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
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
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
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
For information, contact the hotel at (800) 368-2468 or (707)
875-3525. The Web site is at www.woodsidehotels.com.