Bodega Bay Lodge & Spa,
Bodega Bay near the Sonoma Coast of California
Just one hour north of San Francisco, where the Pt. Reyes National Seashore meets the scenic Sonoma Coast, you'll find the Bodega Bay Lodge & Spa with views of both the bay and the Pacific Ocean. As you can see to the right of the building, the wetlands fill in with the tide, attracting numerous sea birds and making a fantastic setting for small weddings at high tide and sunset, as we saw the evening of our arrival.
While it's clear the Bodega Bay Lodge & Spa is popular with couples, we confirmed this is also a great spot for travelers with babies and young children. Great news, because the Sonoma Coast is a fantastic beach destination for families, and the Bodega Bay Lodge is minutes from more great beaches than we could keep track of as we "beach-hopped" during our visit (tips in the blog). Here's what we found.
As we first entered our room, we were taken aback because I'd understood we were not getting one of the "Class A Oceanview" rooms for our stay. However, here were plantation shutters opening onto a balcony overlooking both Bodega Bay and the Pacific, including where we had just been playing at the adjacent Doran Beach State Park. Mind you, I didn't complain. But when I explored more and checked with staff, I learned that ours was considered a "partially obstructed view" because there is one building in front of it. Note: The entire complex is built on a gently sloping hillside. Every room, even the least expensive, has at least a "partial ocean view."
Doh! Safety snafu: Parents with toddlers be forewarned that the vertical slats of the deck rail are spaced wide enough that a very small child (like our 1-year-old) could fall through them. Given our particular group at this time, we were still able to relax and enjoy the balcony with the baby sitting on our laps. If it were me, I might add clear glass or Plexiglas to improve the safety of the balcony without detracting from the view. Kids are very curious creatures, and they like to see the view as much as the rest of us, which usually means standing as close to the railing as possible.
Our Double Queen room was spacious and we were able to place the portacrib in a corner, out of our traffic flow (you can see the hotel's complimentary Pack 'n Play there on the hearth). On a tip from a fellow traveler, we requested a ground level room which proved perfect for unloading all of our people and gear from our parking space just outside the door, and simplified pushing the drowsy baby around the grounds in his trusty travel stroller. Though the mini refrigerator was well-stocked with goodies provided by the hotel, we still had a little space to stash our baby food remainders and boxed milk. A wet bar sink was also a nice convenience in the hotel room, and the flat-screen TV with video-on-demand was also a plus.
However, show me a comfy hotel robe and a room service menu, and I'm on vacation anywhere. It wasn't long before we were donning ours on the balcony (the statement was more for ourselves than the sea birds), watching the sun creep down toward the horizon and waiting for "Timothy" to deliver our dial-a-dinner to the door. When it came, we wasted no time lighting the hotel-provided firelog in the fireplace and enjoying dinner by its cheery glow.
Of course, you can always opt to upgrade from the "partially obstructed view" to the oceanview proper if you so desire. Families with older children may especially enjoy the spacious Oceanview Suites, with a king bed and slightly separated seating area with sofabed. In the suites, the grownups and the sofabed sleepers each get their own flat screen TV with DVD and pay-per-view. Read more about the Bodgea Bay Lodge room types here.
I have to add a note here about the hotel beds: ultra comfy. We agreed this was one of the most comfortable hotel mattresses we have ever slept on.
This is not the kind of place you head to for non-stop activities and entertainment, but rather for rest and relaxation in a great natural setting. My take is that this is an especially good place to get away for a babymoon or "mommymoon" on California's north coast, as well as for family getaways with babies and young children.
For those with babies and toddlers, it's perfect for hitting the pool and even Jacuzzi in the calm mornings before venturing out for lunch at a nearby restaurant (perfect since lunch is not served at the lodge). After enjoying some time playing on any of several nearby beaches (you will want to drive), you can sit back and enjoy the view from the balcony and a good book while your child naps. What's more, it's a piece of cake for mom to slip out in her hotel robe and pad down the path to the spa for a scrub or massage.
Which brings me to my favorite activity at the Bodega Bay Lodge and Spa: The Sea Salt and Evergreen-Scented Scrub. It's a skin treatment, massage, and coma-inducing delight in one. My therapist, Kelley, knew exactly what my baby-holding back and neck muscles needed. They also offer a full menu of spa treatments, including facials, wraps, prenatal massage, and couples massage.
Did I mention the sauna? Or the Jacuzzi overlooking the bay? Or the complimentary wine and cheese tasting hour every evening in the lodge with a roaring fire? (And yes, you can bring your well-behaved children--just don't expect juice boxes.)
Speaking of menus, that brings me to one of my other favorite activities at the lodge: ordering room service.
At the end of a day of flying kites, exploring tidepools, building sand castles, and convincing a 1-year-old he should not eat sand, there's no treat for this mom like picking up the phone and letting someone else bring a delicious dinner to my door--including something the kids will eat, and something I will savor. Better still? There's no treat like eating it by a glowing fire, which you can have in any of the rooms at the lodge.
The room service menu includes the basics like salad and burgers, three specialty entrees as served in the Restaurant (Harris Ranch steak, a fish, and a chicken), a small selection of options for kids, and desserts.
If you're in the mood for intimate cloth-napkin dining, The Duck Club Restaurant is also quite lovely and we had a very enjoyable breakfast there, seated at a bay window with a view. As you can see, they have high chairs, and though it is a very grown-up feeling place, the waiter assured me they can provide child-size portions of any dishes (and will adjust for a child-size price). If you have volume-challenged high-energy kids, however, you might prefer the room service option and some of the restaurants in town. If you do pop in for breakfast, three words: Excellent Eggs Benedict.
While this seemed an ideal spot for our family at these young ages and stages, we weren't so sure how it would work for us with older children. One couple we visited with turned out to be on a 24-hour getaway from the Bay Area while their own children stayed home with Grandma. Although their three kids are each a few years older than ours (ages 6 to 11), they thought they would definitely like to return to the lodge with the group sometime, though a suite would be preferable. Considering the excellent deal we got through an offer on Travelzoo, which included discounts at the spa and on-site restaurant, this felt like an excellent value for a family getaway. I would be sure to check all available specials, particularly in the low- and mid-season.
Did we enjoy our stay at Bodega Bay Lodge & Spa? Yes. Would I recommend it to a friend? Yes. Would we stay there again? Yes.
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