Life on the Ranch

The steam rises off the water from my early morning shower. There is something cathartic about showering nude outside under the shade of the redwoods. Now, although this hotel is called a ranch, there is no roughing it involved. The outdoor shower is a rainshower with enough pressure to totally envelope the body protecting one from the 50 degree surrounding morning mist. The shower, completely enclosed and private, is off a remarkably spacious his/her double bathroom, which in turn, opens to the master suite. Ingeniously designed, the suite connects via outdoor raised deck to the living quarters complete with an indoor/outdoor fireplace.

We became enamored with Auberge Resorts after the company built a vacation destination just 30 minutes from Savannah: Inn at Palmetto Bluff. This property has since become our home away from home when we need to get away but can’t go for long. Auberge Resorts started as a restaurant in Napa, metamorphosing into a hotel and finally a fully-fledged resort empire. Though not for the faint of wallet, these hotels are worth every penny.

This brings me back to Calistoga Ranch. Set back into the hills, just driving across the entry gate lightens the mind and spirit. The lakehouse at the top of the property overlooks a freshwater lake where even my 9 month old seemed lulled into a peaceful tranquility. In the adjoining bathhouse, two serene pools overlook the property while private treatment rooms house the key to soothing even the stiffest of muscles. A larger pool, fitness facility and vineyards round out the rest of the property. We tried all the various treatments, the only one I would recommend skipping is the mud treatments. Administered by a "mud-tender", a personal concoction is produced, with which you are covered, then rinsed off in a mineral bath, followed by a special “senses” experience, which is basically sitting in a vibrating chair with headphones. Didn’t get it.

Any way, there are three different Auberge Resorts to try in Napa – each with a different feel, each with a Michelin stared restaurant to complete the leisure extravaganza. More on the epicurean experience later.

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