What drives the consummate traveler to attend festivals such as the Tenth Annual Heirloom Tomato Festival at the Kendall-Jackson Center and Gardens in Santa Rosa, Calif. (the Pale Perfect Purple and Glory of Moldova were my favorite ‘Heirlooms’) or drop off the radar screen for three days to achieve inner clarity through sound and aromatherapy healing at the quiet Sycamore Springs Resort in San Luis Obispo?
That driving force drove me eight hours nonstop to Freestone, Calif. for an enzyme bath (no water, just 6,000 active enzymes combined with finely ground fragrant evergreens and rice bran) at Osmosis, a healing sanctuary in the coastal hills of Sonoma County. The discovery factor is equally important in the constant traveling. While in the area, the River Road near Cazadero led me to Forestville in the Russian River Valley wine region, where I found the Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant on six wooded acres, and where I dined at their family-owned restaurant. Etched in my mind: a trio of Labyrinth Farms Heirloom tomatoes in a cool gazpacho, a pork ribeye chop with fricassee of fresh Italian butter, Romano and wax beans in sauce pistou. Executive Chef Steve Litke creates menus according to the season and market.
Why, my friends ask, would I push my travel genes even further by driving to Las Cruces, New Mexico to explore the revival of the historic town of Mesilla and spend a few days at Meson de Mesilla, a 16-room inn with views of the Organ Mountains that set the creative soul on fire?
That is the mystery, which constantly fuels my future.
While contemplating a feature on artists’ inns during dinner at the Double Eagle Restaurant in old Mesilla (once a cotton warehouse), I heard about Number 11, an artist’s residence and inn tucked away on a cobblestone street in Bruges, Belgium. Pavel, a Czech artist, and his wife designed a bed and breakfast fantasy driven with “dream scapes,” displayed in a studio amidst a quiet walled garden bursting with glorious flowers.
And in Paris, the new Hotel Fouquet Barriere just opened where the Champs-…lysées meets Avenue George V. It transcends space and time with a monumental stairway and vaulted walls. Edouard Francois, the designer, said his mission was to create a design showcasing what the press describes as “the hotel that Paris has been waiting for.” The hotel’s inspiration is Fouquet’s, the legendary restaurant, a cultural shrine linked to the cinema world since sound came to the big screen the 1930s. The restaurant was acquired by the Lucian Barriere Group in 1999, and the ensuing years led to the opening of this stellar hotel.
Closer to home are two hotels so opposite in décor and time that they symbolize the extreme in the hospitality industry. Discovered quite by accident in Redlands, Calif. is the Morey Mansion Inn, a bed and breakfast built in 1890 and stately as ever with its French Mansard tower and Queen Anne and Stick-style elements, all making this “America’s Favorite Victorian,” the new owner told me. The mansion how has three expertly renovated guestrooms called the Yellow, Blue and Canyon View, with picture windows, claw-foot bathtubs and ornate fireplaces.
For those not into the Victorian era, the Hotel Angeleno, yet another boutique hotel (it was once a Holiday Inn ) where Sunset Boulevard meets the 405 Freeway, has sprung up. Still round from the outside, that is all remaining of this landmark. It now features 209 guestrooms with everything you wouldn’t expect in 1890, from plasma flat-screen televisions to ergonomic workstations.
And then, there are health holidays as well, from a petite European spa tucked into the cellar of the Menger Hotel in San Antonio, Texas across the street from the Alamo (remember the Alamo?) to the promise of eternal youth at a thermal spring in the Spa & Wellness Resort at the Adler Hotel in Bagno Vignoni, an Italian Tuscan village. The question is, is your suitcase packed?
€ Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant: www.farmhouseinn.com; 707.887.3300
€ Hotel Angeleno: www.hotelangeleno.com; 866.Angeleno
€ Hotel Fouquet’s Barriere Paris: www.fouquetsbarriere.com; 011.33.1.42.86.39.87
€ San Antonio Menger’s Hotel: www.historicmenger.com; 800.345.9285
€ Meson de Mesilla: www.mesonmesilla.com; 800.732.6025
€ Morey Mansion Inn 1890: www.moreymansioninn.com; 866.990.1890
€ Number 11: www.number11.be; 011 331 32 50 33 06 90
€ Osmosis-The Enzyme Bath Spa: www.osmosis.com; 707.823.8231
€ Experience Plus!: www.experienceplus.com; 800.685.4565
€ Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort: www. sycamoresprings.com; 800.234.5831
Pamela Price is the coauthor of “Fun With Family in Southern CA” ( www.globepequot.com). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org