A taste of Europe in northern California! : Hotel discovery!
for the first time in many years, I found myself “grounded” for Christmas. As much as i LOVE to get on a plane and go somewhere ( for work or vacation), I was almost relieved this year to be on the ground and NOT boarding any sort of plane. Having said all that, I still wanted to “get away” so I began the fun task of researching all the drivable places my husband and I could get to from our home in southern CA. Now, since I do actually plan trips for clients (as well as work on the planes), I put all my work experience to good use for our special Christmas getaway!
The destination decision
After deciding on northern CA as the destination spot, I narrowed it down to a few fun places He or I have never spent much time. Sonoma instantly came to mind: I had always heard great things about it but had never been there. Of course we would have to pay a visit to Napa as well since it is such a close neighbor and has so much to offer in terms of great food and activities. Oh,, did I mention you can do “a bit” of wine tasting there?! 🙂
Ok, now comes the hunt for the perfect accommodations..
You have to guess I am a bit of a “hotel snob” after spending so many years traveling. Yes, actually “living out of a suitcase”, like my family calls it. This part of the vacation planning took the most time and research for me, but I treated it like a work assignment.
First, I asked for opinions from friends and family. I don’t really like to rely on the online reviews because they are not always accurate and usually biased in some way.
Side note: Although I did not choose a hotel from the friendly suggestions, I was reminded of the amazing Culinary Institute in Napa! Yes, this is a must do/visit, if you are ever in this area!
Back to the Hotel situation.. My next step was to narrow down what type of hotel and Amenities I was looking for. I know I was going for :romantic,cozy, 4-5 star quality, and non-corporate structure type. I set up a search for these key words in my hotel apps, and slowly started to twiddle down the most appropriate choices.
What I finally came up with was a place called: “Sonoma Coast Villa and Spa”. I called the hotel directly to make sure its description online was accurate. Fireplaces in the rooms, individual villas/ suites, spa, etc. I found out they were also offering a Christmas package that included “3 course dinner for 2, breakfast each morning, wine tasting, and a complementary bottle upon arrival”. OK, I decided this was it!! Yahoo!
I made the reservations, finished off the rest of the vacation itinerary, booked the dog nanny, and anxiously awaited our holiday getaway!
I have to mention, if I let my husband plan the trip, we would probably be staying in a Holiday Inn along the highway somewhere.( not that there is anything wrong with Holiday Inn), but my point is that he isn’t much of a planner and is not the “hotel Snob” I am. It actually makes him a little nervous when he tries to plan because he is so afraid it wont be; “up to my standards”.. awe…
I have to admit, I was a little nervous on the drive because I really wanted it to be a special trip and was hoping this hotel was all that it promised to be.
When we arrived, My very first impression was: “wow, I am in Europe again! but without the 10 hour flight!! I started to relax and was beaming with happiness at the sight of this place.
The check in process was very easy and quick ( love that). Then We were shown to our private villa. There was indeed, a bottle of wine chilling for us, and the place was exactly as described, wood burning fireplace and all!
After we got settled in, We booked our ‘couples massage’ at resort spa for that evening, and took a long walk around the property. The layout was very unique to any US hotel I have been to. Like I mentioned, it was very European, similar to the south of France which has charming boutique style hotels and narrow walkways, And Italian mixed in with the coziness of it,and all the stone. There are even horse stables for guided tours behind the property!
We dined in at the hotel for dinners and breakfast because we found the quality of the food so unbelievably good!
The meals all tasted like home-cooked dishes, again having European flare to them. Even the rosemary bread at dinner and pastries at breakfast were homemade!
One of the days it rained so hard that we actually stayed in all day. We borrowed some board games from the “library” on premises, sat by the cozy stone fireplace with a glass of wine, and made lunch in our little kitchen.. . In most hotels, we would not been been able to make this washout day so enjoyable!
This hotel gets my 5 star stamp of approval! The accommodations, spa, food, and customer service was outstanding!
Thank you “Sonoma Coast Villa and Spa” for making our Christmas getaway so special!
To my readers- I hope one day you can experience this wonderful place in Northern CA!
Cobblestones and Heels