Amidst the vineyards of Napa Valley, The Meritage Resort & Spa is a vast areal, with an array of its own fine vintages on offer for tasting. There’s an underground spa, a sports bar with bowling lanes, two swimming pools, three whirlpools, but the way all these amenities combine is a mixed bag.

The Experience

As we entered the area a couple of minutes away from downtown Napa you are greeted by a huge outdoor parking space, which looked like you just arrived at Disney Land (525 parking spaces for 502 rooms!), but inside we were greeted by earthy tones, marble floors and a massive ornate fireplace.

The receptionist and all the staff were very helpful guiding us through the estate.  As we arrived in our rooms we encountered the same anti-climax we so often do in the USA. Somehow, the majority of American hotels don’t know the least bit about the progress made in interior design over the past 15 years. Mom always said, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. So: It’s clean and the mattresses are soft. Half of the rooms were recently renovated, so try to get one of the newer ones.

Since we were in wine-country, there was the jaw-dropping view of the vineyard belonging to the hotel. We couldn’t resist the urge to walk up the vine-covered hill where we sat, letting our minds wander and enjoying a priceless sunset over Napa. It had a touch of the Loire Valley as we picked grapes and pondered the magic of winemaking while sipping a glass of Mendocino. Letting our eyes sweep over the greenery we could see the main pool area with nifty features like an outdoor fireplace, a jacuzzi and cabanas. Unfortunately, we found out renting the cabanas costs a considerable amount of cash per day, but at least a dip in the water was free.

Nestled in the hillside behind the Resort is the spa, which is entirely underground across 2,000 square meters (22,000 square feet). The design here is welcoming. We entered the spa, where the mood went from bright and up-beat to dark and blissfully silent. The cavernous interior has a mysterious touch and we slipped into a state of pure serenity, reclining in one of their treatment rooms to enjoy an Erba Secca Massage (Wild Organic Herb Compresses and Massage).

After being kneaded through and through we sauntered across the grounds and landed in the Crush Ultra Lounge. The noisy sports bar with six bowling lanes, a pool table and shuffleboard squeezed all the relaxation right back out of us. We kept encountering these kind of contradictions. Sometimes trying to please everybody means pleasing nobody.

At the main restaurant, Siena we found a luscious menu blending Italian and Californian influences It’s not like the pasta in Rome, but as far as fusion food goes it satisfied our picky palates. But what we really enjoyed was the Blend Cafe where you can have your morning coffee with freshly baked pastries in a cute romanesque bake shop.

Each visit to Napa should involve lots of wine drinking. So we partook of ours at the Trinitas Tasting Room, which is also located underground right next to spa. The sommelier gave a  delightful glass-by-glass tour through the Californian wine regions and it could have been the “Florentine” architecture that got our blood flowing, but we suspect it was more the glorious taste of the heavenly red liquid. We found ourselves quoting the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Give me wine to wash me clean of the weather-stains of cares.”

The Verdict: The upsides outweighed the downsides. The award-winning spa and hospitality were a great introduction to Napa Valley. We would have hoped for a more contemporary design and inclusive approach when it came to the pool area, but perhaps cabanas are a poolside attempt at a VIP area. Love the vineyards, outdoor fireplaces, wine cellar and Cali-Italian fare was surprisingly fitting.

The Meritage Resort & Spa

875 Bordeaux Way, Napa, California, 94558
Phone 855.318.1768   l   Fax 707.254.8274