Just north of Ft. Bragg (so about 3.5 hours from SF which means you have to want to be there), but once you are there… it has a combination of rooms, suites and houses that, as a buyout could accommodate up to 18 couples… so great for smallRead More
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Indian Springs Resort
It’s been there since 1862 but because of what they did in 2015, we can now call it the New Indian Springs Resort. What did they do? Other than the fact they are still built over a natural Hot Springs, pretty much everything. The current stats… 115 rooms (75 are new), 3500 square feet of meeting space (new), a new restaurant, plus a lot of renovated old stuff, the old stuff being the reason why they have been there since 1862… Spa, Natural Mineral Springs, Mud Baths… and you can easily walk to downtown Calistoga (or take one of their complimentary bicycles). www.indianspringscalistoga.com
It’s a Five-Star Auberge Resort… presumably that means it’s good. Within walking distance (or a very short bike ride) from the town of Calistoga, this 89-room resort and Spa has over 15k square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting/event space, a couple of bocce ball courts, and a giant pool. www.solage.aubergeresorts.com
As a reference point… I showed up for a site inspection a while back and the then-CEO of SONY was checking in ahead of me. It’s that kind of place.
Unlike many resorts, they are not “nestled” somewhere. Instead, this 50-room super-luxury Auberge resort is “tucked” into a private canyon on 157 acres. Makes all the difference. They even have their own lake, not to mention (but I am about to mention) private lodge accommodations, a great Spa, a private Lakehouse Restaurant (that goes with the private lake), and… their very own 1175 square foot wine cave. Consider this a great spot for Board Meetings and Incentives. www.calistogaranch.aubergeresorts.com
I have written about them before, but to make this simple, here you go again… Part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection, the recently opened 68-room Las Alcobas is located on Main Street in St. Helena, adjoining the Beringer Estate and Winery. It features a 2200 square foot “Event Barn” (with an exhibition kitchen thrown in), outdoor event spaces, and Beringer is right there and they have “stuff’ too. www.lasalcobasnapavalley.com/
Meadowood Napa Valley
Ooh. Meadowood. It deserves both an ooh AND an aah. 85 guest rooms and suites of all shapes and sizes (and prices that range from high to higher), including a number of four-bedroom cottages… they call them cottages but they are more like houses… that have separate entrances so they can be booked individually or as an entire “cottage” with a giant living area that can be used for meetings, hospitality or… living (?). The resort also has an actual 3-Star Michelin restaurant (impressive), a nine-hole executive golf course, a Spa, and a real regulation style croquet lawn (great for teambuilding). And of course, the whole shebang is “nestled” on 250 acres just outside St. Helena. www.meadowood.com
Auberge du Soleil (Rutherford)
I have stayed in a lot of great hotels. I remember looking around my room at this 50-room super-luxury property and thinking… someone really took the time to think about what you would want to have or see in every part of the room, and then put the perfect thing there. What I am saying is, this iconic property really deserves to be called iconic.
Perfect for high-end meetings or incentives where the price is not really the point, it’s the experience (and the perceived ROI from that experience). What do I mean by that? I mean it’s expensive but only if you care about that. And, of course, their restaurant has a Michelin Star.
One small thing about Auberge du Soleil on weekends. There will be weddings. Just saying. https://aubergedusoleil.aubergeresorts.com/
Napa Valley Lodge
Part of the well-respected Woodside Hotel Collection, this 55-room hotel on the north end of town also offers 2540 square feet of meeting space (so good for a small meeting or incentive). They do not have their own restaurant but in Yountville, which has more Michelin stars per capita than any other city in the world, you can walk to at least 10 superb restaurants within minutes. www.napavalleylodge.com
Villagio & Vintage Inn
This gets complicated so bear with me. First, take a 140-year old winery, turn it into a Napa Valley marketplace in the middle of the food Mecca known as Yountville. Then build two hotels on either side… The Tuscan-styled Villagio Inn and Spa with 122 guest rooms and suites, and the French country manor-styled Vintage Inn with 80 guest rooms, suites and villas. Together they share 30,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting/event space and a Spa. It’s all good.
Oh… they are even adding a new 1062 sq. ft. Vintage House, complete with a glass elevator, marble boardroom table, built-in audio visual, separate private lounge area, and an adjacent outdoor patio with gorgeous views of the Mayacama Mountain range. So even more good (and yes I know that is bad grammar). www.villagio.com and www.vintageinn.com
This 62-room property has a Zen feel to it, assuming that Zen monks like to hang out by the roof-top pool and prefer luxury accommodations, great food and wine, a Spa (what is the sound of one hand massaging), and a high (and award-winning) level of service. I guess what I am saying is… it’s a nice place in the middle of Yountville and so walking distance to some of the best restaurants in Napa Valley (and therefore in the USA).
The resort offers 1664 square feet of meeting space, so it’s better for either a small high-end meeting or an incentive that does not require much indoor space. But… they do have some great outdoor space too for receptions/dinners and such. www.bardessono.com
Holman Ranch & Vineyards
This 10-room 400-acre Carmel Valley property includes a stone hacienda, vineyards, wine caves, an olive grove, horse stables and not one, but two tasting rooms. The Ranch is available for all sorts of events, both indoors and out, regardless of whether you are staying on property. Each of their many outdoor spaces can individually hold 200+ for an event, but since they only take one event at a time, you could conceivably take over the whole ranch and invite everyone you have ever met. It’s a beautiful spot. www.holmanranch.com
Stonepine Estate (both as a hotel and a venue)
Many resorts seem to be nestled somewhere, and The Stonepine Estate is no exception. “Nestled” on 330 acres in Carmel Valley, the Estate (as a hotel) features an eight-bedroom chateau and three houses, totaling 16 guest rooms. The estate offers a very high-level of service combined with creativity and friendliness, and is a perfect venue for Board meetings and retreats.
As a venue (regardless of whether you are staying there or at another property), they can accommodate groups up to 250 and do all sorts of themed parties and events (my personal experience there involved a private demonstration of amazing horsemanship… combined with a delicious BBQ). Besides the western themes easily incorporated into their equestrian center, other, more elegant settings are a natural for Great Gatsby type events (or other themes in which people pretend to be rich and carefree). Anyway, whatever the theme, they are good there. www.stonepineestate.com
Asilomar Conference Grounds
There is no place quite like Asilomar, or as it is officially called, Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds. It’s on 107 acres of “ecologically diverse” protected beachfront land in Pacific Grove (I assume the market value is “infinite”).
The original Lodge and Cottages were designed by Julia Morgan (of Hearst Castle fame) and more contemporary accommodations were added later on… for a current total of 313 guest rooms and 65,000 square feet of meeting and event space. So… big stuff is possible. They have meeting packages, a slew of activities and team building options, and they are very, very affordable. Note… they are not a traditional resort because their history and status is like no other… but for the right group their location (and pricing) is amazing. They definitely have the nature thing going. www.visitasilomar.com
Bernardus Lodge & Spa
A special place to think (and relax, and drink wine and eat great food). It’s quiet in a really good way and I feel rich when I stay there. 73 guest rooms, suites and villas. It has about 3200 square feet of meeting space (give or take), lots of creative team-building programs, and of course… Carmel Valley, wineries, and easy access to all of the other stuff. www.bernarduslodge.com
Quail Lodge & Golf Club
It’s famous for a reason. 850 acres, 93 guestrooms and suites, a recently renovated 18-hole golf course, and approximately 6500 square feet of indoor meeting space (plus some great outdoor space). And add in something cool…The Land Rover Driving School. Yes, cool. www.quaillodge.com
How can I even begin to write about the whole Pebble Beach “thing”. I will try (and fail) in summarizing when I say… if you really want to impress someone, and budget is not as important as whatever ROI you expect from entertaining them, take them to Pebble Beach. Everything about the place is superlative… the location, the service, the prices… and of course, the Golf. Your group can stay in the original 161-room Lodge, the 269-room Inn at Spanish Bay or the Spa-connected 24-room Casa Palmero… it’s all a wow. The thing to remember… the famous line about buying a yacht… if you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it… just saying. www.pebblebeach.com
If you want to feel like you are staying in a charming historic mansion just steps away from the beach and the shops and restaurants of Carmel-by-the-Sea, then this now 75-room boutique hotel is perfect for you (because that’s what it is). Originally built in 1905, it features 5,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and some beautiful garden and patio space. This place is great. You feel like it’s your home in Carmel. Really nice people. www.laplayahotel.com
Every major company in the world has had at least one event at Silverado, so they must be doing something right. The first thing they are known for… two PGA championship golf courses (and so if you want great golf on property in Napa… they are “it”). But that’s not all… 439 one bedroom condominium suites on 1200 acres, 15,000 square feet of meeting space, 10 swimming pools, 17 tennis courts, a great 16k square foot Spa… and Napa Valley. www.silveradoresort.com
Around (but close to) Napa
With 50,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, The 322-room Meritage Resort and Spa can do big stuff. Their Estate Cave is perfect for a dinner or group wine tasting experience for up to 200 guests, their Spa is one of the best in Wine Country, and they even have a six-lane bowling alley (Note – not in the Spa :)).
Located across the street from the resort, an expansion opening in Summer 2018 will feature an additional 145 guest rooms and suites, an outdoor pool area (their second on property), a food and wine village. and an expansive event lawn for social gatherings and concerts. It keeps getting better. www.meritageresort.com
Around (but close to) Napa.
I have a lot of “favorite places” around the world. This is one of them. Like all of my favorite places it is not just one thing, but a combination of many things. To just say that the resort has 86 cottages, 10 two-bedroom suites and a number of 2-3 bedroom homes does not do it justice. Instead, think of it as a small village… cottages (each with a small backyard), orchards, gardens, great views (with horses), pools, spas, restaurants… plus really nice people who make you feel part of it all. I want to go back. www.carnerosresort.com