Napa (as in the town) Re-Born

Billions of marketing words have been written about Napa Valley. Rather than re-hash all of that, and in the interests of time, I have edited them down to… food, wine, great hotels, lots of things-to-do and really good. The town of Napa (itself) has been undergoing a steady renaissance of its own, and is now actually a place to go (itself). The marketing highlights? All of those Valley things but you’re in town.

In keeping with our Mission Statement to share cool stuff you can use, we continue to add descriptions and links to suppliers of all kinds to our Ever-Expanding Meeting Resource Library. Bookmark It. You need an idea or a contact, go there. It’s a free searchable resource of “good”. Always Look There First.

With all of that in mind, here is a very brief guide to what is happening in Napa. We’ll keep adding things as we find them, but this is Chapter One. We still have Yountville, Rutherford, St. Helena and Calistoga to go, and we’ll get to them. And we’ll get to Sonoma in another article. Promise.

The challenge… how to organize so much info without making anyone feel that I made placement choices… and there are hotels, venues, DMCs, (and on and on). Without making any value judgements, we’re going to just throw things out there in random order. If you feel sorry for the people at the bottom, you can go there first and scroll up. Here goes…

Napa River Inn (and the Historic Napa Mill)

There have been several add-ons over the years (starting in 1901) to this now 66-room 4-Star Riverfront property. Three adjacent buildings are organized around the Historic Mill and Riverbend Plaza that also includes a live music venue, spa, three “eateries”, a general store and a sweet shoppe (with “two p’s and an e”).

Their marketing piece says “where everything you need is just steps away”. I get a kick out of marketing phrases (and love to make fun of them), but since the Inn is on the Riverwalk, you can pretty much walk to everything the town has to offer (including 20 tasting rooms and a dozen exceptional restaurants. I won’t say that everything I need is just steps away, but you know what they mean.     

River Terrace Inn

This 106-room Noble House river-front property is undergoing MAJOR changes this year. A new restaurant (called Alba), an additional 1500 square feet of meeting space and 8 new guest suites, all expected to be completed by the fall of 2017.


Westin Verasa Napa

Located on the riverbank (next to the River Terrace Inn and across from the nature preserve), this 180-room property is literally a three-minute walk from the Napa Wine Train Station and maybe 5 minutes more to downtown. It also features approximately 5,000 square feet of meeting space and is home to the Michelin-starred (and therefore fantastic) La Toque restaurant.

Napa Valley Wine Train

Your group can buy out a car or an entire train. Do teambuilding (the cliché is the Murder Mystery thing… but being a cliché does not mean it’s not great fun… or a wine tasting/food pairing, or… whatever you and the absolutely wonderful Train People can dream up. And you can do this while enjoying fine dining service, multi-course meals cooked to order, Napa Valley scenery and exquisitely restored antique rail cars.  Their marketing prose says it’s faithfully restored with Honduran Mahogany, so there is that too. Lots of options at        

Blue Note Napa

Ready for this… in 1972 I was first alternate tenor sax player for the New York All-State High School Jazz Band. Unfortunately for me (but fortunately for the Band), no one got sick so I didn’t get to play. Why am I telling you this? Because back in the early 70’s in NYC, I would often go to the legendary Blue Note to hear my jazz heroes blow my mind.

And now… in keeping with the “Jazz is Important” tradition, The Blue Note Napa is a jazz club/gourmet restaurant occupying the first floor of the historic Napa Valley Opera House, and you (and your group) can buy it out, eat, drink, and be merry. You don’t have to listen to jazz, you can bring in anyone you want, but the place is all set up for that intimate club experience.

Around (but close to) Napa

Carneros Resort & Spa

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.

Meritage Resort & Spa

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 J).

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.

Silverado Resort & Spa

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.

Napa (& Sonoma) Valley Bike Tours

If you (and your team) really want to experience why they came all the way to Napa Valley in the first place, then a guided, casual bike tour is a perfect solution. Cycling slowly down backroads between vineyards, sights, sounds, smells and all, is a completely different experience than rushing through in an air-conditioned vehicle. You literally can stop to smell the flowers.

Napa Valley Bike Tours can customize your event for your group’s unique needs and abilities. Do a team building thing or just relax and visit wineries selected for their hospitality. The guides are friendly, knowledgeable and non-judgmental when you decide to ride the van home after winery visit number three.

Verve Napa Valley

OK… you booked your group in Napa. Now what do you do? You want to do something different, something memorable and cool? Ask people who know what they are doing. The people at Verve know what they are doing. They will design a program for you, get access to artisan wineries not necessarily open to the public, get access to private estates, gardens, art collections… organize team building events, barrel tastings, transportation, and all of that really good DMC stuff.

The Napa (not just the town) CVB

The Napa CVB team will match your needs to hotel and resort options that include properties and nearly guest rooms. Like all of the best CVBs, they save you time by providing complimentary services as the liaison between your group and their member hotels, offering visitor services and registration staff. And one other thing about them… they are really good at what they do.

That’s it for now… except I have to reiterate… this is obviously not everything in Napa Valley. We’ll keep adding as we go. Second… We didn’t even talk about Sonoma. I just know that readers can only read so much so I have to break it up… and everything goes into the EVER-EXPANDING Meeting Resource Library that you can search at leisure.

AND… bookmark, share it with your colleagues, and click on everything. AND… come to one (or all) of our Trade Shows so you can meet suppliers and form your own relationships, AND… if there is something you want me to write about, tell me.

(AND… if you are reading this and happen to be a supplier/vendor to the meeting planners of the world, please consider exhibiting at one of our three Bay Area Reception/Trade Shows AND/OR advertising on Call me. :) more info at resources for suppliers