In the second part of our luxury travel views column from the Autumn/Winter 2022 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the Four Seasons Napa Valley in California
Autumn and winter are fine times to visit Napa Valley. The sun shines, the crowds aren’t here and nor is the summer heat that increasingly hits Napa, one of the most verdant and spiritual areas of the US. It is also source of some of the world’s greatest wines, thanks to its location on the West Coast, influenced by the cool waters of the Pacific and the semi-desert heat inland.
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Mention of a Four Seasons resort conjures up visions of palatial buildings and good old-fashioned luxe. Not here. You could quite easily drive past the Four Seasons Napa Valley without noticing it, which is the intention. The resort is situated in a working organic vineyard just outside the northern spa town of Calistoga, and is surrounded by an amphitheatre of hillsides.
The wooden buildings are environmentally integrated low-rises, biophilic by design, so that nature is incorporated, not counteracted. A series of swimming pools at the centre faces the hills and the sound of piano sonatas lap across the water. Napa Valley has a light that is as famous in California as that of Provence in Europe. Here, it is luminous, reflecting from the pools to the sky.
The hotel is located at the northern end of the Silverado Trail, the winding road that lines the eastern side of Napa Valley. The great wine estates of the valley are all a short scenic drive, or a longer but more satisfying bike ride, away.
True to the laid-back style of both resort and region, the main restaurant, Calistoga’s Living Room at Truss, and its terrace with a view, is a no-tablecloths kind of place, although Four Seasons regulars may feel it’s trying a bit too hard to be cool. You can try the resort’s own wine, a powerful Cabernet Sauvignon that shows it is made here, in the hottest part of the valley.
Our favourite dining spot – in fact, one of the best dining places in a region famed for its cuisine – was Campo Poolside, the restaurant by the pools. A chicken superfood salad with balsamic vinaigrette had textures and flavours that were crisp, powerful, biting and vivid – perfect Californian lunchtime food. Campo describes itself as Cal-Mexican but, in reality, it serves food that tastes as light as the views.
Our room was effectively the top floor of a wooden chalet, with a balcony overlooking the mountains beyond and the vineyards below (we said hello every morning to the gentleman pruning the vines). It had the feel of being your own residence in the vines (the room had its own entrance and staircase); clever and distinctive.
Read more: Hotel of the Month: The Lygon Arms, the Cotswolds
The resort, with its extended grounds, is very open and outdoors-based, with pathways to walk on or to ride around on in a buggy. It’s great in perfect weather, exposed in the rain. But it doesn’t rain much in Napa, especially these days.
Find out more: fourseasons.com/napavalley
This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX