I’ve been fortunate enough to have stayed at some exceptional properties like Meadowood in Napa Valley and the Ritz-Carlton on Nob Hill in San Francisco, and my recent experience at Bernardus Lodge was in the same superlative category. One of the components that made it so was the wonderful staff at Bernardus: Graciously professional, warmly hospitable and openly eager to assist with questions and requests. From the time that we arrived and turned our vehicle over to the valet till the moment we (very reluctantly) checked out and drove away, we felt incredibly well cared for. In fact, the attentive treatment had begun even before we arrived when I received an inquiry about whether we would be celebrating a special occasion and what type of pillows and comforters we would prefer. Nice considerations! During our stay we had enjoyable conversations with staff members including the reception host, the banquet manager, and the head gardener.
Arriving at the valet parking area in front of the main building, one is immediately struck by the beautiful serenity of the property with its architecture reflecting a melding of Mediterranean and Old California styles, its sumptuous foliage, and its artistic fountains. Check-in was so pleasant and congenial, more of a reception than a perfunctory process. We were warmly greeted and immediately offered a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc. (Notably, Bernardus Winery is under the same ownership as the Lodge). Our host provided a brief tour and narrative regarding the Lodge’s facilities and guest services, and then we were escorted to our room which was located in a building a short walk from the reception area. I was impressed by the attractive furnishings, and by the beautifully landscaped grounds and mature trees (inc. a number of lovely Chinese elms). Within 10 min. of arriving at our room, our luggage was delivered. There is a reasonable $24 per day resort fee which covers gratuities, parking, Wi-Fi and amenities. A very notable inclusion is a complimentary guest bar and pantry in each room. The frig and counter contained beverages and snacks which guests are encouraged to enjoy during their stay and also to take any of these items with them when they leave. There were (2) bags of popcorn, (1) bag of potato chips, a round of goat cheese, a package of toast slices, (2) regular cokes, (2) diet cokes, a split each of Bernardus Pinot Noir, Marinus Red Blend and Bernardus Chardonnay. I believe there was also a package of something sweet like a biscotti, but we ate that before I made note of it(!) There were also apples and oranges in a bowl on the dining table. An extra nice touch was having a large bottle of filtered water for both drinking and coffee/tea preparation.
Our room (#30) was within the “Santa Lucia” group on the 2nd floor with views to the scenic Santa Lucia mountains as well as overlooking Bernardus’ lovely main pool, picturesque trees and verdant gardens. The 500+ sq. ft. room had a vaulted ceiling and was bright and airy. French doors opened to a balcony that spanned the length of the room and had 3 chairs and a table (all of attractive wood). It was such a pleasurable and relaxing experience to enjoy our wine and snacks, and coffee the next morning out on the balcony. Our room had an attractive gas fireplace with raised concrete hearth. The weather was quite mild during our stay but having the fireplace on later in the evening and early the next morning created a nice ambiance. The heating/cooling system was quietly efficient and we didn’t need to touch the controls after the initial setting. Heavy Roman-style shades would provide late sleepers with protection from the light.
We had a super comfortable King bed with large wooden headboard. Other furnishings included: (2) bedside tables, chest (containing the TV), sofa, console table, breakfast table and (2) chairs, coffee table and a upholstered swivel chair. This last item was really too large and heavy for where it was placed and impeded one’s normal passage. Had we stayed longer, I would have asked the staff to move it to a different location. Room decor melded traditional and contemporary aspects and was done predominantly in taupe, beige and chocolate with accents of cinnamon, persimmon and olive. Amenities included: iPod dock, clock radio, Aomni flat panel TV, (3) phones inc. a cordless and a bathroom wall phone, in-room safe, hairdryer, iron and ironing board, bathrobes and slippers, coffeemaker, free Wi-Fi and freshly cut roses in a vase.
The artwork in our room was not very inspiring and I had expected items of more unique quality, perhaps by local artists. There were large format images of vineyards, hills and a barrel room which all looked to be basic stock photographs. A couple of pretty but mundane botanical prints decorated the bathroom.
Illumination for reading was adequate with a fixture at each side of the sofa and bedstand lamps. There were several electrical outlets in the room inc. those conveniently located above the bar area. An attractive armoire provided a fair amount of closet space as well as a good quantity of hangers.
Our bathroom was very spacious. It had tile flooring and white ceramic tile in the shower and tub surrounds. There was a long marble counter with 2 sinks. A large mirror above the counter and a full-length mirror which both added to the impression of generous space. A large soaking tub and oversized, walk-in shower were luxurious delights. The shower had a wonderful temperature control feature: the ability to dial in a specific water temperature so there was no guesswork or waiting around to make adjustments to achieve just the right temperature. I set the control on 102 degrees and it was perfect! GREAT feature. Water pressure was very good. The ventilation in the main area of the bath could have been better as the room steamed up when the door was closed. The toilet was in a separate cubicle with sliding door enclosure, fan/light and wall phone. Lighting in the bathroom was bright enough to comfortably apply makeup and there was also a small window above the tub that let in some natural light.
We took a leisurely walk thru the extensive property and reveled in the spectacular garden areas. The main pool’s water was a little on the cool side for us, so we didn’t go in, but other guests seemed to very much enjoy the water. We visited the fitness room with its array of exercise machines, the beautifully serene and spacious spa facility with its secluded, personal-size pool, tennis courts and croquet lawn. The garden areas were exquisitely maintained and replete with fountains, flowing wisteria vines, many varieties of blooming ornamental plantings, vegetable garden, walkways shaded by statuesque trees, and much more!
Bernardus’ stellar restaurant, Marinus was closed the night of our stay (they’re open Wed. thru Sun.) so we dined at the very casual bistro/lounge, Wickets. It happened to be “pizza night” but I was too full from lunch to order what appeared to be quite a generously sized individual pizza. Instead I had a glass of Chardonnay and a tuna burger which was good but not outstanding. The evening was a little too cool to sit outside--that would have provided a nicer ambiance than the inside area which has a typical bar/lounge atmosphere.
In the morning we had a relaxed, simple breakfast out on the patio and it was quite a nice experience. The service was a bit slow but other than that it was a great way to start our last day in the area before heading back home. It felt good to be able to savor the remaining time at Bernardus.
Since returning to Sonoma County, I’ve shared our Bernardus Lodge experience (and photographs) with a number of friends who are now longing to stay there. Bernardus is that kind of very special place where you can be completely content to never leave their property from the time you arrive until it’s time to check out. Bernardus is so much more than fabulous lodging with great service and amenities; it’s a total experience of relaxation, well-being, tranquility and beauty. How can you possibly beat that?
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.