In case you missed it, Napa Valley received its third Auberge Collection resort this year with the April opening of Stanly Ranch, a project so ambitious and expansive (you could almost call it infinite) that it was nearly two decades in the making.
The vision began in 1999 with the commission and placement of artist Gordon Huether's Corten steel "Infinity" sculpture, set atop the highest point of the historic 712-acre parcel as a symbol of infinite possibility and a hint that this is isn't just another Auberge (no matter how fabulous its predecessors).
Gordon Huether's "Infinity" sculpture sets the tone at Stanly Ranch; from its hilltop perch, it can be seen from nearly every vantage point.(Courtesy of Stanly Ranch)
Located west of Napa River in the vicinity of Etude Wines and Carneros Resort, Stanly Ranch was originally founded by Judge Edward Stanly in 1856 and is today a muscular multi-hyphenate: a 135-cottage resort hotel; a luxurious residential property with 70 homes and 40 villas for purchase; a wellness sanctuary; wine lovers' paradise; a culinary destination; and an outdoor adventurer's dream.
Upon your arrival at the ranch house, you'll be received by a friendly “ranch hand,” appropriately styled for the part. Give your pooch a complimentary treat as you take in the modern-cozy atmosphere where gigantic roll-up windows create a seamless indoor-outdoor experience, a design concept you'll find in buildings throughout Stanly Ranch.
Despite the ranch vibes, there's nothing especially rustic here: The decor throughout could best be described as contemporary organic, in gentle tones of oatmeal and soothing gray. Plush furnishings add softness to the more sturdy elements of wood, concrete and glass, and all the guest rooms are equipped with high-tech features as well as outdoor fire pits and (many with) outdoor showers. The extras are especially thoughtful: airy Guatemalan cotton robes; heated floors; a glass bottle of real milk in the fridge (an Auberge signature) to pair with your morning Nespresso.
But as tempting as it would be to luxuriate in your room forever, only 100 acres of Stanly Ranch's land are actually developed which means there is ample room to explore the terrain. In your room you'll find a property map and a calendar of activities that includes such bold adventures as hawk watching, mountain lion tracking, and vineyard cycling. If that's a bit much, you can sign up for wine tastings, garden tours, and yoga classes as well as a handful of unique guided tours of the area (hop into the sidecar of a vintage motorcycle!).
On the outskirts of the property, near the "Infinity" sculpture, you’ll find a whole wellness compound comprised of a fitness center, spa, and adults-only pool. Athletes seeking true R&R will appreciate offerings including lymphatic drain rollers, a hyperbaric chamber, salt room, steam room, and the grandest cedar sauna you’ll ever see, with floor-to-ceiling windows so you'll never be without the view.
Wellness with a Wine Country view.(Courtesy of Stanly Ranch)
When it comes time to dine (because you've no doubt worked up an appetite), head to the main restaurant, called Bear, which was designed by AvroKo (Single Thread) to evoke the foraged, live fire rusticity of the overall ranch theme without a trace of cliché. There are high ceilings, dried grasses, and soulful ceramics. The open kitchen and central Bear Bar lend an energetic hum, however it's the outdoor courtyard that draws a congregation for sipping midday rosé, sunset gazing, and lingering over the menu.
Executive chef Garrison Price deviates from Wine Country standards, and delightfully so, in dishes such as ribeye with huitlacoche; crispy rice nuggets served with shiitake pickles and Thai chili nuoc cham; and slow-roasted eggplant with seaweed escabeche. This is still Napa, of course, and wine still gets emphasis. Beverage director Jane-Paige D’Huyvetter has many suggestions spanning various origins and varietals to pair with the innovative food. Cocktails here are great, too; the Praying Mantis (made with coconut-washed green Chartreuse, makrut lime infused–vodka, and lemongrass) was a favorite.
Situated in a central courtyard space called the Village, Bear has neighbors: Gavel, a coffee shop popular with local cyclists' for its Sightglass espresso drinks and housemade pastries; and a boutique curated by Emily Holt, a former Vogue editor and owner of Marin's Hero Shop.
Bring your appetite whatever it may be: Bear serves hearty meaty fare alongside beautiful salads composed of fresh produce from the gardens.(Courtesy of Stanly Ranch)
Once you've exerted yourself with activities and eating, it's time to kick back by the pool. Actually, there are three; you may choose based on your preference for kids. All are planted with terraced lavender and promise comfy chaises, hammocks, and cabanas that are currently free to guests on a first-come, first-serve basis. When you get peckish again, order the crudités with cashew dip and an excellent spicy margarita from the poolside Basin Bar. This is where you will truly feel like you're on vacation.
Don't forget to wander into the Grange where farmer Nick Runkle is tending the orchard and unique crops that that feed the kitchens. He also offers a daily educational tour that serves as a crash course in regenerative farming practices.
And seriously, don't forget about the wine. While Stanly Ranch is surrounded by some very well-known and established vineyards, newly planted vines on the property hint at what's to come: A house wine label is on Stanly Ranch's horizon.
// Rates start at $949 a night; Stanly Ranch, 200 Stanly Crossroad (Napa),aubergeresorts.com/stanlyranch
The adults-only Lavender pools is a center point of the property.(Courtesy of Stanly Ranch)