Mar Vista: Cottages, Ponds, Chickens, Goats, and a Redwood Forest.
Moving to the Mendocino coast a decade ago I embraced a 'population reality'. There are people here—perhaps a majority—who were born and raised in Mendocino County. But it turns out that a great number of our “locals” are from somewhere else.
The population of Mendocino County hasn’t grown appreciably in the last twenty years. For many of us living along Mendocino County's south coast that statistic isn’t really a bad thing. Since the vast majority of the county’s population lives on the north coast and inland along Highway 101, our south-coast quality-of-life reaps some benefits. The nearest freeway is some 80 driving-miles east of our coast, on the other side of some serious hills, and accessed by roads that sometimes seem like they haven’t seen a complete repaving since the county was formed in 1850.
Mendonoma is a name that reflects a description of our unique location along the north coast of Sonoma County and the south coast of Mendocino County. And those escaping or visiting discover the unique beauty of the Pacific coast along this eighty-mile stretch of California’s Highway One; from Jenner (near the mouth of the Russian River) north to the Navarro River, Highway One is one of the most beautiful drives you’ll make in North America. Those who come to visit will find plenty to do. And when staying overnight, almost every room is local. That is, local owners who’ve invested their time, energy, creativity, and money into creating dozens of one-of-a-kind overnight options. One of those options is Mar Vista Cottages.
Mar Vista is spread out over 9 acres, but just the same you could drive right by and miss this delight. The bulk of the land sweeps up from the highway, and as you turn into the long driveway you may notice the vegetable and flower garden on your left, and the fresh egg-supplying chickens on your right. By the time you pass the gardens, glass house, and arrive at the office you may not have noticed the campfire, barbecue grills, ponds, and Adirondack chairs. And the forest. Forest? More on that later.
The self-described stewards of Mar Vista, Renata and Tom Dorn, arrived here seventeen years ago. They met some years before that while attending college in Spain. Tom’s background was financial consulting for businesses and local governments, while Renata’s was steeped in the hospitality business. You might say that she was born (perhaps re-born) for Mar Vista, having worked with hotels and inns with affiliations like the Four Seasons hotel chain and the Relais & Chateaux group. Anyone who’s stayed with these two brands (or similar groups) know that success is rooted in an absolute attention to detail. Every detail.
Like so many other south coast residents, when Tom and Renata arrived at Mar Vista they knew it was the start of the next chapter. But so was Mar Vista. Like buying a home, you discover all of the things that need to be done, paint, nails, sprucing up, and so on. Inevitably it’s always the “and so-on” that separates the starry-eyed wannabes from those with a real grasp on reality. But they carefully addressed each element; it’s a small miracle that all of the cottages were all saved.
And happily that didn’t mean gutting the old and remaking the new. For example, in one of the cottages we visited, you immediately notice the rustic charm. More importantly, ‘rustic’ is not a euphemism for dated, musty, or drab. To the contrary, the emphasis was on charm. And with fully equipped kitchens you can prepare your own breakfast including fresh eggs from Mar Vista’s chickens. Visitors find that the cottages are exceptionally clean and welcoming; perfect for a real getaway. And so are they all.
Within the property there is plenty to keep you from thinking about the outside world. There is Mar Vista’s quiet sanctuary. Follow the path for 10 feet from the southeastern corner and you'll find you’ve entered Mar Vista’s own Redwood Forest. You can continue down to the river or just enjoy the peace and quiet of the forest itself.
Returning to the heart of Mar Vista’s nine acres, you can take time to stop and visit with the chickens. They usually seem perfectly willing to listen to anyone impart their views on politics, history and the arts. Regardless of the topic, I guarantee they’ll listen to you, although a response may not be forthcoming. Standing next to one of the ponds you quickly see from the reeds and wildlife that this entire property is truly an oasis. Guests can gather with friends or family, perhaps by the warmth of a fire, or the aroma of a barbecue grill. Or you can sit (or curl up) in one of those comfortable Adirondack chairs and watch the Pacific Ocean sunset or get into a good book. Tom and Renata know how to please their guests.
The Mendonoma Coast is an amazing place to visit and recharge your batteries. And Mar Vista is just one of our many places to do just that. And they're pet friendly too.