By Emma Krasov. Photography by Yuri Krasov.
Imagine a hillside garden cascading to a deserted ocean beach. Imagine a golden sunset fractured in a myriad shallow waves washing over a mile-long sandy expanse in-between wild rocks and cliffs. Imagine a wooden house atop the hill; a white gazebo under an old cypress, amid bursting with color flower beds. Imagine a room with a view, or even with a balcony where you can enjoy fresh and generous breakfast, delivered to your door every morning on the dot.
All that, and so much more, is just an everyday occurrence at the Elk Cove Inn & Spa on the gorgeous Mendocino Coast in Northern California.
From a historical Craftsman-style mansion to one of the very first guest houses in the area, to a quaint, cozy, yet equipped with all the modern conveniences 16-room bed and breakfast, Elk Cove Inn has made a spectacular transformation into an outstanding oceanfront resort with its own on-site farm, spa, and a French cuisine restaurant.
The current owners, spouses Victor Passalacqua and Melissa Boon, turned this place into a dreamy getaway that attracts repeat guests from near and far as well as newlyweds, honeymooners, romantic couples of all ages, gourmands, and nature lovers.
Elk Cove Inn is everything you might wish for—lavish nature surroundings, quiet seclusion, comfortable, spacious rooms and suites, a relaxing spa, and a real farm-to-table restaurant with an amazing menu on which the majority of farm products are grown and hatched right here, on the premises.
Victor and Melissa’s labor of love and their hard work, visible and palpable everywhere, in every detail, make the Inn an outstanding lodging even in Mendocino, known for its exceptional, one-of-a-kind boutique hotels and other hospitality high spots.
The original house, built by the L.E. White Lumber Co. at the end of the 19th century, served as a sawmill superintendent’s residence and as a guesthouse for visiting buyers who came over to negotiate local lumber used to build San Francisco, and then rebuild it after the 1906 Great Earthquake and fire.
The unincorporated area of Elk, about 17 miles south of Mendocino, used to be called Greenwood then, by the family name of early settlers, trappers and hunters.
According to Greenwood Civic Club website, when in 1890s the Greenwood’s population had grown, and needed to apply for its own post office, it appeared that the patriarch of the family had already received approval for a Greenwood post office in Eldorado County. Thus Greenwood residents were forced to choose another name, and a nearby herd of elk appeared inspiring enough. Interestingly, the town is still officially called Greenwood, but the post office is listed as Elk.
These curious tidbits of local history and its prominent characters are reflected in Elk Cove Inn’s room names. L.E. White Room on the second floor looks directly at the ocean beach, a trail leading to it, and a private staircase from which you can head to the ocean if you turn left, or to the Elk village if you turn right.
Currently, the Elk population stands at 208, and consists mostly of retirees, small business owners, and artists. A charming art gallery, created by the Artists’ Collective in Elk, presents about 40 local painters, sculptors, ceramists, photographers, wood carvers, and makers of furniture, jewelry, textiles, etched glass, and other original art of exquisite quality.
After a walk in tiny Elk, or along the beach, where strewn around whimsical driftwood resembles sculpted pieces of art, created by Mother Nature, it feels wonderful to return to the warm coziness of your room at the Inn, with soft lighting, comfortable furnishings, a fireplace, a Jacuzzi, a couple of beautiful heavy bathrobes, a bookshelf with whodunits and board games, and even a welcome set of aged port in a crystal decanter and a couple of Lindt chocolates to make it all as sweet for you as can possibly be.
Try to reserve a massage appointment at the hotel’s own European-style day spa, where quiet New Age music and aromatherapy fragrances will put your mind at ease. If a therapist in charge happens to be Greg Hagaman, Structural Integration Practitioner, you might be introduced to a deep tissue Rolf Method bodywork, focused on long-neglected areas of your limbs, neck, and back.
The spa is not the only “local attraction” at the Inn. You might want to take a stroll through a lavish kitchen garden, by a hothouse, and along the blossoming flower beds surrounding a few bee hives, or visit a chicken coop, from where your morning eggs come to the table, a rabbit hutch, and a goat yard.
At their charming Sibo restaurant, Victor, Executive Chef, and Melissa, Certified Sommelier, use mostly their own or locally grown produce, fish from the Pacific, meats from the surrounding farms, and pair excellently prepared food with select wines from the best local wineries, located mostly in the famed Anderson Valley.
A memorable dinner for two at Sibo might start with Clam Chowder soup (clams, onions, celery, carrots, tarragon, garlic, white wine, crème-fraiche) and Burrata and Tomatoes salad (local burrata mozzarella, tomatoes, olive oil, homemade balsamic glaze), then proceed to the signature main courses of Râble de Lapin (homestead rabbit saddle deboned and stuffed with rabbit trimmings, braised with prunes, cognac, moscato, red wine) and Cassoulet de Canard (duck leg confit, white beans, smoked pork belly, garlic sausage, crème-fraiche). Apple Galette desert sprinkled with cinnamon is light and fresh, and good for sharing.
No matter how much time you spend at Elk Cove Inn, you’ll want to come back, like many of the Inn’s regulars do, first coming for their wedding, then for their anniversaries, and then for no other reason than to indulge in its perfect setting, friendly demeanor, and utter deliciousness.
Elk Cove Inn & Spa is located at 6300 S. Highway One, Elk, California 95432, USA. Call 1-800-275-2967 or 1-707-877-3321, or visit www.elkcoveinn.com.