Not entirely ripe: A good-enough stay at the Four Seasons Napa Valley

Apr 8, 2022

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If you were to list the most exciting luxury hotel openings in the past year, there’s a high chance that the Four Seasons in Napa Valley would land near the top.

The resort, which welcomed its first guests in November 2021, has been one of the most hotly anticipated properties on the West Coast of the United States (and nationwide) ever since formally breaking ground in Calistoga, California, in 2017.

As the first Four Seasons property in the Napa region, it was poised to quickly become one of the nicest resorts in the valley and give its neighbor, the Auberge Resorts’ Solage property, a run for its money.

Unfortunately, the opening of the Four Seasons was delayed multiple times, and the resort missed out on the first two summer travel seasons of the pandemic. (With the pandemic shifting travel patterns to domestic, outdoor-friendly destinations, it could have capitalised on the demand for luxury resorts that are closer to home.)

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The construction delays are finally in the rear-view mirror, and the Four Seasons Resort and Residences in Napa Valley has been open for business for about six months.

While the property isn’t 100% complete (more on that later), I’ve personally been eager to check it out.

I last visited Napa Valley nearly three years ago. I stayed at Marriott’s Las Alcobas resort in St. Helena, which has since been rebranded as an Alila property in the Hyatt portfolio.

I’ve been eyeing a return to the region, especially because my wife had never been. Though we could have stayed at the points-friendly World of Hyatt property, we wanted to experience the new Four Seasons.

While there was much to love about our stay, there’s still some room for improvement, especially considering the sky-high nightly rates.

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In This Post

Booking

Before you decide how to book your stay, know that staying at the resort is expensive. Very expensive.

We stayed during a mid-March weekend with nightly rates starting at $1,800 (about £1,375) for an entry-level room. And this wasn’t an anomaly. The nightly rates for this property start at $1,300 (around £993) mid-week and can climb up to $2,000 (around £1,528) on the weekends.

Add in taxes of 15.24% of the room rate, and you’ll have a big credit card bill after your stay. (As with most Four Seasons properties, this one mercifully doesn’t tack on a nightly resort fee.)

The Four Seasons brand doesn’t have a loyalty program, nor is there an easy way to redeem points for a stay here. That said, there are still some great ways to maximise the value of your Four Seasons booking.

Most of the brand’s properties belong to the American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts program. Those with eligible Amex cards can make their Four Seasons bookings through the special portal and receive additional amenities, including daily breakfast for two, a $100 (about £76) dining or spa credit, guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout and more.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The room rate when booking through Amex is almost always the same as the best available rate booking directly with Four Seasons. (You could also book through a Virtuoso or Four Seasons Preferred Partner travel agency to enjoy the aforementioned perks.)

While I would have normally locked in my stay through Amex Fine Hotels, the Napa Valley property isn’t yet a member of the program, though I imagine that’ll change in the coming weeks and months.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

So, I instead booked a fourth-night-free stay through the now retired Citi Prestige® Card. This card used to have the most generous fourth-night-free benefit out there, but it’s since been pared back significantly.

This was my first time being able to use the benefit (and still save money) in a long time.

Location

While the Four Seasons has Napa in its name, the resort isn’t located in the city of Napa. Instead, it sits in the northwest region of the Napa Valley, in a small town of just over 5,000 residents called Calistoga.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

There’s are two primary roads, Highway 29 and Silverado Trail, that run between Napa and Calistoga, with the towns (and wineries, restaurants and shops) of Yountville, Rutherford and St. Helena along the way.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Once you’re in the region, getting between towns and visiting nearby wineries requires a car. Uber and Lyft both work in the valley, but the availability of drivers (and sometimes cell phone service) is spotty to nonexistent, especially at night and on busy weekends.

The Four Seasons has a house car available for complimentary rides within the Calistoga city limits. Unless you’re planning to mostly stay at the resort, I’d recommend either bringing a car (the valet is around £21 a night) or hiring a driver for the day.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Driving is also the best way to get to the resort, which is located about a two-hour drive from San Francisco (and the San Francisco and Oakland airports), or a 30-minute drive from the airport in Santa Rosa, which has seen increased connectivity in recent months from new startup airline Avelo.

If you’re planning to visit the resort from points along the West Coast, it would make sense to consider flying into Santa Rosa versus San Francisco or Oakland.

But when you finally make it to the resort, you may drive right by it.

At every other Four Seasons resort I’ve visited, the dramatic entrance is demarcated with a large sign and beautiful landscaping.

The entrance to this resort has just a small, nondescript “400 Silverado Trail” sign. Once you turn in, there’s no further mention of it being home to the Four Seasons. (The directional sign only says “hotel.”)

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Once we arrived (after initially missing the entrance), I inquired about the signage.

Turns out, the town of Calistoga has a no-formula ordinance, which bars any restaurant or lodging chain from publicly displaying its name or logo anywhere on the property.

That means once you start exploring the property, you won’t find any mention of Four Seasons — not in the gym, spa, pool or restaurant, nor on employee’s uniforms with the noticeably absent tree logo — until you walk into your room and see the hotel’s directory.

Of course, Four Seasons could theoretically brand the resort as a distinct entity, similar to how the neighbouring Auberge Resort calls itself “Solage.”

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

But until then, the flagpoles won’t be flying the Four Seasons (and Canadian) flag, and you’ll want to make sure you pay attention during the last half-mile of your drive.

Check-in

While we were eager to start our vacation and explore the new Four Seasons, the same can’t be said about the resort and our arrival.

We pulled up to the resort at 1 p.m. on a Friday. The friendly bellhop grabbed our bags and whisked us into the reception area, located in one of the buildings in the entrance area.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

After the front desk agent asked for my ID and credit card, she immediately mentioned that the resort had been fully booked both the prior night and was again fully booked for our check-in night, so our room was not available yet.

Of course, that’s in line with the resort’s stated 4 p.m. check-in time.

She then had us complete the registration paperwork and offered us either a glass of sparkling wine (which we later learned was a Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut) or a can of water, both of which were refreshing — just in different ways.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

She promised to “prioritise” getting us a room and said she hoped to call us shortly with good news.

We decided to walk the property while we waited. This was the perfect time to grab pictures of the pool, spa and other areas.

When we circled back to inquire about our room at 2:30 p.m., however, we found a long line of guests waiting to check-in. The reception area was chaotic (more so than I’ve ever seen at any other Four Seasons resort). We waited 10 minutes to see if we could chat with an agent.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

No one became available, but those guests checking in were all managing to get assigned to rooms.

We ultimately returned to the reception at 4 p.m., and only then did a receptionist tell us a room was available.

“I was just about to text you, Mr Griff,” was the greeting I received as I walked into the reception building.

Yes, the hotel technically delivered on its promised 4 p.m. check-in time, but relative to all my prior Four Seasons stays, this was one of the worst welcome experiences I’ve had.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

There was no communication during our wait (not even an apology when we first tried checking in), and we certainly weren’t pleased when every other guest checking in (including some staying in the same room category as us) was processed expeditiously and before the 4 p.m. window.

Our stay didn’t get off to a great start, but those memories quickly faded away after a few glasses of wine.

Room

Once we finally had our keys in hand, we were excited to explore our vineyard view king room.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The resort’s 85 rooms are spread out around the property in freestanding villas. (There are also about 20 residences, which are located past the room cottages.)

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Our room, number 802, was located in Villa 8, about mid-way through the north side of the property.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

We quickly descended a few stairs and entered our ground-floor room on the side of Villa 8. (We didn’t see an elevator, making this room inaccessible to those using a wheelchair.)

Entering the room brought us directly into the closet area, which was wrapped around on three sides by floor-to-ceiling mirrors, making this area feel more spacious than it was.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The closet wasn’t particularly large, especially considering it was the only place to store luggage in the entire room.

Turning left brought you to the bathroom, which featured dual vanities with a natural grey stone countertop, along with an oversized shower and freestanding soaking tub wet area.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Individually bottled toiletries were provided by Australian skincare brand Sodashi. But there was neither a loofah nor bath salts in the bathroom, two amenities you’d typically find next to the bathtub at a truly luxe resort.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The toilet itself was set off in its own enclosed area just opposite the sinks.

I find that Four Seasons properties often have some of the nicest bathrooms, and this one was no exception.

As for the room itself, it wasn’t especially large, but it was thoughtfully designed.

The highlight, of course, was the signature Four Seasons bed. It’s a toss-up whether I prefer the bathrooms or the beds at Four Seasons properties — both are consistently excellent.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Those needing to catch up on work will appreciate the full-size desk at the side of the bed.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The resort offers complimentary premium Wi-Fi to all guests (which costs around £15.28 or more at other Four Seasons properties), so staying connected was no issue. Download speeds measured 20 Mbps, while upload speeds were roughly 10 Mbps.

Opposite the bed was the (very) well-stocked minibar, with a handful of top-shelf bottles, including a personal favourite, a 375-millilitre bottle of Macallan 12, which was going for about £65.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Next to the minibar was an electric fireplace, which was more decorative than functional. There was a switch to turn it on, but it never really warmed up the room.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The remainder of the wall unit consisted of four small cupboards, none of which had actual storage shelves for those looking for a space to unpack clothes.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

There was a Nespresso machine in one of the cupboards, along with two complimentary cans of water.

The only interesting wall decoration was a copy of “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck that was propped open to Chapter 13. The critically acclaimed novel focuses on a family leaving Oklahoma during the Great Depression for a more prosperous future in California.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

As you’d expect for a brand-new resort, there were plenty of easily accessible outlets and USB-A ports around the room, with at least four charging ports at each bedside.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

While the room was advertised as between 480 and 530 square feet, it felt a bit on the smaller end of the range, especially without including the terrace.

The terrace wasn’t especially large either, but it was a nice space to relax and get some work done. It featured a two-person sofa, a large, circular table and a single chair just steps from the resort’s vineyard. (There were even two power outlets and two USB-A charging ports outdoors.)

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

While the room itself was very well appointed, I had three issues, ranging in severity from personal preference to concerning to downright critical.

To start, I found the room with its royal blue walls to be particularly dark. Even after turning all the lights to full brightness, it was hard to see without opening the drapes.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Though the resort is less than six months old, I found multiple spots in the closet and on the wall unit with discolouration, chipping and dents. It’ll be interesting to see how the hotel addresses the wear and tear as it gets older.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Finally, and this one was big, our room had virtually no privacy once the shades were opened.

For one, the window in the bathroom opened to reveal the main path that connects each villa. We opted to keep these shades lowered during our entire stay, but others didn’t — giving every passerby a view directly into the bathroom.

The shades on the side of the bed could also be raised or lowered, and while they stood at nearly six feet high, they had a direct view into the neighbouring room and its terrace.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Finally, once the drapes were opened, we had a great view of the on-property vineyard — but other guests had a great view of us as well. There was a staff-only walking path just beyond the 10 rows of vines, giving any passing employee an unobstructed view right into our room.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

When we were relaxing on the terrace, we had virtually no privacy since there was just a single tree that acted as a privacy shield between our room and the terrace on the ground level of the neighbouring villa.

To avoid many of these privacy issues, I’d recommend doing whatever you can to get an upper-floor room assignment. (We tried to change rooms but were told that none were available.)

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

More than anything, with weekend room rates of $1,800 (roughly £1,375) a night, I wish the hotel could have figured out a more creative solution to the privacy issue. This aspect of the experience felt especially not luxurious.

Food and beverage

Right now, only two-thirds of the Four Seasons’ dining establishments are open — but our food and beverage experience still deserved an “A.”

We began our stay with dinner at the Living Room at Truss, the resort’s all-day restaurant. Perched above the pools just across from the reception villa, Truss serves a California- and Napa-inspired take on American classics.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

There were plenty of outdoor dining options, ranging from standard tables to fireside seating to two “igloos,” which would be ideal for a family or groups of friends travelling together.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Indoors, the restaurant’s vaulted ceilings were flanked by an open kitchen and long bar, which made for an inviting, yet relaxed feel.

Truss will eventually offer two dining experiences – all-day fare in the Living Room, and a more formal “restaurant” that sits inside the wine cellar — but the latter offering is still a work in progress due to short staffing.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Our dinner in the Living Room was delicious. We started with a variety of snacks, including an onion dip (about £6), which came highly recommended by the server and didn’t disappoint.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

After learning that the restaurant is famous for its cracker-thin pizzas, we ordered two to split as our entree. The grilled maitake mushroom pizza (about £18) was hands down the highlight, with the kale, egg and garlic cream mixing to give the crisp dough a delicious taste.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

We also began each morning at Truss, where we enjoyed American- and Mexican-inspired breakfast options. Unlike many other resorts, there was no breakfast buffet, only a la carte options.

Several of our favourites included the smoked salmon English muffins (about £20), candles waffles (around £17) and the huevos rancheros (£20).

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

By the second morning, the waiters had memorised our drink orders, a personalised touch that we appreciated.

While Truss is also open for lunch, we decided to mix things up by eating at Campo, the poolside restaurant that served a Cal-Mexican-inspired menu.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The colourful table settings and yellow accents gave off a playful and relaxed vibe, and the food itself was delicious.

The hibiscus iced tea (£8) was refreshing, while the mango and jicama salad (£14) and the tlayuda chips and dips (£12) were our two favourites. We especially enjoyed the chips, which are imported twice-weekly from Oaxaca, where they’re baked under the sun.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The food and drinks were expensive, but the prices were roughly in line with what I expected for a top-tier resort.

Perhaps the highlight of the culinary experience at the Four Seasons is the on-property winery, called Elusa, which has vineyards spread throughout the resort.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

We stopped at Elusa just after we arrived for a signature tasting (about £73 per person), which we arranged through the hotel’s concierge team.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Our friendly wine educator explained that Elusa’s vines were first planted in 1996 and have never been replanted since.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

When the land was sold in 2010, the new owner brought in Thomas Rivers Brown, the world-renowned winemaker, to partner up to build Elusa. No additional vines were planted; instead, Brown conceived of the idea of nestling a resort around the existing vineyard.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Fast forward 12 years later, and that dream is now a reality. We especially enjoyed the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon during our tasting, which was described as having a delicate blend of dark fruit and woodsy flavours.

Amenities

The Four Seasons Napa has a slew of amenities for those looking to relax on the property.

As you descend towards the resort’s main artery, you’ll find its two signature pools — a shallow one for children and another adults-only lap pool designed for those 17 years and older. The latter features five swim lanes that measure 75 feet from edge to edge.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Both pools are heated, and there are even two Jacuzzis, which we used during the chilly evenings.

All four pools and hot tubs feature ADA-compliant pool lifts.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The pools themselves are visually appealing, but Four Seasons didn’t forget the details — the loungers are some of the most well-padded ones I’ve found in all my travels.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Complimentary SPF 50 sunscreen and after-sun lotion were available near each pool.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The resort’s spa, Spa Talisa, is located between Truss and the reception. It has eight treatment rooms for those looking to get pampered.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Unfortunately, the vineyard scrub and thermal mud scrub — two of the spa’s signature treatments — were unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions. (It’s also worth noting that the spa doesn’t employ any male therapists.)

Even if you don’t splurge for a spa treatment — a 50-minute massage starts at $240 (around £183) — you can enjoy the facilities, located on the first floor.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

This includes a steam room, outdoor shower, and a co-ed eco-garden that’s perched above the vineyards. It features a large whirlpool with some loungers surrounding it.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

During the week, the spa closes at 5 p.m., which we found to be quite early, especially after daylight saving time kicked in.

The spa is the first in the Napa Valley region to offer Biologique Recherche facials, a popular option for fans of the famous French skincare brand.

Next to the spa is the fitness centre, which is stocked with Technogym equipment, including three treadmills, three ellipticals, one bike and a variety of weight machines and stretching areas.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

There’s even a spin room and meditation and yoga deck overlooking the vineyards in the gym complex.

As you walk around the resort, you’ll likely appreciate the beautiful grounds that were seemingly designed to blend naturally into the vineyards.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

One amenity that some will certainly appreciate is the guest laundry room, with complimentary access to a washer and dryer (stocked with Tide pods and dryer sheets, too). This could be a great alternative to expensive valet laundry options, which of course remain available should you choose.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Service

Service was perhaps the biggest letdown at this Four Seasons property, especially compared to the high bar that the brand’s other resorts have set for me.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The service felt inconsistent and aspects of the experience weren’t polished or refined, perhaps due to the hotel’s newness.

To start, I emailed the hotel before our stay to inquire about reserving a tasting at the on-property winery and booking a massage in the spa. I received a quick reply from the hotel about booking the tasting, but despite twice following up about a massage, I never heard from the spa.

I already detailed our chaotic check-in experience, which further added to our sense of disappointment.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Furthermore, when we got to our room, I called the front desk to see if we could switch to an upper-level room for privacy reasons. I was promised a callback, but it never came (I waited over 25 minutes until I called back).

That said, service improved dramatically after day one.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Every server at Truss and Campo struck the right balance between friendly and professional. Our waters were always refilled and our questions and requests were answered quickly. One person who went above and beyond was Meagan Mesner, the assistant manager at Truss, who took great care of us after we had some questions about the ingredients in some of the breakfast dishes.

Our stay coincided with the beginning of daylight saving time and we arrived back to the room on the Saturday before “spring forward” to a helpful note from the hotel reminding us to adjust our clocks.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

All told, our service issues were minor in the grand scheme of our stay.

But, in my experience, the Four Seasons brand somewhat sets itself up for failure when the small things go wrong. My wife and I have generally had overwhelmingly positive experiences with the brand’s other properties, where the service has been flawless from booking through checkout.

At the Napa resort, service missed the mark at times — which was especially notable in a comparative sense.

Bottom line

The new Four Seasons in Napa Valley mostly lives up to the hype.

Nestled in an active winery, the property itself is gorgeous, with well-appointed rooms, top-notch amenities, two pools and much more. Even though the food and beverage experience isn’t yet fully operational, everything on offer — from breakfast to lunch to dinner — was delicious.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

That said, for over $1,500 (around £1,146) a night, some aspects of our stay missed the mark. The entry-level rooms lack privacy, which could definitely be a deal-breaker for some guests.

We also weren’t entirely impressed with the service experience, but hopefully, that can be ironed out as the resort ramps up operations.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Ultimately, the Four Seasons Napa Valley has a lot going for it. But, if you’ve been fortunate enough to spend time at other luxury properties (including other Four Seasons) around the world, don’t expect a flawless experience.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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