By Cathie Anderson The Sacramento Bee.
Increasingly, hospitality-minded entrepreneurs are moving into the Sacramento region to develop luxury retreats and inns that show off the area's natural assets. We look at three recent examples, from Pilot Hill to Winters.
Interior designer and real estate investor Briana Alhadeff plied her trade for years in Los Angeles, but when she was ready to build a dream home, she had real estate agents scour the Golden State for the right location.
Her goal was to build an environmentally sustainable home, along with an attached vacation rental that would provide her a steady income.
One agent lured Alhadeff to the summit of the tallest slope in Pilot Hill. Poison oak and tall weeds obstructed the petite Alhadeff's field of vision in most spots, but occasional glimpses through the brambles took her breath away.
"There was a little peek of a view here and a peek there," Alhadeff said, "but then once we built, it was like, 'Wow!'"
She bought the property using a tidy nest egg amassed from buying and selling Southern California investment land that had what she calls "forever views."
Her 7,500-square-foot home, named Casa Bella Verde, is attached via a skybridge to the 1,500-square-foot vacation home.
Guests from as far away as Australia and Egypt pay $350 a night or more to enjoy Alhadeff's views of the Sierra Nevada and Folsom Lake.
They have unlimited access to her patio and pool, which arcs roughly 120 degrees around the home. The pool's vanishing edge gives the illusion that guests could float out into the hills beyond.
Now in her second year of business, Alhadeff continues to add patio features such as a fireplace, swim-up bar and outdoor kitchen.
The vacation home features a spa tub, the trademarked Westin Heavenly Bed, a private kitchen, gym and more. Alhadeff said she designed the space to suit the demanding movie-industry clients she once served. Learn more at experiencecbv.com.
Hide and seek in Winters
Most travelers would never think of seeking out a boutique inn near where Road 26 meets Road 89 in Yolo County.
But that's where they'll find Park Winters, hiding behind century-old trees and the hedgerows of an English-style garden.
Before acquiring the 1865 Victorian in 2011, partners Rafael Galiano and John Martin ran the White Palace SF on Divisadero Street in San Francisco.
"At first, we thought we'd keep both properties and offer country-city packages to guests," Galiano said, "but after a while, we started arguing about whose turn it was to go into the city. 'It's your turn,' I'd say, and he'd say, 'No, it's your turn.' "
The duo eventually sold the White Palace SF. In 2012, they began welcoming guests to Park Winters, which they say offers ideal proximity to the Capay Valley for agricultural tourists.
Galiano and Martin have done extensive updates to the 10-acre property, originally the home of ranching pioneer George Washington Scott and his family.
The innkeepers pumped insulation inside the mansion's exterior walls and upgraded the electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems.
They converted small rooms into luxury bathrooms. They hired former Enotria chef Gabriel Glazier to do catering, and are constructing an "events barn." Their venue is available for weddings, parties, corporate retreats and overnight guests, with rooms starting at $275 a night.
The inn's furniture is a mélange of antique and contemporary pieces. Yolo County resident Vernette Marsh loaned the innkeepers her square grand piano, and they acquired antiques from the estate of longtime Winters letter carrier Shirley Marks. To book a tour or accommodations, visit parkwinters.com.
Rooms with a view
Elke von Schlosser always envisioned herself living in a farmhouse. One night, while cruising the Internet, she saw a home that she instantly knew was the one. Her only question: Where on earth was Pilot Hill?
The spacious farmhouse was about 20 years old when she bought it in 2008. The property included a barn but virtually no landscaping.
Having worked in the lumber and landscaping supply business for many years, she immediately began sketching plans for trees, flowers, shrubbery and a backyard oasis complete with a fire pit, lap pool and sauna.
"I was kind of happy because it was a clean slate," von Schlosser said. "I didn't have to tear out somebody else's stuff."
She opened Enchanted April Inn about four years ago, naming it for a movie she loved. In the film, four British women holiday on the Italian Riviera and are transformed by the locale.
Von Schlosser felt her property in Pilot Hill held that same magic. Her bed-and-breakfast rooms are priced between $99 and $249 a night, depending on the season and day of the week.
An accomplished horsewoman, she also offers boarding for equine guests.
The inn's guests can choose from four rooms with views of the foothills, a meandering stream or a pond, with preening peacocks, wild turkeys and other birds. Von Schlosser treats all her guests to the luxury of sleeping on $1,200 sheets, made from Italian beechwood fibers and renowned for their moisture-wicking ability. Learn more at www.enchantedaprilinn.com.