Inside the 'Roadside Motel' That's A Boutique Spa

The exterior of Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa looks like a typical roadside motel from the '40s.

While Calistoga, CA, has long been known for its hot-spring spas, Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa is creating buzz in the popular Napa Valley town. The new 50-room property, nestled in the Mayacamas Mountains at the northern end of the Silverado Trail, is a classic 1940s roadside motel that has been reimagined by New York City-based design firm AvroKO to celebrate the great American road trip with rooms that take cues from vintage camper vans. The property’s new lease on life almost wasn’t meant to be thanks to the wildfires that swept through the Napa area in early October. Fortunately, the Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa wasn’t damaged, despite having to evacuate guests and stay closed for nine days while the fires threatened the town of Calistoga and surrounding areas. Now up and running, the hotel is back in business and giving back with plans to host an event to benefit animals affected by the wildfires. Also contributing to the recovering local scene is the hotel’s whimsical MoonAcre Spa and Baths, which recently launched the Calistoga Stronger Spa Treatment, available Sundays through Thursdays for a limited time to give locals a much-needed break. Those who live within a 50-mile radius can experience any 50-minute facials or massages for just $70 and have the option to add a visit to the DIY mud bar for just $10. 

Whether its locals looking for a pick-me-up or visitors getting in on the action, slinging mud the way it was meant to be slung is just part and parcel of the spa’s overall mission. “Our spa puts a quirky spin on mineral baths and therapies from around the world,” says spa director Chris Hilburn. “The spa features seven treatment rooms, a playful ‘mix your own’ mud bar, a bathing room with four mint claw-foot tubs for medicinal salt soaks, a menu of cutting-edge facials, a coed mosaic-lined steam room, and an outdoor spa relaxation garden.” Modeled after a classic bathhouse and anchored by geothermal mineral water-fed pools, the spa offers a fun and fanciful twist on the traditional bathing experience. 

Guests can kick back indoors in the relaxation area, take advantage of the outdoor showers, or lounge outside in the outdoor relaxation area.

According to Hilburn, it serves as the ideal getaway for those looking to slow down, relax, and check in with their bodies, either alone or in the company of good friends and family. “We have a nice mix of spa-experienced Calistogans ready for new adventures as well as nostalgic road-trippers looking for 21st century-inspired services,” says Hilburn. “We also welcome guests from Silicon Valley who are looking for a more relaxed setting.”

While the playful design certainly lends itself to creating a memorable impression, the treatment menu was also tasked with accomplishing a similar feat. “We wanted a tongue-in-cheek, fun, cutting-edge oriented menu matching the theme of the hotel but also playing off the bathhouses of the 1900s and the doctors of physiotherapy of the past,” says Hilburn. One of the spa’s standout treatments and most popular is Perfectly Muddled ($50 add-on, $70), the spa’s own take on Calistoga’s famed historic mud baths. Guests are encouraged to mosey up to the mix-your-own mud bar and create their own blend from a global range of detoxifying concoctions. They then get down and dirty in the garden by slathering on the mud and letting it dry in the sun before rinsing off under the rainfall shower.     

The spa also offers a variety of facials, such as The Perfect Lift ($190, 80 minutes), a results-oriented service with a double peel; The Refresh ($130, 50 minutes), a powerful anti-aging facial that incorporates antioxidant-rich goji berries; and Good Hydration ($130, 50 minutes), a super-hydrating facial that replenishes hyaluronic acid in the skin. Guys are encouraged to get in on the act with The Groom and Go ($130, 50 minutes), which helps to give dull and congested skin a boost. Results were key when it came to choosing a product line. “We were looking to partner with a modern product line backed up by scientific research and also steeped in tried-and-true tradition,” says Hilburn. “Comfort Zone fills this quest beautifully and is our main skincare line.”

With an opening staff of 12, the spa employs a balanced mix of full-time, part-time, and on-call employees to cater to the 40 to 50 clients it can accommodate each day. According to Hilburn, her greatest challenge at this point is, “getting the word out that there is a fresh new gemstone in the little ‘mud town’ of Calistoga.” In the meantime, she and her staff are focused on wowing guests with fun and effective treatments delivered straight from the heart. With a name like MoonAcre, 
which was inspired by the property’s beautiful setting between the region’s two mountain ranges and the moon rising from the southeastern sky, the spa is destined to be a dreamy destination for all who come to soak up the serenity. 

Calistoga Hotel Group, LP

Spa Director
Chris Hilburn

Client Base
75% female
25% male

5,000 square feet;
7 treatment rooms

Products & Equipment
Booda Organics, Booker, Comfort Zone, Coola, Earthlite, Hip & Hippie, Lucky Tiger, Pali Hawaii Sandals, Paragon, The Turkish Towel Company, Vita Jewel

Interior Designer
AvroKO (New York City)

Spa Consultant
Kathy Nelsen, spa director, Kabuki Springs & Spa (San Francisco)



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