Most hopeless romantics are well-acquainted with Sonoma. It's a quainter, down-home version of Napa, whose ostentatious vineyards and big-name wine cellars often leave a little something to be desired. Sybarites of all stations appreciate Sonoma's distinctive touch, which is nothing short of picturesque; soft manzanitas, rustic champagne caves, acres of verdant vineyards, multi-colored sunsets, and intimate haunts dot the region like so many plump grapes.
If you're looking for the right location to enjoy your weekend getaway, the Lodge at Sonoma, a Marriott-Renaissance property with an aura of lushness, should be at the top of your list. It's 10,000 square feet of sprawling cottages, reception areas, fine dining, and one hell of a spa - and just a hop, skip and a jump away from 200 sumptuous Sonoma wineries.
A typical room at the Lodge is adorned with plenty of posh appointments - cozy fireplaces, sunken tubs, French windows, and balconies that spill onto the horizon are just some of the treats you can expect. You can even nibble on some bread and cheese, and sip on a bottle of complimentary vino with your sweetheart as you wait for the sun to set - unless, of course, you'd rather dine at the Carneros Bistro, an award-winning onsite restaurant where you can nibble on exquisite organic delectables sprinkled with herbs from the garden out back.
Since my boyfriend and I went for a weekend of pure indulgence, we naturally gravitated towards the Lodge's main attraction: the Raindance Spa. A world-class establishment known for its local treats (springtime yellow mustard hydrotherapy baths and red wine body polishes, to name a couple), Raindance is synonymous with instant gratification. Walk through the airy lobby, which is earmarked with a huge alabaster fountain filled with rose petals, and into the courtyard, where you can lounge in the garden or dip into the heated mineral pools. (Lodge guests, in fact, can enjoy the amenities all day long for free.) Head up the stairs to the waiting room and sip on some herbal tea or cucumber water before being ushered down the dim hallway to your treatment room, where one of many talented therapists awaits.
Favored treatments at Raindance include the Encapsulated Wrapsody, which encompasses a red wine grape seed body scrub, massage in rosehip mud, thermal vitamin wrap, rinse-off in mineral water, and finally, a leisurely Swedish massage. The Ultimate Kur is another desirable treatment (complete with grape seed scrub, rosehip mud wrap, and Swedish massage) that you can enjoy with your beloved if you book the Raindance Suite, a specialty cottage that includes a monsoon shower, hydrotherapy tub, cedar sauna, and a bevy of in-room treatments.
We took the basic but therapeutic approach, opting for a 50-minute couples massage, in which we enjoyed side-by-side treatments administered by two sets of talented hands. Then we slipped out into the relaxation areas before retiring to our patio with a bottle of Pinot Noir, sleepy yet satisfied from our superb treatments.
The Spa and Lodge might sound like an exclusive treat for privileged out-of-towners, but spa packages range from ridiculously affordable to glamorously exorbitant. Also, don't expect any snobbery here. In fact, Mondays at the spa are reserved for locals, who get 20% of all services and an all-day pass to the gardens and pools for just $25. At the Lodge, life is good, indeed.