18140 Hwy.12, Sonoma
Telephone (707) 938-9000
or (800) 862-4945
Fax (707) 938-4250
SONOMA MISSION INN & SPA
The grapevines blanketing Sonoma and Napa valleys are unquestionably the region's most acclaimed natural treasures, enticing wine lovers from around the world. But they're not the area's oldest draw. That distinction might belong to the thermal mineral-spring located 1,100 feet beneath the Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. Native Americans discovered the waters generations ago, and in 1895, construction began on a bathhouse and hotel for the prosperous San Franciscans who came by train and yacht to take their leisure.
They're still coming. Sure, some of the details have changed. Yachts have been replaced by a parade of luxury cars stationed by the lobby. And the guests now hail from all around the country. But the 167-foot, pink-beige water tower, empty now but emblazoned with the Sonoma Mission Inn logo, remains an apt reminder that the spot is still, indeed, about the waters.
The property has three pools: two at the 27,000-square-foot spa facility and another, nearly Olympic-sized and heated to 98° F, behind the main lobby. One of the spa's signature services is the Watsu, a 60-minute treatment administered in the mineral waters. The practitioner supports the supine guest (who is fitted with flotation pads at the calves), guiding him/her through a series of gentle movements designed to calm, stretch and relax. This unusual and soothing experience includes shiatsu.
Watsu is just one of many water-based treatments, but land lovers need not despair. The spa offers an exhaustive list of more than 50 services: eight types of facials; nine kinds of massages; 10 "mind and body" sessions, including yoga, stress-management therapy and tarot card readings.
The Grille offers the more ambitious fare, and maître d' Perry Croft does a fine job recommending wines by the glass to complement the preparations of chef Toni Robertson. With nearly 400 selections, The Grille's wine list offers an intelligent range of quality and value. Chardonnay and Cabernet/Meritage blends comprise the bulk of the selections, including hard-to-find bottlings like a vertical of Talbott Diamond T Chardonnay (the '93, '95 and '96 vintages sell for $75, $75 and $90, respectively) and the David Arthur Elevation 1147 Cabernet (for a very reasonable $100). There are also 20 offerings by the glass.
Sonoma Mission is in the final stages of a $20 million renovation. When completed, there will be 228 rooms and suites. All accommodations have cable television, and suites also have CD players. Rooms at the Historic Inn (in the same structure that contains the main lobby) are fairly small, but the suites are spacious, and each is equipped with a fireplace and a Jacuzzi.
Reservations should be made well in advance -- the spa can host as many as 490 treatments on a busy Saturday.
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