Straight From the Vine
Set in Portugal’s historic city of Vila Nova de Gaia, The Yeatman, a member of Relais & Chateaux, draws on the surrounding wine region for inspiration. The destination is known for being home to a number of port houses, where the classic wine is stored. Because visitors come from around the world to taste the region’s Port wines, the city proved an enticing setting for The Yeatman. “We obtained our beautiful hillside land—some of it from
the local bishop—and created an all-encompassing luxury wine hotel to meet these existing visitors’ needs,” says CEO Adrian Bridge. Of course, no wine-themed hotel is complete without the requisite vino-inspired spa, and Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa at The Yeatman is just one of the reasons that wine enthusiasts will be charmed by a stay. “Located at the gateway to the Douro Valley and within easy driving distance of some of Portugal’s other best known wine regions, including Vinho Verde and the Alentejo, we have 67 wine partners who make our hotel what it is,” says Bridge, who conceptualized both the hotel and spa. “They decorate individual guest rooms, host wine dinners on Thursday nights, and are featured on our Wine Spectator award-winning wine list. We were delighted when Caudalie approached us. As a luxury wine hotel, our partnership is an obvious fit. Plus, Portugal is one of the fastest growing markets for Caudalie’s excellent products.”
While the spa has much in common with other Caudalie spas found across the globe, it also has some unique attributes. The panoramic views, for instance, of the River Douro and the world heritage UNESCO city of Porto from the indoor and outdoor infinity pools, the spa’s relaxation room, and even some of the treatment rooms certainly help it stand out. The 10-treatment-room spa also has several Roman-themed aspects that differentiate it from other Caudalie spas. The Roman bath has a micro-bubble stream that gives bathers the sense that they’re soaking in a glass of sparkling wine. Spa-goers may also enjoy the spa’s tepidarium or Shower Experience, which is akin to a sound and light show.
According to Bridge, the spa’s commitment to sustainability is another way it sets itself apart. In fact, energy management is one of the spa’s biggest challenges. The pools, Roman bath, sauna, hammam, and tepidarium all need to be heated, which requires a great amount of energy. “Not only is this something we must manage financially but we are also fully committed to sustainability, so we need to manage our solar heating and water recycling initiatives, as well,” says Bridge. Water is heated using solar panels and then recycled for watering the property’s six acres of gardens.
Capacity is another challenge the spa faces. “Like any spa, we have our busier times, such as on weekends or just before the dinner hour,” says Bridge. “Our duty is to manage this ebb and flow.” To help with that task, the spa employs one receptionist, five therapists, and one spa trainee, as well as four on-call therapists to assist with peak periods. Based on the services booked, the spa can accommodate approximately 10 to 30 clients each day. “That is a small number of guests for a large space on purpose,” says Bridge. “Our entire hotel is an oasis of calm and serenity within a bustling urban center, and the spa is even more so.”
Catering to fans of food, wine, and luxury, the hotel attracts a well-traveled clientele. Interestingly enough, 40 percent of the spa’s clients are hotel guests, while the other 60 percent is made up of locals. “At our spa, they are looking for service and an experience commensurate with the price they are paying, which is to say luxury,” says Bridge. “We feel they also wish to indulge all of their senses, which we appeal to with the views, soothing sounds of running water, the signature Caudalie Fleur de Vigne aroma, human touch, and the offer of a special spa cuisine menu created by our Michelin-starred chef Ricardo Costa.” But, it’s the spa’s vinotherapy-inspired treatment menu that is the biggest allure to most guests. That alone is reason enough for spa-goers to raise a glass.