When it comes to jaw-dropping scenery and superb wine tasting, Napa and Sonoma counties are hard to beat. Not surprisingly, the region has long been a favorite destination for visitors from the Bay Area, who only need to drive an hour or two to find an impressive array of luxury accommodations. Here, take a peek inside several of the area’s top resorts and full-service luxury hotels.
STANLY RANCH, NAPA
The Vibe | Situated on 712 acres of vineyards and sprawling land, Stanly Ranch is located 50 minutes from the Bay Area. An Auberge Resorts Collection property, the third in Napa alongside Solage and Auberge du Soleil, the ranch is designed with clusters of low-rise buildings that blend into the open landscape. Elegant touches include outdoor firepits, natural tone-on-tone decor, and expansive floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that work synergistically with the surroundings. With 135 cottages and guest rooms and 110 vineyard homes for ownership, the layout channels Iceland or Finland, landscaped with wild grasses and eco-sensitive native plants.
Amenities | On the main road toward the Halehouse spa is Gordon Huether’s giant metal infinity sculpture, a spiritual welcome to the wellness center. This multibuilding area is built around one of the pools near the guest rooms. The Springhouse spa, adjacent to Halehouse, features a series of varying temperature baths and a living room–size cedar sauna. You’ll also find a personal hyperbaric chamber, a lymphatic stimulator that rotates around the body automatically like a giant foam roller, and a pink salt cave to open the pores.
Dining | Dining options are available in a range of settings, from the lovely A-frame restaurant Bear to the coffee shop Gavel and the poolside Basin Bar. Bear, with a menu crafted by acclaimed chef Garrison Price, boasts 200 seats and a gorgeous outdoor dining room. Menu items include bison tartare, wood-fired prawns with chimichurri, and an exceptional crispy rice dish, most prepared with locally sourced ingredients from the on-site organic farm. For breakfast, don’t miss the croissant monkey bread, an impossibly flaky and delicious pastry. aubergeresorts.com.
FOUR SEASONS NAPA VALLEY, CALISTOGA
The Vibe | Just a mile from downtown Calistoga, the Four Seasons Napa Valley offers 85 guest rooms and suites, with 20 private residences—but that’s just a start. On the property is also Elusa Winery, a first-of-its-kind 4.7-acre winery and tasting room providing vineyard views in all directions. Guest rooms are inside two-story farmhouse-chic villas with gas fireplaces, Nespresso machines, temperature-controlled wine refrigerators, and lovely patios. The tasteful design sports large-format porcelain tiles and extensive showers with bathtubs inside, all done in appealing tones of white and gray.
Amenities | Just off the fabulous art-filled main lobby is the 24-hour fitness center, complete with a range of cardio equipment and weight machines as well as an outdoor yoga studio. Spa Talisa, the next stone building, has eight treatment rooms and two couple’s suites, a private sun patio with a hot tub, and a nail bar. At the property’s core, surrounded by vines and villas, sits the adults-only serenity pool and hot tub, steps away from the family pool, but just far enough for peace.
Dining | If poolside dining strikes a chord, you’ll love the casual Campo, which offers Cal-Mexican dishes like mango jicama salad or fish tacos. Lunch and dinner are also served at Truss, with sweeping vineyard and mountain views in the indoor-outdoor dining room. The menu goes from sophisticated Snake River Farms strip steak to a grilled maitake mushroom pizza with a cracker-thin crust to an over-the-top cheeseburger with secret sauce and truffle fries. Sip on delightful drinks blended with homemade tinctures and bitters on display at the bar. Wine isn’t an afterthought here either, with an extensive list of over 250 labels. fourseasons.com.
CARNEROS RESORT AND SPA, NAPA
The Vibe | Surrounded by rolling vineyards on Highway 12 between Napa and Sonoma, this well-appointed resort feels more like a small community than a hotel. Set on 28 sprawling acres, the quaint and stylish 400-square-foot cottages have private landscaped back gardens, outdoor firepits, alfresco showers, and comfortable patio furniture for late-night stargazing. Splurge by booking one of the Harvest Suites, which have private terraces and outdoor soaking tubs. All rooms have an automated wine dispenser of seasonally rotating local wines. The property is a joy to explore via the walkways in between the villas.
Amenities | The resort has lots of hangouts, from the adults-only pool on the north edge, complete with the Hilltop Dining Room, to the family pool with lap swimming and the newly renovated luxury spa. Work out in the 3,000-square-foot fitness center with a variety of wellness classes. Take a whirl on a complimentary bike, or visit the “town square” area, open to the public, with live music most days and a pair of bocce ball courts. There’s also a general store for snacks, wine, and grab-and-go picnics.
Dining | Revel in inspired dining at one of the resort’s three restaurants: Farm at Carneros, Boon Fly Café, and the guest-exclusive Hilltop Dining Room. Acclaimed executive chef Jeffrey Jake helms the Farm kitchen, sourcing ingredients from the resort’s gardens. Try the tasting menu, where Jake shows off his culinary smarts, or select à la carte dishes like California sturgeon in a fennel fondant or the lobster risotto. Boon Fly Café’s small menu is great for a lunch stop, and wood-fired pizzas are available in the town square. carnerosresort.com.
The Vibe | This Healdsburg resort sits on 258 acres of land, surrounded by lush vineyards and oak and eucalyptus trees. The buildings are NorCal modern and landscaped with native shrubs to blend into the environment. The decor leans toward natural colors from the surrounding hills and vineyards (ochre, moss, wheat). The 130 guest rooms feel like modern bungalows; they’re freestanding with one or two units per building, allowing for plenty of privacy and space.
Amenities | The spa has 11 treatment rooms with an expansive menu of massages, facials, and body treatments, each drawing on ingredients such as herbs grown on the premises. There’s also a zero-edge outdoor pool and a full-service salon, along with a soothing yoga garden. And for those in need of a serious sweat, the fitness room has Technogym equipment and Peloton bikes.
Dining | The main restaurant, Hazel Hill, is alongside the Scout Field Bar, where you can sip on a cocktail with house-made syrups and fresh juices. An enormous patio creates a breathtaking indoor-outdoor flow peering into the gardens. The kitchen uses a bounty of regional ingredients: Dungeness crab caught off the Sonoma Coast, greens straight from the garden, and wines from Alexander Valley. Dishes might include Alaskan halibut or a Wagyu strip loin with duck fat potatoes. The Healdsburg Country Store is a great stop for a cup of Black Oak coffee or locally made treats. montagehotels.com.
THE LODGE AT SONOMA, SONOMA
The Vibe | This boutique luxury resort, part of the Autograph Collection, is close to downtown Sonoma and within walking distance of the tasting rooms, wonderful restaurants, and quaint shops on Sonoma Plaza. Newly updated cottages feature spacious sitting areas with private fireplaces and outdoor patios, with the heated pool and deck close by. The hotel’s 182 guest rooms are beautifully decorated to blend in with the surroundings.
Amenities | Rejuvenate at the spa and enjoy a Himalayan salt stone rub, a hyaluronic marine facial, or a CBD detox wrap. For a little more activity, grab one of the bikes on offer and tour the nearby trails of Sonoma. For a slower pace, join one of the yoga or barre classes.
Dining | On-site dining includes the casual Benicia’s Kitchen, a great spot for breakfast, and High Horse, a converted horse trailer cleverly transformed into a poolside cocktail bar (open Friday and Saturday, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.). For a more extravagant experience, try chef Michael Mina’s first venture into Wine Country, Wit and Wisdom. The modern dining room serves fare such as chilled seafood platters of shrimp and king crab legs, handmade pappardelle cacio e pepe, and Pacific swordfish with capers. thelodgeatsonoma.com.
SingleThread Restaurant and Inn
While not a full-scale resort, try an alternative luxe experience at this Healdsburg gem. Each of the five guest rooms is handsomely decorated with breezy white and black metal accents. Plan far ahead for a room here, and book your dinner at the internationally renowned three-Michelin-starred 55-seat dining room as well. You’re sure to be wowed by Japan-trained chef Kyle Connaughton, whose menu draws from the bounty of ingredients provided by farmer, co-owner, and wife Katina Connaughton’s 24-acre farm in Dry Creek Valley. The dining is truly a sensory experience, with flavors, aromas, and presentations that are theater in the making. No wonder SingleThread was dubbed one of the world’s 50 best restaurants in 2018. Their more casual Little Saint restaurant recently opened down the block, with a similar fresh and local philosophy. singlethreadfarms.com.