Applewood Inn – Tranquility by the Russian River!

There are many ways to describe the Applewood Inn in Guerneville, but nothing can top tranquil and relaxing.

Often, resorts claim to be “relaxing,” but then are plagued by noise and bustle. That’s not the case with the Applewood Inn. The property bills itself as “a secluded, peaceful refuge to unwind, rejuvenate and reconnect while celebrating Wine Country Living.

True on all counts. Plain and simple, the Applewood Inn brings together all the best qualities of the Sonoma County region.

Although located a short drive from downtown Guerneville and right off Highway 116, at no time are you aware of the world outside of the resort. The 19-room, six-acre resort, was full when we were there and our balcony overlooked the courtyard, but at no time did we feel like we were staying in a sold-out resort.

In fact, the guests all respect the desires of others to enjoy the serenity without the hustle and bustle of the real world. Yes, the Applewood Inn is an escape.

All photos courtesy of Jessica Collins

The genesis of the Applewood came in 1985 when Jim Caron and Darryl Notter came up from San Francisco for the weekend. During their trip, they contacted real estate people who would eventually lead them to what became the Applewood Inn.

The next year, they purchased an 11-room, bed-and-breakfast inn and the run started. The inn started racking up praise in travel guides, but the duo sought bigger and better things.

In 1995 the expansion began with seven new guest suites, increasing the guest experience and adding to the overall ambiance. In 2009, the two ended their 25-year run and turned over the keys to Carlos Pippa.

Pippa is a welcoming owner, often greeting the guests as they arrive to check-in. Upon our arrival, we were offered a glass of wine or sparkling wine in the comfortable and welcoming main lodge.

It’s clear from the time you arrive – you’re not just a guest, you’re a part of the family.

Another couple arrived about the same time as we did and a conversation was quickly started as we enjoyed our welcome beverages. You just get the feeling of being with family from the start.

After enjoying your refreshments, the staff leads you to your room through the quaint courtyard, covered with gravel with a fountain in the middle. There are benches, as well as tables and chairs in the area, for those who want to relax and enjoy the soothing sounds of the fountain.

Our room – located in the Casa di Campo section – was sensational, featuring a huge bathroom area that had a Jacuzzi tub. The living space, that has a gas fireplace, is ample with chairs and the king-sized, Tempur-Pedic bed available for lounging.

But it doesn’t stop there. Our balcony had a fire pit and two comfortable chairs to be able to relax with a view of the courtyard and redwood trees beyond the property.

Our wing was located above the spa, with the lone room on the bottom floor featuring a private deck.

In the Villa Casa Grande section of the resort, the rooms feature plush queen size beds with Novaform mattresses and Italian cotton linens, hardwood floors, individually controlled heating and air conditioning and ample windows showing ferns and redwoods outside.

The Piccola Casa wing features suites that have king-size beds with Tempur-Pedic mattresses, gas fireplaces and Roman Jacuzzi tubs or dual head showers for two.

There are two spa suites on the first floor that have private hot tubs. The second floor has three rooms with a covered veranda and private seating. Finally, the “Terrace of Love” – the honeymoon suite – is located on the third floor.

The pool area follows the theme of the property – relax and rejuvenate -sitting elevated from most of the lodging. There are ample lounges around the pool area that is framed by redwood trees.

The Spa is quaint, but very comfortable with a pair of treatment tables to go with a jet shower that provides a relaxing experience for your day. For a slight fee, you can get a massage in your room.

Of all the available treatments, our favorite was the Applewood Rejuvenation for Lovers. It includes a side-by-side couples massage, a fruit and cheese platter, a dozen long-stemmed roses and a chilled bottle of Iron Horse Russian Cuvee awaiting your return to the room.

The Pinoli Cucina Rustica is the new restaurant on the property and focuses on farm fresh ingredients from local farmers, foragers and fishermen. Please see the accompanying story.

For things to do off the property, you are a short drive from downtown Guerneville, as well as number of recreational spots along the popular Russian River. If you prefer the coast, Jenner and all the beauty of the Pacific Ocean is but 15 miles away.

If wines are your pleasure, there are over 75 wineries located off or around the Russian River Wine Road.

Overall the Applewood Inn exceeds what a guest would hope for in a peaceful, weekend getaway. The tranquility of the resort is off the charts and is a property I highly recommend. If you want to relax amongst the Redwood trees in a peaceful area, yet have plenty of entertainment options within a short drive, the Applewood Inn is your place!

By Dennis Miller