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by Nirmala Nataraj on Nov 21, 2008
The Northern California resort town of Calistoga is known for its historic hot springs (whose therapeutic properties have been soaked up by locals and vacationers for centuries, dating back to the indigenous Americans who discovered the springsí healing potential) and Main Street soda-fountain charm, which makes this unassuming little hamlet of hedonism all the more appealing. And when it comes to luxury getaways in Calistoga, the apple doesnít fall far from the tree. Nestled in a private canyon with a view of the majestic Mayacama Mountains, Calistoga Ranch is an exclusive resort that tips its hat to the locationís built-in rusticity.
A favorite retreat for wine country enthusiasts and celebs looking for a little R&R, Calistoga Ranch is 157 inspired acres of gorgeous grounds, full of private hiking paths and other scenic spots, that provide the perfect backdrop for nature lovers, as well as visitors simply looking to uncover the propertyís culinary treasures and spa indulgences. The Ranch is made up of 47 suites: 8 deluxe lodges, 37 one-bedroom lodges, and a special 2,400-square-foot estate lodge with two bedrooms and its own private lake. Whether you choose to bike down to one of the local wineries or simply pad around the property in a spa bathrobe is entirely up to you, but donít try to shuttle your belongings back and forth from your suite to your car -- vehicles are prohibited on the premises, which means you can gird up those gams or hitch a ride on a golf cart with one of the friendly staff members.
Given the hiking trails, special fitness area (including a scenic pool flanked by grapevines), daily classes (which include everything from yoga to wine-making), open air restaurant and spa, you might find yourself tempted to spend lots of time outside your suite. Donít be too quick to knock your living area, though. The Ranch is especially known for its luxurious bungalows, which blur the line between indoor and outdoor, and include a sprawling deck that separates living room from bedroom/bathroom.
The suites are romantic, cedar-shingled cottages that include an outdoor whirlpool and fireplace, as well as an outdoor shower. So you can pop in an in-room DVD and settle down into your bedís several hundred-count linens, or you can lounge around on a deck chaise and sup on wine and cheese while watching the sky darken. You canít go wrong either way. Rustic as the Ranch may be, itís only for the most epicurean of sensibilities.
Oenophiles and foodies will want to dip into the treats at the Lakehouse Restaurant; presided over by Chef Eric Webster, Lakehouse continues the indoor/outdoor theme of the Ranch. Guests can sit on a deck overlooking an open vista of foliage. The restaurant boasts fresh game, local fish, and specialties cooked with the regionís seasonal herbs; almost all the dishes are paired with wines from neighboring vineyards.
Of course, no visit to Calistoga Ranch could possibly be complete without sampling the services of the Bathhouse Spa, which blends classical treatments with the curative properties of the neighboring mineral waters. Guests can enjoy one of the outdoor fireplaces in the waiting lounge, or take a soak in the spaís mineral pool, which flows with local geothermal spring water and has a stunning view of Lake Lommel. All the treatments at the spa are as decadent as the surrounding wine country. For instance, visitors can opt for the Cabernet Classic, which includes a restorative grapeseed body scrub, a grapeseed oil massage, and a wine bath with ingredients like Cabernet and blackberry extract. Another favorite is the Calistoga Ranch Mud Wrap, a wrap and massage combo that uses the detoxifying properties of mud and eucalyptus to up your immunity and leave you unbelievably relaxed.
The folks at the Ranch know that a weekend trip is about more than simple relaxation--itís about the entire experience. Newbies who want a more comprehensive taste of all the Ranch has to offer may want to try out the Vinotherapy spa package, which includes two nights, breakfast for two in the privacy of your lodge, and a 120-minute signature spa treatment that uses the healing properties of wine to restore balance and health.
by Nirmala Nataraj on Nov 21, 2008