ST. HELENA, Calif. Less than an hour’s drive inland from San
Francisco is rest, wine and great cuisine in and around the tony
hamlet of St. Helena. In the heart of this setting lies
A bucolic, neatly developed resort, Meadowood lies on a 250-acre
former Christmas tree farm, with its own nine-hole golf course and
two croquet lawns.
At times, the resort feels as if it leapt out of the pages of
Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” Case in point: Besides Meadowood’s
croquet lawns, the resort features old-style hickory-stick golf.
The hickory clubs and lessons the only cache of hickory clubs in
regular use west of the Mississippi are supposedly especially good
for those just taking up the game.
As for lodging, one finds not rooms, but 85 meticulously appointed
cottages, suites or lodges set in the woods. Lodgings contain plush
furniture velour sofas and loveseats around a warming fireplace
with classic white wicker on the porch.
Cozy cabin life is the name of the game here. With down comforters
resting on high-thread-count sheets and blankets, bathrooms that
feature deep soaking tubs and cottages that come with coffeemakers
and toasters for handy morning victuals.
But lest we forget this is chic Napa, a guest service manager stays
on top of the best restaurant seats in the area, forging the way
for guests’ reservations both on the Meadowood estate and in
The resort also employs a resident wine expert, John Thoreen, also
known as The Wine Tutor. He can produce customized itineraries for
guests to any and all of the vintners and winemakers in the
Completing the picture is a phalanx of valets that dispatch
themselves in golf carts to the cottages, serving guests’ every
On the activity side, guests have a choice of relaxation, or
recreation, usually combined with transformation. One can use,
relax by or sunbathe near two pools a family pool and a lap pool.
There is also a tennis club, along with splendid asphalt
Finally, the Health Spa recently instituted full 60-, 90- and
120-minute treatments built around the themes of “Renewal, Clarity,
Enlightenment, Serenity, Harmony and Discovery.” Guests making use
of the spa can also choose to be lavished with the essence of aged
cabernet or merlot grapes, upon request.
Then again, guests will find mere walks in the woods to be
transforming. There are nearly five miles of trails surrounding
Meadowood. One leads to a quiet labyrinth on a hill, perfect for
meditation and rumination.
Meanwhile, at the activity buildings, your clients can join a yoga,
tai chi or group meditation class. A schedule of these activities
is posted weekly in the fitness gym and in the spa’s gift shop.
If your clients are more interested in shopping than hiking,
however, the resort is only one mile from St. Helena’s quaint Main
Street, with its clothing, gift and home design shops.
Considering how nourishing the resort itself can be, however, it’s
doubtful that your client will ever get past the stand of olive
trees marking the resort entrance.