When the design team set out to transform Calistoga’s former Sunburst Motel into the new Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa, the vision was ambitious: a hip, modern vibe with tons of creativity and charm. The project took nearly three years, but when the rejuvenated, 5-½ acre property was officially unveiled in the fall of 2017, it was an immediate hit with fashionable travelers craving a statement experience.
What was once a classic but plain 1946-style motel has been transformed into a delightful hideaway reminiscent of a retro Americana road trip. Quite literally a road trip, as rooms take a quirky. fun “camper” theme, channeling a tricked out Airstream complete with details such as the Camper King Suite’s authentic camper table and wraparound bench combo that turns into an extra bed at night.
Streamlined spaces welcome with midcentury-modern furniture, bright pops of color, bold pattern carpets, vintage-inspired fabrics, vintage art, Mad Lib books, and Etch A Sketches. Traveling pups, meanwhile, appreciate the dog beds, water and food bowls, and ample hiking opportunities that await in the mountains just minutes away.
Still, there are contemporary comforts in the plush beds, spa-style bathrooms with rainfall showers, custom MoonAcre Spa bath products in a signature grapefruit sage scent, cozy hoodie bathrobes and freshly ground organic pour-over coffee, and organic loose leaf tea. The location is prime, as well, at Lincoln Avenue and Silverado Trail and within walking distance to downtown Calistoga’s culinary, wine tasting, shopping and gallery scene.
“We believe our guest experience is fun, whimsical, unfussy, interactive and offers an affordable foray into the delights of Napa Valley,” said Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa Marketing Manager Peter Alig. “Just like Calistoga itself.”
Through the renovation, a dozen rooms were added, bringing the total to 50 rooms and suites sprawled around the lodge’s three mineral pools fed by natural geothermal hot springs and surrounded by loungers and cabanas. A new spa was built, as well, beckoning with pleasures like an apply-your-own mud bakes, salt soaks in claw foot tubs and a massage that pampers with heated Himalayan salt stones.
“Calistoga is famous for its spa culture, and while there are quite a few options here, we wanted to add fun, unique twists and cutting edge treatments,” said Alig. “Our Perfectly Muddled treatment is my favorite. It’s interactive and incredibly refreshing. Guests apply their own exfoliating mud – or a spa attendant can apply it – let it bake in the sun, then rinse it off in our outdoor showers.”
There’s more to come, he said. In November, the spa will introduce a new treatment called Sliders, which combines the ancient practice of cupping with deep tissue massage. Therapists use silicone cups to create gentle suction on high-stress areas of the neck and back to increase blood flow and relieve muscle tension.
The spa is also adding an innovative new facial. “This isn’t an exfoliating treatment,” Alig said. “It’s more of a massage of the face and neck using hemp-derived CBD cream which intensifies relaxation and inflammation reduction.”
Modern travelers appreciate hallmark local experiences as much as signature stays, so the Lodge offers weekly yoga and pilates, s’mores and Jiffy Pop popcorn fire pit parties, complimentary bike rentals, lawn games such a hula hoop and bocce ball, and Polaroid cameras to borrow for snapping pictures in retro style.
The Lodge’s Explorers Program has been very popular with guests, too, Alig noted. The program features several itineraries to help guests plan their Calistoga adventures. Among other things, the Curious Epicurean itinerary includes a refreshing pilsner and crisp lager tasting at Mad Fritz Brewing; gourmet burgers and salads at the legendary Gott’s Roadside eatery that sources its ingredients from local ranchers, fish mongers, and farmers; and a wine tasting at Tank Garage Winery, a converted auto repair shop serving up one-of-a-kind wines in one of Calistoga’s hippest settings.
Then, it might be on to dinner at the acclaimed Solbar for an upscale Cal-cuisine dinner, or at Cook St. Helena showcasing locally sourced, Northern Italian food and handmade pastas. The Lodge’s new, on-site Fleetwood Restaurant will debut this coming spring, too, featuring wood-fired pizza and an innovative bar program.
“Napa Valley’s food and drink scene is continually innovating,” said Alig. “Obviously wine is front and center, but beer and spirits are also growing in popularity. And for food, we have the three-star temples of gastronomy, but we also have food trucks with extremely high-quality offerings like Clif Family Winery’s Bruschetteria and casual brunch spots like Lovina Calistoga.”
Essentially, the new Lodge can’t be pigeonholed.
“Our guests want to be surprised,” Alig said. “And when they come back to us raving about their experience, we know we’ve succeeded.”