Hotel Review

Meadowood Napa Valley

By Kathy Chin Leong

Years ago when I was travelling for business, I was fortunate enough to visit Harwich Port, Massachusetts, an oceanside village anchored by a charming resort of quaint white bungalows scattered about the property. I stayed at this resort over 20 years ago, and while I forgot the name, I will always recall how the tone of the property was sophisticated and high-brow with chandeliers in the entryway, uniformed service personnel everywhere, and business execs in golf attire discussing stocks in the lounge. I felt as if one of the Kennedys would drop in on us at dinner at any moment.

My first visit to the Meadowood Resort and Spa reminded me of that East Coast getaway without the nautical surroundings. Sequestered in the hills of St. Helena off Silverado Trail, Meadowood is a haven for those with the means to spend anywhere from $475 to over $1000 per night on studios and suites with names such as Hillside, Lawnview Terrace, and Treeline Cottage. The most expensive is the four bedroom suite runs about $3,725 per night in the summer and $2,280 in the winter.

This is a private estate surrounded by 250 wooded acres. And upon driving in, you should turn on and listen to a CD of Pachelbel’s Canon in D to get the full ethereal effect of sunlight filtering through redwood trees and earthy smells of moss and warm earth.

Since the property is so large, the reception desk will give you a map to your room so you can drive there. If you need help, the golf cart attendants will ride ahead of you to make sure you don’t get lost. The attendants, young energetic guys, always had a smile and were eager to serve us. These golf carts are handy, and the drivers will pick you up and drive you anywhere around the property.

On this trip with my mom, we stayed in the Treeline Cottage, a bungalow which runs $825 in the summer and $625 in the winter. We loved our 500-square foot room which included a sizable sitting area living room with a fireplace with wood kindling and matches, reading chair, couch, coffee table, and a wide wall unit that included everything from TV with DVD and CD player to toaster and coffee making apparatus and books to read. A minibar was also hidden in this wall armoire, and featured wine and other goodies you could purchase.

Candles and matches were provided for romantic atmosphere. Of course, Mom and I didn’t light them, but agreed they were a nice touch.

As in Napa Valley style, there was a grapevine wreath above the fireplace, wood beams in the ceiling, white walls, and handsome wood furnishings. The bathroom was large enough to fit my entire family of four. The heavenly bed was simple, blanketed by a feather-filled snowy comforter and thick mattress which provided us a deep, deep sleep. And across from the bed was a second TV, just in case you and your partner don’t have the same viewing tastes.

The closets offered plush white robes and a safe to keep our belongings when we went out for a walk.

The elegance of this wooded acreage is simply stunning with photo ops everywhere. Redwood trees, mosses, and grasses are original to the property so there isn’t an artificial "just planted here" feeling. Linen white bungalows are scattered about on hillsides. With my mom’s bum knee, I made sure that there was as little walking as possible to the room, and the folks were able to accommodate us with a cottage with just a few steps to the French doors.

You could spend a nice weekend here without leaving if you desire peace and quiet. For activities there is bird watching, bike rental, golf, hiking, and an on-site wellness program. For folks interested in croquet, there are lessons. Though I have yet to play, I am told this is a world-class croquet course and this I believe, for the grassy lawn for this sport is vast and serious. No crass croquet playing here!

The two pools, outdoor jacuzzi, and well-cared-for tennis courts set in the redwoods are so beautiful that you want to be sure you bring your racket and swimsuit. Do take advantage of these wonderful amenities even if you can barely hit a ball or dog paddle.

The site features a roomy and well-ventilated and windowed gym with plenty of durable equipment-treadmills, stair step machines, the same stuff you will find at your local facility. It also has daily exercise classes, and in the exercise ball class I signed up for, I was the only participant. I didn’t mind. My instructor was my personal trainer for the hour, and it didn’t cost me anything!

Perhaps what is needed most at the site is a larger spa. With a property this size, there are only four treatment rooms and no lounge area to relax in. The waiting area is at the front desk where it doubles as a spa product shop. I was told that in the summer, guests can wait outside by the pool, order drinks, and enjoy the sunshine. However, in the winter, the rules all change, and I was surprised that the resort did not have larger facilities.

The spa services are plentiful with facials and massages of every ilk. I like to try the specialty treatments so I picked the facial with the Napa Valley grapeseed extract which I’m told is good for anti-aging because grapes contain antioxidents.

Dinner at the Grill got a thumbs up with outstanding service. The staff was friendly, timely, and efficient. The menu list of everything from vegetarian fare to meat and seafood was thorough. Mom enjoyed every bite of her ribeye steak which was cooked to perfection. I had ordered a fish dish which was so unremarkable and bland that Mom felt sorry for me and insisted I have some of her dish. On this night, a few tables were occupied, and staff later revealed that they personally recommend going into town for a fun and tasty dinner. Town is but a five to ten minute drive away.

All in all, Meadowood is a picturesque lover’s getaway that touts an East Coast feel with a West Coast laid-back attitude. There is lots to do on a property that’s large, yet with the individual cottages, it can be an intimate hideout for a much-needed romantic interlude between Mom and Dad.

Hotel info:
Meadowood Napa Valley
900 Meadowood Lane
St. Helena, Ca. 94574
707/963-3646 or 800/458-8080

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