Welcome to the 1% Travel Guide, your bible of the most tricked-out, exclusive destinations that money can buy.
After hearing your co-worker’s amazing stories from his luxury break in Africa, you decide you’d rather not hang out on a trans-Atlantic flight, even though the perks of first class strongly beckon to you. Instead, you make a decision to head up the coast north of San Fran to escape smoggy LA. Destination of choice: Napa Valley.
As the urban sprawl is gradually replaced by rolling hills and the great outdoors, you begin to wonder if you’ve just sacrificed a relaxing beach excursion to lollygag in the woods. However, all bets are off when you pull up to the “hotel” – or as they call it in these parts, a “luxury inn.” Behold the Auberge du Soleil, Napa Valley’s (not to mention California wine country’s) most prestigious and exclusive place to vacation.
As you are greeted at the reception, you survey the choice of room options, each categorized by size and location on the massive property. The first option, the Maison Room, is far too small for your liking at around 500 square feet. How could you relax with your wife practicing her rigorous yoga in a space that confined (not that you mind the extra flexibility of course)? The next step up, the Maison Suites, gives you a bit more space, between 1200-1500 square feet and the inclusion of an outdoor hot tub on your private terrace. Not a bad place to chill out with a glass of a local vintage, but you’re still hesitant.
As you contemplate, the hours of torture from your boss begins to cloud your vision. So you say “fuck it, give me the largest thing you have available,”… and hand over your AMEX. “Very well sir,” the tanned female receptionist replies. “I’ll have your things brought up to the Loire Maison.” After fetching your wife from the bar, you’re shown the path to the private mini-chateau that you will christen as your abode for the next week. The nightly rate of $5,125 doesn’t faze you, but you may have to increase your retirement age to somewhere near 90; no biggie.
After exploring the 1,800 square feet of luxury, including your own bar, a fitness studio (wife is already stretching), and terrace, you head down to the spa’s infinity pools and take a breather while overlooking the endless vineyards. Your wife, who smells suspiciously like olives after her treatment, decides to be generous and hints you are to report to the front desk the next morning.
Upon arrival, you’re welcomed by a V12 engine, a sexy shell, and NASCAR driver Chris Cook who will be taking you for a customized, day-long driving adventure in the aforementioned hot rod. Napa is the perfect place to rev-up, be it on the winding back roads, hidden trails through the groves, or the straightaway-style stretches that will get your adrenaline pumping. Though you wife spent upwards of $6000 for the treat, you’ll make sure she’ll be repaid back at the mansion tonight.
The rest of your week is full of walking the hills and enjoying the heat. That’s of course when you’re not tasting far too many exquisite local wines or testing out the daily creations of the Auberge’s own Michelin-starred restaurant. This is paradise, on a modest budget.
Check it out at www.aubergedusoleil.com