California Wine Country hotels invest millions in relaxation-focused resort experiences
Vintners Inn in Santa Rosa has become the latest luxury hotel to add what in many ways has become a Wine Country must – a spa.
Vintners Inn this month will unveil its completed $17 million master renovation, a 2-year-long project of which $4.2 million went to a newly constructed, 5,000-square-foot full-service spa called Vi La Vita, set to open on Oct. 22, according to Rhonda Carano, owner of Vintners Inn.
The project also included another 34 guest rooms and exterior refurbishment.
“The addition of the new spa at Vintners Inn has been part of the overall program for the property since we purchased it in 2000,” said Carano, who bought Vintners Inn with her husband, Don, who passed away last year. “To experience Wine Country, it is not only about tasting wines and indulging in the area’s restaurants; it’s about creating touch points for your customers to engage in while they are visiting. … In the luxury hotel segment, the role of the spa has become an expected amenity.”
Vi La Vita Spa includes 3,000 square feet of indoor space, with five treatment rooms, a retail store and other amenities, according to Alison Abbott, Vi La Vita’s spa and retail director. There also is a steam sauna, indoor soaking pool, and an outdoor pool and lounge area where healthy bites and tea are available.
“Every finite detail of Vi La Vita Spa — from the style and intimacy of our spa treatments, to our custom-mixed scents and carefully selected color palettes — is designed with the intention to provide our guests with an unrivaled relaxation experience,” said Abbott, whose 16-year career includes overseeing spas at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, as well as the Coldwater Creek Spa in Santa Rosa.
The addition of Vi La Vita Spa also gives Vintners Inn a chance to widen its demographic, said Percy Brandon, general manager.
“The majority of the inn’s clientele has always been a mature 45-plus guest,” Brandon said. “With the addition of the spa, we expect to improve our reach to the millennial crowd —especially in the pre-wedding entertainment segment.”
Vi La Vita Spa will present an opportunity for Vintners Inn to enhance its brand, Carano said.
“The spa adds a new story line to the Vintners Inn brand by bringing new, refreshing products and treatments, and creating spa packages and offers to our guests and in our local community,” Carano said. “On the business side, generating increased revenue for the property is important as well.”
The new spa at Vintners Inn puts it in close proximity — 7.2 miles to be exact—to the spa at the Farmhouse Inn in Forestville, but Carano doesn’t see the two spas competing with each other.
“Each property has their unique environment for visitors to experience,” Carano said about the vineyard-situated inn. “I don’t see guests booking a hotel just because they offer a spa amenity. It’s about the total ambience and feeling of each property.”
The Farmhouse Inn’s co-owner, Catherine Bartolomei, agrees.
“The Vintners Inn spa is wonderful, but their property is different from ours,” said Bartolomei, who co-owns the Farmhouse Inn with her brother, Joe Bartolomei. “We knew they were adding a spa and pool; they’re always upping their game.”
In 2001, the siblings, a fifth-generation farming family with roots in Forestville, purchased the Farmhouse Inn, which had an existing spa.