Westin Verasa Napa:  Boutique Resort Living with a Napa Flair
By Kathy Chin Leong

All these years when I Napa-ed for the weekend, I never noticed it. But here it was, right across the street from the iconic Wine Train and steps away from the equally iconic Oxbow Market.  The Westin Verasa Napa, while it has a low-key façade on the outside, is surprisingly large. It’s a full-scale vacation resort hotel with two restaurants, full-service spa, swimming pool with cabanas, and huge outdoor jetted hot tub.We took advantage of all these features and give the Verasa top billing and three As:  architectural adaptability to the area, adept service, and its attention to detail in every room. 

The stacked stone exterior matches the other storefronts and buildings in the historic riverfront downtown area, and its seamlessness, I suppose,  is why I missed seeing it all this time. It is elegant and unobstrusive, and the superior location in downtown Napa cannot be beat.At a time when Napa’s downtown is becoming extremely popular, folks have complained of the weekend noise from party-goers late at night, but the Verasa is several blocks away from the lounge and bar action, so that you will experience the peace and tranquility you desire from wine country.In addition, it is close enough to Oxbow Market and the new walking and bicycling path that you can get both exercise and eats in one morning.  The hotel has its own afternoon wine tastings daily, but you can also access the many local wine rooms.  

Convenient services are at your beck and call.  The concierge desk will help you figure out your itinerary for the day and also will let you know which wineries still offer free sips.  The hotel also keeps several winery coupons on hand for two-for-one tastings and a few cards for complimentary ones.  A partnership with the Cru Annex wine room down the street should give all guests free sips in its trendy wine room that also has outdoor spaces.

In addition to the knowledgeable and helpful concierge staff, the engineering and housekeeping staff is attuned to your practical needs. When we forgot our charging cable for our laptop, the engineering team had an extra Apple Mac laptop cable on hand. It was crucial to have this as we were conducting Skype meetings during our stay.  Verasa gets extra points for having the forethought to include this in their backup offerings in addition to extra toothbrushes and toothpaste.FoodTurns out that the hotel restaurant Toque, is a Michelin-starred beauty, and we were eager to try its tasting menu.  Unlike others that list fixed dishes, guests are able to cobble together their own four or five-course tasting menu. You choose an appetizer, first course and/or second course, main course, and dessert.  The setting is elegant, simple, and welcoming.  We sat at the booth with an open view to the kitchen at work.  It was a bonus to see the chefs in action. 

The five-course menu we chose featured:  Angus beef carpaccio, butter poached John Dory, duck breast, milk-fed veal chop, and a cheese plate for dessert.  Other tasting menus I have had would have one or two bites on  single plate, but this one had substantial portions of at least four or five bites, and the main entrée was generous to the point we could not finish it, nor our dessert.

The wine pairing was exquisite for an extra $42-$52 which I recommend.  A wine booklet of some 43 pages lists its many vintages  on an iPad, so you swipe to study fine wines curated from all over Napa and Sonoma county and the globe.  The wine paring of whites and reds was nothing less than exceptional. Each glass accented the spices and subtle savory flavors.  From tantalizing, artful bites to delectable, aromatic drinks, the symphony of dining flowed effortlessly from one course and one wine goblet to the other.  By the time the symphony ended, our stomachs were full and our senses were maxed out as if we had spent the last two hours in a modern art museum viewing all the masterpieces in the world.       

The next morning, breakfast was held downstairs at the BANK café.  In keeping with its healthy mantra for SPG, chef have designed each menu item so it is packed with the optimum in vitamins and minerals. The dishes were hearty and delicious and very generous in portion. The side order of steel cut oatmeal was so large it could serve two, and it was presented in a large soup bowl.  

Rooms and Suites
We were booked in a one-room suite, which was super roomy for a one night stay for two people. Because we venture to Napa so often, I just wanted to enjoy the luxurious room and relax on the premises. And relax we did. The suite was suitable not just for couples but for families.  The suite featured a kitchenette with stovetop, full-sized refrigerator, coffee maker, and sink and counter area, and a microwave.  Very kid friendly.  The open concept kitchen and living room area also featured a good-sized dining table, ideal for eating and working with electric outlets nearby.  The flat screen TV and free Internet also kept us both happy.In the bedroom, another flat-screen TV awaited.

Flipping around the channels I discovered that Westin has its own exercise channel where you can easily follow a set of different exercises and do them in your hotel room. How ingenius is that?   The bed, the notable and trademarked Heavenly Bed, Westin mattress, beckoned us to drift off when it was time.  The décor of quiet earthtones was uncomplicated, easy on the eye.  AmenitiesDownstairs, I skipped away from my room to enjoy one of the pool cabanas to get some reading done.  Then it was time for a short dip in the pool and Jacuzzi time.  It was the quintessential way to end the stay before heading back home.  And because it was off-season in March, the pool area was all mine for the morning.  Stacks of towels and handy water cups with a tower of drinking water was already waiting for me.

Going to Napa and wondering where to stay for your next visit? If you want to go with the kids to explore downtown Napa with its shops, restaurants, and walking and biking paths, your choice is clear- the Westin Verasa.  You can explore or simply park yourself at the resort to chill out and have a fantastic time, either way.  Staying in, you will not feel cramped, but relaxed.  The wine hour, the spa, the restaurants, and outdoor pools and cabanas say “chillax” all over.

Westin Verasa Napa
1314 McKinstry Street
Rates: $215 and up

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