Through the years, I have made countless journeys to the Bay Area, and most by car. For a short visit I have found it easier to stay in the South Bay and then make day excursions into San Francisco. Recently I had the opportunity to stay at a hidden gem just south of San Jose known mostly to locals. The Dolce Hayes Mansion hosts many weddings and corporate events but is also a very nice hotel property.
Set amid a large expanse of lushly landscaped gardens sits the Dolce Mansion. This Spanish Colonial Revival–style manor has been constantly renovated through the years to maintain the level of luxury it had over a century ago. Cars enter the gated estate property and make their way to the circular driveway entrance to the original wing of the property known as The Mansion which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. We stayed one night in this wing and one in the newer wing, finding both had their merits.
The Mansion is very popular with corporate retreats, and on our visit many of the rooms were occupied by the Stanford Business School. These rooms and suites are very large and come with extra-large bathrooms and state-of-the-art electronics. Corporations use the historic rooms for meetings, and often use the newer wing for overnight stays.
We dined at the Palm Plaza Lounge, which offers indoor and outdoor seating with heaters and fire pits nearby. The outdoor seating is very pleasant, and the setting reminded me of the Adobe at La Quinta Resort and Club. My salmon tacos were very tasty, and I must admit to contemplating an encore. The Silver Creek Restaurant serves breakfast and lunch daily including Sunday brunch. Go to HayesMansion.com to plan your stay.
Several excellent daily fee courses are found within 10 minutes of the Dolce Hayes Mansion. Coyote Creek is just south on the 101, and you will see it as you drive into the San Jose area. This facility has two championship 18-hole courses designed by Jack Nicklaus. We played the Valley Course and found it a bit deceiving on first glance, with fairly wide fairways. The difficulty lies in the green structures, which are small, undulating, and well-guarded. The course was in excellent shape on this visit and will be undergoing some improvements this winter. The Tournament Course winds its way up into the adjacent hills and was host to the Champions Tour for many years. Coyote Creek has an excellent practice facility with several chipping and putting greens available. Visit CoyoteCreekGolf.com for complete details.
If you like views, The Ranch Golf Club is a must and is also just a 10-minute drive from Dolce Hayes Mansion. While Coyote Creek is very walkable, you must take a cart at The Ranch Golf Club, but the views are well worth it. This layout starts high up on a hill overlooking the entire South Bay and winds its way up and down from there. The layout is very challenging and was also in perfect condition on our inspection. The clubhouse is a good spot to take in the views for lunch before golf or drinks post round.
Santa Barbara Airbus
The next time you or anyone in your family is headed to LAX, make sure you consider using Santa Barbara Airbus. The drive down and back can be a real pain and not a very relaxing way to start or finish a trip. Recently we used the Airbus and will never go back to driving ourselves. We found the buses very comfortable, and they are usually not overly full. Airbus has many departures each day, and one will fit your schedule. The service makes three stops in either direction — Goleta, Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria — to ensure sure one is close to your home.
It was quite a relief to our day, which included rain, to leave the driving to someone else. Did I forget to mention no need for parking at LAX, which is normally a major headache? Airbus drops off at all terminals and picks up near baggage claim. I cannot imagine why anyone would want to drive themselves with this great service available. Go to SantaBarbaraAirbus.com for further information.