River resort design up for review, Nov. 7

A Sonoma County design review panel will look at new plans next week for what may be the most ambitious hotel and resort project in lower Russian River history.

The upscale Guernewood Park resort hotel and restaurant, now called “The Lodge on Russian River,” will occupy an approximately 10-acre riverfront parcel on Highway 116 west of Guerneville, where Hulbert Creek flows into the Russian River at what is now known as Dubrava Beach, named for the existing Dubrava Village condominium project right next door.

The Nov. 7 hearing starts at 3 p.m. at the Permit and Resource Management Department at the county administration center in Santa Rosa.

Noble House Hotels & Resorts, the site’s prospective new owner, has unveiled a new architectural look, emphasizing glass walls, open-air gathering spaces and 20 luxury “tree houses” as part of the 120-room hotel and restaurant.

“Nestled among ancient redwoods … overlooking the tranquil Russian River … the resort captures the essence of Sonoma from the natural surroundings to the playful nature of the hotel and how it blends with the local food and wine region,” says the Noble House website description of the lodge.

“The large glass and wood lobby sits at the center of the main floor with a vast two-sided fireplace welcoming visitors to gather around its hearth, enjoying the stunning views, warmth and some local wine.”

The plans include outdoor living spaces, a bar and a Michelin-star, farm-to-table restaurant “with window walls that open up, literally bringing the outside in. The locally inspired menu is infused with produce directly from the chef’s garden with chickens, bees, vegetables, fruit and herbs,” says the project description.

The lodge’s 100 guestrooms and 20 tree house suites will offer guests “both an indoor and outdoor living experience with generous decks and outdoor fireplaces. The spa at the lodge offers a restorative experience with six private treatment rooms and a series of hot tubs sheltered under the bows [sic] of the trees,” says the project description. “The Lodge on Russian River is a sophisticated mash-up of simple agrarianism, adventure and tranquility with opportunities for romantic getaways to weddings and corporate events.”

Present owner Kirk Lok is in the process of transferring the property to Noble House, which operates major luxury resort destinations across the U.S., including San Francisco’s historic Argonaut Hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf, the San Diego Hilton Resort and Spa and Napa Valley’s River Terrace Inn.

The planned Russian River destination is expected to employ approximately 40 people during peak season, according to the project description for next Wednesday’s preliminary design review meeting, which is open to the public and invites public comment.

 The Design Review Committee will meet in the Sonoma County PRMD hearing room, 2550 Ventura Ave. on Nov. 7 at 3 p.m. The public is invited to attend.