While some luxury hotels closed their doors permanently due to the pandemic, some quietly made major comebacks. One standout: Solage, Auberge Resorts Collection, the 100 studio property covering 22 pastoral acres along Napa’s famous Silverado Trail road. A $ 30 million renovation not only happens in response to a crisis like COVID-19, but Solage’s timing is nonetheless serendipitous. Even better: it’s a resounding reason to visit Solage, the Auberge Resorts Collection, if one needs a push to visit the splendor that is the Napa Valley in the summer or an Auberge resort in the region at all.
Part of the $ 30 million update of Solage, Auberge Resorts Collection included the opening in July 2021 of an exclusive, yet accessible Mexican restaurant, Picobar. It’s rare to find Mexican cuisine in a region so focused on “California” staples from farm to table, but Solage has a hell of an asset left: Executive Chef Gustavo Rios, a Mexican American star chef with more than two decades in the valley and beyond. Rios, similar to other chefs in Napa, I find, left but returned to the property after exploring other options. While at Solage, Auberge Resorts Collection, Rios helped earn Solbar, the property’s main restaurant, its first Michelin star rating and kept the star for seven years in a row while at the restaurant.
Picobar is now Rios’ vision, a festive semi-indoor, semi-outdoor eatery reminiscent of taco shops Rios grew up with. Like Solbar, Picobar still guides its menus according to the seasons and local harvests, but Rios’ place has a number of playful Mexican delicacies such as Cowgirl Creamery queso, garlic and sun-dried tomato house, tortillas,
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and a variety of “head lashes,” Rio’s daughter’s name for tacos. The best seat in the “barn”, the building Picobar sits in, is on the colorful tiled bar overlooking the extended pool area and bright cabanas, both part of the impressive renovation. Stay long enough with a cold ginger pack in hand and you can see the cute popsicle cart by the pool, a charming addition to Solage, Auberge Resorts Collection.
In addition to the upgrades to the pool area and the opening of Picobar, Solage, the Auberge Resorts Collection renovated all 89 of its guest cabins and added eleven chic suites among its mature oak trees and towering palm trees. I absolutely loved the suites’ beautiful attention to textures in its beige, gray and tan colors that carry into the private patios and outdoor baths and showers in each suite. Studio Collective, the design house that recently completed a Michael Mina restaurant in Long Beach, aces California fashion every time.
Another must-enjoy at Solage is its unbeatable 20,000 square foot spa, arguably the largest in the Napa region and alone a reason to stay on the property for several restorative days. Calistoga is blessed with hot springs from two nearby volcanoes that were active 10,000 years ago, and the area still boasts hot springs bubbling along with vineyards. The spa’s white linen bath house has five different pools for “taking in the water”, an old method called balneology. Washing, spraying and immersion in water at different temperatures and with arrays of minerals are said to do wonders for skin and soul, and I have no doubt to believe otherwise after several hours in the bathhouse. I tried “vitality and body performance circuits” in the spa’s suggested pool order to help my tired runners’ legs. Other suggested circuits are designed for decompression and mindfulness, although I also suggest a dip in the magnesium sulfate pool for muscle pain.
Many will argue that autumn is Napa’s showcase season, but when tacos, bathhouses and sunsets under old oak trees are a summer option at Solage, Auberge Resorts Collection, I doubt anyone can resist.