Monday, June 29, 2009
Just a few minutes north of Healdsburg on Highway 101 is the Sonoma wine country burg of Geyersville which has managed to keep its low-key farm town atmosphere as its better-known neighbor a few miles south gets tonier and tonier. I checked out a few places to stay on weekend getaways last week, each one different from the other so that you get a wide variety of options even in such a small place.
Those who are looking for some elegant comfort in a hotel environment should head to the Geyserville Inn, which, despite the name, is actually more of a resort-like hotel. There is a swimming pool and 38 rooms, many with fireplaces and balconies. Most have nice views of the vineyards. It's a modern place with a charming bit of Sonoma history attached -- the Hoffman House, an early 20th century farmhouse transformed into a restaurant with full bar.
Nearby is something completely different: the Hope-Merrill House (left), a lovely Victorian bed-and-breakfast inn whose rooms are lavishly romantic and accented by silk-screened wallpaper by Bruce Bradbury. An incredible five-course breakfast is served each morning. And, there's a beautiful swimming pool surrounded by lush landscaping and vineyards. Check out the first floor Sterling Suite with its own private entrance for the ultimate in extravagance (priced under $300, a good rate for such a luxury accommodation).
Finally, I visited Alexander Valley Lodge, a former B&B (photo above and below) on a hill overlooking the valley. It has been turned into a vacation rental by owners Danielle and Scott Alexander who live in their own house a few hundred yards uphill from the property. This is a six-bedroom, five-bathroom lodge-like home with a pool, Tiki bar and hot tub that is ideal for family reunions, girlfriend getaways and retreats. Danielle told me that, with the economic recession and the trend to "staycations," their business is good this year as families and friends look to save by going in on a house rental and cooking meals together.
The views from the house -- of Geyser Peak and the Alexander Valley -- are phenomenal, particularly at sunrise and sunset when the area takes on a warm glow (especially after a glass of the local zin). You're on your own for meals but the Alexanders can arrange for a local chef to cook dinners and for a masseuse who can provide poolside massages. The Alexanders also give guests tours of the 53 acres of vineyards and wooded terrain they own on this hilltop by a "mule," an ATV-type vehicle. And, of course, they offer plenty of suggestions for wine tasting. However, in a spot like this, guests may never want to leave.