Napa Travel Guide
If there was a Guinness World Record for "fastest time from arrival in wine country to having a wine glass in-hand," the Andaz Napa would easily snag the title. Walking into the lobby, being greeted by Andaz staff, and having some complimentary local red or white poured while you set down your luggage takes all of maybe one minute. Once you've had a sip or two, the quick check-in process begins and you're upstairs stretching out fireplace-side in under ten minutes.
The Andaz Napa, formerly the AVIA Napa (Hyatt purchased the AVIA brand in 2011 and transitioned this into the Andaz) sits in a very fortunate location at the center of downtown Napa, placing the main shopping and dining (may we suggest Oenotri?) only a quick walk out the front door, while further destinations like Yountville and the entire Napa Valley spread of wineries are simply a short drive.
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The outdoor terrace at the new Andaz Napa
A few days after the expected open date, which felt like an eternity but at last,Andaz Napa opened its doors yesterday in Napa’s burgeoning West End, effectively vaporizing the former Avia Napa. While we love Andazsms pretty much anywhere, having one in Napa is dreamy, not only because the brand is as locally focused as the town, but also because bringing Andaz's vibrant, stylish design to downtown Napa makes it a great option for those who find traditional wine country B&Bs a snore.
Last month, we mentioned a few of the changes to expect at this new Napa hotel, including an Andaz Lounge in lieu of a traditional front desk. Essentially replacing the lobby, the Lounge transforms the check-in process to a more social, casual experience where guests are greeted, checked in by iPad and offered a glass of vino while they sit or plot out their wine country adventures on the wall-length map of the Napa Valley.
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While we wait for the Andaz Amsterdam to open its Wanders-ful doors in October, there's another Andaz Hotel opening closer to home--The Andaz Napa.
Formerly, an AVIA hotel in the city's "West End" neighborhood, the property has been undergoing an Andazformation over the summer and is now expected to reopen on September 7th. Right now on the hotel's website, we were only able to find rooms for September 28 at $299 a night for a classic king, but the hotel will definitely open sooner than that.
Now here's a rundown of what has changed at the hotel:
· Instead of a traditional front desk, the hotel now sports an Andaz Lounge where guests can check-in either via iPad, tabletop computer or on the way to the room. A host will greet them and give them a galss of wine to enjoy as they take in the new, regionally-inspired design elements from California architecture and design firm Bishop Pass, including a wall-length map of Napa Valley.
We don’t usually mix wine-country getaways with fancy cars—after all, we’d never advocate drinking and driving—but a recent experience at the tony Carneros Inn in Napa has us thinking that cars and carafes (with a driver!) might just be our new favorite mash-up. That’s because this luxury resort is one of only four in the country that has partnered with Audi to have a couple of primo vehicles that will shuttle guests around the property.
Travelers to Napa Valley are used to the finest wines and freshest foods around, so in order to keep up with the gourmet competition and cater to its demanding guests, even the Embassy Suites (which in the town of Napa itself) is taking its food and beverage operation upscale.
Starting now, the 205-room all-suite hotel, which is managed by Hilton, has brought in a new food and beverage management team headed up by Napa native Christy Gianelli, who has worked with a who’s who of Napa hospitality including Wine Adventures, the ultra-luxe Silverado Resort, and the Napa Valley Conference and Visitors Bureau.
Want to do wine country on the cheap? Expedia.com is offering a special package at the Vino Bello Resort in Napa with air and three nights’ accommodation starting at $674 per person, or just book the hotel room for $236 per night. The deal is advertised for a stay from May 25-29, but you can get room rates as low as $167 for a mid-week stay throughout May.
Truffles, no matter what kind, can usually send foodies into a sort of spasm at first whiff. Truffles have also become status symbols as the rarest kinds can fetch up to $200,000 like one white truffle did last month at an auction.
Thus the cost of truffles means there are no room for mistakes when cooking with them. If you are considering purchasing a truffle, then you might want to also consider Truffle Camp at the Westin Verasa in Napa, Calif.
Executive Chef Ken Frank of the hotel's La Toque restaurant is holding his Ken Frank's Truffle Camps from January 11-14 and from January 18-21.
Truffle Camp will include three days of dinners, wine tastings, luncheons, lodging in Napa’s newest upscale resort and hands on experience preparing truffle dishes.
The city of Napa, gateway to the famous Napa Valley has long been the angry stepchild to the illustrious Napa Valley destinations of Yountville, Rutherford and St Helena.
However, the city of 75,000 has been making a dedicated effort to gussy-up their river front downtown area. With the recent opening of foodie-heaven Oxbow Market and mainstay food and arts center Copia already in place, it was only a matter of time before a major hotel player came into the cards and that prayer was answered this spring by Ritz-Carlton.
A lobby rendering of the Westin Verasa.
The city of Napa has been pushing hard for a major face lift the last few years and so far so good.
The food and arts institution Copia, was recently coupled with Oxbow market, turning it into a foodie's paradise. Obviously this is having a positive effect if Starwood is opening a condo-hotel just down the street on September 18th called Westin Verasa.
Having Chef Thomas Keller cook you and 9 of your most intimate friends dinner sounds grand beyond all expectation, however, the 5 rooms and suites that make up Poetry Inn embody a classic simple elegance that speaks to quality and homeyness above all else.
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Picture this, you and 9 others, be it 5 couples or 10 close friends, (it's a big modern world, we know, we're with you,) arrive at the drippingly luxurious and refined Poetry Inn located on a vineyard hillside just outside downtown Yountville in Napa Valley.
Everyone checks in to their rooms and you all meet on a balcony overlooking the sprawling valley floor and Mayacamus Mountains to the west. It's cooling down to 65 degrees as the amber sun sets and a light breeze blows through your hair.
You: "It's lovely having you all here on this important day."
Friend 1: "I just want you to know that 40 is totally the new HOLY BALONEY IS THAT THOMAS KELLER!?!?"
You: "Oh yeah, he's cooking dinner for us tonight, cool huh?"
Friend 2: "We're going to one of his restaurants!? You little sneak."
You: "Not quite, he and his French Laundry staff are cooking for us here at the Inn, a private dinner."
Friends 1 and 2:OMFG. For realz?
Last week we informed you that Avia Hotels was getting in on the boutique hotel chain game. While the new boutique property Avia Savannah is scheduled to be the first of the chain to open--in December 2008--it's the Avia Napa property we're seeing the most of. Normally we don't like to run renderings instead of photos, but these are the first look at what could turn into a big brand.
The Napa location will be at the Town Center, and plans call for 141 rooms and suites. Some rooms will have soaking tubs and all will have working fireplaces and olive wood floors. We're also eager to see more of the swiveling flat-screen entertainment center.
After the jump, a look inside Avia.