We first stayed at the Stanford Inn in 1989, and it was wonderful. The inn is nestled into an enchanted slope about a mile south of Mendocino on California's Highway 1, right next to where the Big River flows into the sea. The rooms all have views of the ocean, the town, and beautiful gardens of organically grown vegetables, fruit trees and flowers. We have been back a few times in the intervening sixteen years, and each time we have found a sense of peace and ordered calm that is incredibly restorative. 2006 will mark the twenty-fifth year that Joan and Jeff Stanford have been operating this haven on California's northern coast.
That would be enough, but there's more. In fact, there's always something new. "We do a project every year," says Jeff. This year, the project is state-of-the-art wireless Internet access that is routed through a local DSL to the Mendocino Internet Node, a project created for the Mendocino Public School System by NASA and the Autodesk Foundation in 1993. We found that the in-room wireless network exceeded the connection speeds of just about every place in America where we have logged on. This achievement is all the more remarkable when one considers that the north coast is still a pretty wild place. For instance, the nearest reliable cellular service is in Ft. Bragg, about ten miles north.
We had planned to spend three nights at the Inn,and then make our way on up the coast to Arcata. But there must be something in the Mendocino air, since we have often found a way to stay one more day. This trip was no exception. I am not sure what it is -- the incredibly comfortable bed, the cozy in-room fireplace, the impeccable service, the friendly and attentive staff, the delectable goodies served each afternoon at tea, the walks in the garden, or the tropical Eden hot tub and pool, but the Stanford Inn exceeds our expectations every single time.
One somewhat unusual and very nice feature of the Stanford Inn is that dogs and cats of every persuasion are welcome and appreciated. Even the raccoons we caught sight of most evenings seemed comfortable and relaxed. The Stanford Inn staff has also established a refuge for llamas, water fowl, and horses. A diverse collection of these critters can be found on walks around the grounds.
Much of the organic food that is served at the Ravens Restaurant is grown on the property, and guests are welcome to wander around and marvel at the variety of plants growing in the gardens. The cost of nightly lodging includes breakfast (awesome French toast among other unusual and delicious creations) and the use of touring bicycles. "Catch-a-Canoe", located at the Big River dock, also rents high-end mountain bikes and an impressive variety of canoes, kayaks, and boats for cruises up the wild and beautiful Big River. While we didn't do it this year, in the past we have rented canoes, ridden the tidal surge up the river, and then turned around and floated back down to the inn.
The price of lodging is comparable to many high-end
hotels around the world, but the experience is priceless.
The Stanford Inn remains our favorite place to get away and
relax in a very special kind of luxury.