Northern California Romantic Getaway


For Romance, Your Best Choice is the Whale Watch Inn

Whale Watch Inn AdvertisementThe best way to say “I love you” without saying a word is to book a weekend at the Whale Watch Inn. There is no comparison to this inn if you are looking for a luxurious, self-indulgent weekend with that someone who is special to you. It has been rated as “One of California’s Top Ten Inns” by San Francisco Focus Magazine.

Imagine a view of the blue Pacifi c Ocean as you sit perched 90 feet above Anchor Bay. If you walk down the private stairway to the beach you will find more spectacular views. Or you can sit quietly on your private deck watching the sunset. Each room has a fi replace and a 2-person whirlpool tub.

You are surrounded by redwoods in the heart of the northern California Coastline. It is peaceful and quiet. Seals, sea lions and sea birds outnumber people. You can unwind and experience a slower pace. You take back memories that you can reflect on for months and even years later. The scenic coast is breathtaking during the day. The evening is for sitting by the fire replace with a glass of fine Mendocino wine from the Inn’s collection. Or you can end up at the Inn with a case of a special vintage you picked up after a tasting tour on the way up Hwy 128 before you head toward the coast and south on 101.

In the morning you awake to a breakfast delivered to your room. You can start the day slowly and take in the magnifi cent views just outside of your window. And you can decide to never leave the room. The d�cor is exquisite. If you happen to be visiting during the whale migrations, you would have the ideal vantage point to view them from your room.

There are 5 separate buildings with 18 accommodations on highway 1 halfway between Arena Rock Park and Jenner. Arena Rock is at the Mountain View Road that leads to Booneville.

Listen as Charmicheal Dave Talks about the Whale Watch Inn

Listen to Carmichael Dave from the The Carmichael Dave Show as he talks about the Whale Watch Inn! Carmichael Dave hosts a nightly show on Sports 1140 KHTK, The #1 sports station in Sacramento. He hosts weekdays 7 pm-10 pm. He has been covering Mixed Martial Arts for over 10 years, and regularly speaks with the sports' elite personalities.

The Charmiceal Dave Show  - Monday-Friday 9-Midnight - Sports 1140 KHTK-AM

Monterey restaurateur and television chef John Pisto

Monterey restaurateur and television chef John Pisto visited Gualala for three days last week to film segments for his cooking show, “Monterey’s Cookin’ Pisto Style”. Chef Pisto and his film crew stayed at Whale Watch Inn and visited several other local attractions. The chef filmed segments including preparing fresh sea urchin from Fort Bragg and pasta featuring locally collected mushrooms. He also visited with St. Orres chef Rosemary Campiformio and sampled the whirlpool tubs at Whale Watch Inn. Kazie Popplewell, owner of the Whale Watch Inn, surprised the chef on his final morning with fresh sea urchin sushi. Chef Pisto was quite taken with the local community and plans to introduce his viewers to the many exciting reasons to visit the Northern California Coast. The program is carried nationwide on American Life Network, Hometown Network, and Monterey Cable channel

Company spotlight: Whale Watch Inn and its founder Kazie Popplewell

This week’s company spotlight is on the Whale Watch Inn and its founder, Kazie Popplewell. The Whale Watch Inn, located in Gualala, Calif., offers a luxurious hideaway on the Northern California coast. The inn is designed to provide a sense of relaxation, calm, and connection with nature. Televisions and phones are not provided in any of the inn’s 18 suites. Instead, they tender a fireplace, a deck, an ocean view, and breakfast delivered to your door.

Kazie Popplewell and her husband Jim founded the Whale Watch Inn in 1991. The inn is a second career for Kazie. Previously she was a professor of anthropology and Japanese language. She taught for 21 years at the University of Hawaii, San Joaquin Delta College, the Defense Language Institute, and California State University before retiring to pursue her interest in hospitality.

Kazie was born and grew up in Japan. She graduated with a degree in history from Japan Women’s University and subsequently earned a masters degree from the University of Hawaii. She had been interested in Japanese hospitality for a number of years, and when the opportunity to open the Whale Watch Inn presented itself, she recognized it as a chance to pursue this passion.

The Whale Watch Inn sees guests from many locations, but it has close ties to the Bay Area. Many of its clientele come from around the bay to enjoy the quite of the Northern California coast.

Why is the company successful? In Kazie’s words:
The inn-keeping profession is a 24/7 occupation. One should make certain that they love serving the public while maintaining a constantly updated and improved lodging experience for guests.

We are different in that most of our rooms are not on hallways. The floor plan is designed with a cottage-like feel. Most rooms have a private entrance. Most important, we are a niche operation with just 18 suites, allowing us to provide a level of personal service that is not possible in most inns.
We have to meet the challenge of staying fresh. We renovate all suites on a planned timetable; furniture, art, and wall coverings are all updated. In areas such as the complimentary breakfast, we strive to serve delicious food that is also calorie appropriate and heart healthy.

What words of advice do you have for business owners?
1. Before you start your business, be sure that you love what you’ve chosen and can picture yourself working with and enjoying it for a long time.
2. Provide a product that is excellent, always top-shelf, and allows an honest return on investments.
3. Hire local people who know the area, and treat them like family.
4. Never forget to “walk in your guest's moccasins.” Keep in mind how you would like to be served while on holiday.
5. Keep an open line to past clients and make use of their suggestions.
What are your top five tips to thrive in these tough economic times?
1. Maintain the finest facility possible.
2. Refurbish regularly and stay current.
3. Innovate!! Always look for new ideas, benefits for clients, and promotions to showcase the business.
4. Check competition regularly.
5. Advertise regularly and wisely. Word of mouth is not enough

The Power of Getting Away

It's the dead of winter. What else is there to say? There's nothing exciting on the horizon, unless you're a groundhog.

But perhaps we should look to the woodchuck for tips on handling post-holiday blues. Perhaps, like our furry friend, we should burrow and rest before the pace picks up again in spring.

With this in mind, I made a reservation at the Whale Watch Inn in Gualala last weekend. A light rain was falling as I pulled up to the lodge, a forested retreat softly outlined in lights. Soothing music and a warm fire greeted me in the lobby, along with a glass of my favorite wine. The innkeeper had been waiting for my arrival as if she were anticipating a visit from an old friend. She showed me to a beautiful second floor room with a hypnotic view of the ocean. Within minutes, my head found the pillow and I drifted off to sleep.

An Oakland native and his wife own the Whale Watch Inn. Jim and Kazuko "Kazie" Popplewell bought the inn in 1990 in an area where Jim enjoyed hiking and camping as a child.

What's most interesting about this magnificent setting is its banana belt location, in a fog break that sees sunshine when nearby locations see chowder. I witnessed this on a 30-minute drive south to Fort Ross State Historic Park, the early 1800s Russian outpost. The swirling fog seemed to punctuate the hardships the Russian fur traders endured as they struggled to survive.

Going north from our lodge, the Point Arena Lighthouse was also socked in. Again, it seemed appropriate that this 1908 beauty (with 145 steps to the top of the tower) was shrouded in soup. Overlooking a ragged section of coast called The Devil's Punchbowl, it has served as a beacon for ships along the Mendocino Coast. It re-opens to the public, Jan 16, after an extensive renovation.

And while there is plenty to do in this quiet and spectacular coastal retreat, sometimes it is best to do nothing.

Kazie has written a book called "The Power of Getting Away." In it, she shares secrets for connecting with nature and oneself. Some are her own, having been raised in Japan with such ancient non-verbal rituals as the Green Tea Ceremony. But she also shares stories from journals, which visitors have kept over the years in the 18 guests rooms at the Whale Watch Inn. Each room has a private view of the ocean and a decor that invites meditation and restoration as well as a rekindling of friendship and romance. The journals attest to the spiritual nature of this special place.

"I awake to the sound of the tides ebb and flow, the warmth of his body next to mine," a women writes in her journal in the Swan Room. "I have never felt such peace."

With no phone or TV, not even a clock, time stands still. If not for the dramatic dawn and dusk, you would have little sense of the passing hours. You would feel safe, in a sense, to find comfort in your own thoughts.

Nature nudges us to slow down in winter, but often we forget to read the signals. The innkeepers at the Whale Watch Inn make it their mission to help us remember.

- Ginny Prior
The Montclarion