Highway 101 runs 363 miles through Oregon, from Astoria on the south bank of the Columbia River to the California border. About midway is Depoe Bay. We visited the area several years ago when we discovered Whale Cove Inn, a wonderful hideaway with a stellar restaurant helmed by award-winning chef Justin Wills, which overlooks a cove rimmed by weathered cliffs and a slim crescent of driftwood-strewn sand. On this occasion, having read numerous flattering reviews in major national publications, we decided to check out the Salishan Coastal Lodge, an adventure, wellness and golf retreat in Gleneden Beach, 6 miles north of Depoe Bay.
When we arrived, we were surprised to find that the resort was not beside the coast at all but on Siletz Bay, an expanse of water (and a national wildlife refuge) connected to the Pacific by a narrow channel. As our room was not ready, we decided to inspect the spa and golf clubhouse, both of which are located across Highway 101. The spa facilities include a cozy lounge with a fire pit and a large outdoor infinity whirlpool. The golf clubhouse had its own pub, and the friendly staff were happy to confirm our tee time for the following day. Between the spa and golf course, we found a shopping village with a café, brewery and boutiques.
The resort’s lodgings are contained within a dozen or so buildings spread across a forested property that extends along the bay. Our spacious Deluxe Room, on the third floor in the Alder building, came with an open beam ceiling, wood paneling, a king-size bed backed by a cedar headboard, a sofa with a blond leather ottoman, a cedar dining table and a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace with a gas fire. A door led to a wooden deck with two rocking chairs facing the bay. This was pretty when the tide was in but a muddy expanse when the tide was out. A small cabinet contained a fridge and Keurig coffee machine. The tan-colored marble bath had a shower over the tub and a double vanity. Alas, the doors and cabinets were scuffed, and overall the design seemed mismatched.
Having unpacked, we continued our exploration, discovering a terrace with hammocks, two fire pits and a view of the golf course. Upstairs at the Attic Bar & Lounge we enjoyed a delicious appetizer of burrata and beets along with glasses of Sauvignon Blanc. For dinner, we had made reservations at the Bay House at Salishan restaurant, where an open kitchen faces tables and booths overlooking the water. Chickpea salad with dates and blue cheese was followed by superb Columbia River Chinook salmon with roasted-pumpkin risotto, butternut squash in a beurre blanc sauce, and a flourless chocolate torte.
Salishan is centered on active leisure, not just golf and tennis. There are many trails in the area for adventurous hikers, while an easy half-mile path runs between the bay and the golf course to a spectacular stretch of sand backed by dunes of beach grass. The first nine holes of the golf course wind through dense forest, but the back nine are more links-style in character. The track is advertised as having “seaside bluffs at every turn,” but this is a considerable exaggeration. Overall, however, it is an enjoyable, fast, challenging and well-maintained course.
For families, Salishan could be a comfortable and fun place to stay. But couples should definitely opt for one of the eight suites at Whale Cove Inn. Time and again, we remembered savoring Justin Wills’ sensational five-course tasting menu, while watching the setting sun emerge from a fog bank to bathe the cove and the surf in glorious unearthly light.
The myriad activities; the friendly staff; the excellent food.
The lack of ocean views; the worn baths badly in need of an upgrade.
The resort is affordable, allows pets and is family-friendly. Complimentary bicycles are available for guests.