Montage Healdsburg debuted in January in the throes of the coronavirus, just as cases in California were surging. In hindsight, the timing proved fortuitous — it’s the type of hotel that’s needed right now.
Laid out over 258 acres in Northern California wine country, the new nature retreat offers ample room to stretch out, whether you want to spend time hiking in the local terrain or sitting back and enjoying a glass of Sonoma vino on one of the hotel’s many balconies overlooking the mountains. It seems tailor-made for pandemic times, with pockets of alfresco dining and lounging areas sprinkled throughout, well-spaced bungalows that are so secluded that you likely won’t run into neighbors and a slate of outdoor activities ranging from archery to pickleball.
Beyond being a social-distancing-friendly vaxication (especially as California claimed the lowest per capita coronavirus case rate in the country over the last week, according to the Los Angeles Times), Montage Healdsburg is an important addition to the hospitality landscape: it’s the first luxury hotel chain to open in Healdsburg. This gives the quaint yet underrated area filled with outstanding wineries and top-notch dining the final piece it needs to go toe to toe with Napa as a wine country destination for luxury travelers.
Here’s why you should make Montage Healdsburg your next trip:
After more than a year of staring at your home’s walls, your eyes deserve a reprieve. Let them wander at Hazel Hill restaurant and Scout Field Bar. Just off of the wood-filled lobby, these spots form the core of the Healdsburg hotel, and the view from their joint terrace takes in tidy rows of young vines and a smattering of heritage oaks that sit in the foreground with the Mayacamas Mountains and Mount St. Helena looming beyond. It’s the sort of setting that makes you want to linger with a bottle of Sonoma wine.
Hazel Hill and Scout also have retractable floor-to-ceiling windows so that even those dining inside can soak up the scenery and get some fresh air when the weather permits.
Discover more ravishing vistas from the rooms. The 130 accommodations overlook the vineyards, forest or mountains, and they further immerse you in nature with indoor-outdoor spaces, including glass walls that open to terraces and open-air showers off of the bathroom.
Ogle panoramas of Mount St. Helena and the Alexander Valley’s vineyards from the wraparound balcony and its hot tub at the Guest House. The largest suite on the property, the prized three-bedroom dwelling sits on a knoll and comes with a kitchen and pantry and a living room.
If you aren’t going to stay in the Guest House, spring for a room with a balcony fire pit. Flames appear with the flick of a switch, adding instant coziness and comfort as you revel in the backdrop from the alfresco sofa or dining table. You’ll want to spend all of your time on this terrace.
The surroundings spill into the décor inside. Natural colors, local stone and mixed wood lend an earthy feel. The latter is especially present — it’s used to make everything from the flooring to the Craftsman-style slatted headboard that stretches to the ceiling. Cast bark from the trees at the Sonoma hotel is framed in the bedroom, while gnarled branches gain new life as an art installation hanging above the standalone deep-soaking tub.
Perched 20 feet above the vines, Spa Montage Healdsburg makes use of local ingredients for its treatments. Take the Sonoma Blend Massage, which employs locally sourced olive oil. We recommend the Harvest Honey Ginger Infusion Ritual. The therapist sloughs off rough skin with ginger and mineral salts and then wraps you in antioxidant-rich, moisturizing locally harvested honey. Next, she utilizes basalt stones to loosen your neck and shoulders and finishes with a ginger and coriander massage. You’ll leave feeling at peace and flaunting silky-soft skin.
Of course, the 11-treatment-room spa enlists some help outside of Sonoma, too. Choose facials from results-driven Swiss brand Valmont, Kerstin Florian International’s vegan Anda line or celebrity favorite OxyLight, a non-invasive machine that does light therapy, microdermabrasion, oxygen spray, microcurrent therapy and LED light therapy. After your facial, go over to the salon, where you can get dolled up with popular Shu Uemura hair products and long-lasting, non-toxic Dazzle Dry nail polishes.
The Wine and Food
The grounds of Montage Healdsburg encompass 15.5 acres of vineyards. While it will take some time before the wine is ready for bottling, it certainly will be worth the wait. Respected winemaker Jesse Katz, whose excellent Aperture Cellars is six miles away, oversees the grapevines.
In the meantime, there is already a great wine selection to imbibe at Hazel Hill. The expert sommelier can point you to delicious local pours, some of which are surprising finds in these parts, like the unusual 2019 Hers vermentino from Ryme Cellars and the festive 2016 Poe sparkling rosé.
Pair your wine with Pacific oysters that get a burst of freshness with an Asian pear mignonette or the farmstead cheese plate with toasted country bread, local honey, jam and walnuts.
For something more substantial on the seasonal, French-influenced California menu, we suggest the plump gnocchi with morels, white asparagus, fava puree and edible flowers, along with the juicy Liberty Farms duck breast with rhubarb, turnips, popcorn and a sprinkle of pistachios.
If you don’t want to savor that cheese plate for dessert, opt for sweets like the rich chocolate crunch bar with hazelnut cookie and Valrhona chocolate layers and a side of Frangelico ice cream, or the lighter coconut tapioca pearls with tropical fruit salsa, black sesame and mango sorbet.
Work off the food and drinks with some activities. The wine country hotel offers bocce ball, courts for trendy pickleball, an archery range and a yoga lawn amid the vines.
Adjacent to the spa, a zero-edge adult pool lined with mauve umbrellas and gray lounge chairs faces the vineyards. Farther afield are the alfresco Hudson Springs Bar and Grill and a circular family pool. Kids also can make a beeline for Paintbox, an interactive children’s club that’s a mainstay throughout the Montage brand.
Whichever you choose to do, we recommend adding a Sonoma e-bike excursion to the itinerary. The hotel’s Compass Sports center will set you up with an Electra e-bike and a route. The bicycle comes with a phone holder on the handlebars so you can plug in the destination and follow the map while pedaling. The terrain is easy and lovely. The e-bike makes riding a snap, though you can adjust it to give yourself more of a sweat if you like. A jaunt led us past scenic vineyards, trees blooming with pink blossoms and fields covered in bright mustard flowers. Much like a stay at Montage Healdsburg, the social-distancing-friendly trek surrounds you in Sonoma’s splendor.