Wafting along a sinewy road in California’s Napa Valley, heat waves disperse off the blacktop and distort the scenery ahead, as if to suggest the splendor of the land is merely a mirage. Hypnotic phalanxes of grapevines edge the highway in faintly recognizable patterns; staring too long causes slight delirium but a slow hot wind brings vineyard aromas in through the window and awakens the senses. It’s in these epic windswept estuarine flats and rolling hills our story begins.
The pastoral epicurean enclave of Yountville contains perhaps the Americas’ highest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants outside of Manhattan. Yountville’s famed Washington Street is lined with many culinary sensations. Entering the town from the south, one passes several of renowned chef Thomas Keller’s establishments — Ad Hoc, Bouchon, and the attached Bouchon Bakery — before coming upon the jewel of his empire, the legendary three-Michelin-starred French Laundry. Other favorites — Bottega, Bistro Jeanty, Domain Chandon, and Redd — are not to be forgotten, the last two have one Michelin Star each and all attract world travelers in search of fine dining. In this quaint speck on the map lays a unique sanctuary to delight and capture the imagination of even the most jaded traveler. A weary visitor seeking refuge from the scorching sun and rural backdrop will find a lush oasis in this small village; luckily it is not a mirage.
That place is called Bardessono, a luxurious hotel, spa, and restaurant, with 62 well- appointed guestrooms. Immediately one realizes there is much more than meets the eye. Their mission statement pledges to care for the environment, guests, property, and community. One look inside reveals they have delivered on the promise. The concepts at work here conjure the bucolic romance of Sub-Saharan Africa’s Ubuntu philosophy and invite us to delve deeper.
The brainchild of noted eco-friendly developer Phil Sherburne, his forward thinking ways have yielded a resort that reminds us we can build beautiful and modern objects without compromising environment or vision. The Bardessono family hiers, upon whose historic farmstead the resort is built, handpicked Sherburne for this project. Through innovative use of modern materials, cutting edge energy efficiency systems, and a strategy that intensely values low ecological impact, the hotel is one of just three in the world to receive the highest Platinum certification from LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). It is certainly the most green hotel in the United States. Architect Ron Mitchell’s design is a modern classic; the construction is cool enough to be a Bond villain’s lair, but remains unassuming and warmly welcoming. In the forecourt, hybrid Lexus guest loaners and featherweight carbon fiber bicycles affirm that Green no longer means that luxury has to be sacrificed.
The guestrooms are contemporary and elegant. Judicious use of an earthy colour palette along with perfectly mixed organic and modern materials ensure the appointments feel tranquil, never cold, and leave the chilling to the brisk evening valley breezes. Custom-crafted furnishings complement the architecture and plenty of modern gadgets make a globetrotter feel right at home. Suites are designed with in- room spa treatments in mind and stocked with handmade bath products by In Fiore. Crisp linens and plush robes are provided by Coyuchi, local artisans renowned for their organic cotton.
Guests who wish to venture out of their private sanctuaries – who could blame them if they didn’t? – can explore the resorts’ other amenities. Visit the Bardessono restaurant, featuring farm fresh, seasonal organic ingredients sourced locally, or cool off at the stylish bar. One may also indulge in a menu of another kind, the diverse and soothing offerings at the hotel Spa. Exploring further, some of the finest wineries and restaurants in the world are but a stone’s throw away. One could not ask for a better place to doze off in blissful slumber after indulging in an epic multi-course tasting menu. After the prandial proclivities have been satisfied ask the hotel concierge to arrange one of their delightful bicycle tours of the charming town.
As visitors pamper their bodies and minds in this retreat, they can rest assured that the same care and thoughtfulness is being given to the earth below them. Green initiatives run deep in the soul of Bardessono, quite literally. 72 geothermal wells, each 300 feet deep, are used to heat rooms and their water. Above,
947 solar panels, non-intrusive to the neighboring community, supply a significant portion of the resort’s power needs while energy efficient lights and networked sensors ensure little is wasted. These innovations, amongst countless others, make Bardessono 50% more efficient than other hotels. Even before it opened, it had already bested many developments by boasting a 93% recycling rate of construction materials.
Clearly designed with the future in mind, Bardessono is far beyond the trendy boutique hotel it appears at first glance. To find salvaged wood, carbon fiber, and solar panels living in perfect harmony – that is to realize it is possible that man’s most advanced innovations can indeed be in synergy with the earth from whence it all came. To find a hotel not afraid of facing challenges to maintain its commitment to a principle – that is to recognize that luxury still exists.