Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A luxury retreat in Napa...oh my.

Part of the Meritage Resort in Napa.
Napa is known for great wine, cozy bed and ,and gorgeous scenery. All this is nice, but if I wanted to have a resort experience, the closest place was the Ritz at Half Moon Bay. That is...until now.

"We began back in October of 2010 thinking that by now the economy would be turned around, which it is," said Tim Busch, the CEO of Pacific Hospitality Group/owner of The Meritage Resort and Spa.

Tim told me their goal was to build a destination resort to bring in groups during the week and on the weekend draw in tourists coming to the Napa valley for holiday and wine tasting. The total cost of the expansion was $40 million and it took 19 months to finish. They added 165 rooms to their existing 150 rooms so more than doubling their occupancy. They also added 10,000 square feet of interior meeting space and about 18,000 square feet of exterior meeting space which they plan on using mainly for weddings, lunches and dinners.

One of the couple spa room at the Meritage in Napa
"This is now the largest resort of its type for groups outside of San Francisco and Sacramento," Busch said.

But they didn't just add space; they added fun. The resort features North America's first underground, full-service spa -- which is absolutely fabulous.  It's not claustrophic or damp or even remotely cavelike -- except for the stone walls and that you are underground.  Instead, it's tranquil and relaxining.  Most of the rooms are made for couples with double massage beds and whirlpools built-for-two, but because I was there by myself, I didn't get to check that part out, but I can say that they looked romantic.

Andrew Bradley, my tour guide and Meritage PR person
There's even this one spot where you can stand and the acoustics are so incredible, it gives you chills.  If my tour guide, the amazing Mr. Andrew Bradley wasn't there, I would have maybe hummed a few notes. But I contained myself and only said a few words. 

If the spa isn't for you, the Meritage also has its own vineyard and an underground tasting room. Because, really...why go to Napa if you can't go for the wine?

I have to say that even the grounds are really nice.  There are hot tubs scattered across the resort and vineyards surrounding it on the Napa hills.  I went for an 8 mile run in the morning and it was heaven.  Peace and quiet and miles and miles of grape vines. 

The entrance to the underground spa and wine tasting room
But while these were the things that I loved, the expansion item that has both the guests and the locals talking is the 6-lane bowling alley.

"We don't have anything like this in Napa. I can see us coming here and hanging out to watch the games on the big screens or doing some bowling ," said Eric Tracy, Napa resident. "It's really nice and different."

The bowling alley is part of the Meritage's Crush Ultra Lounge, and it is quickly earning the reputation of being Napa's newest premiere location for cocktails, sports entertainment, dining and bowling. This multi-level space also includes a pool table, shuffleboard, fireplace and both high-top and lounge seating.

I love the scenery of Napa
The locals aren't the only ones excited to see the Ultra Lounge open. Tim says this has been a dream of his for a while.

"Ten years ago the kids were at Greenbriar, which is a destination resort in West Virginia, and they were bowling for hours. I said, 'This is so cool.' I told my daughter we're going to build a bowling alley in our resort," said Busch. "It's one of those sports that appeals to people of all ages. They have fun and make some noise. You don't have to be good at it. You can just play and it works out."

This place has something for everyone.  The newly expanded resort opened in May. Even if you aren't staying the night, Tim says people can  drop by to check out the spa, tasting room, the many restaurants and bars, and of course, the posh bowling alley.