Peaceful and bucolic, the popular Russian River town of Guerneville has been a beloved weekend and summer retreat destination for San Franciscans since the 19th century. Today, this Sonoma County enclave, nestled between wine country and the Pacific coastline, continues to be one of the most popular retreats for vacationers seeking “river time.” With the completion and opening of the Stavrand Russian River Valley, visitors to the region have a beautiful, new luxury destination.  

Retreat, relax and unplug: The Stavrand Russian River (Photo, Emma K. Morris)

A Re-envisioned Classic  

The Stavrand sits on the stunning site of the former Applewood Inn, set just outside of the center of Guerneville. Those familiar with the area will fondly remember the original, historic Spanish Colonial revival property. While there have been meticulous and thoughtful renovations designed for optimal comfort and guest experience, the new owners and design team (EDG Interior Design and Architecture) have worked to ensure that there many elements of the original property remain, including the historic Belden House, a registered Sonoma historic landmark dating from 1922 (the heart of the resort), and the nearly six acres of orchards, the pool, and the garden. The overall feeling is that of a warm, intimate boutique hotel, but with the level of amenities and service of a larger resort.  

“We designed the Stavrand with a very specific vision that our guests would arrive and instantly decompress and reconnect to themselves, to each other, and to nature. This beautiful site inspires us every day, and we look forward to our guests experiencing the magic of these surroundings.” 

The new owners are no strangers to the hotel and hospitality arena. The Stavrand was acquired by Emily Glick, who brings 14 years of experience with Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, including more than six years at the helm of the Kimpton Buchanan Hotel in San Francisco. Stemming from a long line of hoteliers and travel agents, Glick renamed the newly renovated luxury retreat the Stavrand in homage to her late mother, Maribeth Stavrand, and grandparents, Grace and Erik Stavrand, who operated the Black Bear Lodge in Bolton Valley, Vermont.  

Glick and her co-owners have overseen detailed steps to maintain and restore character-defining features throughout the property, conveying the historical significance of the Mediterranean Revival architecture by John Carl Warnecke, father of Carl Warnecke. 

Says Glick, “We designed the Stavrand with a very specific vision that our guests would arrive and instantly decompress and reconnect to themselves, to each other, and to nature. This beautiful site inspires us every day, and we look forward to our guests experiencing the magic of these surroundings.” 

Private, Peaceful, Accessible  

The 21-room estate property sits on nearly six forested acres of orchards, organic gardens, and majestic groves of redwood trees, in addition to lush apple, quince, fig, apricot, pear, and plum trees. Most of the orchard trees date back to the 1920s and were planted by the property’s original owner, Guerneville banker Ralph “Rooster” Belden.  

The interior and exterior palettes feature rich jewel tones and pops of primary colors inspired by period Mexican Talavera tiles that date back to the property’s century-old origins. The modern amenities, clean lines, and contemporary furnishings complement a collection of treasured antiques that have been part of the property for decades, giving the Stavrand a fresh yet authentic ambiance steeped in character and charm.  

The main house on the property, Belden House, is the estate’s heart and soul, built in 1922 and thoughtfully renovated in 2021. Famed architect John Carl Warnecke designed this mansion as the country home of Ralph “Rooster” Belden who resided in the property with his wife and son. The design team worked around the massive hearth in the heart of the house, filling the house with a combination of both warm and chic touches—including custom, curated artwork, wallcovering, and modern furnishings that beautifully balanced the inherited antiques on display.  

Located next door and constructed decades later, the Cazadero building was completely reimagined during the renovation of its spacious (330 sq. ft.) rooms, including a new and luxurious look for all the bathrooms. Each room in Cazadero offers guests access to surrounding nature—some spaces giving the sense of being in a tree house under a canopy of redwoods. Many of Cazadero’s rooms feature some combination of gas fireplaces, freestanding soaking tubs, and outdoor cedar hot tubs with views of the open sky. 

Nestled in the redwoods between wine country and the Sonoma Coast, the Stavrand is ideally situated. For guests who want to stay and relax on property, there are quite a range of both seasonal and year-round activities from which to choose, including outdoor yoga, poolside lounging, spa treatments, outdoor lawn games, and floating on the river in warmer months, In these winter months, the Stavrand provides guest experiences designed to keep guests cozy, including hot mulled cider during apéritif hour (with or without local bourbon), candlelight dinners fireside, s’mores and warm blankets for fireside desserts or late night snacks; access to a lending library; outdoor cedar hot tubs; and board games next to one of two wood burning fireplaces.  

Dining at the Stavrand: Local Ingredients at Their Best  

The artfully crafted culinary program at the Stavrand revolves around what’s local and seasonal, a style best expressed as farm-fresh California cuisine with ever-evolving menus showcasing the rich bounty of the hotel’s culinary garden and surrounding region. Guests are treated to an inclusive hot breakfast daily, featuring a range of inspired, fresh choices designed by the culinary team. At the nightly private chef experience (available exclusively to hotel guests), diners savor a meal that reflects the Stavrand chef’s latest inspirations, the day’s weather, and the ingredients peaking at the particular moment.  

An “anytime” dining menu features rustic delights, such as paninis, charcuterie, and house-grown crudité. For a picnic lunch on the go, upscale Stavrand cooler totes are available for loan. Reserve a complimentary bicycle from the property, pack a lunch, and ride to the nearby Russian River or to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve (Armstrong Woods) to enjoy lunch under some of the oldest and most breathtaking redwoods in the area.  

A Beautiful Event Setting  

With its proximity to the Santa Rosa, including the airport and U.S. Highway 101, and in addition to beautiful vineyards, stunning redwood groves, the Russian River, and Pacific coast, the Stavrand is a wonderful location for corporate retreats, weddings, and other gatherings for up to 130 guests. With multiple event site options, including the Bower space at the highest point of the property to the orchards, apiary, and organic vegetable garden at the Chef’s Meadow, the Stavrand offers guests room to celebrate and roam. The property has prioritized safety and sanitation protocols with COVID-19 still circulating.  

Winter is the perfect time to explore the Stavrand. The hotel is offering winter rates beginning at $249 per night, with amazing amenities and offerings. For reservations and information, visit the website or call (707) 869-9093. The Stavrand Russian River Valley is located at 13555 Highway 116 in Guerneville in the heart of the Russian River Valley.  

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