Even people who don’t like resorts might be tempted by this four-star, Tuscan-themed offering. Rooms start at $143 per night, so this isn’t exactly cheap, but for what they offer, it’s not expensive, either; the spa is in an artificial cave, after all. Your companion animals can even stay with you, though there may be extra charges. The spa is fairly well integrated with the other services—it’s not like a hotel with a spa attached. It’s possible to order spa treatments in your own room, if you ask two hours ahead of time, and the cave itself has a small lunch menu. Spa treatments can cost over four hundred dollars, but one assumes this is an example of “you get what you pay for,” because lunch in the cave is reasonably priced. You can have a turkey-avocado club sandwich for twelve dollars. This is Napa, so of course you can also get wine with your meal. In a cave. While waiting to get a professional back-rub. With your sweetie (they do couples treatments, called “Amore per Due,” following the Italian theme). Did we mention this sounds like a good time?
Customer reviews are, overall, positive, though unexpected fees and charges put some people off. The location, while a bit out of the way for Napa itself (the resort offers a free shuttle down town) is convenient for regional exploration. The neighborhood itself surprises some guests, as the resort is near a business park. Once you get inside, though, the Meritage lives up to its reputation, and the business park is at least a quiet neighbor. Many of the rooms overlook the cave and rows of lush grape vines. A short walk through the vineyards takes you to the foot of the Grape Crusher statue, which may be the area’s most iconic landmark.
Amenities begin with the basics, such as refrigerators and Internet access, and move on to the perks that might be expected at a resort, such as robes provided at the spa, an award-winning restaurant, and 24 hour room-service. Of course, there is wine tasting. There are a few surprises, such as the Our Lady of the Grapes chapel. Our Lady of the Grapes is a private wedding chapel, but it has been consecrated by Catholic priests and Mass is celebrated there frequently. The resort does not actually have a priest on staff, but traveling priests can stay for free in exchange for celebrating Mass at the chapel.
The Meritage Resort and Spa is proud of its participation in recycling, composting, and energy conservation programs. Printed materials use recycled paper, to-go containers and even pens are compostable, and some of the best parking spots are reserved for hybrid vehicles. How “green” a business is overall, of course, is a very complex question, and the resort’s website does not provide enough information for anyone to judge their efforts fairly. Still, the Meritage is to be commended for entering the green hospitality market.
But why stay on the grounds of a hotel all day? The resort offers bicycle rentals, and the rolling, rural Napa Valley offers miles of quiet, scenic roads. Or, you could float over the countryside in a hot-air balloon; the region offers plenty of opportunities for exploration, from golf courses to hiking trails. Or, you could head into town for some culture at the Napa Opera House, the Oxbow Public Market, the Carolyn Parr Nature Museum, the Lincoln Theater, or the Napa Symphony. The Culinary Institute of America is nearby and offers cooking demonstrations most days of the week. Go a little farther afield, and check out the hot springs and a petrified forest in the town of Calistoga, and even an amusement park.
So, if by some chance you think lounging around a spa, drinking wine is boring, be assured there are alternative possibilities.