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A Travel Trifecta
Gentry Travel Editor Glen Putman serves up a trio of travel treats.
In over two decades as a travel writer, I’ve checked into scores of far-flung and exotic places around the globe, covering destinations literally from A to Z. From Austria to Zimbabwe, from Alaska to Zihuatanejo, wanderlust (and the Boeing company) has carried me far and wide. Most of the jaunts and junkets were informative, interesting, and pleasurable—well worth the jet lag and obstacle course airports. But as I pinch myself and thank my good fortune for allowing such enjoyable rambles, I often am reminded that many worthy destinations are not that far from our own front door. So fellow traveler, as we plunge headlong into spring and summer, the following suggestions are offered for your amusement and consideration.
Tie Up in Tiburon
Back in the day (the early 70s or so), I occasionally would sail from Alameda on a 30-foot racing sloop owned by a couple of my fraternity brothers. Our favorite port of call on those mild weekend days was Tiburon. After two or three hours of cutting through the wind and waves, we would skirt around Angel Island and ease into a welcoming berth in front of Sam’s Cafe, a legendary bay side bar and grill established in 1920. For our nauti111
cal visits it was the chosen land for sailors from all over the Bay Area. It still is. At Sam’s, basking on the deck in the warm sunshine and fresh salt air, we would guzzle beer and wolf down cheeseburgers along with other high-spirited mariners. Oh, what fun we had. Recently, I returned to Sam’s for dinner, and eschewed the burger to feast on steamed Manila clams, oysters on the half shell, and pan-roasted Petrale sole, all the more succulent paired with a delicious Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc. And after this repast, we cuddled up for the night at the renovated Lodge at Tiburon. The quaint sailing town of Tiburon is nestled just around the cove from Sausalito and spills down to San Francisco Bay. The views back toward the city, including Alcatraz and Angel Island, are mind-blowing. It is just a short ferry ride away from historic Angel Island State Park, where hikers and bikers have a field day. Tiburon has attracted visitors for more than a century with its historical roots as a railroad depot and later as an elite sailing community. Tiburon is home to over 40 art galleries, boutiques, cafes, and specialty stores sprinkled along Main Street and the small side streets. Historic Ark Row, on upper Main, is a collection of restored houseboats (arks) that were popular dwellings in the 1890s and now accommodate a variety of boutiques. In Tiburon (“shark” in Spanish) outdoor dining—and lunching and brunching—is a full contact sport at the numerous ➛
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bayside cafes and restaurants. Ask your hotel for a walking guide to Tiburon, which includes the Lyford Tower (1889) listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We spent a weekend at the Lodge at Tiburon, which opened in March 2006 after a total renovation. The 102-room, California Craftsman-style lodge is located on the main boulevard of this very walkable village. It is the only full-service hotel and meeting center in Tiburon and is just a block away from the ferry landing. The Three Degrees restaurant at the Lodge features tasty grilled California creations. In addition to sailing, ocean kayaking, and hiking nearby Mt. Tamalpais, bicycle riding is popular along Richardson Bay. One day we drove 30 minutes to explore the heavenly Muir Woods, a religious experience among the redwoods not to be missed. For a truly “carfree” visit, park somewhere around Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco and take the Blue & Gold ferry to Tiburon from Pier 41. Arriving in Tiburon via the water is very special and made me yearn for another sailing day on that racing sloop. And, if you take the kids, don’t miss seeing the life-sized statue of the horse immortalized in the heartwarming children’s book, Blackie, the Horse who Stood Still. The story is the tale of the champion rodeo horse who retired to pasture along Richardson Bay and later became the mascot of Tiburon. Do yourself a favor, toast Blackie from the sun deck of Sam’s. The scene and the scenery just get better with age.
The Lodge at Tiburon, 415.435.3133. www.thelodgeattiburon.com Tiburon Chamber of Commerce, 415.435.5633. www.tiburonchamber.org Sam’s Cafe, 415.435.4527. www.samscafe.com
Catch on to CordeValle
It is always a nice feeling when your return to a wonderful resort that has actually improved after a change in management. CordeValle is such a case. In 2006, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts assumed management of the extraordinary property located just 30 minutes south of San Jose. The Dallas-based company has gently tweaked the sprawling resort to push it into the high ether of world-class luxury and refinement. It is better than I remember from our first visit a few years ago, and that was pretty great. While the original developers and the current management deserve much credit, the resort, named for the Spanish phrase “El Corazon del Valle” (Heart of the Valley), is a God-given natural landscape of undulating meadows, tree-flecked hills, and seasonal creeks and waterfalls. Tucked into the rolling foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains a couple of miles west of Highway 101 in San Martin, CordeValle is a jewel that offers the rare combination of exceptional natural beauty and the convenience and top-notch hospitality of a relaxed but luxurious resort. When you toss in a championship golf course, a “we thought of everything” clubhouse, a comprehensive spa that incorporates the healing grape seed ➛
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CordeValle . . . a nearby gem
lotions from surrounding vineyards, a restaurant spinning out culinary bombshells from the hands and mind of effervescent Master Chef Luca Rutigliano, and only 36 magnificent “guest rooms” ranging from 750-square-foot bungalows to 3,100-square-foot fairway homes, well campers, you’ve got a double throw down winner. My wife, who has tossed back the pillows in many fine hotel and resort rooms with me, says the digs at CordeValle are as good as it gets. No argument on that from me. Each room features a fireplace, flat-screen television, striking views down to the handsome golf course, double vanities, separate shower, etc., etc. The decor and style sing out “class” and quiet elegance.
When you pry yourself out of the room, the golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., beckons. Bobby once told me, among others, that he considers the course at CordeValle perhaps the finest creation of his career.This from an artist who has designed over 160 golf courses around the world! And what a palette he had to work with at CordeValle. No homes or buildings mar the sweep and grandeur of the layout. It is a great course to walk, and you’re apt to see quail, red-tailed hawks, wild turkeys, woodpeckers, Canada geese, and maybe some other “birdies” along the way. A couple of holes swing past the vineyards of Clos LaChance, owned by Bill and Brenda Murphy of Saratoga. Ask about the ➛
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Clos LaChance vineyards at CordeValle
“Winemaker for a Day” program, which will get you up to the beautiful Tuscan-style winery for a session on winemaking with Dominic Tufo, plus spa treatments, a bungalow for two nights, and other goodies. For sure you can enjoy some of the premium Clos LaChance wines (I love the Merlot). Pair this lush, rubyhued winner with Chef Luca’s Cannelloni Avocado filled with goat cheese. Magnifico!
CordeValle, 408.695.4500, 877.255.2626. www.cordevalle.com Clos LaChance, 408.686.1050. www.clos.com
OK, this third recommendation is a bit of a stretch, but bear with me and your cup will runneth over. What I’m offering here is a look at over five dozen (68, in fact) getaways to fire the flames of romance. Romancing the Coast ($17.95), a new book by Morro Bay travel writer Tom Wilmer, is a compilation of the most enchanting coastside inns and resorts California has to offer—from San Diego to Eureka and most everything in between. Granted, many wonderful inland resorts (Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Palm Springs) are not included. But that’s for another book. I have personally visited and spent time in 30 of the 68 resorts in this collection, and Wilmer, or his deputies, have inspected and re-inspected all of the properties—“ad infinitum,” says the author. Now, for full disclosure: Tom Wilmer, who graduated from Palo Alto High School and attended Foothill College, is a friend of mine. He and I have knocked back beers on the beach in Belize and popped wine corks on the Monterey Peninsula, but I have no financial interest in his book. He sent me a copy of his guidebook, which digs deeper than the perfunctory two or three paragraphs per entry to allow the reader to determine if a particular destination is suited to his personal tastes. I know the 30 retreats I have enjoyed on his list are accurately portrayed by Wilmer. Readers ➛
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have access to the same romantic experiences enjoyed by celebrities of every generation. Stay in the San Ysidro Ranch cottage in Montecito that John and Jackie Kennedy chose for their honeymoon in 1953; or choose the Hotel Del Coronado where Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis filmed Some Like it Hot. Want the Pretty Woman suite where Julia Roberts bunked? Just check into the Regent Beverly Wilshire. And the best part is that readers don’t The romantic coastal town of Ferndale have to go far to enjoy the urban luxury or rustic coastal charm, even along California’s 1,000 mile coastline. As Bob Kappstatter of the New York Daily News said of the book: “Makes me want to rent a ragtop, bring a special friend, and hit every place Tom Wilmer has recommended.” Maybe we can double-date. ■
For information about Romancing the Coast, call 800.380.8286. The book is available on www.amazon.com or www.riverwoodbooks.com.
PHOTO: RIO COSTANTINI