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Walnut Creek Magazine

Experience Bohemian Tranquility at Indian Springs Resort & Spa, Calistoga

May 18, 2017 03:21PM ● By Fran Miller


For those whom a hot tub dip is the quintessential de-stressor, a visit to Indian Springs Resort and Spa is a must. This 17-acre bohemian enclave, located at the northern most end of the Napa Valley, is home to the ultimate soaking tub – an Olympic sized, geyser-fed, geothermal mineral pool maintained at between 85 and 102 degrees year-round. ‘The Pool,’ as it’s known in Calistoga, is the social center of the Indian Springs property, where visitors have ‘taken to the waters’ for both pleasurable and medicinal pursuits for more than a century. Little about The Pool has changed during the resort’s existence, and that is part of its retro appeal. While recent upgrades and expansions have elevated the Indian Springs’ ambiance and experience to luxe levels, a welcome earthiness remains. Here’s the why and how:

The Pool, photo courtesy of Indian Springs

The Geography:  Indian Springs’ thermal water supply was created millions of years ago. Calistoga sits above a fractured plate that causes magma to ooze upward and come in contact with subterranean waters at a depth of 4,000 feet. These superheated waters are forced through ancient sea beds until they reach the earth’s surface, escaping at 230 degrees Fahrenheit in the form of geysers. Indian Springs is home to four geysers, the therapeutic waters of which fill The Pool, and supply the Spa’s mineral baths.

The Total Experience: To receive the full benefits of Indian Springs’ restorative powers, one best book a spa appointment – specifically a mud bath, an Indian Springs (and a Calistoga) specialty. In addition to the ever-flowing geothermal waters, the area is known for its volcanic ash. In combination, the two (both sourced entirely on site) are believed to alleviate any number of rheumatic disorders. The Indian Springs Spa mud bath provides total immersion in layers of volcanic ash, followed by a mineral bath soak, a steam (organically created by the geysers), and cool down. This is mud-play unlike anything experienced in childhood. Further relax after your treatment at the Spa’s Buddha Pond, a serene refuge encircled by stately palms.

The Stay: Now boasting more than 100 rooms in varied styles, there’s no excuse for not extending your stay. (Plus, overnight guests receive free access to The Pool, open early morning until midnight. Day Spa guests pay an additional pool fee.) Choose from the original studio and two-bedroom historic cottages, the 1930’s style Lodge rooms with queen beds, queen and king Mission Revival-style Hill View rooms with balconies overlooking the geyser pond, queen or king Garden Retreat rooms, or 1,200 square foot bungalows. Each brings the outside in, and each features luxurious modern amenities, large and stylish bathrooms, and whimsical furnishings and art. Drip coffee, and a small assortment of treats are yours for the taking. 

Sam's Social Club Terrace, photo courtesy of Indian Springs

The Food: One of the more popular restaurants in Calistoga, if not THE most popular, is the onsite Sam’s Social Club. A quick stroll or bike ride along the perimeter path leads to the expansive indoor/outdoor spot at the foot of Mt. Lincoln. Perfect for larger or intimate gatherings, Sam’s serves crowd-pleasing, upscale American fare at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The clubby bar features a vast array of wines, beers, and spirits. But you won’t find any televisions to which viewers are glued; management strives to honor the “social” portion of the restaurant’s name. Check-out the nightly specials that draw the locals, such as Fried-Chicken Monday and Cioppino Friday. (And don’t miss the bacon wrapped, blue cheese-stuffed dates.) Named for resort founder Samuel Brannan, the atmosphere perfectly matches the casual sophistication of its host surroundings. 

The Extras: Due to The Pool’s popularity, an adjacent newer adults-only pool was created for peace and quiet. Throughout the property you’ll spot the resort’s iconic blue cruiser bikes; those parked within the multiple assigned bike lots are yours for the taking. Easy to maneuver, they are perfect for exploring Calistoga’s bucolic – and flat - neighborhood streets. Help yourself to the heaping bowl of Hershey Kisses at the reception desk. Hike to the top of the property’s Mt. Lincoln to reach expansive views and the 1862 Reservoir Amphitheater. Play bocce ball or giant chess in the central front yard. Enjoy a glass of wine while sitting ‘round a central fire pit.

Speed limit signs posted along the property’s gravel road state the Indian Springs’ mph as ‘zen speed,’ with an added quote – “What’s the hurry?” You’ll find there is none at this R&R mecca where guests return again and again. Stay there, and you’ll understand.

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