Speeding down Napa’s Silverado Trail while driving a silver Mercedes convertible, I thought to myself, “This is luxury.” I was able to take out the car as a complimentary service at Calistoga Ranch, a 157-acre property nestled in a private canyon in Napa’s Upper Valley. The ranch has a partnership with Mercedes in which the car company leaves six cars at the property for guests to check out on a first-come, first-serve basis. This partnership is merely one indication of how high-end the ranch really is, attracting top execs and even celebrities such as Morgan Freeman. However, the six Mercedes awaiting attendees at the entrance is merely the beginning of what the property has in store for groups.
Upon arrival, all attendees are greeted with a glass of the ranch’s chardonnay, as well as a complimentary bottle of it in each of the 50 guest rooms (or lodges). The entire ranch—built about 10 years ago—was designed to incorporate the landscape. My lodge’s patio, which connected the living room to the bedroom, was built around a tree that continues to grow in the middle of the outdoor space. The outdoor shower—a must-try if you’re staying here—outside my bathroom was also built around a tree. In fact, less than 10 trees were cut down during the construction of the property.
This same earthy-meets-luxury feel is apparent in the Creekside Clubhouse. Groups can meet in the clubhouse’s outdoor living room—a wooden, cabin-like deck complete with a drop-down screen—and do business while looking out over the property’s creek. The space also has two smaller breakout rooms as well as a stone patio. Another quintessential event space is the onsite wine cave, which meeting planners really can’t avoid using. The 1,175-sf cave is simply too inviting and can be used for anything from a theater-style-seated meeting to a dinner with a dance floor.
The ranch’s vineyard—the only one in Napa Valley to actually be located onsite at a resort—doubles as a truly one-of-a-kind event venue. The 1,400-sf tented space stands adjacent to the Cabernet vines, available for attendees to pick grapes from and taste. The ranch’s onsite garden—featuring herbs, peppers, tomatoes, you name it—is also nearby for attendees to peruse. The experience would not be complete without a visit to the property’s chicken coop. Mike Moran, director of sales and marketing, says the coop was recently featured in Vogue because of its chandelier and a photo of the general manager hanging inside—a clever nod to the Marriott tradition of hanging Mr. Marriott’s photo in specific hotels.
All of the farm-fresh produce is used at The Lakehouse, the onsite restaurant available only to guests staying at the ranch. The restaurant features glass walls that slide open onto the expansive patio, where attendees can dine overlooking Lake Lommel. The restaurant also has a private patio and boardroom, which can be used in tandem for business lunches.
As for group activities, the property offers miles of hiking trails as well as a pool and bocce ball court—both of which feature adjacent event space ideal for an opening or closing reception. Nothing says bon voyage like a poolside toast surrounded by the Napa Valley hills—and one last joy ride in a Mercedes.