Getaway Season is Any Time of Year at Monte Rio Vacation Cottages
It’s a mid-January Sunday and I’m driving down the Bohemian Highway, wondering to myself, quite frankly, what business anyone might have visiting Monte Rio this time of year. Don’t get me wrong – I love this little riverside town under the redwoods. I have fond memories of childhood swims in the Russian River, afternoons at a long-gone area amusement park, bonfires and sing-alongs at overnight camp in nearby Armstrong Woods.
But these are all summertime memories; they smell like SPF30 and taste like chocolate ice cream, and seem impossibly far removed from the first few pages of the calendar. To come to Monte Rio in the winter, I decide, one would probably either have to be a modern-day Thoreau, or a huge Tom Waits fan.
But today I’ve come out to Monte Rio to see the error in my reasoning, and the woman who’s going to show me the light is Janis Hartman. Hartman owns the Monte Rio Vacation Cottages with her husband, Robin Chase, and their friend Nancy McGauley, and she’s promised to introduce me to the wonders of wintertime in this classic summer hotspot.
It doesn’t take long for me to get with the program. Almost from the moment I get out of the car, I’m counting the overlooked reasons why this place would make for an amazing winter hideaway. The trees, it seems so obvious to point out now, are every bit as beautiful today as they are in the summertime (greenery: one). The air is crisp and there’s a morning frost on the ground, and it’s so quiet I can hear icy leaves crunching underfoot as I walk up to shake Janis’s hand (total serenity: two).
There are three actual cottages here, self-contained and decked out with little living areas and kitchens electric fire places, hot tubs and miniature decks looking out at the trees, tables and chairs and gas barbecues (glowing, steaming, fired-up warmth: three). The rest of the accommodations are in suites or sleeping cabins, like playhouses with adult-sized furniture that a kid on vacation with his family would go nuts over. There are even a couple of communal fire rings around which I’d be asking to make s’mores if I weren’t trying desperately to act like a professional (childhood nostalgia: four).
My list is already growing, but I put the question to Janis, just to be sure: why come here in the winter? What do people do? She smiles. “The nice thing about this area is that we’re really centrally located to everything,” she explains. Sure, in the summer there’s the Russian River. But there’s plenty more all year ‘round: There’s the Northwood Golf Course, a public nine-hole course studded with redwoods and designed by the same guy who did the master’s course in Augusta, GA.
There’s Sonoma Canopy Tours, the wildly popular company that lets guests zip high above the Earth amid the area’s famous trees. There are the vineyards of the Russian River Valley.
And, apparently, much more – at a hefty discount. The Monte Rio Vacation Cottages are working with other nearby businesses – Osmosis Day Spa in Freestone and Sophie’s Cellars in Duncan’s Mills, to name a few – to offer half-price vouchers for guests. You can even scoop up your stay at the cottages for half-price here with this great Sonoma Sneakaway Deal, limited time only.
So, why come to Monte Rio in the winter? Check into a cottage and find out for yourself.