Topping out at $1,500 per night, Bardessono Hotel and Spa in Yountville is one of only three Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum-certified hotels in the country — the highest and most rigorous form of green development accreditation in the U.S.
The Napa Valley property on which the resort is built was originally farmed by the Bardessono family who arrived from Italy in 1926.
The resort opened in 2009 and is footsteps from Yountville’s main drag.
Bardessono was designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible with a wide range of environmental elements including heating and cooling via geothermal energy, material reuse, onsite waste management, low water use and LED and fluorescent lighting.
The resort also gets about half of its electricity from a 200-kilowatt photovoltaic solar system discreetly mounted and concealed atop the hotel’s flat-topped roofs.
“The Bardessono Inn came about because of Phil Sherburne’s (the developer) vision. His goal was to leave the earth with as little harm as possible,” said Seattle architect Ron Mitchell, who designed the project. “The high level of sustainability was also a reflection of the values of the high end demographic coming to Napa as well as the region. People, especially during the recession at that time, were reluctant to make wanton travel expenditures and were more willing to do so when they felt it supported a core value like sustainability.”
Originally, designers of the Bardessono sought LEED Gold certification for the project.
“We were interested in an environmentally conscious project. When we realized we were at the gold level, it wasn’t very hard to go for the platinum after that. So we decided to go for it,” Sherburne said. “We worked to push the envelope on the project to incorporate all the environmental qualities that made any sense at all and that we could afford.”
The resort cost $62 million to build, and in 2015, Remington Hotels, based in Dallas, purchased it for $1.3 million per room.
The Hotel Skyler in Syracuse, New York, and Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, North Carolina, are also certified Platinum LEED.
Bardessono was built with 100,000 square feet of salvaged wood used for doors, flooring and walls of the guestrooms, spa, and restaurant and event space.
Sherburne sourced most of the building materials and design elements himself.
San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest artisans used “up-cycled” materials to create elements specific to Bardessono’s guest rooms, courtyard and gardens.
During the site preparation and building process, contractor Cello-Maudru Construction, in Napa, recycled 93 percent of the waste.
The idea of sustainability even trickled down to the construction crews, who took to recycling their paper lunch bags.
“It was so clear that everything we were doing was environmentally conscious, the crew really got into it and gave really high quality work. They were really paying attention,” Sherburne said.
To heat and cool guest rooms as well as the property’s water supply, a system of 82 300-foot geothermal wells were drilled to work with a specially developed ground source heat pump system.
“Given the spread out nature of the project the preferred heating/cooling would have been individual heat pumps, but we were concerned about sound disturbing adjacent guests,” Mitchell said. “We decided to use geothermal for heat and air conditioning because there would be zero noise and it was sustainable. At the same time the state of California was offering attractive tax rebates for PV to generate electricity. We chose to do that. At which point we had a LEED Platinum project.”
What $1,500 a night in Napa gets you
Guests stay at Yountville’s Bardessono resort because they appreciate the low carbon imprint, but also for the service.
The 62-room hotel has three times that many employees.
As might be expected, the resort sees a lot of celebrities, dignitaries and professional athletes. The majority of guests are from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, and New York, escaping for a romantic weekend. Average weekend occupancy is 95 percent, said Sileshi Mengiste, vice president of operations.
“People come for wellness, and love the good life that Napa Valley offers,” he said.
The hotel gathers as much information about the guests and their needs as they can ahead of arrival.
“We’re very intuitive. We know the guest beforehand. We know what they want, and try to fulfill their needs as much as possible,” Mengiste said.
Guests are asked, for example, what firmness of mattress they prefer. Mattresses will be switched out in a particular room beforehand if need be.
Upon check-in, guests are greeted by a team of attentive telephone earpiece-wearing agents and offered a glass of wine. They are also given a tour of the resort.
All parking is done by valet, and guest parking is contained in an enclosed space. There are no driveways or roads running through the project.
For getting around Napa, seven luxury SUV’s are available for guest use, as are ergonomic bicycles.
The design of the buildings is clean and minimal with little to no signage,
A rooftop swimming pool lends rare views of the Stags Leap Palisades and Mayacamas Mountains, with private poolside cabanas and a pizza oven.
Guest rooms are nestled around five separate courtyard coves. The property has an intimate, private feeling, and the 540-750-square foot rooms are designed to feel like “home” Mengiste said.
There is no carpeting, and only natural chemicals are used to clean the rooms, which leaves them smelling naturally fresh.
“They (cleaning products) are very expensive, but that’s the branding,” Mengiste said.
All rooms feature 375-thread count bed sheets from Frette, an Italian linens company. Cost for a set of bed sheets starts at about $370, according to the company’s website.
Beds also come with a body pillow.
Room service is ordered via iPad, where access to 160 newspapers is also available.
There is no charge for the health-oriented drinks in the mini-bar.
The resort’s spa has only four massage rooms, as 90 percent of guests receive treatment in their rooms. The 200-square foot bathrooms are outfitted with retractable massage tables.
Bathroom floors were also laid with walnut, rather than tile.
“It’s a nice feeling on bare feet,” said Phil Sherburne, the resort’s developer.
Rooms also have indoor and outdoor showers.
The hotel’s restaurant, Lucy, sources locally and from the resort’s certified organic gardens. No frozen foods are used, all meat is hormone-free, and all foods are free from preservatives.
Guests are also offered complimentary breakfast pastries from nearby Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery.
Four-legged friends are also welcome with a $150 fee. Upon arrival they are provided pet bowls, a pet bed, doggie waste bags and a special welcome amenity.