Napa Valley, California
There’s something utterly captivating about lush, landscaped gardens and towering trees, surrounding the magical use of brick and wood in comely, comfy cottages that beckons the visitor to enter a fairytale-like land of imagination and wonder. No, it’s not Disneyland but something more akin to a Hobbit-like labyrinth of upscale resort delight. St. Helena’s Harvest Inn is a romantic retreat where luxury and comfort are yours in a garden paradise that brings one back to Eden. No wonder this dreamscape has become a popular wedding destination featuring over eight acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, manicured lawns, bountiful vineyards and stunning courtyards. The Harvest Inn’s country-estate accommodations feature handcrafted fireplaces and intricate woodwork, hidden among soaring trees and nestled beside Napa Valley’s lush Whitehall Lane Winery’s vineyards.
It would be easy to miss Harvest Inn while cruising down Napa Valley’s main artery—Highway 29, because of the huge wall of trees and dense shrubs concealing most of the buildings. Yet the sudden change in landscape alerts you to the fact that you are not in Vineland any longer. You are about to be transported to another realm. After driving past row upon row, acre upon acre and mile upon mile of vineyards, a new world awaits the visitor beyond the dense green barrier.
Stunning brickwork is everywhere—steps, arches, walls, and of course, stout English-countryside structures with shingled roofs suggesting in appearance—if you didn’t look too closely—that they may be thatched. After a pleasant welcome in the cavernous registration hall, we followed a paved trail through a dense forest to find our duplex cottage. Inside, a massive brick fireplace stretched a dozen feet across and soared another ten feet toward the ceiling, its smoky aroma signifying recent use. A vaulted ceiling enlarged the ample dimensions of our suite while etched glass on windows and doors contributed to the feeling that artistry and craftsmanship were of paramount importance when these accommodations were being constructed. This was, indeed, someone’s idea of a love cottage, a romantic retreat far removed from the grind of civilization and busy-ness. We learned that the owner himself spent many hours perfecting as well as enjoying the fruit of his vision.
A complimentary bottle of local wine graced a small table in our room, indicative of the generous hospitality we were about to receive. Our luxurious king-size bed featured a plush duvet, down pillows and 400-count linens. The Inn’s 74 spacious guest rooms, each having its own distinct personality, are divided into four separate environments, providing views of vineyards, mountains or the charming landscaped gardens. Our room was a Fountain Room that included a spacious bathroom with oversized soaking tub and separate shower. In addition to our wood-burning fireplace (found in most rooms), we enjoyed a private deck overlooking one of two pool and spa areas, and lush, flowering shrubbery. The ultimate in accommodations at the Harvest Inn are the Wine Country Suites featuring two levels with separate living and sleeping areas. No matter which plan you choose, a complimentary wine country breakfast is included for each guest, served in the Wine Country Kitchen or guest room for an $5.00 delivery fee per person.
Guests are invited to join Director of Landscaping and Garden Designer Brandon Augustine for a daily stroll through the Gardens at 9:00 a.m. Pools and Jacuzzis are open 24 hours and robes are available in the closet of each room. Brick fireplaces are supplied with a complimentary log for burning. Free wireless internet is available in each room along with 37-inch flat screen televisions. In-room refrigerators are stocked with complimentary beverages and keep your wine chilled. A complimentary wine reception is given on Friday and Saturday evenings from 5:30-6:30 in the Great Room, adjacent to the Reception area. The Wine Bar, open daily until 11:00 p.m serves a variety of wines by the glass. Rooms are refreshed in the evening between 5:30 and 8:00 pm with Turn Down service supplied.
An Exceptional Massage
From May to October guests may enjoy a unique Napa Valley experience in a tented cabana at the Garden Spa Sanctuary. Under a canopy of redwood trees on the property’s Redwood Grove, a skilled therapist provides a relaxing massage in a quiet, natural setting. Therapists have been selected personally during a “hands-on” interview with the Spa Director and are chosen for their ability to connect and flow with a caring, firm touch. The Harvest Inn’s spa services have been designed exclusively for the Inn by Loma Alexander, named one of the world’s top 20 spa visionaries by Spa Magazine.
We arrived at our appointment in the redwoods for an afternoon massage and facial. Couples massages are available in the Redwood Grove side by side or in a private couple’s spa suite. We opted for the outdoor experience and were met by two wonderful therapists. The screened cabana allows the outdoor’s soothing warm breezes and exquisite aromas to waft over your body in total privacy and comfort. Our 90-minute experience was heavenly. I received a “Spa Fusion” known as The Harvest “Tip to Toe” treatment that included a thorough massage, along with scalp, hair and foot treatment. My wife enjoyed a fabulous a facial that also included a massage during the same 90-minute period. Rates for spa treatments begin at $110 for a 60-minute experience and start at $165 for a 90-minute experience. Other Signature Spa Experiences include Grape Seed Facial Massage, Body & Sole (full body massage with hot towel foot compression, exfoliation and reflexology), Ayurvedic Warm Stone Massage, and Heavenly Foot & Leg Treatment (featuring arnica and birch leg and foot massage, reparative foot balm and a hand, neck and shoulder massage). The prices are a bargain for the Napa Valley and the treatments are superb. Highly recommended!
It was difficult to leave such a paradise the next morning, particularly after experiencing the complimentary country breakfast at the Inn’s Wine Country Kitchen. Because the dining room is located in the extreme southwestern corner of the property, we were encouraged to stroll once more through the lovely landscaped gardens, past the manor lawn and the quiet pond. Seating in the dining room or on the outside patio affords sweeping views of the Mayacama Mountains and the lush Whitehall Lane Leonardini Vineyard. Breakfast is served from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Monday through Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. I filled a glass with freshly squeezed orange juice and sipped on freshly brewed coffee while studying the remaining options. The menu included a variety of fresh seasonal fruit, daily homemade muffins, bread choices, yogurt, hot and cold cereals, plus fresh cheeses and meats. We found the hot quiche to be particularly flavorful. This kind of breakfast in this kind of setting warms both body and soul and awakens the spirit in anticipation of a new and glorious day. The Harvest Inn is a jewel in an oasis of tranquility and splendor. My only regret came at departure, because although I had been thoroughly refreshed, felt that somehow I could have drunk even more deeply of the lush surroundings and serene landscape. Ah, well, one day I shall have to return, but for now my fond recollections shall be the stuff of dreams.