A Son Rises
By Fran Endicott Miller | Photos by Darren Lovecchio
As stewards of an iconic Sausalito inn founded by their late father, Bill McDevitt, Willie McDevitt and his two siblings take their responsibility seriously. Consistently rated one of the top hotels in the country, The Inn Above Tide is considered a local treasure, and the McDevitt trio plans to ensure its status for years to come. “After Dad passed away, offers to purchase the property poured in,” says Willie, “but The Inn has always been a family-run operation, and it will continue to be.”
Originally founded by Bill in 1961 as an apartment complex, it wasn’t converted into a luxury boutique inn until 1995. Willie remembers tending the apartment’s gardens during his teen years, as well as the time he flooded the walkways by accidentally leaving the water running. Clint Eastwood, who was a regular tenant during his Dirty Harry filming days, took it upon himself to find the spigot and stop the overflow. When Willie knocked on Eastwood’s apartment door to thank him, the gesture earned him an invitation to accompany the screen idol to Sausalito’s famed dive bar, No Name. “I was only 18, but I wasn’t going to turn down that invite,” says Willie.
The Inn was Bill’s operation until 2005, when he invited and encouraged his son to take on more responsibility. At the time, Willie was running a successful Petaluma-based construction company with his brother. He and his father had always shared common interests, such as golf, travel, and horses, but their strong personalities had prevented them from joining forces in the workplace. “Over time, we figured out a way to work together,” says Willie. “Dad respected my business acumen. We built a grudging but rewarding work relationship, the result of which was Dad appointing me to oversee the family real estate partnership.”
A longtime resident of Petaluma, Willie continues to oversee The Inn while maintaining his successful construction business, McDevitt Construction Partners, and serving on the board of the Bank of Marin. A deep background in real estate and banking has provided him with extensive contacts and suppliers. He’s enjoyed long-standing relationships with his clients, with whom he remains friends due to his collaborative way of doing business. As the builder of a number of high-profile Marin Country projects, such as car dealerships, banks, and wineries, Willie is proudest of his company’s work with nonprofits. “It’s our way to give back,” he says. He has developed a reputation for his ability to tackle budget issues. “We’ve learned a lot through the years about nonprofits and how they operate, and we are able to use that experience to our clients’ advantage.”
Willie grew up in San Raphael and spent weekends at his family’s second home in Pebble Beach, where he met Christine, now his wife. He has two grown daughters from a previous marriage, and a granddaughter who lives with him and Christine. He rides his bike 70-miles roundtrip from Petaluma to Sausalito, for weekly meetings at The Inn.
“The lifeblood of any small town has always been its people,” says Larry Mindel, proprietor of Sausalito’s popular Poggio Trattoria. “No family in Sausalito exemplifies the importance of leadership and camaraderie more than the McDevitts. Willie carries on his family’s proud tradition of absolute integrity, coupled always with thoughtfulness. He, his family, and their inn are icons of our very small, beautiful, village on the bay.”
As Willie gradually prepares to retire from the construction business, his work overseeing The Inn continues to move forward. “We’ve invested millions to expand The Inn and improve the guest experience,” say Willie. “This is our legacy. Dad would be proud.”