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On Our Travel Wishlist: Meritage Resort in Napa CA Is the Stuff of Daydreams

Jun 27, 2013 at 6:23 PM Chime in now

Built on an eight-acre private vineyard, the award-winning Meritage Resort in the heart of Napa Valley, California is the type of place that inspires daydreaming. It demands it, in fact. Somewhat secluded from the other properties in the region and a 20-minute drive from the town of Napa, guests would be forgiven for retreating inward and escaping to a world where deadlines, to-do-lists and demanding bosses are stuff of fiction.  

The thought occurred to me as I sat on my private balcony, staring out at the field of grape-bearing vines, acknowledging their potential presence in the bottle of complimentary vino at my side— and brimming my glass. I then watched a group of workers busily picking their daily treasures under the watchful eye of a 20-foot bronze statue—a man in a wide-brim hat heartily pressing grapes in a large barrel with a crusher.

One of Napa Valley’s most famous landmarks, the statue—aptly titled the Grape Crusher—was erected as a tribute to early vinters, vineyard workers —and an industry that’s been keeping Napa on its toes for years. I couldn’t take my eyes off this bronzed gentleman with a mission, one so incredibly and beautifully distinct from my own. Indeed, Mister Crusher helped set the escapist tone for my stay at the Meritage. The free-flowing wine may have played a part too.

Wine is the underlying theme here, after all. Which brings me to the spa. At the edge of the Meritage Resort sits the Estate Cave. Enter its cool interior and you’ll find event space, the Trinitas Tasting Room— offering on-site wine-tasting with award-winning wines—and Spa Terra, the first spa in the world to be developed entirely underground.

You’d think a 22,000 square foot cave would figure prominently among the verdant rolling hills and endless stream of vineyards that make up Napa Valley’s exceptional topography. But you’d be wrong. One could easily walk by its earthy facade and not even notice it, as I did in my search for the location of my spa treatment. Then again, in my dreamy state, completely caught up in the loveliness of my surroundings, I would have probably walked past a dancing clown with a balloon fetish without so much as a “Not today, thanks.”

Situated 40 feet under the earth and fabricated from natural stone and copper accents, Spa Terra’s furnishings and architectural stylings call to mind old-world Florentine and good ‘ole Mother Earth. The treatments offered, meanwhile, combine elements of the Napa Valley with those indigenous to Northern California.

Take the 50-minute Vino Bello I had the luxurious pleasure of enjoying. The delicious process began with a comprehensive grape seed scrub, every visible pore in my body polished to its core, followed by a mineral and antioxidant-rich wine and rosehip mud wrap. “This will make your skin smooth, refreshed and regenerated,” offered my skilled and nimble-handed masseuse. I nodded; I was a believer. Then again, wrapped up tight like a mummy, 40 feet below the earth’s surface, my choices were somewhat limited; challenging the woman in seeming control of my liberty didn’t seem the right way to go.

With the lights dimmed and soft music my playlist, I immersed for 20 minutes, body and soul, in the wrap’s warm embrace. I awoke from my reverie with a dousing of grapeseed lotion. Lovely. When it was all over, I dragged my lissome, emollient self to the “serenity lounge”, collapsed onto a plush sofa and inhaled four cups of green tea along with an old Oprah Magazine. After a pit-stop in the steam grotto, a dip in the whirlpool and the furtive pocketing of two shiny green apples, I finally emerged from the cavernous oasis into the bright sunlight—rejuvenated.

It’s not for nothing that Spa Terra was recently voted one of the top 100 spas (80th in North America, 11th in California and numero uno in Napa) by Spas of America. And after a recent expansion that introduced new luxury suites, a bar with six bowling alleys, spectacular outdoor spaces, replete with comfy couches and fireplaces, the Meritage Resort has received its fair share of accolades too.

But for me, it comes down to the Crusher. I return to my room and notice he’s looking a bit tired after an afternoon toiling in the field. But his spirit is high. And so is mine. I raise my glass and make a toast. And then I take a nap.

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