Calistoga, California’s reputation as a spa town (and in particular the creative way that mud is incorporated into the local spa treatments) is well known. But let’s not forget, Calistoga is located in America’s most well known wine area, Napa Valley. Wine and grapes are just part of life, and that includes wellness and healing therapies.
Remember I told you in Postcard from Mud City that I would reveal the Calistoga spa with the most creative use of grape seeds? Well, I’m finally getting to that! Without a doubt, the best use of grape seeds is the signature Grape Seed Mud Wrap at the Mount View Hotel and Spa.
Crushed grape seeds from Napa Valley wineries are mixed with mud. After a light exfoliation, the warm mud and grape seed-rosehip concoction is applied and you are wrapped in warm blankets, while the parts that are exposed (the hands, feet, and head) are given a light massage.
Lest you think this is just a gimmick, grape seed oil is high in linoleic acid, a potent anti-inflammatory that is found in many therapies for the treatment of cancer. It helps moisturize the skin and build collagen to maintain skin tone, assisting in an anti-aging effect. As if that’s not enough, it also aids in diminishing dark under eye circles with consistent application. As a professional makeup artist, I can tell you that’s the number one beauty problem my customers complain about. Now, thanks to a visit to the Mount View Hotel and Spa in Calistoga, I know how to help them achieve not only a cosmetic correction, but something more long term! Personally I think I’m just going to soak in a big barrel of it every day.
But, let me start at the beginning.
Wine and Wellness at the Mountview Hotel and Spa, Calistoga
After changing into your spa robe and slippers in the women’s dressing room, an attendant takes you to a private room lit by softly fragrant candlelight, where you soak in a hydrotherapy tub filled with Calistoga’s famous thermal waters and Moor Mud. Moor Mud is the name of a particular type of mud, 100% natural and rich in herbs and minerals. Though it’s not sourced locally, the Moor Mud is a good choice because the texture mixes easily with the grape seed oil and therefore is easy to apply. The combination of the thermal water and the mud increases circulation, thereby helping to flush toxins from your system and detoxify the skin.
After about a twenty to thirty minute soak, a light tap on the door alerts you that it’s time for your grape seed mud wrap. Already relaxed from the hydrotherapy, this treatment is perfect if you want to just doze off, which is what I did. Bonus: your skin will feel like velvet for days afterward.
This was my second experience with soaking in the thermal waters of Calistoga, and I was beginning to think about how I could make it part of my daily routine. Of all the spa experiences I’ve ever had, this is my favorite.
The entire experience was so relaxing, I was glad that I was booked into the Mount View Hotel. I didn’t have to change clothes, but just went straight to my room in my robe and slippers. Which is what I recommend, because this hotel is really a delight. Located on the main drag in Calistoga,it’s convenient to restaurants, shopping, and the all important morning coffee!
You’d never guess that this sophisticated boutique hotel and spa, was once a flop house where you could rent rooms by the day or by the hour, as the need dictated (or so I was told by a local fellow who invited me for a chat over coffee and a muffin at Bella Bakery one morning). He had moved to Calistoga in 1975 and said the only word to describe Calistoga at that time was “redneck.” Brannan’s, a popular restaurant named after one of the founding fathers of Calistoga, Sam Brannan, was called the Wagon Wheel, and there wasn’t much else except a gas station and a few dive bars.
Luckily some things do change, and today the Mount View is rated a top boutique hotel and spa by Zagat, and is a member of the Green Spa Association. It is now an oasis of relaxation, beauty, and rejuvenation in Napa Valley.
The current owners have gone to great lengths to recreate a 1920s art deco style glamour, and an atmosphere that will “surprise, seduce, and comfort.”
The wine suites are a fun and unique feature of the hotel, each one hosted by a local vineyard. Of course, a bottle of wine comes with the room, hand-picked by the corresponding wine maker. Other in-room features: crazy comfortable Plush 7 mattress, Illy coffee maker, iPod dock, and standards like a hairdryer, ironing board, and flatscreen TV.
For breakfast the Mountview will give you a voucher for their new restaurant Johnny’s, named after John B. Ghisolfo, an Italian emigrant who built the historic Mount View Hotel in 1919. He and his son, Johnny Jr., operated the bar & restaurant of the hotel, known now as Johnny’s for over fifty years.
Other features of the room which I particularly enjoyed were the dual shower bathroom, and the eco-friendly luxury bath products. I also liked that there was great light in the bathroom. Perhaps the only downside was there was very little cabinet top space for your personal items. There was also a separate room with an old style claw foot tub if you wanted to soak some more, which I did not take advantage of. Didn’t need to!
Completely relaxed and lounging on an art deco style love seat in the same robe and slippers I donned in the spa, I uncorked a bottle of Hans Fahden cabernet sauvignon, poured myself a healthy glass of wine, and drank a toast to Visit Calistoga for arranging my visit to the Mount View Hotel and Spa.
My stay was hosted by Visit Calistoga, but all opinions expressed here are strictly my own.