Updated: Feb 20, 2019
I recently had the opportunity to visit Napa Valley thanks to a work related conference. This would be my first time visiting and hopefully not my last. I would like to come back and explore downtown San Francisco ...on foot. Take my time. Admire all the amazing murals. Walk the golden gate bridge. Enjoy the view from the bridge.
This time around we drove through it after arriving at the airport. It was definitely a scenic drive. I started taking pics then I was like bump it. I'm missing out on the moment.
I chose to stay in the moment and take it all in.
The drive from San Francisco airport to Napa valley was roughly a one hour drive. We drove through downtown. Is hanging clothes and underwear on your window facing the street a thing? Cause I saw a lot of that during the drive through downtown and I thought it was pretty odd. Especially the underwear.
The buildings were cluster, Victorian Style homes. Very aesthetically appealing. Aside from the Victorian homes, we crossed over the bridge and we were able to observe couples and families taking the long walk up and down the bridge, as well as the view of the water and yachts below. The total length of the Golden Gate bridge is 1.7 miles. Not a bad workout.
As we drove into Napa Valley, it was mostly vineyards and lots of dry land. I expected to see more green but everything was beige. Maybe it's more green and lush on a different time of the year? The landscape reminded me of my trip to Marrakesh two years ago oddly enough. Downtown Napa valley was more picturesque in my opinion. It was vibrant with boutique shopping, interactive bars and fine dining. The highlight of my trip however, was my stay at the Meritage Resort and the "Oh so heavenly" Spa. I had my best spa experience to date there -
Customer service - impeccable
Ambiance - serene
Facilities - pristine
Experience - one of a kind
Though it was a short 4 day visit, these are my Top Three Recommendations if you plan to visit Napa valley -
Meritage Resort and Spa -
What stood out to me the most was the great customer service from every member of the staff. Their kindness, concern, and generosity felt very genuine to me. An example was when one of the hospitality managers asked if it was too cold in the lobby for me where I was working and offered to turn down the air conditioning. He also suggested I try a cappuccino to keep warm meanwhile and made one for me promptly and complimentary. How nice is that?
I also enjoyed the beauty of my surroundings. The resort has its own vineyard and has a medieval times meets contemporary modern look to it. Directly across the street from The Meritage is The Village. At The Village you can explore not one, not two, but NINE Wine tasting rooms! They also have a picturesque huge lawn for picnics, concerts, and so much more.
You want a little comic relief?
My room at The Meritage came with a complimentary bottle of wine but my Evian bottled water was seven dollars. Decisions, Decisions....
The most memorable moment was my time in the eucalyptus sauna and my Mindful Massage at Spa Terra. It was EVERYTHING! If you do nothing else you have to experience that eucalyptus sauna at Spa Terra. I wish I could have taken it home with me. You come in an hour before your appointment to get a tour of the spa and enjoy the amenities like the Sauna, the Jacuzzi, and the Serenity Room.
The experience was very gradual and deliberate. A calm and relaxing experience.
All photos are taken by The Cheli Experience unless otherwise indicated. Please do not copy.
Photo Credit - meritagecollection.com
My favorite moment - being able to catch the sun behind her head in this pic made it even more serene and magical!
No Filter - just overwhelming sunlight 🌤
Downtown Napa -
One of the cool benefits of staying at the Meritage Resort was the complimentary shuttle ride to Downtown Napa - Main St. I like to explore my surroundings slowly and mindful. So I'd rather take a walking tour any chance I can than drive. I chose the drop off at the Riverfront on Main street and navigated my way. Enjoying the aesthetically appealing surroundings and taking pics. Downtown Napa had a luxe feel to it. The boutiques were very well curated. The restaurants and bars were also very inviting with a welcoming ambiance. I was happy to be an observer and take it all in. Lite shopping took place as well...I couldn't resist. Naturally I'm a fan of almost every downtown location I've ever visited called Main St. -
Main St Stone Mountain, GA,
Main St. Duluth,GA,
Main St, Roswell, GA
Main St. Napa Valley, CA
What do the these locations have in common (aside from the street name.. ) and why am I a fan? The unique architectural set up and placement of the area. It all screams one word - ENGAGEMENT. You have your friendly boutiques and small business that are always aesthetically appealing. The"walk-ability"(Is that a word?) is always a plus for me. With so much window shopping and well manicured outdoor areas, I can walk for miles without feeling it. The beauty distracts me from focusing on the miles and time apparently. By the time I called my shuttle for pick up it was dark and I'd apparently been on the move for 4 hours.
Castello di Amorosa -
No Words. Well, maybe a few. The "Game of Thrones" vibe was REAL! It sits on a hillside surrounded by the vibrant colors of the vineyard.
And that dinner table that went on forever...I loved the drama of this place.
The Castle Dario began construction of Castello di Amorosa winery in 1994.
He first intended to build an 8,500 square foot building without cellars. But gradually the project morphed into a 13th century Tuscan castle spanning 121,000 square feet (three acres) with 107 rooms, four underground levels, and four above-ground levels.
"Determined to make the Castello authentic in every respect, I used only old, hand-made materials and I built it employing the same methods and materials that would have been used 700-800 years ago. You can’t fake something like this. You either do it right or people will know it’s not authentic." - castellodiamorosa.com
Photo credit - castellodiamorosa.com
On my next visit, there are a couple more things I hope to get done. Let me know if you've tried them all already -
Hot Air Balloon ride in Napa (with "On top of the World by Imagine Dragons" playing in the background..)
Wine Tasting tour in Napa (I'm a social drinker only but I wouldn't mind this experience)
Exploring Downtown San Francisco fully and walking the Golden Gate Bridge..twice!