1. Eating Napa
2. Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort Part I – Check-In, Our Lodge
3. Calistoga Ranch, An Auberge Resort Part II – Resort Facilities, Activities, and Food
4. The Restaurant at Meadowood + Meeting Chef Christopher Kostow
5. Eating Sonoma
As I had mentioned in the previous installment, we wanted to recreate something as close to our honeymoon as possible with our choice of hotel. Since there aren’t any beach resorts in Napa Valley, Calistoga Ranch most closely fit the bill with a similar look and feel to the Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort in Australia that we absolutely loved.
After lunch in Downtown Napa, we continued the drive up Highway 29 to Calistoga which took another 20-30 minutes. It’s an easy drive along the country roads which are surrounded by the scenery of blue skies and vineyards. We took the final turn onto Lommel Road which ends in a private driveway that leads to the hotel lobby. The only option for parking is to valet which is complimentary. Upon pulling up to the main lobby, we were warmly greeted by the valet staff who immediately started to help unload our luggage into a buggy while we went inside to check in.
One thing worth noting is that since the resort is huge (spread out over 157 acres), at any given time the hotel staff are spread across a large area. Therefore, most wear ear pieces connected to a walkie talkie, and they do a fantastic job of communicating with each other. We noticed an example of this right off the bat – the valet staff had asked for my name and relayed that to the check-in staff, who had all of my paperwork ready the moment I stepped through the lobby doors, along with water and champagne.
Check-in only took a couple minutes, and we jumped in the buggy and headed for our room. Immediately, we were feeling relaxed as we took in the fresh air and beautiful scenery all around the property. The answer to the question “is this far enough from home?” was a resounding yes, and it felt like we had been transported millions of miles away from the city’s hustle and bustle. As we rode in the buggy, my wife turned to me and gave me a thumb up for the choice – a much better start than getting a Gladiator-style thumbs down, because we all know what that would mean.
The buggy ride to our room, Bay Forest Lodge with Spa #117, was quick and took less than a minute. The pictures on the website don’t do the lodge justice, its was absolutely gorgeous and incredibly spacious and private. In fact, before arriving I had read reviews on TripAdvisor complaining about the lack of privacy, but we just did not feel that this was an issue at all (another reason why I have a hard time trusting reviews on TA these days). The only thing I could see is that from the walkway, if someone really tries, they could potentially see into the outdoor deck and hot tub area. However, their view would be 95% obstructed by the strategical placed landscaping. The lodges are very well-spaced, and we didn’t hear any noise from neighboring lodges throughout our stay and there isn’t much foot traffic to begin with.
We really liked the location of our lodge which was just a 3 minute walk from the main lobby. It was far enough from the main entrance to feel secluded, but close enough that all of the facilities were accessible by foot without the need to call for a buggy.
The lodges are designed to be all about indoor/outdoor living. There are completely separate structures which house the living room and bedroom, each of which has a bathroom, and are connected to each other by the outdoor deck. This meant that we were constantly walking back and forth between the bedroom and living room, and just kept the doors open the entire time we were present. It’s certainly an interesting setup, since each structure on its own isn’t particularly spacious, but the combination of the structures flowing into the outdoor deck completely opens up the space.
The decor of the room was stylish and elegant, yet home-y enough to still make you feel like you’re in a cottage in the middle of the woods. There is a centrally-placed indoor/outdoor fireplace which was great in the evenings, and an outdoor shower outside of the main bathroom. Needless to say, I didn’t use the indoor shower once, since I’ll shower outdoors whenever I have the opportunity..
The lodge was decked out with TVs and surround sound speakers in both rooms, and an iPad was provided which was loaded with information about the hotel, and from which you could even order room service. In the living room there is also a mini-bar with complimentary snacks and drinks.
Upon arrival, we were showered with a variety of welcome amenities, including a welcome letter, champagne, fruit, a chocolate cake, and a gift bag from Round Pond Estate winery which included a free tasting as well as small bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We had booked the room through Virtuoso which I recommend since you receive additional benefits, including free breakfast, for the same price as booking directly through the website. Since we were booked with Virtuoso, I’m not sure if these welcome amenities are provided to all guests. Another example of the seamless communication among the hotel staff was that the cake was still ice cold, meaning that it was delivered to the room just before we arrived.
It doesn’t get much better than arriving at a hotel and being showered with gifts and food. A fantastic start to our stay, and it only got better. Stay tuned for Part II of my trip report where I’ll detail the hotel facilities, activities, and of course, food and beverage.