Living Consciously & Mindfully at Vegan Resort Stanford Inn By The Sea


I recently fell upon a magical little eco-resort in Northern California called Stanford Inn by the Sea. A hotel and resort dedicated to sustainable practices and vegan eating and living located on Northern California’s Mendocino Coast, the magic begins as you enter its parking lot where you are suddenly surrounded by gardens and grounds which ooze flowers and herbs on all sides. The entrance, lobby area and grounds are a cross between a New England cottage B&B and a hillside resort somewhere in the American west.

The resort sits atop a meadow overlooking Mendocino Bay and they are proud to call themselves the only vegan resort in the United States. They specialize in romantic and healthy getaways although it’s also a great place for business meetings, weddings and group retreats. Started by Jeff Stanford and his wife Joan, they and their staff are dedicated to making you feel revitalized.

The rooms and suites are scattered around the main building which houses the lobby area, a small gym, the lobby, the lounge, and the restaurant. All have outside decks where you can sit, relax and take in the surrounding vegetation and beautiful flowers.

Their delicious Raven’s Restaurant, which specializes in vegan dishes and touts award-winning dishes, will leave you wondering why all the fuss about eating meat. Inspired by Stanford’s certified organic gardens, the food is prepared mindfully and consciously and it shows through the preparation of all their dishes. (see our separate blog post write-up on Ravens Restaurant).  We absolutely loved the food and the experience!!

Below is the master sous chef Gabrielle Tabar who came out to say hello.

In the lobby area, you can purchase local wines, funky hats, health and spiritually conscious books, jams, jellies and other gifts, including plush toys for kids.

Below is an outside deck view off the suite during my stay.

One bedroom suites offer large wood burning fireplaces, 27″ televisions with VCR’s, DVD’s; compact stereo systems; wet bars supplied with bottled water and juice drinks; coffee makers; a sofa bed; decks; Mendocino Bay and Mendocino village views. The bedroom has its own television and a king size bed. They have various sizes, ranging from one bedrooms to suites varying by size and amenities.

Slightly larger rooms and baths distinguish these accommodations from those of Big River.  Some have wood burning fireplaces and others have wood burning stoves. The guest rooms and suites are all paneled in pine and redwood, which makes you feel closer to nature without even leaving your room. And, the lounge area is also incredibly revitalizing and relaxing, with a fireplace and couches.

The views are incredibly picturesque regardless of where you are in the resort.

And, of course there’s a spa where you can get massages which I didn’t have time to try. They also have an inside pool, sauna and jacuzzi, which I relaxed in for over an hour.

For nearby adventure tours, hikes and other nearby activities, they provide access to equipment at Catch A Canoe & Bicycles, as well as massage therapists led by Dee Brater and organic foods, fair trade coffees and teas.  One other important thing to note: the resort is known for being pet-friendly and there’s even a small seating section outside the main dining room where you can bring your pet with you to dinner.

The Stanford Inn’s History of Reform & The Founders’ Philosophy

The husband and wife team started modestly moving into a 375 square foot guest room, doing most of the work themselves ­ from housekeeping to installing fireplaces when they bought the place to renovate.  In just two years they had two children and were waking each morning to serve their guests breakfast. Says Joan of their remodeling process in the early 1980’s. “Transformation takes place here ­ physical, emotional and spiritual. While we were transforming the buildings and the landscaping, it was as if we had opened up a vein of

co-creative potential. It is a manifesting process.”  Jeff is not an ordinary environmentalist. He had mixed feelings regarding the creation of the new Big River State Park in spite of being involved in the effort. “It’s unfortunate that rather than insure healthy, sustainable logging practices, we are forced to remove land from forestry altogether to preserve it.” He argues that it is irresponsible to damage a forest’s biodiversity and over-log. “Taking land out of production here puts incredible pressure on other timber areas.”

Over the years, the Stanfords have worked to develop fulltime jobs rather than the part time jobs characteristic of a seasonal resort area. The creation of their California Certified Organic Farm created full time jobs and now supplies the Inn’s restaurant, The Ravens, the area’s only organic vegetarian/vegan restaurant, creating more jobs.

“We get a lot of people who come to work here because we are vegetarian, organic. They believe this is a Shangri La. It isn’t. It is hard work,” Jeff explained when asked why some people “don’t make it.” “When I began experiencing earth energies, I read a variety of books including Dorothy MacClean’s description of working with angels at Findhorn, Scotland. Our angels, if you want to call them that, are not etheric, they are hard workers: ‘buff,’ if you know what I mean. They’re tough and those who work with them need to be tough, too.

Staff often becomes part of the family and Jeff and Joan encourage them to develop interests and aptitudes and to finish school and go on to college. For years they have worked formally and informally with the schools. Joan works in the schools addressing issues of self esteem and peer counseling. The inn provides work experiences, training in everything from cooking to bike mechanics. Students have come to work to fulfill requirements for graduation or simply for money and some have stayed. One began working as a gardener when he was fifteen. Eventually, Jeff made him manager of the new & Bicycles, too! He helped grow the business, became an expert bike mechanic, and worked in the community to raise money for a skate park which unfortunately has yet to be constructed.

The Stanfords look at their operation as a garden or farm. They understand the energies they experience to be nurturing and they believe they must reciprocate by nurturing not only the gardens, but the people with whom they work and the community. They provide meeting rooms at no charge for local non profits and public agencies such as the school district; canoes for local schools’ recreational and educational programs; and their gardens for the local 4-H club where the kids learn propagation, planting, and composting from the staff.

We give this place a major two thumbs up and would recommend staying here for several days and exploring the greater Mendocino area. Even if you are not a vegan, you’ll be astonished by the taste and variety of the Raven’s Restaurant menu. Both are on the must not miss list!
Disclosure: I was hosted during my stay, however as always, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
Renee Blodgett
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
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