A new Four Seasons hotel charms in California wine country

Mud-caked and relaxing under a thatch of California live oak trees, I was not surprised when a passing spa therapist at the new Four Seasons in Napa Valley sighed.

“This is God’s country,” she said, not unreasonably.

Set on 22.5 acres, the new 85-room hotel is certainly idyllic, planted with cabernet sauvignon grapes from the adjoining, entirely organic Elusa Winery, and studded with olive trees and a heady blend of roses, sage, rosemary and lavender.

A decade in the making, the new property is hoping to draw visitors to often-overlooked Calistoga, which, at the northern end of Napa, is about 20 miles from Yountville — home to celebrated restaurant French Laundry — and 9 miles north of St. Helena’s chic shops and galleries.

“This is a really exciting time to be here,” says the hotel’s dapper general manager Mehdi Eftekari, who led Four Seasons hotels in Manhattan and Beverly Hills before decamping to the Napa property. A frequent walker and cyclist through the one-stoplight town, Eftekari is a cheerful source of local recommendations.

Exterior shot of the Four  Seasons Napa Valley.
The new Four Seasons sits on 22.5 acres of primo Napa Valley real estate.
Four Seasons Napa Valley

At the hotel, the emphasis is on wine and quietly sophisticated hedonism. All bathrooms offer deep soaking tubs, terraces and fireplaces. Hotel guests are invited on exclusive tours of the on-property winery, which also serves lunches and dinners amid the vines.

“We really want guests to see behind the curtain, and to know that we take our wine seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously,” says Elusa’s boyish general manager Luke Magnini, who encourages guests to pick a few grapes during a guided tasting of sauvignon blanc, Petite Sirah and cabernet sauvignon. (Magnini is also quick to note that Elusa’s winemaker, Thomas Rivers Brown, has received dozens of 100-point scores from Robert Parker Jr. in his storied career.)

A guestroom inside the Four Seasons Napa Valley.
One of the 85 chic rooms inside the property where rates start at $960 a night.
Four Seasons Napa Valley

For the most luxurious and COVID-safe travel experience, visitors should consider arriving via NetJets. The private plane service’s partnership with the Four Seasons includes daily breakfast for two and round-trip luxury airport transfers, and NetJets owners have exclusive access to private tours, tastings and meals at prestigious vineyards like Ovid and Frank Family. But guests wanting to simply relax will find ample options right at the hotel, with two swimming pools (each flanked by hot tubs), complimentary bicycles, a bocce court, a luminous gym and an intimate spa.

The pool at the For Seasons Napa Valley.
Wake up early enough and enjoy the pool all to yourself.
Jackie Cooperman

Visit the spa’s garden for a skin-softening mud treatment, a self-applied goop of mineral-rich volcanic ash, shea butter and jojoba (the spa provides unglamorous but extremely useful Tyvek disposable bathing suits). 

While Michelin-starred chef Erik Anderson, known for his work at COI in San Francisco and the Catbird Seat in Nashville, left the hotel’s Truss restaurant shortly after it opened, his menu will stay. A dedication to local produce is clear in its delicious grilled Caesar salad and steelhead trout, punctuated with cubed local radishes and Meyer lemon. 

An outdoor firepit area.
It cools off quite a bit in NorCal in the winter — warm up by one of the hotel’s fire pits.
Four Seasons Napa Valley

The indoor restaurant is airy and appealing, but I preferred dining under the stars, warmed by fire pits and heaters. Cheery poolside Mexican restaurant Campo offers bright and satisfying ceviches, tacos (try the grilled seabass), guacamole and salads, as well as refreshing cocktails.

And a bonus for East Coast visitors: Rise with early morning jet lag and you can have the pools and hot tubs all to yourself, to swim and soak while the Napa Valley mist burns off to reveal a field of golden grape vines. God’s country, indeed.