The Elk Cove Inn and Spa: The Perfect Coastal Retreat
Rarely do you find a place so inviting, so welcoming, that you declare it the perfect place to land after a fabulous day on two wheels. After spending many a weekend at The Elk Cove Inn and Spa in the town of Elk, it's become the only place I want to land after wandering the Mendocino Coastline. It was voted one of the most motorcycle-friendly inns in California not only for its motorcycle-only parking area, but for its last-minute specials for the riding crowd. With its stunning views and bountiful homemade breakfast buffet, The Elk Cove Inn and Spa will soon become your favorite as well.
The first time my husband, Terry, and I stayed at the inn, we came to know Elaine Bryant, the proprietor and all-around gal-in-the-know. She's full of history on the inn as well as the surrounding towns. The town of Elk is in Mendocino County and just south of the town of Mendocino. The area is known for its natural beauty, tide pools and glorious sunsets. The inn was built in 1883 originally as The Mill Supervisor's house for the L.E. White Lumber Company. The lumber company operated in the town of Elk, then known as Greenwood. The milled wood was fed through several man-made chutes into the Pacific Ocean. The wood was then floated down the coastline to San Francisco to help rebuild the city after the 1906 earthquake. In 1887, the town wanted to open its first post office but, unfortunately, the town name of Greenwood was taken. A herd of elk passing through town was all the inspiration the Greenwood community needed to choose another name: Elk, which is also known as "The Town With Two Names."
In 1965, Hildrun Uta-Triebess and her husband, Howard, purchased the home that would become the inn, converting it in 1968 into what is thought to be the first bed and breakfast along the Mendocino coast. At the time, the house had only four rooms, each named for the first four people to live there. Every evening the guests were regaled by Howard and his talent for tickling the ivories. Even then, the inn was known for its generous breakfasts. This is one tradition that Elaine has carried over through the generations.
Elaine and her partner, Jim Carr, purchased the inn in 1994. In 1996, Jim built a four-plex of junior suites on the north end of the property. Today, they have improved the property even further by refurbishing several other cottages, a spectacular garden area of lavender and roses, and pathways to the beach and into town.
The inn sits along Highway 1 just south of the town, nestled atop a bluff among the cypress and redwood trees. As you pull in the driveway, you are greeted by such a surprisingly intense ocean view that it's difficult to attend to the important task of parking correctly.
Once Inside the main house you'll meet Jeffrey, a British gentleman who has a knack for great stories about his homeland. A gift basket of homemade cookies, local wine and several other goodies accompanies via Jeffrey as he leads you to your room. Whether you stay in the main house, the cottage or the suites, it's all quite splendid. Personally, I'm a sucker for the junior suites as each has a small patio that offers you your own personal ocean viewing area. Once inside your room, open the windows, sit on your veranda, and enjoy a glass of the in-room sherry. Take a load off. You deserve it.
Though the inn does not offer dinner, Jeffrey will be more than happy to suggest several eating establishments within walking distance, including Bridget Dolan's Pub and Queenie's Roadhouse. But, don't forget to mix the perfect cocktail in the parlor of the main house during the inn's Happy Hour from 4:30 to 6:00 pm. All drinks are complimentary during this time, and you may find a little something to nosh on one of the tables as well.
If you're like Terry and me, you'll want to pack a picnic to enjoy on the beach during sunset. The Elk Country Store, just a short walk from the inn, has what you'll need to create the perfect beach picnic. There's nothing like watching the sun slowly creep west over the Pacific. It's truly magical. Make sure you've brought along the flashlight from the room or a headlamp for the walk back after the sun sets as the path is only dimly lit.
After a night of restful slumber, you'll be good and famished for that famed homemade breakfast. There's something for every palate and craving. From the biscuits and gravy to the muffins to the artfully presented fruit plate, the sideboard is filled with all you could desire. Enjoy the ocean view as you savor your meal and plan your day's ride.
In need of a massage, or maybe a sauna and an aromatherapy steam shower before pushing off? Let Elaine or Jeffrey know when you arrive, and they will be happy to make arrangements. The Elk Cove Inn also hosts weddings, even offering a package called Effortless Elopement, complete with flowers, photographer, everything you need for your special day. You can marry on the beach or in the gazebo on the bluff that is perfectly placed for a stellar view for all who attend.
At this point, you're convinced that you want to stay another night. And, you just might! You wouldn't be the first person to juggle their schedule just to take in one more night of bliss. I'm sure Elaine won't mind as she's always waiting with open arms to spoil you again and again.