For those wanting to relax in rustic elegance, Eden Vale Inn Bed and Breakfast is the place. And for those who donÕt think that rustic and elegance donÕt go together, well a visit to Eden Vale will change that thought.
The five-room B&B is enclosed in a verdant setting off Lotus Road, between Highway 50 and Coloma-Lotus.
It is rated as a four-star accommodation by trip advisors and lauded by guests who have stayed at the inn.
Guests are greeted by Mark Hamlin, who along with his wife, Gayle Erbe-Hamlin, created the country retreat and opened it in May 2009.
Mark and Gayle are both northern Californians who met while working for Weyerhaeuser in Tacoma, Wash. The newlyweds returned to California in 1984 when Mark went to work for Intel in Folsom and Gayle started a career with the county of El Dorado.
Looking for a home in Mother Lode country, Mark and Gayle found 10 acres of rocky grassland on a hillside near the Coloma Valley. It had once been a dairy farm and had a large barn and a spring-fed pond. The couple could see the potential for a home site.
Mark went into business with Geologix, in Placerville, preparing hazard reports for lending and real estate companies. He retired in 2003.
Working on weekends
Gayle and Mark spent five years working on weekends refitting the barn as their home. Mark learned carpentry skills early in life and has a contractorÕs license. He did most of the work on the house himself, including the cabinets in the kitchen and supervised the rest.
Gayle began gradually creating what is now a large, multi-colored garden with trees, flowers and shrubs that is featured in local garden tours. The main garden, behind the inn, has walking paths with enchanting views and lovely fragrances. To the north side, Big Dipper Pond is surrounded by a wildflower garden with a path circling the pond and a view of Mount Murphy.
Gayle said gardening has always been a form of relaxation and meditation for her.
ÒI enjoy watching how it changes over time,Ó she said.
Old and new
Their vision unfolded over the years. Mark and Gayle retained the basic form of the barn, keeping the timber posts and beams. From the large entry the first sight is the floor-to-ceiling rock fireplace faced with slate from the Weber Creek Quarry.
Hanging down beside it is the block-and-tackle that was used to lower hay from storage in the second floor loft to the cows below. The loft is now a hallway leading to the private quarters of the owners.
Sparked by a suggestion from a friend, Mark and Gayle investigated the possibility of creating a bed-and-breakfast on their property. They attended seminars and trade shows and visited three B&Bs in Napa, noting all the things they didnÕt like.
Recalling their visit, Mark said, ÒThey had stand-alone sinks.Ó At Eden Vale, each room has its own spacious bathroom with cultured stone vanity counters.
On their trip they also noted that clothes storage was minimal. Each room at Eden Vale has a nice-sized closet with a motion sensor light.
They found the light switches were hard to find and the wiring was old and inadequate.
Mark has paid special attention to the lighting at Eden Vale. The lights are all computerized. Push the Òromance buttonÓ in your room and the lighting automatically adjusts as the gas fireplace fires up. One button will heat the private spa tub.
Each room has a combination clock, CD player, iPod dock and telephone. Since cell reception is weak in the valley, Eden Vale offers free domestic telephone calls.
Air conditioning and heating is also computerized for maximum comfort. Two of the rooms have HDTV with DVD players. ÒNot everyone wants television,Ó said Mark. ÒInternet is more important to most people.Ó
When Mark and Gayle decided to make the commitment to creating their own B&B business, they joined the California Association of Bed & Breakfast Inns. They hired Tony Angi, an architect from Garden Valley, to design a site plan, the guest rooms and help with ADA compliance. They also had to go through the county permitting process and get approval from Rescue Fire District for their fire-safe plan.
With Gayle still working full-time, Mark is the resident owner and concierge. Gayle does the menu planning and an innkeeper prepares breakfast. Everything is made from scratch using seasonal locally grown fruits and vegetables. The sunroom is the preferred place for enjoying the morning meal.
Interior colors reflect the natural hues of the surroundings, with shades of green, gold, red and brown predominating. The floors are oak, large tiles or cork, with area rugs strategically placed. The effect is a feeling of being in a lovely rustic space. Gayle says that is what she and Mark aimed for Ñ Òa sense of serenity and tranquility that is nurturing to our guests.Ó
The name encapsulates their goal, with Eden evoking a naturally beautiful garden and vale describing a place where water flows through a valley surrounded by rock.
ÒThe name also goes with Springvale Road, where we are located,Ó said Gayle.
Mark anticipated that the majority of guests would come from the Bay Area. That hasnÕt been the case.
ÒOver half come from the greater Sacramento area and foothills Ñ from El Dorado Hills and Sutter Creek,Ó he said.
He estimates 20 percent are from the Reno-Carson City area, 15 percent from southern California, 10 percent from the Bay Area, and five percent from other places. Guests have come from as far away as Paris and he expects visitors from Estonia this month.
Prospective guests usually find Eden Vale through the Internet. The Eden Vale Website is designed to show the beauty of the inn and provide desired information. Mark keeps the Website current with area attractions and information about restaurants, wineries and things to do. ÒMarshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, wineries and Apple Hill are big draws,Ó he said.
The inn is also a venue for special events. ÒWeÕve had weddings in our courtyard, and plan to have wine dinners there. WeÕve also had corporate retreats,Ó said Mark.
Mark and Gayle have been in business just over a year. In May Eden Vale Inn B&B received the Small Business Award for 2010 from the Sierra Economic Development Corporation. SEDCorp provided Eden Vale Inn a business loan under the USDA micro-loan program, plus technical assistance.
ÒMark and Gayle are committed to the success and growth of their bed and breakfast,Ó said Kelley Selvy, from SEDCorp.
Future plans for Eden Vale include adding two more rooms, building a commercial kitchen and obtaining a special license to pour and sell wine.
For information on pricing, specials, packages and availability, visit edenvaleinn.com or call 530-621-0901.
Find out what rustic elegance really means.