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Special Travel Issue | The grape escape

A Room With a Vineyard

Side Trips: Travel Tips, Trends and Tools

October 12, 2003|Renee Vogel

Picture a secluded Napa Valley hideaway where the eco-friendly architecture blends into the scenery: vineyards, oak and pine trees, a spring-fed lake. It sounds like the domain of Francis Ford Coppola or some other adventurous Northern California vintner, but it's actually Calistoga Ranch, a new luxury resort, spa and lodging club scheduled to open in February.

Auberge Resorts, the high-end hotel company behind Calistoga Ranch (and the nearby Auberge du Soleil) bills the property as "Napa's private vineyard retreat." Indeed, the resort is tucked away from the wine country tourist hubs. It sits on 157 acres in an upper Napa Valley canyon, between the towns of Calistoga and St. Helena. Most of the resort's acreage will remain undeveloped except for a network of hiking trails.

Forty-seven free-standing guest lodges are nestled into the landscape, many built on pilings to protect the roots of the old-growth trees. Designed to take advantage of Napa's indoor-outdoor lifestyle, each unit is actually a collection of bungalows connected by decks and walkways. Besides the deluxe interior living spaces, amenities include outdoor living rooms, bath gardens, fireplaces and in some lodges, a private outdoor hot tub.

Guests in rooms without hot tubs won't lack for bathing opportunities: The Bathhouse spa on the banks of Lake Lommel features a natural thermal mineral pool and pavilions with private soaking tubs. The resort also offers a heated outdoor swimming pool.

Of course, people flock to Napa for the valley's famous epicurean offerings, and Calistoga Ranch plans to showcase the local bounty at its Lakehouse restaurant, headed by chef Robert Leva. A local winemaker can instruct guests in the art of winemaking at the on-site vineyards and wine cave.

The resort also features 27 two-bedroom owners' lodges, reserved for members of Calistoga Ranch's equity lodging club, a kind of upscale time-share. Memberships, which begin at $360,000, include the use of a lodge for a certain number of weeks per year and access to all resort facilities. Some owner lodges will open in November.

Calistoga Ranch, 580 Lommel Road, Calistoga, Calif. 94515; (800) 942-4220, fax (707) 942-4706, Rates: Double occupancy from $525 per night.

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