As the cost of living increases, people are thinking twice about summer vacations. One of my clients told me a horror story about a Spring vacation in Hawaii. Apparently the airline in which she purchased round-trip flights, went out of business and she was forced to purchase costly one way visits to get home to the Bay Area. Keeping the economy in mind, I am looking to take mini vacations to local destinations. 70 miles away is Calistoga, a quaint town with restaurants, spas, and wineries. My mother, who also grew up here in Oakland, told me about the huge family vacations spent in the Calistoga area. She and her extended family would drive up to Calistoga and rent little cottages and swim in a big pool filled with Geyser water. She told me that when the pool was filled with the fresh geyser water, all of the kids were antsy while waiting the day or two for the pool to cool down. The women would enjoy mud baths and apparently one of her aunts was stout and got stuck in the mud! It took 3-4 people to pull her from the mineral rich mud.
I had heard from friends that Indian Springs Resort in Calistoga is fantastic, but I had to see for myself. Upon arriving at the resort on a very hot July day, we were happy to see a very clean, remodeled room in the lodge with private patio. The room was complete with a small plasma tv and free HBO. (It has been awhile since I've experienced free HBO, since large hotels want you to purchase the in-room movies.) The room had soothing colors with Frette sheets and extra comfy beds. After hanging out in the room and patio, and a yummy meal at Brannan's Grill, ( a few blocks away), my husband and I relaxed in a lounge sofa on the well maintained grounds. We felt as if we were far from home and away from it all. Once we gained more energy we headed to the olympic size pool filled with warm geyser water. We were thrilled that the pool was warm and dark. It was amazing to swim at night with only the lights of the Pepsi-Cola vintage wall clock and a few lights surrounding the cabbana and bathroom area. As we floated in the pool we could hear crickets and we were visited by a small bat that flew overhead. Ordinarily, I would be put off by bats, but for some reason, this time I was okay.
The next day, I walked down to the coffee roastery and ordered a couple of breakfast sandwiches and prepared for a day in the spa. The spa was great! It had a combination of full service, in a clean, no frills environment. Because of the steam from the mud baths some of the paint was peeling off the walls, but this did not make me feel like I was in a second rate establishment, it actually added to the charm. (I could of been in any decade, just a timeless design.) After I was removed from my mud bath from a really nice women named Lili, I was directed to take a shower and and was assisted into a claw-foot tub filled with mineral water. Here was given a tool to clean the mud out of my nails and cold spring water to drink. The next relaxing task on this spa journey was a steam, followed by a brief rest with cucumbers on my eyes,ending with a deep tissue massage. Spa guest have complete use of the pool plus access to Buddha's Pond, a private relaxing area with small ponds of water, beautiful landscaping, and areas to sleep, meditate or sun-bathe. I counted 3 lizards that crossed my path, as I walked Buddha's pond.
Spend a day or two up here and you will be refreshed from your daily grind of living. On your way home to the Bay Area, stop at Rutheford Grill and enjoy the grilled fresh fish and cole slaw. If you are up for dessert try the strawberry shortcake. The service is friendly, the food is fresh, there is a full bar and atmosphere is the perfect for your transition from fantasy world back to the real world.
Visit Indian Spring Calistoga, at www.IndianSpringsCalistoga.com.
This resort is kid-friendly, I plan on bringing my kids soon!