Napa Valley’s Bardessono is among greenest resorts in US

Spa suites at the Bardessono are designed to double as a private spa. The 200 square foot bathroom features a concealed massage table, soaking tub, separate shower and double vanity. (Bardessono)


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.”

All grey and black water is treated and recycled for irrigation uses by the town of Yountville.

Because of the LEED certification, all glues, adhesives, finishes, paints, carpets and fabrics used are required to meet low volatile compounds standards to improve indoor air quality.

Prior to furniture installation, guest rooms were ventilated with fans to remove residual construction odors. The fabrics used on interior furniture and all carpet are green certified and the use of plastic is minimized.

To conserve energy within guest rooms, window shades operate on a motion sensor. Upon opening the door the shades rise, and they close when no motion is detected.

“We were concerned about changing the way hotels deal with privacy and sun blockage. Usually rooms have drapes and black-out curtains. Air-conditioning is a big energy-consumer, but drapes don’t keep the heat out,” Sherburne said.

Sherburne found what he was looking for in heavy-duty Venetian blinds made in Germany, and the motion-sensor technology was built in Connecticut.

“It turned out to be a lot of work, but nobody had done that before. And they work wonderfully,” he said.

Cynthia Sweeney covers health care, hospitality, residential real estate, education, employment and business insurance. Reach her at or call 707-521-4259.