Gas Weber Barbeques on request, Courtyard garden, Mini Spice P pantry on request.
The perfect way to end my glorious time in Sonoma, I got my much needed rest and was bathed in comfort. Staying here you are very self-contained, you can just hop into their store and pick up a bottle of wine and food from their deli, and you’re all set. Here all of your worries go away and you are set to experience life’s adventures. This place will be my new addiction when I am in Sonoma Valley Wine Country.
Les Petites Maisons
1190 East Napa Street
Sonoma, CA 95476
Stay at Sonoma Mission Inn – April 12 & 13, 2012 – Sonoma, CA.
At a food – tasting event last summer at the Santa Monica Fairmont I bid on a two – night stay at the Sonoma Mission Inn, I won and the bid money went to charity. I contacted their marketing gal Michelle and she decided to throw in some added perks that I could write about. She added a lunch for 3 at their Big 3 Restaurant, and Spa use at Willow Stream Spa. First I must say by all means, stay at the Sonoma Mission Inn, it is worth every penny. Very luxurious and smartly appointed, with all the amenities that make for a great get away.
Willow Stream Spa, I went everyday that I was there.
It was recently rated amongst the Top Spas by Travel + Leisure Magazine, and is beautifully designed with many amenities to promote health, relaxation and rejuvenation. The spa is 40,000 square feet, an amazingly spiritual place, filled with healing mineral waters.
The Willow Stream Spa offers endless opportunities to find your energy, you can relax by the inviting fireplace, soaking in the mineral baths, Watsu® pool, or indulge in one of their signature treatments.
There is a bath house fee and it includes these marvelous features; use of the signature Bathing Ritual, featuring exfoliating shower, two mineral water soaking pools, herbal steam, dry sauna, and cool down showers. Plus, you get participation in all scheduled fitness classes, and use of the state-of-the-art fitness center and deluxe locker room facilities. Also included is the bathhouse lounge, the outdoor spa loggia, and use of the outdoor thermal mineral pools and whirlpool. You will be refreshed and rejuvenated after any amount of time spent here.
Lunch at Big 3
Big 3, is located on the north corner of the Sonoma Mission Inn’s grounds, just and hop and a jump from my room. It boasts a casual bistro experience and has been open for 50 year’s. It is known for it’s hearty country breakfasts and eclectic American cuisine.
Here’s what I had:
Caesar Salad, with croutons, Parmesan cheese, scallions, and anchovies. Not your usual suspects, this Caeser salad is different and oh so fresh!
Cornmeal Fried Calamari with Thai sweet-hot sauce and marinara sauce. This calamari is crunchy, with no rubbery texture, just good calamari flavor.
Spicy Buffalo Chicken Wings, ten pieces, with “Point Reyes” blue cheese dipping sauce. It is very hard to make Buffalo wings perfect, but hands down the best wings I ever tasted.
“Loch Duart”, Grilled Salmon Sonoma, organic baby field greens, and citrus vinaigrette. Fresh from the ocean, with a great side salad, light and healthy.
Butternut Squash Ravioli with wild mushrooms. Lots of ingredients in the mix, but the best part are the mushrooms.
Crème Brulee, with its nice crunchy top, and extra creamy center, a great way to end a spectacular lunch.
It is worth it just to come here for lunch and not be a paying guest at the hotel. It gives you a real feel for this jewel of a property. But if given the chance, stay at the hotel, and imbibe on all of the extra amenities. Above all relax and enjoy yourself, you only live once.
The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn
96 Boyes Boulevard
Stay at The Chauvet – April 10 & 11, 2012 – Sonoma, CA.
Absolutely, the highlight of my trip. What can you say about a palace right in the heart of the glorious Sonoma County Wine Country. From the moment I opened the front door there were no words to describe the look on my face. My jaw dropped and I realized I had just entered heaven. This 2000-foot vacation rental is something everyone has to experience. With it’s 3 bedrooms, and elegantly designed furnishings; you could be in the grandeur of Paris, or cosmopolitan Manhattan. The beauty is that you’re in the very quaint town of Glen Ellen, and from every window you see ancient oak trees, not sky scrappers.
The Chauvet has every amenity covered, from washer and dryers, to Jacuzzi tub, and a state of the art enormous kitchen. This place is guaranteed to spoil you; you will never look at a vacation rental the same. It is 3 stories with only 6 suites, each suite goes from the front of the building to the back, and are very large.
There is a lot of history here, built in 1906 by Joshua Chauvet and his son Henry, it is in the National Register of Historic Buildings, and is considered an Italianate-style masterpiece. In its day it was held to be the grandest hotel in town, and hosted as many as 3,000 visitors a month all traveling by rail. It’s exterior design featured 4 brick walls that were kilned in Joshua’s own brickyard on nearby Robertson Road. Joshua established the first lumberyard and Gristmill, planted grapes, and produced wine and brandy. Joshua Chauvet was friends with Jack London, and was directly responsible for him purchasing 130 acres in 1905. This property later became Beauty Ranch and the site of the glorious Wolf House, today, the ranch and the Wolf House ruins are part of Jack London State Historic Park.
The Chauvet saw many years of opulence and glamour, but as the economy declined and the mode of travel changed, the hotel fell into disarray, and in 1987 the last Three Nations Bar closed and the building became an abandoned eye sore. When I lived in Glen Ellen in the late 80’s early 90’s I remember thinking wow someone could turn that building into something really special. It wasn’t until 1996 that Christine Hansson and partner purchased the brick shell.
In 2 glorious years they transformed this historic landmark into something fresh and new. Christine says that the building has its own spirit, and she wanted to give it new life. She say’s “people come here to feel special,” she prides herself on making them feel special; she personally greets every guest upon check-in. You can tell that Christine means business, but is as sweet as she is generous, she was a terrific hostess to me! There are lots of guest from all over the world. The Chauvet is centrally located; you can just zip over Trinity Road, which drops you off in the heart of Napa Valley, near Yountville and St. Helena. The art in each room is spectacular, and for sale on their website.
The units are 2,000 square feet, with a lovely master bedroom, and 2 other well-appointed bedrooms. The kitchens are just fantastic with custom cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, wine cooler and commercial-style gas cook top. I found out that I could really whip up a gourmet meal with a minimal amount of fuss. There is a great market across the street, or fine dining is just a half a block away. The Jack London Village is also walking distance and has some nice offerings; a local cheese monger, chocolate shop (made on site), olive press and market, fantastic deli, market of locally produced gourmet items and another tasting room.
Among The Chauvet’s amenities; energy efficient air conditioning and heating, a gas fireplace, full soundproofing, elevator access, private garage, heated pool with sundeck patio, balcony. Bathrooms are equip with designer fixtures, jetted tubs and separate, glass enclosed showers with massage jets (in the master bathrooms). Skilled travelers will be in heaven.
Being back in Glen Ellen made me home sick. I used to have a beautiful cabin nestled in the oak trees here. Coming to The Chauvet restored my love of this area. This is elegance at it’s best, it should be celebrated by anyone that like’s to be treated well, and reside in the lap of luxury.
13756 Arnold Drive
Glen Ellen, CA. 95442
Stay at Cinnamon Bear Creekside Inn – March 29, 2012 – Sonoma, CA.
On the beaten path near the Sonoma Square, on Highway 12, lies this fantastic home away from home. It’s a big house with all the amenities that one would want from a bed and breakfast. Darla, who was named number 1 innkeeper when she ran her own Bed and Breakfast in Calistoga is the shining star to this great find. The breakfast she prepares is most amazing.
I actually tried 2 different breakfasts; a lovely casserole with potatoes, cheese, eggs and sausages in addition to a nice fruit cup with oranges off of their tree. I also tried the peach French toast, and sausages with another great fruit cup. There is good coffee and juice along with all of their homey fixings. The dining room has a great ambiance, as well as the living room.
The rooms are furnished with a modern flair, there are flat screen TV’s in all the rooms. My bed was very comfortable, with a nice down comforter. They gave me a quiet room in the back on the second floor, with a great view of all the trees. Its not far from the Square, and is close to all the great Sonoma wineries on Highway 12. Located on the historic Sonoma Creek, the ancient site of the local Indian tribes, this 100-year-old Inn was the past residence of a local family. It has 7 charming renovated rooms. The Cinnamon Bear Creekside Inn, Inc. also owns the highly rated Cinnamon Bear Inn of Mammoth Lakes (www.cinnamonbearinn.com).
The Cinnamon Bear Creekside Inn is a great Inn to come across in this Valley of The Moon. I would come back time and time again.
Cinnamon Bear Creekside Inn
19455 Sonoma Highway
Sonoma, CA 95476
San Francisco Getaway Weekend Blog – Aug 6-11
Check into Phoenix Hotel:
The likes of Keanu Reeves, Joan Jett, Vincent Gallo, Little Richard, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Psychedelic Furs and Pearl Jam; The Killers, Bloc Party and The Shins have all graced the rooms of this ecletic Rock and Roll Motor Inn. This is a San Francisco landmark, two decades of funky, irreverent, young-at-heart, retro imbibing. You never know who might be strumming a guitar, posing for a photo shoot or just kickin’ it by the pool.
What can you say about this Rock and Roll staple that has not been said so many times before…Fun, Fun…Fun!! When I arrived at this Joie De Vivre Property they were of course having a pool party, with blazing hot people and music. I was a little tipsy from all of my wine tasting at the Best Chefs, all I wanted to do was to crawl into bed and take a nap. You know what they say, no rest for the wicked! The music was so loud that I did manage to get in a wink or two, but the dreams were filled with the young beat of SF house music. After my quick nap, I hoped into a glorious bath, and then had a bit of wine on the smoking patio. My room was so simple yet ethnic, with its Caribbean theme, it was the perfect stop in a very hectic day. The bed was large and comfortable, all the amenities were included. Each of the 44 spacious guestrooms surrounds a lush central courtyard and pool. The pool is so fun, it is around 85-90 degrees, and so you feel like you are a baby floating in a warm bath. Guestrooms at Phoenix Hotel feature complimentary Wi-Fi service and cable TV. The three Deluxe King rooms and three suites also have refrigerators, microwaves and coffeemakers.
The newly appointed bar and restaurant Chambers has an amazing collection of vinyl, just like a library but with a hipster take on record stacks instead of books. What a statement, what a concept! Very smart to tap into this musical legacy with real records as a decoration, I was impressed. The crowd echoed my youth in San Francisco, all innocently doe eyed, with a badass party attitude. A lot of young eye candy! I tried a couple signature cocktails, but came back to their great wine list, with a 2009 Stephen Ross Edna Valley Chardonnay.
The Phoenix serves a nice continental breakfast poolside, fruit, cereal, croissants, coffee, juice etc. The Phoenix offers up everything you could want in your travels to SF. This is retro at it’s best, the old motor inn vibe with a 2011 twist. Get in your car, do not pass go, head straight over the Golden Gate Bridge to this once in a lifetime find.
What can I say about this experience, better to let sleeping dogs lie or dinosaurs roam the earth. Sami Sunchild is a guru in her own right, all you need to do is go to www.redvic.com and you will see her self proclaimed all knowing, guru superstar. Sami Sunchild is creator and founder of San Francisco’s Red Victorian Peace Center. There are hundreds of her paintings on display at The Red Victorians Gallery of Meditative Art. She has posters of all of her quotes and saying for sale in the café. In all, she is a marketing wizard, making all things Haight Ashbury,
Summer of Love cool, at least that is what I thought. I really wanted to meet her and talk to her after checking out all things Sami Sunchild on the Internet. Upon my arrival she was downstairs in the café area. I walked up to her and said hi and she politely asked who I was and said hi, and welcomed me to her hotel. When I checked in the gentlemen behind the registration desk who seemed to know who I was and that I was arriving. He said oh yes I know who you are. I had spoken to Sami and emailed her a few times to make sure I had confirmation, and to let her know that I would be bloging about my stay.
Sami is 87, and still appears to be very sharp. I guess I should have recognized that far away look in her eyes when I checked in. The room was on the 3rd floor, with a very twisty scary staircase. The Garden Room was ok, but really needed a major overhaul, and a good cleaning. It boasts rounded bay windows that accommodate a seating area, no television, and a 1990’s alarm clock radio, which basically is your only form of entertainment. The best news is that you are right on Haight Street where The 1967 Summer of Love, and the SF Hippie movement all began.
At night there is so much to do, I went to bar Deluxe and saw a local comedy show, what the comedians lacked in material the ambiance of this place made up for hands down. The Street echoes the hippies of the past. There was a group of guys with signs that said photos with dirty hippies for a buck. The hippy culture is big business, all the stores memorabilia is very expensive. Most people book hotel room with the knowledge that they are only in it to sleep, which is what this hotel is all about. Unfortunately sleep was not at a premium during my stay, the mattress was very old and stubbornly hard, you were almost afraid of bed bugs, but hey I would not want to start that rumor.
The Old Victorian served up a nice breakfast, you can choose a menu item of the café menu and coffee and juice. OK in a nutshell, Miss Sami Sunchild did not know who I was and preceded to treat me like a tourist, I never got to talk to her at length about her history with Haight Ashbury and The Red Victorian. To my embarrassment she asked for payment for the room, which was 149.00, way too high and not worth it, especially since I had cut a deal with her. My whole idea of peace and contentment with my stay and visit with The Red Victorian went right out the window. If you want a Haight Ashbury experience you can stay there, but please do not come with any unusual requests, and know it is what it is, as for me I would skip it next time around.
Check into to Hayes Valley Inn:
Located in a fun part of SF, that is ever changing and growing, close to the Opera House, Symphony and Ballet, City Hall, Asian Art Museum and the architecturally acclaimed San Francisco Public Library, and all public transportation is a block away. The Hayes Valley Inn is a nice retreat in a very engaging city. Spot the gorgeous greets you very large spotted dog lounging away in the hall of the first floor. Spot makes you feel like you never left home! Stephanie adds just the right amount of friendliness to make this B&B a very memorable experience.
My room at the top floor over looked the corner of Gough and Hayes, a very busy commuter intersection. Some how they manage to make The Hayes Valley Inn quiet and comfortable, and very inexpensive. With it’s nice newly appointed green drapes and it’s very comfortable beds, you feel like you are in the lap of luxury. It offers many great amenities: entirely non-smoking, complimentary extended continental breakfast, dog-friendly, daily newspapers in the parlor, wi-fi and guest computer with printer, iron, hairdryer and other accessories available, secure bike storage, Sink and vanity in each room.
With nearby services: special 24 hour $15 rate parking, bus passes – kiosk at Powell and Market, City Hall, dry cleaner/laundry, discount theater tickets, 24/7 doctor on call, Walgreen’s Drugs
The wc’s and baths are located in the hallway, which is how most European hotels operate, you really don’t even notice after an awhile and are not in conveniences by both being outside the room. This hotel is very elegant. A true find. My most favorite thing is that our hostess Stephanie was so gracious to invited me for fine Champaign after my dinner, and does her hotel business in her baby dolls in the morning, she is a trip and the best thing about this property!!!! The breakfast was all a weary traveler could want, lots of different cereal, fresh fruit, yogurt, waffles, nice sweet rolls, ham and cheese, all self serve, and all very fresh and delicious. You really feel at home away from home here, 2 big thumbs up!!! Thanks Stephanie.
Jodi Jackson’s Hollywood Santa Barbara Getaway Weekend July 14 – July 20th, 2011:
Thursday, July 14
Check into Old Yacht Club Inn:
This hotel is in a great part of Santa Barbara, 2 blocks away from East Beach. The Inn provides bikes for a much needed escape to the breezy beach bike path. There are 2 buildings, my room; The San Miguel Room was in the sister building, The Hitchcock House. The room, complete with a comfy queen-size bed and flat screens TV. A special touch is a very delicate decanter with Sherry in it in your room for your nightcap. They serve a lovely complimentary sit-down breakfast, served in a sweetly appointed dining room. The breakfast menu consists of: Organic Fresh Pressed Apple Juice, Santa Barbara Omelet, Toasted English Crumpet, Apple Crunch Fruit Compote, Freshly Brewed Coffee and Teas. This Inn has old world charm with modern day conveniences, with a very accommodating attitude. If you are a light sleeper then you might want to bring ear, plugs, the hotel is very close to the freeway and train tracks, which runs all night long. I can’t forget Rex the grey tabby who greets you in the back patio, a friendly cat with a lot of charm.
Friday July 15
Check in Inn on Summer Hill:
This gorgeous gem is located in the small quaint city of Summerland, right next door to the opulent Montecito. Right off of the frontage road with the 101 freeway and train tracks right outside your door. But the hotel has managed to construct a barrier between the noise outside and the luxury inside. The rooms are very elegant, nice large flat screen, extremely comfy king bed with the perfect 600 thread count sheets. A nice little patio with delightful view of the ocean. The room is very quiet and cave like. All rooms have private baths with whirlpool tubs, phones, granite vanity tops, lighted vanity mirror, instant hot faucet, robes, romantic down canopy beds, fireplaces, flat screen TV combo with DVD-VHS, extensive video library, DVD with I-Pod doc, in-room refreshments, refrigerators, phone with voice mail capability, wireless internet connection available in most rooms and public areas. As well as, luxurious fabrics and furnishings, including original art and antiques, pine ceilings and window shutters. The stunning Craftsman-style architecture creates the feel of home for guests traveling from all over. My great stay was 3 consecutive nights, so I really got to know this Inn’s splendor. Continental delicious breakfast is available in the fireside dining room or on your patio or balcony. There are fantastic handmade hors d’oeuvres with wine, coffee, tea and cheese at 3:00PM each day, and deserts from 7-11:00PM in the same room every night. The outdoor spa is on the second floor and has a great view of the Pacific Ocean. Inn on Summer Hill has received the coveted AAA Four Diamond award every year since our opening in 1989. A romantic weekend or just to be by the beach this property manages to be relaxed, comfortable and very accommodating, one that I will visit as often as possible.
Saturday July 16
The California Wine Fest:
Beautiful setting right at the Beach under white tents, this festival offers local food tastings and wine from all of California. The Lodi wines were very interesting, considering I am due for a trip to Lodi to check out this new crop of wine first hand. Here are the wineries that were in attendance: * Michael-David Winery * Oak Ridge Winery * Opolo Vineyards * Ortman Family Vineyards * Peachy Canyon * Pear Valley Vineyards * Peltier Station * Pomar Junction Vineyards & Winery * Pretty-Smith Vineyards & Winery * Reyes Winery * Ripken Vineyard & Winery * Rutherford Wine Company * Sagebrush Annie’s * Sanford Winery & Vineyards * Scheid Vineyards * Sextant Wines & 10knots Cellars * Sort This Out Cellars * Stacked Stone Cellars * Summerland Winery * Tercero Wines * Thumbprint Cellars * Twin Pomegranates Wine * Varozza Vineyards * Vina Robles * White Oak Winery * Wilson Creek Winery * Windward Vineyard * Abundance Vineyards * Adelaida Cellars * Ahnfeldt Winery * Amizetta Estate Family Winery * Barefoot Wine & Bubbly * B & E Vineyard * Bridlewood Estate Winery * Cambria Winery * Cantara Cellars * Carol Shelton Wines * Cass Wines * Chamisal Vineyards * Claiborne & Churchill * Cole Bailey Vineyards * Coquelicot Estate Vineyard * Curtis Winery * Cynthus * Darms Lane Wine * deLorimier Winery * Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines * Frolicking Frog Winery * Grassini Family Vineyards * Harmony Cellars * Houdini * Ironstone Vineyards * J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines * Jessie’s Grove Winery * Katarina by Field Vineyards * Kathryn Kennedy Winery * Kenneth Volk Vineyards * Kiamie Wine Cellars * King Frosch * Klinker Brick Winery * Kunin Wines * Laetitia Vineyard & Winery * LangeTwins Winery & Vineyard * Le Vigne Winery * Lion’s Peak Vineyard & Winery * Lone Madrone • Martian Ranch & Vineyards. These were the Restaurants & Food Purveyors in attendance: * Kerrygold Irish Dairy * Killer B BBQ & Bar * Lazy Acres * Lindt Chocolate * May Cookie Company * Monterey Chocolate Company * Nan’s Gourmet Good Pastamore * Olio & Olive * San Luis Obispo Condiment Company * SanTasti * Truffle Gateau * Tanimura & Antle * Union Ale Brewing Company * Butterfly Brittle * Brophy Brothers * Cabot Creamery Cooperative * California Pizza Kitchen * Coast Restaurant * Coastal Products * DJ Seals Louisiana Gumbo Catering * d’marie * El Taco Tequila Taqueria * Enterprise Fish Co * Gelson’s Market * Gourmet Blends • Il Fustino. As you can see there was so much yummy food and drink to choose from, a feast for your eyes and your stomach.
Monday July 18th
Check into Eagle Inn:
This Inn was a great surprise…so lovely, with amazing attention to details. A retreat from the outside world. My room was the San Clemente room, very subtle designs. There is a beautiful fireplace that you can see from the large king comfy bed and from the den. There is a big flat screen in the bedroom and one in the den. The large in room Jacuzzi sit in the bedroom, and comes with Eagle Inn inscribed wine glasses and great homemade chocolate. There is a separate bathroom with a massive showerhead. The outside patio has a table and chairs, which is just perfect for the delightful breakfast that is delivered fresh to your door. The breakfast was so great, flaky pastry with egg and vegetable with a melty cheese. Fresh orange juice, milk, fresh coffee, and fruit and yogurt. The breakfast changes everyday. They have bikes and you are 2 blocks from the beach near the harbor, called West beach. The staff is very kind and will help you in anyway needed. The architecture is Spanish mission style at its best, with beautiful building tiles, and a nicely appointed lobby. This stay was so peaceful, and soothing, I love this Inn!
Tues July 19th
Check into Bath Street Inn:
The Bath Street Inn is very cozy and Victorian, you really feel like you are back at Grandmas house. It offers the traditional warmth and gracious hospitality of a European Bed and Breakfast Inn. It opened in 1981 and became a special place to relax and renew your spirit. I started my day here with a bountiful hot made-from-scratch breakfast served at intimate tables for two in the dining room or outdoor patio garden. They have afternoon tea ready for you: tea, lemonade, homemade cakes and cookies followed by a wine and cheese social hour. They transport you to a time when life was not so frantic, a time of leisurely connection, quiet conversation and gracious living. My hostess Debra first gave me a room that was off the parking lot and not so great, her partner asked us if I wanted to see the other rooms in the inn. There was one room that stole my heart away, its is in the second house on the top floor, with spectacular views and great views and lovely appointed accessories. I switched room and it literally saved my opinion and visit. My recommendation is stay in this room, it’s a long flight of stairs but once in your room, you’re in Shangri-La.