Calistoga’s Iconic Dr. Wilkinson’s Gets a RefreshMay 19, 2021 08:50AM ● By Fran Miller
By Fran Endicott Miller
The iconic neon sign remains, as do the healing geothermal waters, but Calistoga’s Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs has a brand-new vibe. No longer simply a Calistoga novelty, the resort has been transformed into a desired destination. Officially reopened following a complete rebrand and renovation, the beloved and globally-recognized wellness retreat continues to honor its colorful and kitschy past while also providing an elevated level of relaxed comfort.
Founded in 1952 by pioneering wellness experts Doc and Edy Wilkinson, the resort and its rebrand pay playful tribute to the two visionaries who long ago proved the benefits of the mud bath treatments and healing mineral pool soaks for which Calistoga continues to be so well-known.
Dr. Wilkinson’s features two geothermal pools at varying temps in which guests are invited to linger from morning long into the night. Each is lined with shade cabanas and comfy chaise lounges. The soon-to-be up-and-running mud baths will provide the ideal detox for guests who have perhaps over-indulged in the region’s wine offerings. And any number of varying treatments are offered within the sparkling new spa. Try a therapeutic massage followed by a warm mineral pool soak and you’re likely to become a Dr. Wilkinson’s regular.
The hotel’s original exterior belies the changes within. 50 guest rooms (some housed in two neighboring Victorian bungalows) feature a clean, mid-century modern aesthetic with pops of orange and pink, such as in the proffered cozy Parachute robes and the re-usable/refillable Pathwater bottles that are meant for take-home. Sustainable luxe bath products are provided by Malin+Goetz, and a retro Smeg kettle allows for in-room, pour over coffee.
Perhaps the most notable change is the resort’s new hotel adjacent restaurant, House of Better, designed by SB Architects and EDG Designs, and a lively gathering spot for hotel guests, Calistoga locals, and passers-by. The brainchild of Trevor Logan, creator of former Green Chile Kitchen in San Francisco and Sonoma County’s Chile Pies Baking Co, the Southwestern-influenced, open-air restaurant constructed of shipping containers features traditional comfort food with a guilt free, healthy twist – such as green chile stew with immunity broth, sweet potatoes, and Greek yogurt, and carne adovada with New Mexican red Chimayo marinated pork, slow roasted for 24 hours, and served with jicama slaw and fresh house-made tortilla chips.
“The goal when creating House of Better was to introduce a restaurant that offered hearty alternative options for wellness-driven food without compromising nutritious ingredients and flavor,” said Logan. “Dr. Wilkinson’s is all about the connection between wellness and happiness, and House of Better reignites this playful atmosphere through a dining experience unlike any other in Calistoga and Napa Valley. Our concept goes far beyond great tasting food and explores the deeper benefits of what fresh ingredients can do for the mind, body, and spirit in every bite. It’s the place you’ll want to dine at following a day of wine tasting, or a relaxed, casual setting to meet with friends and family.”
For guests looking to detox, House of Better features a selection of herbal tonics and ferments, including a fire cider wellness tonic, Kin Euphorics cocktails, and medicinal adaptogen teas like sun/energy and blue dream/relaxation. Housemade sangria, agua frescas, and local beer and seltzers are available on tap, in addition to a curated selection of Napa Valley’s finest wines - natch.
Tip: Calistoga is one of Napa Valley's most bikeable towns. Rent a cruiser, hybrid, electric, or tandem bike from nearby Calistoga Bike Shop to freely explore charming tree-lined streets and vineyard-adjacent trails.
Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs & House of Better: 1506 Lincoln Ave., Calistoga
Photos: Fran Miller and Dr. Wilkinson's Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs