By Mary Bemis / September 14, 2011


If you’re looking for a romantic green getaway, pack your bags and head to Yountville. This is as high-end eco as it gets when it comes to luxury hotels. Just opened a year ago this February, Bardessono is raising the bar. The LEED Platinum-aspiring destination was designed by eco-developer Phil Sherburne whose holistic vision for the property shines through in every detail of the five acres that Bardessono covers. This is a hotel that was created with a deep understanding of the earth’s design—and its natural limits and supply.

Simple, sparse lines—imagine box-like buildings covered in corrugated steel—combined with a smart and stylish use of reclaimed materials— recycled stone and salvaged orchard Walnut, Cypress, Redwood, and California Bay woods—are just some of the reasons why this property stands apart. I especially loved the handsome signage monuments crafted from rammed earth and the wild, water-saving tillandsia wall in the main reception area. (Tillandsias are plants with roots that grow in the air instead of the soil and require a simple weekly mist). The exterior of the property is tastefully landscaped with drought-tolerant foliage, organic herb gardens, and vineyards, and 82 geothermal wells naturally heat and cool the 62 suites that double as your own private spa (more on that in a minute). In addition to this, all grey and black water are treated and recycled for irrigation uses by the Town of Yountville.

While the property itself is cool and contemporary in design (this could come off as a bit cold to some), the concept of the spa is one that cocoons. The two women behind this, Loma Alexander and Peggy Francis, created a spa menu and personal experience (spa butlers prepare the way for estheticians and massage therapists in-room) that I have rarely experienced in the States. Your own spa in your own space is a popular concept that’s executed extraordinarily well throughout many of the spas of Asia. Here, you can be cocooned in-room with a gargantuan bathroom that has been outfitted with air-jetted soaking tubs for two, massage tables hidden behind paneled banquets, and ample vanity and armoire space. Outdoor showers as well as dual indoor shower-steam rooms were added to more than half of the garden level suites. I loved the choice of organic amenities: Coyuchi towels and linens, comfortable, lightweight robes by designer Matt Dick, and an array of beauty products from In Fiore. Other high-end organic lines like Om Aroma, Tara, and Dr. Alkaitis are used in spa treatments. (Bardessono is also planning on using seasonally harvested herbs in the spa.) A spa treatment to try is The Organic Way Couples Body Treatment. This is a two-hour service that begins with a Manuka Honey Body Polish to gently exfoliate. After showering that off, a Lomi Lomi-style rhythmic massage ensues using Chardonnay Grape Seed Oil, and at the end of the treatment, you’re refreshed with a facial treatment that includes a spritz of honeysuckle toner. This is a property that’s intent on not only restoring the spirit and energy of its guests, but also of its environment.

Mary Bemis
Mary Bemis

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