Brewery Gulch Inn: Romance and Generosity by the Sea
By Kathy Chin Leong
Brewery Gulch Inn. A pirates’ hideaway? A scalawag’s den? A speak-easy from the days of Prohibition? You would never guess by its rough-and-ready moniker this romantic escape overlooking turquoise seas is a four-star luxury lodge, nary a scalawag in sight.
Sequestered off Highway One on the Mendocino coastline, the Northern California 10-room gem reigns over the Pacific. Although a solitary building on three acres, the pleasures are plentiful. Claim a cushioned patio chair and be mesmerized for hours by waves pummeling ancient rock formations. Access hiking trails and secret gardens. Grab a pair of binoculars and go bird watching in one of the country’s richest bird watching regions.
Extrovert Guy Pacurar used to be the executive director of a non-profit in San Diego. When he decided on a second career as an innkeeper, he passed over 25 properties until he saw the lodge and said to himself, “This is it!”
Once acquiring the keys to his kingdom enterprise, Pacurar transformed the digs with modern furnishings, paint and carpeting, artwork, plants and flowers. Today, you cannot spy the building from the highway, but once you see the old water tower emblazoned with inn’s name you know to turn up the hill. By the way, you will find relic water towers all over Mendocino which were used heavily in the 19th century.
The Arts & Crafts-style, ten-room abode is shingled with rescued local redwood, blending with nature’s surroundings. You will discover surprises around every corner. The private hiking path features water lily ponds and wild gardens. There is a massage tent, a large fire pit circled by Adirondack chairs, and another bucolic Eden, ideal for re-reading that treasured novel. A driftwood star is fastened above the front door welcoming all to make a wish.
As you step inside the Great Room (the lobby/living/dining room) you know in your gut this place is welcoming and kind. You encounter the heart of the lodge, the floor-to-ceiling, wood-burning fireplace. The generous space starts with a check-in counter on the right, a gift nook with locally-made goods to the left. The tall bookcase holds over 700 DVDs, board games, books, magazines for guests. Craftsman-style wood dining tables with high-backed chairs hug the walls. Toward the back, a grouping of a chestnut leather couch, oak coffee table, and matching leather chairs invite conversation. Giant Scrabble boards top random tables, just waiting for players to strike up a game.
Vertical windows and giant glass doors draw your eyes outwards to pine trees and ocean vistas. The pale walls and soft-hued modern artwork fulfill a simple and warm, contemporary design. Rooms carry names of local places like Smuggler’s Cove and birds such as Osprey and Raven. Each boasts an ocean or forest panorama.
My daughter Gwen and I are assigned to the Heron room where every element exudes peacefulness and generosity. The moss green walls mimic the hues of the bearded lichen draping the tree branches outside. A pair of leather club chairs grace the fireplace. Topping the bed is a bag of chocolate nibs by a local chocolatier. Nice touch.
Another nice touch is in the bathroom where the owner has placed one of those small gift books. This one features a pair of elephants’ backsides on the cover called “Friends to the End.”
The dangerously-comfortable, pillow-top mattress lulls me into a deep slumber after we watch a DVD on the flat screen TV.
Come daybreak, gourmet breakfast beckons. While other B&Bs may offer a single entrée, guests can pick from a menu curated by its new in-house chef Stephen Smith. We drool over the listed dishes such as “Green Eggs and Ham,” biscuits and gravy, and flapjacks. Fresh-squeezed orange juice, grapefruit juice, and a mango-lime lassi are options that makes it difficult to choose. On the buffet sideboard, slices of banana bread tempt all who possess a sweet tooth.
Also complimentary is the wine hour at 5:30 p.m. that features Fathers and Daughters Cellars (from Guy’s winery), beer, and non-alcoholic beverages.
And get this: the inn offers a light supper spread, too. Prior to the pandemic, it was a buffet, but now, guests pick up their own hand-carved wooden tray of deliciousness with a hot dish, vegetable, and dessert. Think of this as a giant bento box. Each night features a different offering. My daughter and I inhale the buffalo meat pot pie, carrots and mashed potatoes, and chocolate mousse one night. The next evening we dive into polenta topped with sausage, a Caesar salad, and homemade tiramisu. All-day beverages such as sparkling water, ice tea, hot tea, and coffees ensure a well-hydrated stay.
In addition, service is impeccable, the knowledge base reliable. Where to go for a hot tub soak? Sweetwater Inn and Spa, stresses Guy. Where to find beach glass? The Little River beach, says his wife Sarah. What about a forest hike? Across the street, points Kurt, the front desk associate.
Next time you head up to Mendocino, search for the water tower with the inn’s name painted in white. You won’t find a brewery, but you will find beauty, bliss, and bounty.
Brewery Gulch Inn
9401 N Highway 1, Mendocino, CA 95460
Rates start at $425