Timber Cove Resort, Sonoma County

Timber Cove Resort

This new “Checking In” series of posts is dedicated to some of my most memorable experiences. First up is Timber Cove Resort. I spend 300 plus nights a year in hotels and resorts. The ones that make the cut here are truly special places I can’t wait to return to.

When I mention that I’m staying at Timber Cove Resort to a colleague back in Chicago, he warns me to watch out for raccoons. When he visited back in 2000, there was a raccoon in his hot tub. I’m visiting on my own, for a relaxing respite before the madness of the Wine Writers Symposium at Meadowood. I’d certainly welcome company at this remote retreat, but of a less feral variety. I’m not too worried though, assuming the recent multi-million dollar renovation included thorough rodent excavation.

The narrow road is windy and winding, twisting along the Sonoma Coast’s jagged bluffs. I fear I’ve inherited my mom’s queasy disposition in recent years. I’m regretting the Recchiuti whoopie pie and chocolate cookies I had for breakfast, but I manage to hold myself together. Upon arrival, I receive a much appreciated ginger beer welcome drink accented with bitters to quell my stomach.

Timber Cove Resort

The Great Room lobby is bustling, with several groups of families and friends playing board games. Were I little more extroverted, I might have introduced myself to strangers and joined a game of Balderdash or Cards Against Humanity. Instead, I peruse the vinyl library and select Nina Simone and The Decemberists as the soundtrack for my stay.

Timber Cove Resort

My ocean suite (Room 4) is lovely, with clean wooden floors replacing shag carpet, a cozy propane fireplace, local snacks and pinot noir from Fort Ross Vineyard just down the road. I draw myself a bath and settle in the warm water to read the current issue of National Geographic Traveler, where Timber Cove is featured as a hot new resort. They don’t have bath salts, but luckily I have a Zents bath truffle that I picked up last week at Opal Sands. The earthy scent of sandalwood and fir is perfect for this rainy grey day and a soak is just what my sore legs need after my first Pilates ProWorks class yesterday morning.

Timber Cove Resort

Then it’s time for dinner at Coast Kitchen, sitting next to the fireplace and hearing the rain come crashing down outside. I can’t resist the fish special: pan-seared local petrale sole. The wine list leans heavily towards Sonoma County, including Iron Horse Vineyards Ocean Reserve 2011 blanc de blancs, which pairs nicely with local cheese, a pomegranate market greens salad and my fish served over black quinoa and foraged mushrooms. At one point, the lights flicker off and back on a few seconds later. I find myself wishing that we could dine in the dark by lantern light. What could be more rustic and romantic?

Timber Cove Resort


Opened: Originally opened in 1963, but reopened August 2016 after multi-million dollar renovations.

Rooms: 46 rooms, including 8 suites. Ask for Room 50, a junior suite, for a unique Southern-facing ocean view.

Unique amenity: Every room has a record player. Help yourself to the (not very organized) vinyl collection in the lobby.

Vibe: Sexy summer camp. There are more than two miles of hiking trails to explore on property. Plenty of opportunities for a moonlit tryst.

Design: I love all the wood. The original Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired exterior remains, built of sturdy redwood, and tables, chairs, columns and walls (even the room keys!) are all made of various shades and grains of wood. White walls and skylights brighten the dark wood tones. Retro Smeg refrigerators and vintage Life Magazines from 1963 are cool, not kitsch.

Timber Cove Resort

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