It's All About The Creek

Southern Oregon Magazine Best of 2010
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Outside, the Ashland Creek Inn looks like an old-world European hotel, with soft sand- colored stucco walls and shutters and awnings in deep blue. The Inn is nestled on the banks of Ashland Creek, and you can hear the murmuring rush of the water as well as the hustle and bustle of downtown Ashland, just blocks away. A longtime favorite of theater-goers, family reunions and business travelers, the Ashland Creek Inn is known for privacy, personal accommodation, exquisite taste and exceptional morning fare.

This boutique hotel has 10 spacious suites, uniquely designed and decorated with treasures from the travels of innkeepers Carolyn and Graham Sheldon. Furnished with immaculate linens, pottery, china, furniture and art, the suite names are exotic and enticing- Marrakech, Devon, Caribe, Copenhagen and Sienna. All of the suites have pocket kitchens, some have fireplaces and deep, soaking tubs with jets. Each is a work of luxury, complete in every detail.

The Southwestern-themed Taos suite has adjoining bedrooms and two baths just perfect for families and friends traveling together. The Matsu is a Japanese-style suite, with spare, understated lines, a raised platform bed and a koi pond on the deck. The Normandy is French Provincial, in bright blues and yellows.

Among the most-loved aspects of the suites at Ashland Creek Inn are the large sliding glass doors that open to decks, overlooking the creek and riparian gardens. “You’re so connected to the creek,” Graham says, “it’s very important that everyone have a private part of the creek.” Cathy Hart, assistant manager and chef adds, “When you’re ready to sleep and hear the water it’s really nice; it just lulls you to sleep, so relaxing, so soothing.”

“Most of our guests come back year after year,” Hart says. “They buy their theater tickets and book their rooms at the same time.” Guests rave about the beauti- fully appointed rooms and lovely creek-side decks, but loyalty demands more. “A lot of our guests come several times a year, and we do have a personal connection with so many of them,” says Graham. “We really get to know their kids, where they went to college, and when they were married.” The hotel staff makes a great effort to note every aspect of guests’ preferences. “Down pillows, decaf, maybe you bring them non-fat milk warm, and they say ‘how do you remember that?’ ” Graham says with a laugh.

Chef Hart prides herself on morning meals that are locally sourced, inventive and delicious. For most of the year, you can enjoy the meal outside on the deck, with teak tables and umbrellas to complete the experi- ence. Today’s spread, nicely presented in the creek-side wood-paneled dining room or offered in the privacy of a guest’s room, includes quiche with smoked salmon and goat cheese, with a delicate drift of paprika. It’s accom- panied by Dave’s Killer Bread, grilled not toasted. “I love to make lots of different pancakes, lemon or pumpkin” Hart says, “or grilled peaches in season or orange-banana French toast.” Hart is ready for gluten-free diets, vegans, meatatarians or anything in between, and can easily accommodate special food requests.

No matter what the season, the high point of an Ashland Creek Inn stay is the lovely riparian garden. “All of Ashland Creek is now a native wetlands zone,” Gra- ham says. He’s spent hours making the gardens, paved walkways, arbors and private seating areas that frame the rocky creek and waterfalls. “We’ve planted some California buckeye and mature peonies with blooms the size of dinner plates in purples, pinks and whites,” he says. “We’ve got dogwoods that are quite old, one a Japanese variety that blooms in June and produces large red berries in the fall.”

“Originally what draws people to the Inn is the loca- tion and the sense of style,” Graham says. “Then they get hooked on the largeness of the rooms, the sense of privacy during the stay, the amenities, and even though you’re just a block from downtown, you feel like you’re off in the woods.”

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