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“”Outstanding” — from a demanding, implacable guest”

I am NOT easy to please — and I’m aggressive and unpleasant when I’m not pleased. But I’m also happy to extoll and recommend what is exceedingly well done. 
And so I rate our Stevenswood experience as exceptional in very nearly every regard: All in all, truly impeccable service, fine accommodations, excellent food, warm ambiance.
EVERY request we made was eagerly and politely obliged by the hotel staff. Nelson at the front desk is a remarkably nice and accommodating guy. Knowing we’d arrive too late for our first night’s dinner reservation, we called to cancel it. I asked to order ahead, and get dinner served later in our room. Nelson saw to it — even though the kitchen had closed a good hour before our late arrival. When we had settled into our room, he brought dinner up. It was hot, fresh, well served — and delicious. (Warm desserts were even held until we’d finished the main meal.) What’s more, NO room service charge was added. 
Did I say the food was delicious? I mean delicious. We are demanding, San Francisco “foodies” and I’d call Stevenswood meals first-rate. 
The first of our 2 mornings at the inn, I got up late. Breakfast service was just coming to an end, so our waiter (Josh) called up to our room and took my order. He brought it out steaming — just minutes after I finally came downstairs to eat. This waiter — Josh — is a gem. He either has remarkable instincts or has been very well trained; he is genuinely personable and ready to meet your needs, but he did NOT hover and was never intrusive.
The room itself was extremely comfortable and well-appointed. I am a poor sleeper, but I had 2 nights of refreshing, deep sleep in a great king bed. 
The furniture is good quality and though some of it’s been dinged, it’s not unsightly. Very comfortable, in fact. The view out our 2nd floor lodge room was beautiful. Below us: well groomed grounds — w/ rhododendrons in full bloom and gorgeous local bird species flitting around a feeder. Also — exactly as described on the inn website — we had a “distant-partial” ocean view. This is the kind of “truth in advertising” that I appreciate and commend. 
When we checked out we were politely and properly provided an “estimated” final bill to review before signing. I’m puzzled that some reviewers are angry about this. MANY hotels — whether they call your final bill an “estimate” or not — will add charges after the fact in some cases. For instance, if hoteliers offer anything worth stealing and a guest takes an item or two. At Stevenswood things that might disappear include special hand-stuffed buckwheat pillows (!!) available on request; spa robes; even items from an honor “bar”. Unfortunately, people DO steal things, and hotels DO amend the guests’ bill when that happens. 
OK, so having sung the praises of Stevenswood, I’ll add this: Perfection is hard to find and you won’t find it here. (Personally, I’ve never have found “it” anywhere.)
So, here are some recommendations for the hotel owners:
1. Provide some bright reading lights in at least one area of the rooms. (Stevenswood is very eco-concious and uses CFL bulbs. These are often not very bright or pleasant to read by.) So owners…. relax your principles a little.
2. Change your website breakfast menu to reflect actual current offerings — unless you’re planning to expand your menu. In addition to coffee/juice, etc. breakfast includes an omelet-to-order, French toast or a pancake option — NOT the other delectable items featured on the hotel website. Creating expectations you can’t meet is bad business.
3. Consider changing your establishment’s name. Stevenswood is not a “resort” — a term that implies much more than lodging, food — and in this case, a spa. You DO provide some other nice services, but best be on the modest rather than grandiose side in promoting your place.
4. Improve your accounting procedures. You UNDERCHARGED me. Until I pointed it out, you’d failed to add charges for our second night’s dinner. Some reviewers have pointed out omissions/additions that were NOT in their favor. Bad book keeping isn’t good — either for Stevenswood’s bottom line finances, or its reputation. 
And finally, two caveats to my fellow travelers:
If you’ve got a pre-paid package, you may indeed have trouble booking. I did with the AAA coupon I bought. I don’t know whose ineptitude was responsible for the fantastically frustrating (and ultimately futile) online reservation labyrinth I tried to negotiate — but a month after my reservation headaches, the website problem STILL isn’t resolved. If you have difficulty with your “pre-paid” reservation, COMPLAIN to everyone you can think of. If you’re like me, you’ll get help, satisfaction — and a wonderful place to stay.
One last thing: if you’re sensitive to noise, avoid the second-floor Pullen Suite — on its own merits, very nice. BUT, it’s over (or adjacent to) the restaurant kitchen, and in the morning, I (as an audio professional) was bothered by the slight hum and vibration of the restaurant ventilation system. 
In the end, though: Bravo, Stevenswood! 
And to you would-be-guests, I’d say this: relax, and if you’re not happy with something at this inn — let the staff know. Innkeepers are just like you and me; they have failings and they make mistakes. But HERE, the staff seems genuinely interested in fixing what’s wrong, if they can. My best advice: stay here. Stevenswood is a truly fine place to relax and enjoy yourselves.

San Francisco, California,   May 26, 2012


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