Valley of the Sun

SITUATED ON THE VERDANT SLOPES OF RUTHERFORD HILL IN NORTHERN California's Napa Valley, Auberge du Soleil is a lavish, award-winning resort for cultured connoisseurs of fine wine, five-star dining, deluxe accommodations, and inspired spaing at the pristine Spa du Soleil. "Our guests are highly successful, sophisticated, well-traveled, and looking for a complete escape," says spa director Peggy Francis. "They are here for excellent bodywork, tranquility, beauty, and outstanding service".

With panoramic views of Napa Valley, Spa du Soleil is the epitome of luxurious spa-going. Like the rest of the 50-room resort, the spa is an elegant homage to the region, featuring a menu filled with local ingredients. "Nature is an important part of the menu," says Francis. "We've planted a garden at the spa where our therapists cultivate botanicals like rosemary, mint, and lemon verbena to use in our handmade treatment preparations."

 A picturesque stone fountain is located in the center courtyard of the 7,000-square-foot spa.
A picturesque stone fountain is located in the center courtyard of the 7,000-square-foot spa.

The heart of the menu lies in the signature treatment categories, a series of therapies inspired by Napa Valley incorporating either the spa's private label skincare line, Dr Hauschka, éminence Organic Skin Care, or Napa Valley Spa Products. The Vineyard therapies call upon the antioxidant power of grapes, using grapeseed oil in all of the treatments. The Garden treatments use locally harvested herbs and flowers, as well as essential oils and aromatherapy. Featuring local organic olive oil, The Grove treatments incorporate the moisturizing properties of olives, while The Valley treatments draw on the healing muds and minerals for which the region was initially known to help renew, balance, and detoxify the body. Each of the four categories includes a massage, an exfoliation treatment, a mask and wrap, foot therapy, and a hair and scalp treatment. "While the grapeseed treatments are the most popular, each category has therapeutic benefits, ranging from the antioxidants in the grapeseed to aromatherapy in The Garden to the rich squalene in our local olive oil in The Grove to the benefits of mud in The Valley," says Francis.

Each treatment room features French doors that lead to a private patio with either an outdoor shower or soaking tub.
Each treatment room features French doors that lead to a private patio with either an outdoor shower or soaking tub.

The spa also features seasonal offerings. Summer guests can enjoy a Peaches and Cream Body Wrap ($220, 90 minutes), fall spa-goers partake in the honey and fig-filled Harvest Glaze ($220, 90 minutes), and cold-weather clients can sample the Winter Cold & Flu Remedy ($140, 60 minutes). There is also a wide range of facial treatments, massage modalities, and full- and partial-day packages for spa-goers to enjoy. "Our Couples Massage is very popular," says Francis. "We prepare a bath in a private outdoor tub, serve elixirs or wine and fruit, and let the couple soak. When they are ready, they come into the couples' room to receive side-by-side massages."

While the inspired menu is the spa's major draw, the spectacular setting is equally appealing. The luminous light-filled spa is located in a fragrant olive grove on the 33-acre property. Three artfully landscaped outdoor pools, each fed by a natural on-site spring, allow guests to enjoy a cold, warm, or hot soak pre-and post-treatment while enjoying the valley views. Each of the eight treatment rooms in the 7,000-square-foot spa also has access to a private garden and soaking tub or outdoor shower. The most recent addition to the spa is the Melisse Suite, a spacious suite for couples that features a fireplace and an idyllic outdoor area with a heated pool, perfect for al fresco treatments or for secluded sunbathing. It's also an excellent location for private group celebrations like birthdays and bridal showers.

Original art, such as this outdoor sculpture located next to the natural warm spring pool, is found throughout the spa and resort.
Original art, such as this outdoor sculpture located next to the natural warm spring pool, is found throughout the spa and resort.

Also popular with guests is the small retail area near the reception desk, where jewelry and casual clothing are the two top sellers. "The only retail outlet at our resort is in the spa, so retail plays a big role for us," says Francis. "We promote our skincare lines, and we also have an amenity line of handcrafted products that are very popular, as well as robes and logo wear."

While guests are constantly voicing their pleasure with their spa experience, the spa team, which includes 10 full-time employees and 25 on-call therapists and estheticians, is on a constant quest to maintain the quality for which the spa is known. "As in any service organization, the biggest challenge is to continually anticipate and exceed our guest's expectations and needs," says Francis. "This is always fun, challenging, and highly rewarding."

The most popular treatment at the spa is the Garden Head to Toe ($225, 90 minutes), which incorporates the herbs and flowers that grow in the verdant fields of Napa Valley.
The most popular treatment at the spa is the Garden Head to Toe ($225, 90 minutes), which incorporates the herbs and flowers that grow in the verdant fields of Napa Valley.

As for the future, Francis says it will only get brighter, "We'll continue to add treatments that reflect our philosophy of drawing our inspiration from nature and our unique Napa Valley setting and also incorporate excellent bodywork."

Since its inception in 1985, Auberge du Soleil, the "Inn of the Sun," has been a beacon of luxurious light for Napa Valley. And as one of the resort's most brilliant rays, Spa du Soleil continues to shine.

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