How time flies. It feels like we just got home from our summer vacations, yet invitations for Thanksgiving and holiday events are already pouring in. Now is the time to recuperate from those summer trips, which turned out to be exhausting and resulted in the need for a mini retreat to rejuvenate. Fortunately, we have two magnificent resorts right here in Napa Valley, and I’d like to share with you my perfect recharging experience.

Calistoga Ranch, Calistoga


 For those seeking to relax more frequently, Calistoga Ranch offers a rare purchase opportunity for their Private Residence Club.

Tucked into a private canyon outside the historic town of Calistoga, the 48-room resort is located on a 157-acre site marked by ancient oaks, majestic hills, a rock-hewn stream and a private lake. Calistoga Ranch celebrates simplicity and the gracious style of Napa Valley with a host of amenities for wine-lovers and an outdoor lifestyle that takes a cue from its natural settings. The resort offers the ultimate relaxing experience with 48 guest lodges and 23 owner lodges, a restaurant, a wine cave, bocce ball courts and a pool overlooking the resort’s private vineyard. At The Bathhouse Spa, guests can indulge in rejuvenating treatments and take advantage of the famous Calistoga healing mineral waters as well as a variety of unique mud treatments and baths.

The two-bedroom owner’s lodge I stayed in has indoor/outdoor living rooms complete with fireplaces, a fully equipped kitchen, a dining room and two bedrooms, each featuring an indoor and outdoor “bath garden” where I showered under the stars.

Luxurious touches in the lodge included down duvets, Fili D’oro linens, optional butler service and a chauffeured Mercedes. Private chefs make in-room lounging easy. Outdoors, there’s an open-air fitness center, yoga decks in the forest, a swimming pool overlooking the vineyards, 140 acres of land dedicated to outdoor pursuits, and a 3,800 square foot wine cave where I attended the annual owners’ blending and wine making party.

For those seeking to relax more frequently, Calistoga Ranch offers a rare purchase opportunity for their Private Residence Club. Owners have access to the services and amenities of the resort. The 23 owners lodges, each with 2-bedrooms, boast 2,500 square feet of indoor-outdoor space and are sold for one-tenth shares, starting at $475,000.

Auberge du Soleil Auberge Resorts, Rutherford


I remember very well when Auberge du Soleil, the iconic Michelin-starred restaurant, opened in 1981 as Napa Valley’s first fine-dining venue. For the next 30 years, it helped transform Napa Valley into the fine-dining Mecca it is today, a must-see destination for gourmet food, wine, and the beauty of wine country. This year, I had the great honor of attending the 30th Anniversary celebration.

 Guests can enjoy the water ritual, which includes a soak in each of the three temperate springs overlooking the vineyards and olive groves.

Legendary French-born restaurateur Claude Rouas debuted Auberge restaurant, which was originally designed by renowned designer Michael Taylor in a style best described as Provence French Country blended with California wine country elements. In 1985, Rouas and business partner Robert Harmon responded to guests’ demands and opened the inn, a collection of sun- and earth-toned maisons housing 50 rooms and suites, each with French doors opening onto private terraces with sweeping views of olive groves and the vine-studded valley.

As with the restaurant, the maisons were Taylor’s work—the suites enchanted guests with their elegantly rustic furnishings, handmade tile floors, abstract paintings and French doors leading to terraces. Renowned San Francisco designer Suzanne Tucker recently refreshed the décor, heeding magnificent results that made me want to remodel my home in the same fashion. Some of my favorite details are the custom-colored persimmon linens based on 19th century Japanese lotus designs and the new tabletops featuring pewter chargers, petrified wood trivets and metal votives.

Equally fabulous is the Auberge spa where I indulged for two days.  The spa occupies 7,000 square feet overlooking the Napa Valley, embracing a nurturing philosophy embodied by a unique menu of body and facial treatments utilizing natural ingredients indigenous to the region. Guests can enjoy the water ritual, which includes a soak in each of the three temperate springs overlooking the vineyards and olive groves. Many of the preparations used in the spa treatments feature house-infused oils, as well as calendula, rosemary, lemon balm and other herbs cultivated by the therapists in the spa’s garden.

We enjoyed the 30th anniversary dinner with the owners on the stunning new outdoor deck, which accommodates 50-60 guests. The marvelous terrace overlooks Auberge’s famed panoramic view of Napa Valley. Auberge du Soleil invites guests to celebrate with the 30th Anniversary experience through November 30, 2011, priced to honor the restaurant’s year of origin, $1,981. The deluxe package is filled with indulgences including a two-night stay and chef’s tasting menu.

Regardless of which you choose, you will enjoy a total relaxing experience and come away peaceful and prepared for the holidays.

Enjoy your trip,

Olivia Hsu Decker