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Bodega Bay Lodge & Spa
by Nirmala Nataraj on Apr 04, 2008
If the exorbitant weekend getaway needs to be deferred a bit—at least until after the ides of April—fear not. A relaxing escape with your sweetie or a gaggle of buddies needn’t be postponed for future prosperity or halcyon days. Excessive gourmandizing and large living aren’t good for the soul, anyhow—not when simple luxury lies just an hour north in Bodega Bay, a historical hamlet not quite off the beaten path but secluded enough for you to pretend it is. And best of all, the town’s eponymous Lodge & Spa offers a posh yet casual setting for out-of-towners intent on some affordable hedonism.
Bodega Bay is a rocky inlet just off the windswept Sonoma coast, and given its longstanding reputation as the weekend haven for world-weary San Franciscans, it’s the perfect place for a quick excursion. The town was the creepily beautiful borough featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 film “The Birds.” With its picturesque banks of fog and starkly gorgeous hills cutting impressive shapes into the coastline, it’s the ideal home away from home—and not nearly as ominous as its claim to fame might suggest. I’m mainly a lover of quiet walks on the beach and the absolute gratification of doing nothing at all, but Bodega Bay also tends to be a destination for active types. Sleepy small-town vibe notwithstanding, the surrounding areas are full of activities for those with a zest for the outdoors—from wine tasting to fishing to golfing to hiking.
Surrounded by manicured lawns and outfitted with wood shingles, the Lodge & Spa is a tranquil, bluffside retreat that epitomizes the area’s homey feel. A weekend here is enough of a therapeutic reprieve for type-A personalities, so you may not feel the temptation to venture too far. Tucked into a hillside conveniently close to the ocean, the establishment is modest yet aptly paradisical. Taking up eight acres of pristine land and overlooking both the ocean and the bay, the Lodge & Spa is a place where the views, the food, and the amenities all coalesce to create a palatial yet astonishingly unfussy experience. The squall of seagulls and the sound of a foghorn or wind whipping through wild grass lend the landscape a tantalizingly wild ambience, while the smattering of cozy cottages and an old-fashioned pier where fishing trawlers dock to bring you the catch of the day hark back to simpler times. So whether you’re settling down for a delectable bowl of crab cioppino from one of the local eateries or a glass of Sonoma Coast wine beneath a dappled sky at sunset, the grounds offer the perfect promontory for soaking in all the scenery. Or, if you prefer, a five-minute walk to beautiful, secluded Doran Beach can make you feel like you’re in the midst of more untrammeled climes.
The 84 resort suites are modest yet commodious. While all rooms feature ocean views and wood-burning fireplaces, the five Ocean Club suites are among the most luxurious accommodations. A plethora of plush furniture in muted colors, a private deck for al fresco dining or wine imbibing, a wet bar, vaulted ceilings, and a king-size bed with feather-soft linens offer luxury that’s more basic than overstated. Even the Lodge’s daily wine and cheese reception is refreshingly modest. You can enjoy your pours on the sofa in front of the lounge’s fireplace while chatting with other guests. Two different bottles of a Sonoma appellation (white and red) are typically offered daily, with a tasty array of crackers, cheese and olives to whet your dinner palate.
The full-service spa offers another treat for guests—it’s small yet impressively festooned with a medley of services that emphasize the theme of coastal relaxation. After the spa manager dropped off two welcome bags for me and the hubby (complete with soft robes, spa sandals, and bottled water), we headed over to the spa’s waiting room, nestled right within the fitness center. While the spa isn’t large enough to accommodate couples treatments (unless you opt for an in-room massage), the rooms—which flank the fitness center—are comfortably appointed and wonderfully free of chatter from passersby. I received the Spa’s signature Solace Seeker treatment, 80 minutes of epicurean limb-loosening that includes—what else?—a cabernet grape-seed exfoliation scrub and an ah-inducing hot stone massage with grape-seed oil. I was tempted to spring for a glass of wine après-treatment but a better plan of action awaited. Just outside the treatment rooms, a heated swimming pool and whirlpool spa offer rejuvenation for spa babies. Because it was still a bit too breezy to go swimming, we opted for the heated spa, which sits atop its own raised dais overlooking the sea—it also happens to be the perfect romantic, pre-bedtime retreat if you’d like to admire the night sky while soaking.
To boot, the Lodge & Spa offers up a satisfying culinary experience at its award-winning Duck Club restaurant, which overlooks a neighboring aviary. Featuring California cuisine packed in with lots of yummy local ingredients, the menu includes everything from, predictably, toothsome duck entrees to an assortment of seafood offerings. On our final evening, we supped on Tomales Bay oysters on the half shell and opted for dishes featuring the area’s famous Dungeness crab: the crab pot pie and the succulent, hearty fisherman’s stew. Of course, to top it off, we ordered a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon hailing from one of the neighboring vineyards.
The great thing about the Bodega Bay Lodge & Spa is that it’s luxury within reach, and you don’t need to break the bank to relish a little R&R. With winter rates as low as $150 a night, young professionals can find themselves hobnobbing with a similar crowd rather than the customary congregation of affluent elderly couples that tends to populate most resorts. Given the tantalizing proximity of Sonoma and Napa, as well as the breathtaking coastal views into a churning Pacific, the Bodega Bay Lodge & Spa promises the best of all worlds—the sybaritic indulgence of wine country coupled with the therapeutic lull of the ocean and the rustic enjoyment that can only be had in a drowsy, quaint fishing-village environment.
by Nirmala Nataraj on Apr 04, 2008