As a Beyond Black member, I have had the privilege of exposure to a plethora of boutique resorts that I would not have been able to locate on my own. Some locales remain under the radar, and rightfully so.
Nestled amongst a substantial acreage of pine and oak forest in an Upper Napa Valley canyon rests a retreat in tune with nature and in sync with those seeking all things luxurious. Whether you seek the adventure of a wilderness hike, the serenity of the healing mineral waters of the Spa, the satisfaction of an organic meal complete with endless local wines, or the coziness of a comfortable bed, Calistoga Ranch is your ideal retreat.
The crown jewel of Auberge Resorts, Calistoga Ranch is known as the perfect setting for a wedding, from the most lavish to the more intimate. My foray to Calistoga involved the moment leading up to such nuptials: marriage proposal. With a full-time wedding manager on Calistoga’s staff, as well as a superb concierge, I was confident that with their help, Calistoga was the location where I would propose to my girlfriend.
After checking into Calistoga in the early evening, we were whisked away by golf cart to our private Oak Creek Spa Lodge, replete with 1200 square feet of indoor-outdoor rustic living space. Being greeted by a two-way fireplace and a bubbling outdoor hot tub was a perfect complement to the cool night air of the Napa Valley. Our friendly concierge quickly maneuvered us through this private sanctum, delivering instructions on the entertainment center, hot tub controls, private outdoor shower garden and wet-bar. We were quite pleased to find out that the first run of the mini-bar was complimentary. Upon hearing that we were to set off on a road trip once our stay was complete, he highly suggested that the contents of the wet-bar travel with us. This gentleman concierge was off to an excellent start. At the time, I didn’t realize how important he would be to my proposal plan.
Considering that we were staying just two nights, I had arranged for the proposal to occur the morning we would depart Calistoga. We spent our first night relaxing in the hot tub with a crisp Calistoga Chardonnay.
It was an easy task falling asleep that night surrounded in the fluffy comfiness that the down duvets and pillows provided in our King bed. The spacious double vanity bathroom allowed us to prepare for the day in an efficient yet pampered style. Seeing as we are both very active individuals, a morning hike amongst the lush surroundings was almost more of a requirement than a ritual. With more than 140 acres of land dedicated to hiking and active pursuits, we had a few trails to choose from.
The views were spectacular and the fresh air rejuvenating. As we descended, our eyes caught a glimpse of some fellow patrons partaking in the outdoor Yoga classes offered daily. Our next move was to visit the famous surrounding vineyards and soak in the local culture. To our surprise, we left the property in a complimentary Mercedes Convertible, a benefit of Calistoga’s Mercedes-Benz Destinations Program. Calistoga sure does demand satisfaction, and we were given such as we rolled seamlessly across the landscape, our hair blowing in the warm winds of the Napa Valley.
Later that evening, we strolled up to the private restaurant, The Lakehouse, which overlooks gorgeous Lake Lommel. During our sumptuous meal, we were able to have a quick chat with the chef, as he personally served us Calistoga’s signature artisan desserts. As we had come to accept, the service was more than excellent, as the staff went out of their way in the most welcoming and genuine way. This was really the theme of our time there, which was never more important than later that night when I received some frustrating news.
Leading up to the proposal, the paramount issue for me was the manner in which the question would be posed. I thought of many different scenarios for this, some bordering outrageous and others more intimate. After deciding that the logistics behind having a stranger parachute down to us with the ring were too messy and unpredictable, I came to the conclusion that a peaceful sunrise air balloon ride would suffice.
I purchased two tickets through a rogue travel company well ahead of time as I heard they book up quickly. After our delightful dinner, I received an email from the ballooning company notifying me that they had cancelled their trips for the week. Trying to conceal my panic, I rushed to the other room and called our concierge. Within 5 minutes, they were able to secure the last two seats on another sunrise balloon ride. Sensing my urgency, they managed to arrange this all with the utmost discretion, as they understood my need for the element of surprise to stay intact.
After two days of bliss, it was time to depart from this majestic forest retreat. The staff greeted us upon our return from the balloon ride and cheered us on our engagement. Considering that we were surrounded by the most pristine wedding setting, we requested a viewing of the wine cave and founder’s room. This exquisite event space offers the needed romantic allure with details like wrought-iron chandeliers and an entrance bedecked with trellised vines and flowers.
In just two short days, we were able to just touch the iceberg of what Calistoga has to offer. What better excuse to host the wedding ceremony among the pleasure that Calistoga Ranch has to offer. We shall see…