While the very name of Wine Country may imply indulgence to some, the region has long been known for its health benefits. Members of the Wappo tribe discovered volcanic hot springs close to what is now called Mount St. Helena some 8,000 years ago, and built sweat lodges and natural steam baths. After American settlers in the 1840s spread the word of waters with “healing powers,” Samuel Brannan purchased the entire upper Napa Valley and opened the area’s first resort in 1861.
Today, some still find therapeutic benefits from mud baths and soaking in thermal waters, while others appreciate the serenity and expertise of renowned spas. Add in gorgeous vistas for outdoor yoga classes, hiking and biking and you have the makings of an ideal wellness getaway. Here are our favorite home bases for self-care in Napa Valley.
Feature Photo: Solage
Auberge du Soleil
The grandpère of gracious Napa hospitality began life as an acclaimed California-French restaurant in 1981. Cottages added in 1985 took advantage of its hilltop location in Rutherford — the heart of Wine Country — with dazzling vistas seemingly all the way to San Francisco. Lavish Mediterranean landscaping and olive groves on its 33 acres continue the South of France ambiance found in its recently redesigned 50 rooms and suites. Fountains and courtyards also create a tranquil oasis for the Auberge du Soleil Spa, reserved for guests of the resort, which also offers soaking pools and hammam steam rooms.
TIP: Couples seeking romance as well as wellness will appreciate the adults-only policy. Dining at Auberge du Soleil’s frequently Michelin-starred restaurant is still a must-do, while its Bistro and Bar also provides delicious, locally-inspired fare in a more informal setting. You can also order food at La Plage, the sunny pool deck with canopied lounge chairs.
Carneros Resort and Spa
This feels like a home away from home in the Wine Country, thanks to free-standing cottages and vacation homes with private fenced yards and gardens dotting the 28-acre vineyard resort. Exclusive to in-house guests, the Spa at Carneros provides exquisite treatments inspired by the Wine Country. The 3,000-square-foot fitness center, next to the heated lap and family pool, offers many complimentary yoga and other fitness classes, including a walk/run through the vineyards. Private instruction is also available. Dining is always first-rate, with lots of open-air seating and family-friendly options, too.
TIP: The recently renovated lodgings offer cozy luxuries like fireplaces and heated bathroom floors, plus outdoor showers for cooling off on sunny days. Hop on a complimentary bike to explore the bucolic scenery and later soak in the views from the adults-only, hilltop infinity pool.
Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs
Founded in 1952 by wellness experts “Doc” and Edy Wilkinson, this Calistoga icon recently emerged from a top to bottom renovation. All 50 guestrooms got a refresh, new open-air restaurant, House of Better opened its doors, and the space surrounding the property’s three geothermal mineral pools got gussied up with photo-worthy murals. Thanks to a long list of upgrades, the spa is barely recognizable, but the recipe for the mud bath treatments launched nearly three-quarters of a century ago, thankfully has not changed.
TIP: With fire pits, swings, corn hole and hammocks, this is an easy property to check into, and not leave until you have to go home. On-site chargers make it easy for electric car drivers to easily plug in.
Indian Springs Calistoga
Four thermal geysers attracted entrepreneur Sam Brannan to create a mineral baths resort on this hilly 17-acre retreat in 1861. Now adults can stay in the 24 thoroughly renovated and tastefully updated rooms of the historic lodge, while another 75 “view rooms,” cottages, bungalows and houses accommodate all ages. Many come just for the Olympic-sized mineral water pool, others for spa treatments using the resort’s mud of volcanic ash. Walking trails wind through rose and lavender gardens and groves of palm and olive trees.
TIP: Onsite diversions include croquet, bocce ball, shuffleboard and giant checkers, while complimentary bikes make it easy to cruise to downtown Calistoga, a few blocks away. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, Sam’s Social Club is a popular gathering place with indoor and outdoor seating.
A younger sibling of Auberge du Soleil, this sportier member of the Auberge Resorts Collection in Calistoga recently unveiled a $30 million redesign that includes a new poolside restaurant (adding to popular SolBar), newly built suites and the renovation of all guest rooms and public spaces. Hop on a resort bike to explore nearby vineyards and backroads with customized “sip and cycle” itineraries available. The 20,000-square-foot Spa Solage takes inspiration from the town’s tradition of therapies based on mineral hot springs.
This is one of two hotels on the Estate Yountville, a 22-acre landscaped compound that includes boutiques and restaurants in V Marketplace, chic Hotel Villagio and the luxurious, 6,600-square-foot, five-bedroom Villa at Estate Yountville vacation rental. The spacious Spa at the Estate hosts 12 treatment rooms, including five suites (and three couples’ suites) with soaking baths and fireplaces. Spa guests can also access expansive indoor/outdoor relaxation lounges with Swiss showers, eucalyptus-infused steam rooms, dry saunas, outdoor whirlpool tubs and fireplaces. Yountville’s renowned restaurants are within walking distance, but you can also hop on a complimentary bike for your excursions.
TIP: The residential-style rooms and suites all have spacious seating areas and patios or balconies; loft suites (550 square feet) offer even more room to sit or spread out. The complimentary Italian-inspired continental breakfast from Michael Chiarello’s Ottimo restaurant can be expanded to include delectable hot dishes.