Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort
Situated in the heart of Calistoga lies a cute mid-century motel with an attractive neon sign that screams retro-cool! You really can’t miss it! A classic American motor style inn, Dr. Wilkinson’s first opened in 1952 in conjunction with a mud bath spa, both the brainchild of chiropractor “Doc” Wilkinson and his wife Edy. Seduced by Calistoga’s beautiful green mountains and its legendary hot springs, which many believe to have healing properties, Dr. Wilkinson certainly knew a good thing when he saw it. Some 60 years later, the motel continues to offer comfortable “retro” accommodations at an affordable price. The motel “resort” also encompasses a large indoor mineral therapeutic pool, a duo of heated outdoor pools and some recently renovated outdoor lounge areas.
The hotel staff members at Dr. Wilkinson’s were all very friendly and we certainly enjoyed the experience overall. However, we did have one suggestion...
In keeping with the rest of the property’s “retro” feel, we thought it would have been nice if our room had either been left the way it had looked originally in the ‘50s and ‘60s, or at the very least, redecorated in a mid-century, minimalist manner (if even on the cheap). Instead, our quarters had clearly been remodeled some time in the 1980’s, and definitely not in a good way! (Wallpaper molding that resembles conjoined moths in muted greens, greys and oranges is not a good thing, unless maybe it was done intentionally with tongue in cheek!) Nonetheless, the accommodations were clean, albeit sparse, and overall, the vibe of the hotel was pretty fun. We could imagine that in the summer months, this place would have been hopping!
Just down the road lies the famous Dr. Wilkinson’s spa, which boasts a decent roster of massage, facial, and other spa treatments, including the popular “Doc Wilkinson’s mud bath.” (For more information, see “goodies.")
Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort - 1507 Lincoln Ave. Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-4102
Harvest Inn & Gardens
The Harvest Inn is a beautifully landscaped property located at the southern edge of St. Helena. Originally the home of a private vineyardist, Harvest Inn was opened in the mid 1970’s as a resort to show off the surrounding natural beauty. Over the years, the resort has grown in various phases. In 1985, a classic Tudor-style manor was added as the perfect setting for visiting wedding parties to celebrate a once-in-a-lifetime event. Later in the decade, additional buildings sprung around a second pool and hot-tub (open 24-hours a day!) The clever architect and landscape designer did such a great job with the styling that the edifices look less 1980’s and more 1880’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs! While most units feature gorgeous private brick fireplaces, our room, in the newer “Fountain” wing of the property, was much more basic. And while we enjoyed the ample bathroom amenities, including delicious Aveda walnut soaps, there were a few kinks that needed to be worked out.
Always looking for a deal, your “Set of Drifters” chose the Harvest Inn’s "Relax, Renew and Rejuvenate" package from their extensive website. The two-night stay included a balloon ride above Napa Valley (complete with champagne brunch), daily breakfast in the resorts “English cottage,” a tour and tasting at a nearby winery, and a complimentary bottle of locally-produced wine. A mix-up with the pick-up time for the balloon ride was entirely annoying at 6:15 in the morning, and the free bottle of wine was unfortunately no good. Most debilitating, however, was the fact that our Internet connection barely worked more than five minutes the whole time we were there - even after several repair attempts from the resort’s maintenance staff. (This caused somewhat of a snafu when choosing dining options in town; see “eats.") Furthermore, the front desk staff was somewhat lackadaisical in their response to our queries about getting the issue resolved.
That being said, things were turned around a bit on our second night when we had massages in the Harvest Inn’s spa. (Loma’s 90-minute Toe-To-Tip massage was certainly heavenly!) Our opinion of the Harvest Inn was further improved on our final morning when we were treated to a wonderfully informative 45-minute tour of the property’s gardens and buildings courtesy of the Harvest Inn landscaper named Brandon. Lisa, the hotel’s concierge was also super nice, and helped us to resolve an issue we had with the billing of our balloon ride from the previous morning.
We would certainly return here again, but perhaps not stay in the “Fountain” rooms as this wing definitely needs a little aging to make it fit in with the rest of the resort.
Harvest Inn - 1 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 963-9463