Coastal village retains its Hitchcockian charm By Laura Del Rosso / March 28, 2001 Share 1 -- BODEGA BAY, Calif. -- When Alfred Hitchcock chose this coastal town for the setting of his now-classic movie, "The Birds," it was nothing more than a small fishing village with a few seafood restaurants. Today, 38 years after the movie was filmed, Bodega Bay is still pretty much the same.On the western edge of Sonoma County about 80 minutes north of San Francisco by car, the town's center is still the small wharf area where fishing boats tie up.There are a couple of seafood restaurants and funky souvenir stores in old wooden fishermen's cabins lining Highway 1, which crosses the town on the edge of the bay.Bodega Bay is not exactly a big tourist draw the way the rest of Sonoma County is, but it attracts lots of people on daytrips from San Francisco who are traveling up Highway 1 along its awe-inspiring and cliff-hugging lanes on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.One change to the area since Hitchcock made the movie is the addition of several deluxe properties.The Bodega Bay Lodge and Spa, built in 1962 -- just as Hitchcock was discovering the area -- capitalizes on the remoteness and quietness of this stretch of coast.The hotel, which has been remodeled several times and enlarged since its opening, is operated by Woodside Hotels, a six-property chain of deluxe northern California hotels.Other Woodside Hotels are the Half Moon Bay Lodge, the Napa Valley Lodge in Yountville, the Lafayette Park Hotel, the Stanford Park Hotel in Menlo Park and the Monterey Plaza Hotel.Travelers don't come here for the nightlife. The hotel has a lovely restaurant called The Duck Club, with views of the ocean and bay and menu selections that include oysters, foie gras and crab from the Sonoma County area.There is a complimentary wine hour each late afternoon in the lobby, which features a huge stone fireplace and comfortable couches and armchairs.But the town, except for the restaurants, pretty much closes up at night. From the hotel, the only sound is the wind and the lapping of the waves in the harbor below.The Bodega Bay property's main clientele during the week is small corporate meetings and groups; on weekends, the lodge fills with leisure travelers, many who arrive after spending the day in nearby Sonoma Valley or the Russian River wine country.The hotel and its rooms rest on a cliff overlooking Bodega Bay, with views west to Bodega Head, the name for the cape on the western edge of the U-shaped bay.In "The Birds," actress Tippi Hedren rows a boat from the wharf in the town of Bodega Bay across the water to Bodega Head.By day, there are many outdoor activities for travelers, including beachcombing, hiking, whale-watching, fishing and golfing at the nearby Bodega Harbour golf course.Most visitors probably spend their time exploring the area, taking a drive up to Jenner, for instance, a tiny town on the coast where the Russian River spills into the Pacific.There also is Occidental, a small town in the redwoods not far away from Bodega Bay. San Franciscans have been driving to Occidental for years to eat lunch or dinner at one of three Italian restaurants that serve multicourse, family-style meals -- the kind Italian grandmothers used to cook, with platters full of food to share.There also are the sites made famous by Hitchcock, the main one being the old schoolhouse on the hillside, where the birds attacked the schoolchildren and their teacher in the movie. The schoolhouse is still there, unchanged.Visitors are often confused, however, and believe the schoolhouse is located in the town of Bodega Bay. It is actually in the tiny hamlet of Bodega, a few miles inland.Most guests of the Lodge stay close to the hotel, whose 84 rooms and suites are comfortable and inviting. Some have fireplaces and patios or balconies.Meeting rooms, which have fireplaces and ocean views, can accommodate groups of 10 to 100.Fireplaces are a nice touch at the hotel. Those unfamiliar with the climate of the northern California coast might think of swimming and sunbathing at the beaches here, but the region's cool water and cold water temperature are a year-round phenomenon.About two years ago, Woodside Hotels added a spa to its Bodega property. It is a project it has undertaken at some of its hotels, most notably the Monterey Plaza.The Bodega facility is small but offers a range of treatments and massages. Guests are delivered terry-cloth robes, sandals and a selection of spa products to their rooms when they check in and order a spa treatment.The hotel has a Hot Date rate of $149 for a deluxe room that applies to the following dates: March 18 to 21; March 27 and 28; April 1 to 4; April 8 and 9; April 15, and April 23 to 25.Regular room rates start at $210; suites start at $240.Several golf and spa packages combine treatments such as massages or activities such as golf with a dinner discount at The Duck Club.For information, contact the hotel at (800) 368-2468 or (707) 875-3525. The Web site is at www.woodsidehotels.com.