Two Extraordinary Yet Affordable Vegan Retreats, from Mendocino to Monteverde

Stanford Inn & Resort
Stanford Inn & Resort

Embark on a journey of sustainable luxury at two premier vegan retreats: Stanford Inn & Resort in Mendocino, California, and Hotel Belmar in Monteverde, Costa Rica. These destinations offer more than just a getaway; they provide transformative experiences that combine plant-based cuisine, holistic wellness, and a profound connection to nature.

Discover how these eco-friendly retreats redefine travel and inspire a healthier, more mindful way of living.

The Stanford Inn & Resort: Mendocino, CA

The Stanford Inn & Resort, located on the scenic Mendocino Coast in Northern California, transports guests to another world—one where nature envelops and anything is possible. The craftsman-style building exudes elegance and creates a feeling of lightness, with stunning views over the water and the resort’s organic farm and gardens. Graciousness starts in the inviting lobby and extends to the cozy and well-appointed rooms.

Unique Amenities and Activities

Stanford Inn & Resort
Stanford Inn & Resort

Stanford Inn & Resort is the only Mendocino destination featuring a fitness center and a solarium-enclosed saltwater pool with a sauna and hot tub. It offers various inspiring wellness classes and daily yoga, and the property is also home to a spa, Massage in the Forest. Thanks partly to the onsite, award-winning Ravens restaurant, the Stanford Inn & Resort was named the #1 Vegan hotel in the US by VegNews.

The Inn enables its guests to experience something more than a getaway to a beautiful place—it fosters a meaningful and life-affirming interlude. 

“We hope our guests will gain a sense of connection,” says Jeff Stanford, who owns and operates the Inn with his wife Joan. “In these times, connecting with nature is so vital for well-being. We arise within nature, and without recognizing and experiencing our bond with nature, it can be challenging to connect with ourselves and each other.”

Jeff Stanford

Founders’ Vision and Sustainable Living

In the 1980s, Jeff and Joan came to the north coast of California from the Midwest, looking for an integrated way to work and live in a rural area. They created the refuge now, the Stanford Inn & Resort, constructing striking wooden buildings, planting an organic farm, and adding land down to the water. 

The Stanfords are dedicated to living sustainably and in harmony with the earth, striving to share this healthy, rewarding lifestyle with others. 

Joan is a registered Art Therapist who leads Creative Playshop classes for guests. Jeff’s background is in anthropology, and today, he is an ordained minister, officiating weddings at the property upon request and serving as the chief of Ravens restaurant.

Culinary Excellence at Ravens Restaurant

Stanford Inn & Resort vegan dish
Stanford Inn & Resort Vegan Dish

Ravens restaurant enchants even non-vegan diners (they got raves from O, the Oprah Magazine). To take home some of that magic, guests can learn the joy of plant-based living while experiencing the luxury of the Inn at one of their Vegan Retreats, with one retreat occurring per season. 

Stanford Inn & Resort Seaweed Roll
Stanford Inn & Resort

Whether already vegan or merely vegan-curious, these retreats are life-changing. From cooking to nutrition, long-term habit change to environmental and ethical discussions, participants learn everything they need to know to be happier and healthier.

Vegan Retreat Details and Offerings

Retreat Attendees Enjoy:

  • Four nights at the indulgent Stanford Inn & Resort
  • Four plant-based breakfasts
  • Four plant-based dinners
  • Two plant-based cooking classes
  • Nutrition/healthy living class with author/nutritionist Sid Garza-Hillman
  • Small Steps Class (Stress Management and Habit Change) with author/nutritionist Sid Garza-Hillman
  • “Bringing it Home” conversation – how to apply what you’ve learned!

Complimentary Copies of:

  • “Dining at the Ravens Cookbook” by Jeff and Joan Stanford
  • “The Art of Play” by Joan Stanford
  • “Approaching the Natural” by Sid Garza-Hillman
  • “Six Truths” by Sid Garza-Hillman
  • Mountain bike rental

Guests can choose from flexible vacation packages starting on Thursday, July 11 – Monday, July 15, 2024 or Thursday, September 5 – Monday, September 9, 2024.

The most recent March retreat sold out fast. The price is $2,610.00 per person plus tax (single occupancy) and $1,850.00 per person plus tax (double occupancy). Gratuities are not included.

Note: If you can’t attend these set-date retreats, check out the Inn’s “vacation packages”—various private retreat packages that can be added to a stay anytime, including plant-based cooking classes and more.

Hotel Belmar, Monteverde, Costa Rica

Recently named one of the 500 best hotels in the world by Travel + Leisure, carbon-neutral Hotel Belmar debuts its new food and beverage menus and sustainability programs. Located in Costa Rica’s Cloud Forest in Monteverde, the luxury ecolodge‘s expanded menus reflect their dedication to guests’ well-being and environmental sustainability while redefining the bond between hospitality and food.

Aerial view of Hotel Belmar in Monteverde Costa Rica
Aerial view of Hotel Belmar: Image by Andres Garcia Lachner

Hotel Belmar in Costa Rica is redefining what creating a local guest experience means through its new menu and sustainability initiatives in 2024. The award-winning, carbon-neutral hotel’s dining, including Restaurante Celajes, Cervecería Belmar, and its Juice Bar and Tea Room, take a hyper-local approach to sourcing ingredients, prioritizing sustainable practices. 

Under Chef Alvaro Rodríguez’s creative guidance, the hotel’s new menu iterations highlight organic produce and ingredients sourced from the hotel’s expanded organic garden, the carbon-neutral farm Finca Madre Tierra, and local foraging.

Lowering Carbon Footprint with Plant-Based Dishes

The new menu was intentionally designed to lower the hotel’s carbon footprint with a plant-based approach to its dishes. The kitchen has cut its meat and dairy use by 20%, reducing beef to just one dish on the menu. 

In contrast, the quantity of plant-based ingredients and sustainable seafood has increased, ensuring that every dish not only delights the palate but also supports environmental sustainability. The new dishes have been enthusiastically embraced by guests. 

A great example is the Tamarind Chickpea Tempeh, a plant-based marvel that combines vegetable protein with a fusion of bold flavors. The Gulf of Nicoya, visible from Hotel Belmar on a clear day, is now the source of an expanded selection of seafood, including clams, mussels, and fresh daily catches from the responsible fishing zone in Costa de Pájaros.

“It’s vital to put sustainability first in our kitchen and dining room,” said Chef Alvaro Rodriguez, Hotel Belmar’s creative chef. “Travelers come to experience all of Costa Rica, which means serving up the region’s bounty and flavors in every dish we prepare.”

Sourcing and Traditional Techniques

Vegan and sustainable menu items from Hotel Belmar Monteverde Costa Rica
Locally sourced fruits and vegetables at Hotel Belmar, Costa Rica

Hotel Belmar goes the extra mile to ensure that its food is not only delicious but also sourced in the most environmentally and ethically responsible way. The hotel has vetted local suppliers for their sustainability practices and principles. 

The food integrates haute cuisine techniques with traditional methods like pickling and fermenting to infuse each dish with rich flavors and wellness benefits. 

These age-old preservation techniques enhance the taste and help the hotel reduce food waste by making the most of seasonal ingredients all year, thereby lessening the environmental impact of transporting goods over long distances.

Minimizing Waste Through Innovation

The hotel’s kitchens prioritize sustainability by repurposing cooking byproducts that are typically discarded. Hotel Belmar transforms these leftovers into exquisite delicacies through innovative methods like dehydration, powdering, and fermentation. This minimizes waste and adds depth and complexity to the restaurants’ dishes, underscoring a dedication to creativity and sustainability. 

Homemade vinegars crafted from celery, heirloom bananas, and bougainvillea exemplify the commitment to innovation and flavor enhancement. Hotel Belmar’s vibrant gastronomy extends a compelling invitation to redefine the intricate bond between hospitality and food.

Garden to Glass: Sustainable Cocktails

Two adults enjoying drinks and a meal in Costa Rica's Cloud Forest at Hotel Belmat
Dinner and Drinks in the canopy at Hotel Belmar

Sustainable practice doesn’t end at the table. Developed by New York City-based consultant Chris Bidmead from Bar Methods, the new cocktails at Hotel Belmar are based on local ingredients and the concept of “garden to glass.” 

Examples include the “Tropical Old Fashioned” with banana-infused whiskey crafted from the fruits of Finca Madre Tierra and the “Vera Collins” made with bougainvillea flowers picked from the garden just outside of the bar. These cocktails reflect the hotel’s commitment to sustainability and maximum utilization of local products. 

In collaboration with Master Brewer at Cervecería Belmar, the hotel has developed fermented beverages such as Hard Kombucha and Hibiscus Mead using 100% local honey, seasonal fruits, and herbs. These unique beverages enhance the on-site brewery’s sustainability and offer guests an exceptional experience.

Before you Go

Watering hole at Hotel Belmar Costa Rica

Vegan retreats at California’s Stanford Inn & Resort and Costa Rica’s Hotel Belmar offer transformative, sustainable travel experiences. Hotel Belmar impresses with its plant-based menu and eco-friendly practices, while Stanford Inn excels in holistic wellness and education. Both destinations provide luxurious escapes that connect guests with nature and promote a sustainable lifestyle, ensuring an unforgettable, life-changing journey.

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