The Wait is Over! Four Seasons Resort Napa Valley.

A century ago, the bucolic town of Calistoga was known primarily for its bubbling natural hot springs, mud baths, beautiful weather, and the initial plantings of grape vines. Calistoga has matured like the fine wines that surround the town and five-star resorts. Ardent oenophiles, foodies, and wellness seekers flock to the valley at the base of Mount St. Helena.

Worth the Wait!  For months we besieged our Four Seasons rep, dear Fabiola – when does Four Seasons Napa Valley open? Is it open yet? Can we visit yet? Repeat at least 20 times! 

Four Seasons Resort Napa Valley

Worth the delay for our visit last week, a few of us meandered to Calistoga for a delightful private afternoon on property…the resort style reflects the area, a beautiful chic farmhouse design set amid vineyards and resting at the base of Mount St. Helena and perched on the edge of the Mayacamas Mountains. If you know of local Napa designer, Erin Martin, you will absolutely love this authentic luxury retreat! 

A unique distinction, the Four Seasons Napa Valley is the only resort set within a working winery, truly an asset on sultry summer days – no reason to leave the property! Exclusive wine tastings and in the evening mosey up to the fine dining restaurant Truss, and reserve the chic glassed in Chef Table within the working kitchen!  The outdoor terrace overlooks vines and the two shimmering pools.

Four Seasons Resort Napa Valley

Our champagne toasted arrival set the stage for an afternoon of elegance and excellence! My Journey mantra is the arrival is one of the most important aspects of a hotel stay. Approach the natural stone building at the crest of the hilly driveway, enter the glass walled reception and absorb the visual hints of the history of Calistoga. The walls tell the story of the Valley, truly a sense of place is established from the moment you arrive. Behind the check in desk, a wall of black and white straw sombreros line the wall. I loved the juxtaposition of the painted hats, a reminder of the men and women who brought this valley to life and continue to make it thrive, the legacy of the indigenous workers. Another wall is covered with a massive mural installation reflecting a proud woman, a woman with dark skin and a jet-black long braid, she is cradling a hand-woven basket of grapes. Her attire is a collage of natural colors, the soft browns of the soil, the red of the berries, her jacket is bedecked with intricate grape leaves, a melange of patchwork blocks represent water, soil, and life. The Wappo Indians settled here 8,000 years ago, bathing in the warm geothermal waters. The Spanish followed; the reception area honors the early locals. Look left and out the floor to ceiling wall of windows, gaze out toward a long reservoir of shimmering water punctuated by spurting fountains. Water features are featured in several areas of the property, many flanked by lengthy lines of olive trees.

Four Seasons Resort Napa Valley

Natural light, comfy luxe interiors, local pale stone, the hotel hosts 85 rooms and one-bedroom suites set amid the grape vines. Grape to Glass is the successful theme. One and two-story villas also compliment the property. BTW, the Villas are all sold out – an amazing feat! Villas will be managed by the hotel and must reflect the hotel décor. No mismatched owner art here! Kiddy pool and an extended adult pool, both amid ancient olive trees with gnarled trunks indicating their longevity in the Valley.

Four Seasons Resort Napa Valley

Two dining experiences, the fine dining Truss, is helmed by Michelin starred chef Erik Anderson- farm to table dining and an exquisite chef table within the glass walled kitchen- that looked like a superb exclusive experience!

Campo- mosey to the pool and order Cal-Mexican bites in the rustic open air poolside Cal Mexican fare located between the Resort Pool and the Kiddy Pool. Linger over lunch with spicy cocktails or chilled cervezas! The colorful table setting, and bright yellow umbrellas seem to suggest Celebrate! 

World-class winemaker and Calistoga resident, Thomas Rivers Brown manages the winemaking program at the Four Seasons Resort. A native of South Carolina, he began his California winemaking career in 1997.  As a minimal interventionist, he creates wines that showcase the vineyard. Renowned wine critic Robert Parker Jr. has awarded him 23 perfect 100-point scores on his Cabernet Sauvignon projects over the past decade.

Pick up a bike and go for a ride along local country roads, winding through hidden valleys and lush vineyards. Ask about our Four Seasons guided bike tours. Hot air balloons, a multitude of resort activities if you are inclined.

Full-service spa with nail salon, steam, mud treatments and of course seed to skin treatments. Greek philosophers often praised the healing power of grape seeds. Today, the seeds are recognized for their potent antioxidants and polyphenols, flavonoids, and anthocyanins, helping to neutralize and eliminate harmful free radicals on the skin. Specialized treatments incorporate grape seeds and olive oil produced from the century-old olive trees on the property. An exfoliating scrub of sugar and grape seeds leaves your skin with a soft, luminous glow.

Founded as a hot-springs resort in the 1860s, Calistoga is committed to preserving its original character. Stroll the charming downtown and explore the array of exclusively independent shops and cafés.

Four Seasons Resort Napa Valley was worth the wait, and I anticipate staying and signing up for the grape seed spa treatments and enjoy another scrumptious meal above the vineyards!

Four Seasons Resort Napa Valley

Four Seasons Los Cabos at Costa Palmas

The traveler who will enjoy the unspoiled desert and Sea of Cortez paradise an hour from the bustling Cabo San Lucas area may not feel a sense of isolation, even after a year of pandemic seclusion. My initial visit to Four Seasons Los Cabos Resort at Costa Palmas didn’t disappoint, and now with extensive progress in adding chic private villas, my recent visit confirms the resort has preserved its Zen vibe.

Four Seasons Los Cabos Resort at Costa Palmas Courtesy of FS Los Cabos

The pure East Cape area lacks hordes of travelers; by nature, this wild undeveloped vast desert, home to Cabo Pulmo National Park is dotted with a landscape of ancient Cardón cactus, empty swimmable beaches on the sparkling Sea of Cortez with remarkable diving, wind sports and tournament worth fishing.  Many of the sleepy fishing villages are known only to avid fishermen. The raw beauty of this sweeping coastline covering over 75 miles mesmerized Jacques Cousteau who described it as the ‘world’s aquarium’ and John Steinbeck who spent a six-week expedition on the Sea of Cortez chronicled in his Sea of Cortez: A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research.

Nighttime shadows at Four Seasons Los Cabos Resort at Costa Palmas

The pandemic slowed the expansion of new resorts in this area, which are just in the beginning steps of breaking ground. Cabo San Lucas proper is still teeming with high rise hotels along the well-traveled corridor. I’m hoping the almost 60-minute desert drive will keep this pristine area slightly undiscovered! The Four Seasons has continued their construction with private Villas, the Presidential Suite was completed, the harbor is showing signs of life with several yachts in slips along the banks of the jetty.

The numbers: Resort features 141 guest rooms including 23 suites, all with views of the Sea of Cortez; five dining options including world-renowned Estiatorio Milos on the beach; several authentic retail shops; a massive gym, Kids Club, outdoor sports; four pools, including an expansive kiddy pool, Jacuzzi pools, a lap pool behind the state-of-the-art gym, tennis courts with excellent pros, basketball court and golf! Small kiddy fountain is just outside the Kids Club. The deep, protected marina, once fully constructed will accommodate sleek yachts up to 250 feet, and a promised marina village with cafes and boutiques is on the drawing board.

I adore the remoteness; with miles of pristine white sand, the Sea of Cortez vista is enhanced by the enveloping backdrop of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountain range with a few small islands off in the distance. Where else do you feel the edge of the earth drops from sight from your beach lounger? My first pandemic Journey, it was the perfect combination of endless days of chaise reading, tennis lessons, limitless beach walks and drowsy napping. In the winter and spring, a breeze blows most days, keeping you cool and creating a few whitecaps in the sea. Part of the draw is the exclusiveness, surrounded by acres of undulating sand sprouting the oldest cactus in the world. The Sea of Cortez is one of the richest and most diverse on the planet. A UNESCO Marine World Heritage site, the nearby Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park is home to 695 species of aquatic plants and 891 species of fish. Jacques Cousteau called it “The Aquarium of the World.”

Plan a boat trip from the marina for unforgettable diving and snorkeling. Take a short hike and go for swim beneath a waterfall pouring off granite cliffs. Or head to El Triunfo, a 19th-century mining town where several old buildings have been restored and converted to restaurants, boutiques, art galleries and a museum. Further afield is La Paz where swimming with the gentle whale sharks is a favorite water activity.

Four Seasons Los Cabos Resort at Costa Palmas

On this visit, my driver stopped at a humble roadside stand to treat me to fresh Dragon Fruit Ice Cream. Also called Pitaya or Pitahaya, the prickly spiked fruit is the fruit of a cactus originally from Mexico and Central America. People describe the flavor as a mix between a pear and a kiwi.

The resort arrival is subtle, the meandering property is accessed by a sandy road noted by the iconic Four Seasons image on a rust-colored sign, an enormous spread of native cactus and tall palms punctuate the curving dusty road to the resort. The edges of the 18-hole Robert Trent Jones II designed golf course appear before you reach the soaring sleek roofline of the arrival pavilion. Accented with reflecting pools of still and trickling water, broad expanses of shadowed walkways, the arrival foyer sets the stage with an alluring view of small pools and exquisite manicured native gardens, the view ends at the sapphire sea. A low-lying architectural footprint blends into the sanctuary setting. From the sea, the resort must appear as a pale white mirage.

I like to move room locations to understand a property- i.e., do you hear guests from the rooms and suites near the pools or restaurants. The sunrise suite hadn’t been completed on my last visit, so I begged to stay near the jetty for the brilliant sunrise. The jetty entrance is now active, so one might not want to see or hear fishing boats headed to sea at dawn, but I enjoyed the morning welcome. This far end of the resort many not even be discovered by many guests, which I also love! A small private pool with overhead shade trellis is convenient and attended by the most attentive Cabana staff, Augustin! He looked for me each day either farther out on the beach loungers under a massive white umbrella, or at the mini pool, kindly shifting the umbrella every hour or so to keep me out of the sun. Augustin maintained my hydration with gallons of water, a Margarita or two, lunch and frozen watermelon pops or wedges of pineapple sprinkled with Tajin. Five-star service translates to mind reading and Augustin is an expert mind reader!

I was recently asked how I would define the differences between a 4 or 5-star hotel – it’s mostly the little things, which add up to perfection! One sign of a five-star property – the moment you plop in a lounger, an ice bucket brimming with chilled water is at your side before you open your book. Another petite note, if you order a drink, the server should make sure there is a table next to a lounger – recent experience by young staff delivering drink – where do you want me to put this? Ahh, could you rustle up a table and bring water as well? Site inspections are important and people think I am just lounging about when I escape! This does not happen at a five-star hotel, No flaws if Augustin is watching out for you at Four Seasons Los Cabos Resort at Costa Palmas!

Arranged in several horseshoe zones, the resort doesn’t feel vast. My one-bedroom oceanfront suite was literally less than a dozen steps from the beach. Upstairs suites have massive terraces and downstairs rooms, and suites have same terrace and plunge pools. I prefer upstairs to keep the doors open 24/7 to catch the sea breeze and listen to the bird chatter. The beautiful art filled Presidential Suite is beachfront – and multiple villas are ready to welcome you for a long Journey.

Five restaurant choices translate to dining on property for a week without driving or waiting in lines. The options include world-renowned Estiatorio Milos on the beach. Recognized as one of the finest Mediterranean seafood restaurants in the world, Estiatorio Milos was founded by acclaimed chef Costas Spiliadis who has made it an unparalleled culinary destination in Montreal, New York, Athens, Las Vegas, Miami, and London. International flair meets local ingredients at this chic beachside restaurant and bar.

Keep it casual at Casa de Brasa, the poolside Baja brasserie, serving fresh favorites such as grilled shrimp tacos, chopped salads and guacamole made to order. Choose from craft beers, classic margaritas, and frozen cocktails. Lounge dining is delivered fresh from Casa de Brasa.

Limón, a farm-to-table al fresco dining venue featuring produce harvested from Costa Palmas on-site orchards and farm is situated amid a small lemon orchard. Massive grills roast catch of the day, organic grass fed steaks and ribs. Lovely dining setting accented with swaying paper lanterns and strings of white lights above the umbrellas.

Ceviche Bar – Taste the freshest local ceviche’s, tossed with your choice of chili vinegars and herbs from our garden. Or try the tostadas, topped with sailfish, jicama, and jalapeño.

It’s comfortable to spend your entire sojourn at the resort, I didn’t venture out due to Pandemic precautions, next visit I will take advantage of the off-property activities. The Four Seasons is partnered with Aventura, an activity team at Costa Palmas, with a roster of escapades that reveal the East Cape’s adventurous side. Hike to a natural water slide in Sol de Mayo, try your sand racing skills in a sunrise Polaris RZR excursion, fly over Sahara sized dunes, golf all day or snooze- whatever tickles your fancy, the resort provides activities for the restless or the fatigued!

Four Seasons Los Cabos Resort at Costa Palmas is near enough for a long weekend escape, the generous footprint makes one feel you have paradise all to yourself!

Four Seasons Los Cabos Resort at Costa Palmas
Four Seasons Los Cabos Resort at Costa Palmas

Up your golf or improve your overhead smash with the excellent tennis pros, or drag a satchel of books and plop and gaze at the sapphire seas! Our Preferred Partner status provides additional amenities for our clients, call me!