This week I took an active travel getaway to Solage Calistoga, a new kind of resort in Calistoga, California, and was truly impressed. And it takes a lot to impress me these days. Although Solage Calistoga was created by the same folks responsible for Auberge du Soleil and the other high-end Auberge properties, it wasn’t the luxury amenities at Solage Calistoga that wowed me. In fact, luxury for luxury’s sake is sort of lost on me. What I liked so much about Solage Calistoga was the all-encompassing dedication to health, both mental and physical. Here are a few lessons drawn from my stay; active travel fans and spa hotel designers, take note!
1. Leave your car at the door. At Solage Calistoga, the first thing you see before you even open the door to your “studio” (as they call the rooms) are bicycles waiting just outside the door. And the bikes aren’t just for getting around the property; you’re welcome to ride them down the Silverado Trail — which by the way is relatively flat — allowing you access to dozens of wineries without burning anything but calories.
2. Offer yoga classes – and make sure the teacher’s truly expert. If I’m going to drag myself to the yoga studio while on vacation, my feeling is I darn well better learn something, and not spend my precious hour grimacing in downward dog and wondering why I bothered. The flow class at Solage taught by Ulrika Engman had as many local devotees as resort guests, a sure sign of excellence. Engman’s suggestions for getting the most from each pose were so helpful that my cobras and twists will never be the same.
3. Provide private hot tubs. A late-night soak under the stars is an absolute necessity for a rejuvenating getaway, in my humble opinion. (And speaking as someone who’s got a bad back.) But too often you’re sharing an overcrowded tub with loud, over-enthusiastic folks who want to whoop it up or tell you about their day’s adventures when what you really want is to mull over your own in meaningful silence.
4. Purify pools with salt water. Nothing feels more like an oxymoron than trying to soak away your aches and pains in over-chlorinated water. Your skin feels itchy, your nose twitches, your silver rings and bracelets turn black, and you wonder: if that’s what the chemicals are doing to my jewelry, what’s it doing to myDNA?
5. Offer healthy menu choices — and mark them clearly on the menu. Top-notch chefs are pretty common in the Napa Valley, and while I’m the first to appreciate delicious food, it’s also true that you can find an amazing roast pork loin just about anywhere these days. But kale expertly seasoned so it’s not bitter? Not so much. At Solbar, the surprisingly cozy yet expansive restaurant at Solage Calistoga, the menu is listed in two separate columns, color-coded: red for richer, meatier choices and green for lighter, healthier fare. Makes it much easier to be sure that your dinner isn’t going to undo the benefits of all that cycling.