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November 2013

Three Wine Country Spa Hotels You Must Try
By Marcia Frost

Geo Thermal Tub Spa Solage Calistoga

Wine and spas are two of my favorite things and they are easily combined in California Wine Country. Between the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma are three of the best spa resorts you will find in the country. I was lucky enough to check them out.

The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort

Unlike many Wine Country resorts off the beaten bath, The Lodge at Sonoma is actually on a main road within the city of Sonoma. Don’t let the location fool you, though. Once you step foot into the opulent lobby you will forget the outside world.

As mesmerized by the sculptures in the lobby as I was, I felt a different world when I walked out the back door. The pool, foliage and patios to the suites were warm and welcoming. That feeling only got stronger as I continued on to the Raindance Spa.

The Raindance Spa offers treatments using many herbs, minerals and fruits from Sonoma. Their menu allows you to customize your treatment. A “soothing stone sampler” adds the warmth of hot basalt stones to the massage, while the Ginger Spice Foot Revitalizer detoxifies and hydrates the feet, whisking away every thought of your day of walking through the vineyards.

At The Lodge at Sonoma you also don’t need to worry about leaving thirsty or hungry. From the lobby you will find a wine and coffee bar that has just about anything you can want. If you are looking for a full meal, the Carneros Bistro is the best choice. Wine Spectator Magazine recognized it with their “Award of Excellence.”

You can’t go wrong with anything on the lunch and dinner menu at Carneros, but you must have the Cookies n’ Cream for dessert. A deep dish chocolate pecan chip cookie comes to you fresh from the oven with vanilla ice cream and a shot of Kahlua milk to drink or pour on (I drank half and poured the rest). A delectable adult dessert.

Solage Calistoga

It’s hard to beat the experience at Solage Calistoga and I’m not the only one who thinks so. It stands out among Conde Nast readers as the No. 1 spa in the Americas and No. 10 in the world. I had to agree with the reviews after spending two days there with my daughter.

After a scrumptious lunch and cocktails at the Michelin-starred Solbar that included their infamous Seared Yellowfin Tuna Burger, we checked into our cottage. Like all the accommodations here, we had our own private sanctuary, complete with bicycles to explore the downtown and nearby wineries.

The spa itself is so relaxing I wished I had an extra day to just be lazy and enjoy the hydrotherapy circuit, but we did have a few hours to go through their Mud Slide treatment.

The experience is in three parts and is set up so you can do it alone or with a partner. It starts with “The Mud.” We were each covered by our attendant in clay and volcanic ash, mineral-enriched and mixed with the essential oils of our choice (I picked a lavender blend).

Next, we had “The Waters,” which put each of us in a large tub filled with geo-thermal mineral water to sooth our muscles and put us into great relaxation.

The final step in the journey is called “The Rest,” but I have to admit it was not overly restful for me. We were wrapped in warm towels and put into a large recliner with sound and vibration. It is meant to put you into “a zone of stress-free harmonic balance,” but I think I would have relaxed more with just the wrap and reclining. I did definitely leave the spa with my skin soft and muscles relaxed, ready to take a nap in my room.

Vintner’s Inn

The experience at Vintner’s Inn is much more intimate than that at the resorts. This AAA Four-Diamond hotel only has 44 rooms, nestled in quaint buildings around a courtyard. The property is surrounded by over 90 acres of vineyards so you never forget that you are in the heart of Sonoma.

Our suite was just beautiful and decorated to the detail, down to the antique furniture and tray that sat on the desk with a bottle of fume blanc. We had our own little patio and while it wasn’t totally private, the vines intertwined enough to make you forget that there were other people staying here too.

After I got settled, I headed to the small Jacuzzi area, where a few other guests were lounging or warming their muscles. There’s no pool here or anything else that would make you feel that you weren’t one of the few invited to this cherished hotel.

Even the spa services here are done for the individual. You won’t find a large spa with multiple rooms. Instead, you have a choice of the Courtyard Spa Room, where you listen to the flowing water from the fountain or treatments in your own suite.

You won’t find anything quite like the “Body to Sole” in complete privacy. After a full Swedish body massage that includes the scalp, the hair is covered in jojoba oil and Rene Furterer’s Astera, leaving it silky and moist. Then the feet are pampered with a scrub, hot towel treatment and foot massage.

I recommend finishing your stay at Vintner’s Inn with breakfast in the courtyard. I was given a warm scone and fresh jam as soon as I sat down. I then enjoyed the Heart Healthy Breakfast Wrap (scrambled egg whites, grilled veggies and tomato, wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla) and started planning my next Wine Country adventure.

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