PHOTO: iStockphoto

Fodor's Expert Review Carneros Resort and Spa

4048 Sonoma Hwy., Napa, California 94559, USA See on Map Fodor's Choice

Freestanding board-and-batten cottages with rocking chairs on each porch are simultaneously rustic and chic at this luxurious property being rendered even more so by an ongoing multimillion-dollar makeover. The cottages, arranged on several long lanes with an eye toward privacy, are so thoughtfully appointed and self-contained that you may find it difficult to summon the will to head to the hilltop infinity pool and hot tub, where the vineyard views never fail to astound.

YOU SHOULD KNOW The least expensive accommodations, though nice, are near Sonoma Highway, which hums with traffic 24/7.


Natural light floods the cottages, whose French doors open up to private patio gardens, some with fire pits and outdoor soaking tubs. Heaters keep things warm even on chilly nights. Indoors, ethereal beds topped with plush linens put the emphasis squarely on luxury, with Nespresso coffee makers, gas fireplaces, large flat-screen TVs, and updated electronics among the many amenities. Most cottages have a king bed, but a few have two queens. The most popular units face neighboring vineyards.

The cottages are spacious, but if you're traveling as a family or other group, consider the one- or two-bedroom suites; the largest accommodations in this category, the Two-Bedroom Residences, have fully stocked kitchens (Viking appliances) and even washers and dryers. There are also a few even larger private homes.


The resort's refresh has extended to the bathrooms, many of which have already been transformed. Newer bathrooms all have heated slate floors, vanities with granite countertops, and backlit makeup mirrors. All bathrooms have large indoor-outdoor showers.


As part of the resort's makeover, the tall-ceilinged lobby is being reconceived, but guests' welcome upon arrival promises to unfold as always, with a warm greeting and an offer of a beverage—on a hot summer day, perhaps chilled white wine or cucumber-orange water, or in winter some hot cider. After a quick handling of business, a bellperson in a golf cart escorts guests to their cottages. Many patrons don't return to the lobby until checking out unless to discuss plans with one of the highly capable concierges. All have connections at wineries large and small and can help you decide the right places for you. They're also adept at securing last-minute reservations at popular restaurants.


Palm trees tower over the family-oriented main pool, large enough for swimming laps. Cushioned chairs and lounges are plentiful, as are towels and water. In-season, there's a snack bar; at other times, you can order food and drink through room service. Only adults are permitted at the hilltop infinity pool, where lounges, Adirondack deck chairs, and cozy Orbit loveseats are positioned facing it or the surrounding farmland and vineyards. Both pools are heated, have hot tubs, and are open all day.


Spa renovations scheduled for completion by Summer 2018 are expected to bring more natural light and even greater serenity to this retreat on the property's northern edge. The Swedish, deep-tissue, and other massages are fairly straightforward (and highly relaxing), but ones like the Tranquillity Pro Sleep, which involves the use of soft brushes, aim to relax and heal body, mind, and soul. Scalp treatments and dry-brush therapy are among the massage add-ons, and you can partake of detox and exfoliating regimens to expel toxins at skin level or deeper. The ingredients used in Carneros Custom facial are chosen after an analysis of your skin type. The Modern Man facial, designed to cleanse and revitalize skin ravaged by shaving, is a hit with the menfolk.


The kind of gym you'd like to join, the resort's 3,000-square foot fitness center is loaded with cardio machines, multifunction workout stations, free weights, and other equipment. The well-lit space's floor-to-ceiling doors open up to the main pool area. Towels and filtered water are dutifully replenished, and headphones are supplied if you forgot yours. Instructors teach complimentary weekend yoga and other classes in a nearby studio. For a little exercise out in nature, you can take an outdoor yoga class or embark on a guided vineyard walk or run.


To pinch a fast-food chain's former slogan, you can pretty much have it your way when it comes to dining. Options include upscale (Farm) and casual (The Boon Fly Café) restaurants, a private dining room, and even your cottage. You can also purchase items at Market, the grab-and-go gourmet grocery store, for a picnic on the hilltop or elsewhere. Executive chef Aaron Meneghelli, who's acquitted himself well at top Wine Country resorts and restaurants for more than a decade, oversees all the meals. The hilltop dining room is open for breakfast and lunch only to resort guests, but the public Boon Fly and Farm are popular with visitors throughout the Wine Country. Brunch at Farm is a deluxe affair, served family style.


As with dining, the cocktail options are fairly wide open, with the bar at Farm and the open-air Pavilion just outside the main lounging areas. Up at the hilltop, there's also a bar. At both bars the specialty cocktails change with the season.


Getting Around

The resort is located about 6 miles southwest of downtown Napa at the intersection of Highway 121/12 (aka Sonoma Highway and Carneros Highway) and Old Sonoma Road. Driving a car or calling a ride-hailing service is the most convenient way to get around. Under the resort's deal with Cadillac, guests can drive one of that brand's vehicles free of charge (ask about the conditions at the front desk), and bikes are available on a first come, first served basis. Buses aren't a viable option, and there's not much within easy walking distance.


Popular stops in downtown Napa include Oenotri (12-minute drive) for pizza and rustic Italian, Miminashi (13-minute drive) for izakaya Japanese bar-style cuisine (plus excellent soft ice-cream), Morimoto Napa (14-minute drive) for gorgeously plated Japanese fare, and La Toque (16-minute drive) for its inventive prix-fixe Modern American tasting menu and inspired wine pairings. One town north in Yountville are chef Thomas Keller's The French Laundry (22-minute drive) for impeccable, if pricey, French (reserve well ahead), Keller's Bouchon Bistro (21-minute drive) for California variations on Parisian favorites, and Richard Reddington's Redd (20-minute drive) for sophisticated but unfussy Modern American.


The Blue Note Napa (14-minute drive) and Silo's (14-minute drive) are good stops in downtown Napa for cocktails and live music. Cadet Wine + Beer Bar (12-minute drive) attracts a youngish crowd for its upbeat atmosphere, selection of vinyl, and reds, whites, and brews. When it opens in Spring 2018, the rooftop bar at the five-story Archer Hotel Napa (12-minute drive) will wow as much for its views of downtown and beyond as for its cocktails. The lobby bar, part of Charlie Palmer Steak, is already a favorite with locals and tourists.


A winning combination of glamour, attentive service, and pastoral seclusion makes the Carneros Resort and Spa the perfect getaway for active lovebirds and families and groups seeking to unwind. The several bars and restaurants on property and the Town Square's lawn games area and Pavilion open-air lounge provide numerous opportunities for socializing, but when it's time to focus on honey or power down, the cottages and suites deliver the utmost in privacy. Should you care to stray from paradise, several wineries are minutes away, the restaurants of downtown Napa not much farther beyond.


Pet Friendly, Romantic, Views
100 rooms
Breakfast Yes
Lunch Yes
Dinner Yes
Bar Yes
Cafe Yes
Room Service Yes
Gym, Pool
Free Parking,Valet Parking,Parking Lot


Phones: 888-400–9000; 707-299–4900

What’s Nearby

People also liked

Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa

$$$ | 1880 Lincoln Ave.

A 1947 roadside motel renovated in midcentury-modern style, the family... Read More

The Meritage Resort and Spa

Meritage Resort and Spa

$$$ | 875 Bordeaux Way

A world unto itself, the Tuscan-inspired Meritage supplies all the exp... Read More

SingleThread Farms Inn

$$ | 131 North St.

A remarkable Relais & Châteaux property a block north of Healdsburg Pl... Read More

Cottages on River Road

$$ | 14880 River Rd.

Redwoods on a steep slope tower above this tidy roadside complex of si... Read More

Rancho Caymus Inn

$$ | 1140 Rutherford Rd.

New owners spent two years renovating this two-story hacienda-style pr... Read More

El Pueblo Inn

$$ | 896 W. Napa St.

A giant pepper tree and a few palms tower over the garden courtyard of... Read More