The McMenamins Hotel Chain
Don and I usually avoid chain hotels, but we make exceptions for this "family chain".
This past summer, we had our 6th stay at a hotel owned by the McMenamin brothers. This one was less quirky than the others. It had a golf theme.
Old or New?
Most of the McMenamin hotels are located in refurbished, historic buildings. Most of the hotels on my 90 Nights blog, are historic or unusual.
This hotel in Gearhart, Oregon wasn't old, but it was unusual. Plus it had a lot of history behind it.
An Overnight with Family!
It was towards the end of August, when "Pop and Grammaloon" traveled to the coastal community of Gearhart, with our grand baby and her parents. We found the Cape Cod-style hotel sitting conveniently beside the highway, across from the Pacific Ocean!
The old-looking hotel was actually constructed around 2001, on the spot of the original 1926 golf clubhouse. Around 2018, The McMenamin Bros bought the newish building, which held a pub and pro shop. (I believe) They added hotel rooms on the third floor and all the other festive stuff they're known for!
We weren't able to check in early, so we had some time to kill. We could have borrowed some of the hotel bikes and explored. Cute bikes!
Or we could have taken a seat on the bench in front. Old! That bench looked like it had been sitting there much longer than the hotel.
If we'd had clubs, we could have killed time on the golf course, behind the Gearhart Hotel. Scary! It's been a quarter century since I've held a club.
This course has been attracting golfers since 1892. Gearhart Golf Links is one of the oldest golf courses west of the Mississippi.
Time at Beach
But, we hadn't come to the hotel for golfing or biking or bench-sitting. We came because it was near a beach. A century ago, travelers could come to this seaside hotel and enjoy both grass and sand. The original hotel from 1912, offered a beach on one side and golf course on the other.
The beach was much closer then. Guests could easily wander down from the porch and sit or stroll on the sand. They could even enjoy the ocean breeze as they rode in a horse drawn buggy. If guests didn't like the salty sea water, they could swim in the indoor pool. Sadly this hotel burned down in 1913.
The Last of the Oldies?
The hotel was rebuilt, but it lasted less that two years, before it met the same fate.
I'm guessing this old image shows the third hotel, built in 1922. Look at the grass and the stairs leading down to the water! Nice! This one lasted into the 1970's, but was razed to make way for condos.
Today's hotel sits with its face to the highway and rear to the golf course. The ocean view is sadly blocked by newer buildings.
Luckily the Pacific was just a short walk away. And that's what we did with our spare time!
Down to the Beach
We crossed the street and headed down a pathway towards the ocean.
After passing a cluster of buildings we continued on a sandy path. I spotted a few familiar benches, oddly distant from the beach. The dunes must have shifted a lot over the years.
Before long we reached the sand and Charlie (at 18 months) saw her first ocean!
We had to travel south a bit to reach the car free zone. Then we practically had the beach to ourselves. Charlie couldn't have been happier!
By 3:30, we were able to check in. Our 2 rooms were located in a newer building, that was even closer to the highway.
We'd hoped for a room with a view of the golf course, but we ended up on the west side of the building. However, we were happy to discover that we could indeed see a bit of the ocean, from our dormer windows!
Annex from Behind
I usually shy away from the annex of anything. When I hear the word, I picture additions that aren't as good. But this building looked pretty sweet when I viewed it across the putting green. It looked classy... even though part of it was a golf cart garage.
The building wasn't old, but the chimneys and shingled exterior reminded me of an old seaside hotel in New England.
We got our keys and headed in a door facing the highway. There was no lobby and no elevator, but right away we recognized the unique McMenanmin decor!
There was a small sitting area, which offered complimentary coffee in the morning. The warm knotty pine and colorful art reminded us that we were in one of the 12 unique, McMenamin hotels!
Up We Go
We headed up the stairs, lugging a portable crib/playpen. Fingers crossed that our rooms would work well for a toddler.
At the top of the stairs we found more colorful art and light fixtures.
Another hallway in the Annex had a whimsical glow. Although I will admit, my eyes had a hard time adjusting in the dim space.
Colorful lights danced around at one end of the hall. A golfer and his putter almost glowed in the dark, from a large piece of art.
The McMenimin Bros really know how to embrace a theme. The halls in the Annex and the main hotel were filled with artwork, created to fit the golf theme of the hotel.
I recognized some of the art styles and artists from other hotels where we've stayed. Such clever images, tied into the history of Gearhart!
I was curious to see what name would be on our door. Usually McMenamin hotel rooms are named for people, but ours had a word that I didn't recognize.
Evidently our room was named for some kind of golf club. There was a nice framed explanation on the wall. But long writeup was from 1887. It made no sense to me. Maybe the design of our headboard gave a clue.
The shape of our knotty pine room, made me feel like we were staying in a comfy attic space, in some grandma's old house. Although neither of my grandma's ever had such a stylish headboards.
The room wasn't fancy, but it was luxurious compared to some of the classic McMenamin hotel rooms. We actually had a TV and our bathroom wasn't down the hall.
Cute and Cozy
Our Cleek Room was conveniently located next door to "the kids". They had the same cute alcove with chairs and table. They dragged their chairs over to our room, later in the evening.
The bathroom with shower wasn't huge, but no complaints. We've done the "shared bath" thing at a few of these whimsical hotels.
After we got settled, I headed off to figure out the options for the afternoon. It wasn't even 4 pm, but we were ready to celebrate. We only had one night at Gearhart.
There was a dining terrace overlooking the golf course and lots of seating on the lawn.
There was a raised deck as well, with good views of distant mountains, as well as the course.
Sand Trap Pub
I headed up the stairs to check out the inside options. The Sand Trap Pub offered a full bar as well as the usual McMenamin brand beers and wines.
There were few people inside, on that beautiful afternoon.
Quite a few people were seated on the raised deck. (photo from morning)
It was tempting to grab a table under and umbrella. I love a hotel porch, especially when there's a view!
Here's a porch pic from long ago. These gentlemen were facing the camera, but the ocean was directly to their right. What a heavenly porch view!
After a text or 2 to the others, we agreed to gather on the lawn.
I headed down the outside stairs and grabbed a table.
Pot Bunker Bar
Not far from our table in the grass, we found the Pot Bunker Bar. The cozy little pub space, beneath the porch was convenient. We could order and serve ourselves.
The fireplace was hardly needed, but it made things cozy. I thought I spotted a fire poker below the mantel. Of course not. That was a putter.
Another small room off the Pot Bunker, had a shuffleboard table...
...and a collection of historic photos. I snapped a couple photos of photos and hurried out to join the others.
This image doesn't capture just how nice the air felt that afternoon. The Oregon coast can be windy and chilly. We were soaking in the afternoon rays, feeling incredibly lucky.
We sipped and gabbed and took in the view. It was entertaining to watch a crew of two, prepping fires in the fire pits and putting out lawn games for the evening.
In the past 2 years, we've learned not to take any of our trips or gatherings for granted. The pandemic has made trip planning more worrisome. but it's also made us more grateful.
Heidi and I toasted to Charlie's first beach visit. She couldn't have been a happier little beach baby! We also cheered to pulling off this little trip without any covid intrusions! So many friends and family members have dealt with ruined plans, during this summer of 2022!
The dining room was buzzing at 6, but we were seated after a short wait. Again the fire in the fireplace wasn't needed, but I appreciate the staff for keeping the hotel inviting!
Our server (who was also a mom) had lots of tricks up her sleeve to delight Charlie. Actually Charlie's biggest delight was tasting (and loving) Caesar Salad for the first time. Our meal was even more enjoyable, knowing we were just steps away from the Annex.
Cards in the Room
Charlie didn't exactly fall asleep easily, but she rested quietly and we 4 played cards.
There was something so simple and satisfying about playing cards in that little alcove. These are the little things I'll remember about our overnight adventure.
There was no rush in the morning, but we were all up and out early.
We wandered with coffee, trying to decide where to sit. The deck had soft chairs and a rocker or two!
We chose the tables on the grass again. Just too easy. We ordered breakfast at the Pot Bunker Bar and enjoyed lingering.
A Walk in the Grass
The course was quiet on a Monday morning. We thought about letting Charlie have her first walk on a putting green...
...but she was happy enough to just feel the regular lawn under her feet. So many simple pleasures for this little girl.
We spent a night at a hotel with a golf theme. That sounds like a resort, not a McMenamins Hotel. This hotel was definitely the most "regular" of all the McMenamins hotels that we've enjoyed. There were no secret passageways or movie theaters. There was no winery or distillery. The hotel had not once been an asylum or grade school. There was a history, but not a creepy or odd or over the top history.
Our stay was not full of wild and whimsical distraction. And that's part of what made it so nice. Our visit was not about the hotel really, it was about being with family in a place where we could easily enjoy each other... and enjoy a little taste of the beach. Perfect for us!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!