$98 million, four-star facility along river comes to downtown

The new Westin Verasa Hotel is a part of the renaissance of the greater downtown Napa area

Situated on a 4.7-acre parcel gently sloping to the Napa River, the three-story, 156,000-square-foot four-star hotel offers 180 guest rooms. The hotel opened on Sept. 18 and features craftsman-style architecture of natural wood and stone.

“While many lodges in Wine Country name their function rooms for grape varietals, we chose the name ‘Verasa’ for our hotel because it is a word that describes the magic moment when grapes mature and turn from green to red,” said Don Shindle, general manager of the hotel and regional vice president for Intrawest Hospitality. “This unique naming convention carries over into designations selected for our meeting areas, such as the Amphora Room main conference facility, named for the classic two-handled Greek or Roman wine jar, and the smaller breakout Barrique Room, a term used to describe a 225-liter barrel.”

The main conference room has capacity for 250 to 300 guests and can be split in half for smaller groups. The Westin Verasa also has three smaller meeting rooms that can accommodate groups of up to 30 to 40.

The hotel’s proximity to the river inspired the creation of a signature water feature within the circular drive leading up to the main entrance. A separate fire fountain on the Solera Courtyard outside the lobby at the rear of the building serves as a gathering place for parties, weddings and other special events.

“One of the most striking interior features is the stunning hand-placed wood floor of the lobby resembling the end of a wine barrel inlaid in a circular pattern that invites guests to enter and explore,” said Pudge Linman, Intrawest construction director for the Hotel Verasa project, a task that was completed 90 days ahead of schedule and on budget. “The lobby also has a 22.5-foot high ceiling with a clerestory and window walls facing east toward the river. Twenty-foot wide doors open onto the patio bringing the outdoors inside. The decor utilizes a warm color palate in contemporary designs blended with large wood beams and rock features.”

The centerpiece of the lobby is a natural, one-of-a-kind sculpture created specifically for the hotel by Steven Galloway weighing 500 pounds and 8x11 feet in size made from seeds and pods.

Napa-based vanderToolen Associates landscape architects designed the hotel’s exterior areas to take advantage of sight lines and enhanced views from the hotel toward the Napa River. Ornamental and drought-tolerant trees and shrubs were used to conserve water supplied by a drip irrigation system. “Runoff after storms, along with rainwater from downspouts, is contained and passed through a biofilter before entering the river. We also specified vines on the trellis features to help soften the architecture. The landscape design goal was to create seasonal diversity with a variety of plant materials that utilize color, texture and fragrances and insert dramatic accents that highlight the project’s architecture,” said Phil vanderToolen, president of vanderToolen Associates.

Many people today are looking for ways to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. “We not only provide a non-smoking environment but a chance for guests to explore the outdoors on one of our three terraces, take hikes or bicycle along a portion of the five-mile river walk,” Mr. Shindle said.

Chef Ken Frank moved his award-winning restaurant, La Toque, from Rutherford into the Verasa Hotel where he presides over a prix fixe dinner menu featuring French cuisine. He also oversees the Bank Cafe and Wine Bar with its bistro atmosphere serving California cuisine throughout the day while providing guests with both indoor and outdoor seating options.

The Westin Verasa is located two blocks from the Copia Wine Center and gardens, the Oxbow Market, the southern terminus depot of the Wine Train and a variety of boutique shops in downtown Napa.

“Within a few short weeks following our grand opening we had already hosted a chamber of commerce board of directors planning session, a Napa Destination Council reception, local networking group mixers and winery management meetings. Our greatest asset and the basis for our continuing success is the quality of our associates. We hire the right people who fully embrace our culture of service,” Mr. Shindle said.