Slowing it Down at the Bay Hill Mansion
As soon as I get out of my car in front of the Bay Hill Mansion — after a drive along Sonoma Coast — Gina White, who owns the place with her husband Chris, stops me in the middle of the driveway. We’ll go inside in a minute, she promises, but first she wants me to stop and listen.
I don’t hear much: A light breeze in the surrounding treetops and the lulling whoosh of cars on the busy road down below us. But then Gina reminds me, there is no busy road down below us.
And that gentle whooshing sound is coming at oddly even intervals. That’s when my city-trained brain finally catches on to what’s happening, here: That sound is the ocean, lapping softly at the shore just down beyond the tree line.
“Our idea with this place is to get people thinking about coming back before they even leave the property,” Chris told me later. But I’ve already done him one better: I was thinking about coming back before I’d even set foot inside the house.
The house, I should mention, will have a similar effect on anyone who’s missed the sound of the waves.
I ask Chris and Gina to sum up the design aesthetic of the mansion, balanced part-way up a hillside overlooking the town of Bodega Bay’s eponymous waterfront, and they tell me it’s “classic contemporary luxury.”
This, at first, sounds more like a tongue twister than a theme to me. But I quickly realize it’s the only succinct way to sum up furniture that looks antique but feels sink-in-and-stay-a-while plush; newspaper subscriptions accessed through electronic tablets throughout the lounge; infrared room heaters masquerading as LED fireplaces; LCD screens and DVD players (accompanied, thoughtfully, by copies of locally filmed classic The Birds) tucked discreetly away into elegant armoires in each bedroom.
The Whites seem to have thought of every last detail in what they call their “compound within the Sonoma County compound,” making it truly “a place where things just slow down.”
So here’s to slowing down, sinking in, and, most importantly, going back.
Bay Hill Mansion Bed & Breakfast, 3919 Bay Hill Road, Bodega Bay, CA 94923