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Bella Luna Inn, A Beautiful B & B in Wine Country, California

Updated on October 14, 2012

How I met the proprietor of Bella Luna Inn

Every day I feel like I’m the luckiest person on the planet…so, life is good,” Stephen Sanderson, Co-owner and Breakfast Chef of Bella Luna Inn.

When it comes to dreams coming true no one deserves it more than my friend from Michigan. We knew each other in junior and senior high school…back then, I was Denise, or Dee, and he was Steve. Now that he is the proud co-owner of a popular California B & B, he is Stephen. It fits well with his image of business owner and chef.

Steve, (as he will always be known to me), and I have had several contacts, usually via phone, since our graduation-not nearly as much as I would have liked, but life takes all of us on a winding path, often away from those we grew up with. We attended one high school reunion together, which was fun; hanging out together that evening was like old times. And, we have both lived for a period of time in the same state-just never made an opportunity to visit.

But, when I read on Face Book of his plans to open up a bed and breakfast in beautiful Healdsburg, California, I knew I would ask for an interview. Not only because I wanted to write a meaningful travel Hub, but because I was intrigued and had many questions: how did he get from point A to point B so smoothly, (I assumed), and successfully?

Steve was more than accommodating with his time for a phone interview. He is proud of his accomplishment and was happy to share the story of how this dream had unfolded. His achievement is part goal setting, part visionary, part labor of love, and part being in the flow of what the Universe had in mind for him and partner Daniel Padilla.

Staying open to where life leads you...

In deciding to write their story, I want to begin by stating that neither Stephen nor Daniel had grown up with ideas of being business owners of a bed and breakfast establishment. Theirs is an example of being open to where life will take you and moving accordingly.

When I knew Steve his mother was a registered nurse and Steve worked as an orderly in the hospital she was employed with. He eventually got his Vocational Nurse license, (LVN), and later moved to California where he invariably returned to school for his registered nurse degree.

“All I ever intended was to be an RN, forever,” he explained to me, “My passion is being there for my patients and co-workers. But, in 2006 I attended culinary school and received my certification as a baking and pastry chef.”

He went on to explain that when his partner, Daniel Padilla, retired early from United Airlines as an air traffic control agent he began to seriously consider opening a bakery.

“We were looking at Palm Springs,” he said, “but, with the economy and the competition it just seemed to be too great of a risk. Nothing seemed to work out and the more it did not work out the more we realized it probably was not the right thing to do.”

Wine Country B & B

In Healdsburg, California: Sonoma County
In Healdsburg, California: Sonoma County | Source

Right Timing-Right Location

“We had a bid on this place, (the current B & B location), four years ago, but…it was built in 1928, it had no heat, it just required too much work, and money, than what we were willing to put into it. We always loved this house and location, but had to let it go. So, someone else bought it and turned it into a day spa.”

Then, in 2009 we were driving around in the area looking-this whole community is very B & B oriented, and noticed it was back on the market. We made a couple of calls, took a tour and decided this was the place we really wanted.”

“What we found out was that it had been foreclosed and the bank now owned it. We were one of five to put a bid in, and ours was the lowest. And, if it got accepted we had to sell our house in Santa Rosa.”

“Well, for whatever the reasons, our bid was accepted…and, we sold our house! We had 10 months to get the place ready for business with permits and everything, although it was already zoned commercial from the previous business.”

Water pond at Bella Luna Inn

A peaceful place to retreat
A peaceful place to retreat | Source

Trusting the 'Dream'

When I asked what he felt was the reason everything happened to work out when it seemed that there were insurmountable obstacles, such as a failing economy, Steve’s faith in how supportive the Universe is when one is ‘on track’ with their life plan, was evident.

“Daniel is the calm in the storm for me,” he began. “I had to let go of what the economy was saying-that this is the worst time to open a new business, and just trust. Everything was falling in place-the fact that the house was back on the market, the bid we made that was accepted-it all just evolved.”

“With your culinary expertise you obviously have a role as chef, along with co-hosting,” I said. “What role, besides co-hosting, does Daniel have?”

“Daniel has a business degree,” Steve explained. “He handles the accounting, the website, and the marketing.”

Bella Luna Inn: A great place to visit

Who wouldn't want to stay for a few days at this lovely California Wine Country B & B?
Who wouldn't want to stay for a few days at this lovely California Wine Country B & B? | Source

Overcoming Obstacles

“Was there any particular obstacle that was harder to overcome than others?” was my next question, wondering if the ‘process’ of evolvement was as smooth as it appeared.

“One of the biggest difficulties I had about moving forward with our plans was taking on a foreclosure. I was consumed with wanting it to be okay with the former owners. I hated the idea of profiting from their loss.”

“We decided to find them and Daniel invited them to spend a free night in our new business. They were our first guests, actually. It allowed them to come full circle with what they had let go of materializing into a new phase.”

“But, they were so happy for us and actually thanked us for taking it over and turning it into the B & B. It was such a good feeling-I felt everybody won.”

Business is Good

“How has business been?” I was curious. I knew that the low economy had affected everyone across the nation.

“Our profits have increased steadily from March, when we opened, to this July by 45%. In September our occupancy level was 75%, and I expect the same results this month of October.”

“The best part,” he continued enthusiastically, “is that we love meeting the people who have been our guests-they’ve shown up from all over and have just been very interesting…our kind of people.”

As I congratulated him on completing such a wonderful goal and moving into a new phase of his life I had one last burning question.

Enjoying Sweet Success

Daniel and Stephen enjoying their B & B business
Daniel and Stephen enjoying their B & B business | Source

Please take this poll

Have you ever stayed at a B & B?

See results

Beautiful Moon

“Steve how did you and Daniel decide on the name: Bella Luna Inn?”

He gave his familiar chuckle and said, “A great friend of ours lives in Italy and we love the language. He asked us to tell him something special about the place and we told him that when there is a full moon it is just beautiful-it lights up the whole area and reflects off of the pool. He immediately said, ‘Bella Luna,-beautiful moon.’ We loved it and that is what we named our B & B.”

As our conversation ended I wished Stephen and Daniel well in their entrepreneurship knowing that they were marked for success. My plans are to join them next summer for a weekend retreat in their lovely home. I miss California and the chance to see Stephen’s bed and breakfast is a worthy excuse for an opportunity to meet up with him once more.

I urge all readers who plan on taking a trip to Sonoma County, California to be sure to visit the Bella Luna Inn. If you cannot stay there then at least pop in and say hello to my dear friend, Stephen. Tell him Denise sent you.

websites to Healdsburg, CA and Bella Luna Inn

There is so much to see and do in Sonoma County, California. Stay at the Bella Luna Inn and enjoy the daily events, quaint shops and art galleries, and wonderful bakeries and restaurants. Here are some links to explore. Be sure to click on the Bella Luna Inn link provided here to observe the warm and inviting atmosphere within the Inn.

Stay at the Bella Luna Inn B & B in Healdsburg, CA

Bella Luna Inn B & B:
530 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448, USA

get directions

A beautiful B & B located in Sonoma County, CA Wine Country Call: 707-395-0117 for reservations.

sonoma, california:
Sonoma, CA 95476, USA

get directions


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    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi baygirl-I'm glad to hear that you are even considering 'getting out there'. It is important. I agree-much rather go to a place that is recommended. I hope you are doing well. Thanks for commenting.

    • baygirl33 profile image


      8 years ago from Hamilton On.

      Hi Denise! Being alone now,I will be looking to travel and will look up this lovely place. Actually,it is reasuring to have someone recommend a place rather than just go cold and end up somewhere strange.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks oceansnsunsets...I really enjoyed writing it and was amazed at how well it came together. You see, I interviewed him in the summer and took notes-scattered over two pieces of notebook paper, then I said a prayer that I could make sense of it all and let it flow-apparantly, my prayer was answered!

      I'm confused, though-I thought you were still living in CA? I hope you get to visit the area some time. I am planning to go there in the summer. I thought June, but don't think I can make it that month. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image


      8 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Denise, what a beautiful name for a bed and breakfast, in a beautiful area like Sonoma County! I too miss California as you do, and if I ever get up to that area, I will have to check this place out. I love how you shared so much with us like how the name came to be, and the photos. Wonderful Denise!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi case1worker-thanks for the vote up. I know what you mean...I am thrilled for Steve, but envious at the same time, LOL

    • CASE1WORKER profile image


      8 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      looks lovely , good to have some good news about someone in business

      Voted up

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Danette-it does sound wonderful doesn't it? I'm game if you are...pass the sugar please, LOL

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      8 years ago from Illinois

      I checked out their website - it sounds wonderful! I'm game for a trip out there - just have to find a sugar daddy to take me, LOL. Voted up

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Ruby-thanks for reading and commenting. I am blessed to have a wonderful group of friends that I've known since junior high and even elementary school!

      Hi b.Malin-Thank you so much for your compliment and I agree 100% a sit and sip is exactly what the dr would order for me!

      Cara-I sure hope you do make it to CA sometime. There is SO MUCH to see and enjoy!

      Hi Gail-I'm glad to read that you checked out the website. Isn't it amazing? I can hardly wait to visit!

      Hi Carco-be sure to get to CA and Bella Luna while you are young and adventurous, LOL Don't wait for the 'someday' or it may never happen-make it happen! Thanks for reading.

      Hi Stephanie-I know...'Bella Luna' it just rolls off the tongue doesn't it. I didn't realize your d-in-law was a travelling nurse. Don't get me started, LOL I still get the bug to pack up and head off to a new place. This is the LONGEST place I have worked at!

      Mr. Smith-Thank you-hope you make it there soon. I have had a couple of B & B experiences and there is a gorgeous B & B in our little town.

      Thanks Credence2-I appreciate you tucking away the name and who knows-maybe you'll be the first hubber to visit! LOL

    • Credence2 profile image


      8 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Bella Luna! When I get into that neck of the woods, I will remember it, thanks Cred2

    • Mr. Smith profile image

      Mr. Smith 

      8 years ago from California

      I'll put it on the list. I like B&B's. Great interview.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      8 years ago from USA

      Bella Luna--the name alone would entice me to investigate it further! I enjoyed this hub so much, and it's especially nice to read about your contacts with your old school friend. The inn looks beautiful - I'll recommend it to my daughter-in-law who is doing a stint as a traveling nurse in California right now. Voted up!

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 

      8 years ago from Winnipeg

      One day, my wife and I will definitely head down to California wine country, definitely on the top of our plans. Thanks for sharing this info - just makes us want to get there sooner!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      What a great write up of your old friend's stunning B & B. I checked out the website and this place looked fabulous.

      Love the way Steve and his partner welcomed the previous owners back as their first guests and were rewarded with their blessings and good luck wishes. Quite an amazing thing when one knows this was a foreclosure purchase.

      Also loved the story of how the inn got its romantic name.

      And I'm so happy you're planning a trip out there next summer for a weekend reunion. You deserve a little pampering in a lovely place.

      Voted this hub up across the board except for funny.

    • cardelean profile image


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Beautiful interview, beautiful pictures. This is definitely a must stay place if I ever make it out that way.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      8 years ago

      Well Denise, I am Impressed! You have done a Wonderful job of Interviewing your Friend, Stephen and his Beautiful B & B., "Bella Luna" It makes me want to see it, and take in all the sights, and drink a little Wine...under the Moonlight, by the Pool!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      8 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Great article. It's especially nice to know friendship can last a life time. Bella Luna Inn looks beautiful. Thank you...

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Oh how wonderful, wicklesscandles! I'm so excited. Please let me know when you visit, Ok?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is beautiful. I visit the wine country all the time. Look forward to checking this place out.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Dexter-thanks for the votes! I agree-it was amazing talking with Stephen and listening to how his dream evolved and then manifested with such little effort. A true example of being in the flow of life. Thanks for coming by. Many Blessings.

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 

      8 years ago from United States

      Hi Denise! The Bella Luna Inn seems like a great place and Stephen and Daniel certainly deserve congratulations. They, as well as you, are to be commended for providing us readers with an example of how with faith, our hopes and dreams can become reality.

      Voted up, up and away!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Annie-thanks for visiting and commenting. Hope you are doing well?

    • annmackiemiller profile image


      8 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      looks great - thanks for sharing this Denise - voted up and stuff


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