While international travel has opened up again, many people are understandably still more comfortable sticking to domestic jaunts, which gives the opportunity to exploring regions they may not have been able to experience before, or revisiting beloved locales.
If you’re at a loss for where to book your next trip, it’s time to consider a trip to Northern California wine country. An adventure in Napa Valley is always a good idea, because what’s better than a vacation spent relaxing amid the rolling vineyards, with a glass of vino in hand? Sure, there are plenty of vineyards throughout the United States (and abroad, of course), but you can’t go wrong with a visit to Napa, which remains the gold standard for wine tasting in the country. And don’t worry, you don’t have to be a wine connoisseur to appreciate the beauty of Napa.
While it once seemed that you could only choose either luxury or sustainability, it turns out the two are not mutually exclusive. Just look at Carneros Resort and Spa, a five-star hotel situated on 28 pristine acres of Napa Valley. While Carneros, which first opened in 2003, is unquestionably one of the most lavish and upscale spots in wine country, it’s also truly eco-friendly. Carneros feels like you’re staying at a palatial private estate; the grounds are filled with lush greenery and bright flowers, while idyllic teak benches and chairs dot the landscape, for whenever you want to take a minute to breathe, relax and enjoy the scenery.
And no, this isn’t a greenwashing situation—Carneros is part of Beyond Green, a new portfolio of hotel and resort properties that only accepts members that abide by specific sustainability fundamentals. “Beyond Green was launched as a brand that represents sustainability leadership in action and impact, based upon our core values of Nature, Culture and Community,” Costas Christ, co-founder and Executive Director of Beyond Green, told Observer. “We wanted to demonstrate what is truly possible through sustainability innovation, leadership and inspiring guest experiences.”
All of the rooms are standalone cottages, which further adds to the private home atmosphere. The vino is the main event of a trip to wine country, but there’s plenty to do at the hotel aside from tasting Napa reds, whether you want to take a dip in the hilltop swimming pool, play on the bocce court, indulge in a spa treatment or partake in a fitness class.
Intrigued? Here’s everything you need to know about Beyond Green’s Carneros Resort and Spa.
The resort is composed of private cottages that are spread out among mini neighborhoods.
Carneros is comprised of just 100 accommodations, including homes and standalone cottages that offer ultimate privacy for the most serene experience. The cottages are situated within mini neighborhoods, with fittingly outdoorsy names like Persimmon, Sycamore, Poppy and Lavender. Like the rest of the resort, all the rooms are designed with a modern take on farm-inspired architecture, featuring a neutral color palette and wood accents throughout airy interiors. While all the rooms, which start at a hefty $1,100 a night, are lovely, I’m partial to the Harvest Cottage I was able to stay in on a recent press trip to Carneros with Beyond Green; the outdoor space is incredible, as the private backyard is outfitted with lush trees, chaise lounges, a fire pit, table and chairs, plus the dreamiest outdoor soaking tub. And yes, that’s in addition to the outdoor shower you can also enjoy.
Every room has its own private wine dispenser.
Just in case you forgot you’re in wine country, every single room at Carneros is outfitted with its own wine dispenser, so you can drink a glass of Napa vino whenever your heart desires. Aside from the enticing wine situation, many of the rooms are also equipped with private fireplaces, vaulted ceilings and the aforementioned outdoor shower.
Indulge in a true farm-to-table dining experience at the very aptly named Farm at Carneros.
Carneros is home to three different dining establishments, but the most exciting is surely Farm, the hotel’s agriculture-based restaurant that offers a true farm-to-table experience. The new chef, John Carney, is elevating the current garden-to-table program, as the hotel has unveiled eight on-property raised-bed culinary gardens, which will grow 50 varieties of organic herbs and vegetables. The menu is “heavily influenced by the micro seasons of Napa Valley,” said Edward Costa, the Managing Director at Carneros, and the chef only uses fresh fruits and vegetables that are perfectly in season. When I dined at Farm this fall, Carney told me that the first two courses of the absolutely delicious meal (a cold tomato soup and garden squash ratatouille) were made entirely with ingredients from the garden mere feet away outside.
Or enjoy a bite at the Boon Fly Café or the Hilltop Dining Room.
Boon Fly Café is a much more casual atmosphere, with dishes like fried chicken and donuts I was told were a must-try. There’s also the Hilltop Dining Room, which is located by the swimming pool and spa. It’s only open to guests of Carneros, and provides a picturesque view of the 28-acre resort.
Embrace peak zen with a relaxing spa treatment.
You can’t go wrong with any of the soothing spa treatments, including facials, scrubs and soaks, but I highly recommend indulging in a massage, where your therapist will use a custom blend of relaxing essential oils for ultimate pampering. Make sure you get the full experience by spending time on the private outdoor deck, where you can take in the vineyard vista. The spa makes sure to appreciate the seasons, too, and offers fall- and winter-inspired treatments for the cooler temperatures, as well as a fall-esque tea with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and spices.
There’s nothing wrong with staying on property, but you *should* head out to see a vineyard…or three.
This is Napa, so there are countless vineyard options for every type of wine lover. That said, if you want to continue in the sustainable vein of a visit at a hotel like Beyond Green’s Carneros, you should absolutely book a tasting at the nearby Bouchaine Winery, which happens to be the oldest continuously operating winery in the region. The vineyard, which emphasizes sustainable farming, has one of the best tasting experiences—not only will you get to try superb varietals, but you can also opt to go for a ride in the winery’s pickup truck, so you can get a view of the entire vineyard and sip your wine while looking out at an impeccable landscape.
The hotel has made a significant commitment to Beyond Green’s principles of sustainability and community.
“Sustainable tourism is an ongoing commitment of Carneros Resort and Spa,” Costa told Observer. “In addition to adhering to ever-evolving guidelines, we have instituted a ‘Beyond Green’ associate committee at the resort. This allows our team members to really understand and appreciate the efforts.” The hotel works with and supports the Napa Valley Community Foundation, which includes outreach efforts like donating food and product to areas impacted by the local wildfires.
The hotel also “supports education and equity initiatives in the wine world, including its Diversity in Wine program, which highlights wines made from vintners and winemakers of color,” explained Costa. “Ten percent of proceeds are donated to a scholarship program created by Napa Valley Vintners in partnership with UNCF. The goal of the scholarship is to help people of color pursue college degrees in wine industry subjects ranging from grape growing, winemaking, marketing, business and more.” Now that you know that sustainability and luxury travel can go hand-in-hand, perhaps it’s time to incorporate the ethos into your own upcoming adventures.