The fastest way to get to Bandon is to fly into North Bend airport (OTH). Unfortunately, there's not a lot of flights into it. Your best bet is to fly to Portland and then take a puddle-jumper to North Bend. If you're nervous about flying like I am, be warned that the plane from Portland to North Bend is small. There are only 9 rows of seats with 4 seats per row! Thankfully, the airline (Horizon Air) offered complimentary wine and beer to take the edge off.
The resort is about a 20 min. drive from the airport. I called about 5 local ground transportation services for quotes. I decided to go with Aviation Transportation (877-315-7963). Not only were they the best deal at $50 round trip per person, but they offer complimentary beer. Service was top-notch and reliable. Just tell them your flight information and the driver will meet you at the gate and load your luggage into a luxurious van. For your return flight, they will pick you up from your hotel about 2 hours before your flight. I will definitely use them again.
I stayed at the The Lodge at Bandon Dunes in the Lodge Suite which is basically a 2-story, 4-bedroom, 4-bath, condo sans kitchen. It sits right next to the 18th green of the Bandon Dunes golf course and offers distant ocean views. Every room was spacious and features a flat-panel HDTV. I would characterize the architecture as modern rustic. The accommodations were excellent, but you'd expect that for a $1,7000/night suite ($425 per person)! My only complaint was that there was no HD signal going into the HDTVs. That's like driving a Ferrari with a Kia engine!
The Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is a little isolated from the main town so the dining options are limited. However, the food at the resort is so good that there's really no reason to dine anywhere else. Here's my thoughts on some of the food that I consumed:
Oregon Blueberry Pancakes and Pure Maple Syrup ($6.50): Two fluffy plate-sized flapjacks stuffed with plump blueberries. They're so big that it's plenty for two healthy appetites but so tasty that one will want to finish it by himself!
Flash Fried Calamari Appetizer ($8.00): Very good of the light-batter variety.
Duck and Ginger Potstickers Appetizer ($9.00): Very tasty with a pleasant sweet-soy dipping sauce.
Pan Seared Elk Striploin ($36.00): When it comes to food, I just have to try everything at least once. Since I've never eaten elk, I figured that this was a must order. I found the meat to be very similar to beef in both taste and texture. It was good, but not quite as exotic as I expected. While I'm glad I tried it, it's probably not something I'd order again.
Grilled Ribeye Steak ($38.00): I ordered it rare just like all steaks should be ordered. While it was a mammoth-sized steak, it was a bit tough in spots. However, the flavor was excellent.
Grilled New York Strip ($39.00): Again, rare! This steak was much better than the ribeye I had a few nights earlier. Much more tender with a slightly better flavor. If you have only one steak on your visit, this is the one to order.
Pan Seared Sea Scallops ($32.00): Nice big scallops each resting on its own mound of shrimp risotto. Easily one of the best scallop dishes I've ever eaten.
Grandma’s Meat Loaf ($17.00): Probably as good as meatloaf can get but that's not saying much. However, I love meatloaf so I really enjoyed it. I would recommend having it for lunch as opposed to dinner because there's just so many better options for dinner.
Beer: The resort features Deschutes Brewery's Mirror Pond on tap at every dining facility. Is there really any other choice? It's probably the best American style pale ale ever brewed. For the lighter beer palates, there's also Widmer Hefeweizen on tap. I admit I downed a couple of those too!
Wine: I love wine, but I know very little about them. Luckily several members of my crew were well-versed in fine wines. According to them, the wine list at the resort is excellent. My favorites were the Opus One "Proprietary Red Wine" (Thanks John!), Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Evenstad and the Trefethen Cabernet Sauvignon. As you can tell, I'm well on my way toward wine snobbery!
Overall Dining: I was pleasantly surprised by the gourmet quality, generous portions and reasonable prices of the food at the resort. Usually isolated resorts operate like ruthless monopolists and really stick it to you for food. Not so in this case.
Stay tuned for Bandon Dunes Vacation Trip Tips: Part II, Be Prepared!