The Meritage Collection: A California Tour of Luxury and Relaxation A collection of four resorts spanning the length of the state offers ultra-premium amenities that will have you thinking that your vacation is not in California, but in heaven. BY TOURING & TASTING
Photos courtesy of The Meritage Collection
A couple takes full advantage of the amenities at the Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa.
“ This splendid cave is the site of the region’s only underground full-service spa.”
Home to a legendary lifestyle embracing sunshine, beaches, the ocean, mountains, valleys, and vineyards that stretch in every direction. It’s a land of dreams and discovery where people pursue their passions and discover new ones along the way. For wine lovers, there’s a treasure trove of wine countries and wine tasting experiences to explore—reaching from the Napa Valley all the way south to San Diego.
Visitors from around the globe come to California to discover the amazing array of world-class wines and a lifestyle they simply can’t find anywhere else. Some places are of special note because they each have their own singular mystique. Napa, Santa Barbara, Newport Beach, La Jolla—say any of these splendid names at a dinner party and someone is bound to respond with a wistful smile. After all, each is a beautiful environment offering plenty of things to do and see, including wine country. And not surprisingly, each of these places is also home to a luxury resort belonging to the distinctive Meritage Collection.
As its name implies, each Meritage Collection resort offers an ultra-premium blend of amenities and experiences that make it a renowned California vacation destination in its own right. Each of these distinctive properties provides a sublime setting, exceptional cuisine, and a plethora of activities (even wine tasting experiences!) right on its grounds, making it difficult for some guests to venture out. But they’re encouraged to do so, since each of these four destinations is located in a very special place: Napa, Santa Barbara, Newport Beach, and La Jolla.
Imagine an itinerary that includes them all! Sit back and let us be your guide.
The Meritage Resort and Spa
Start in Northern California in the renowned Napa Valley. The Meritage Resort and Spa sits at the foot of this famous wine country, providing a perfect launching point for wine touring. You’ll be pleased to discover that the best of Napa is there to greet you. The AAA Four-Diamond Resort features a magnificent 22,000-square-foot estate cave located 40 feet underground. This splendid cave is the site of the region’s only underground full-service spa—Spa Terra, named one of Spas of America’s Top 100 Spas in 2012. The tranquil setting includes 12 treatment rooms, private ladies’ and gentlemen’s lounges with whirlpools and steam grottos, and an earth-inspired menu of body treatments, massages, facials, and other services. The estate cave is also home to the Trinitas tasting room, where you can sample handcrafted wines from Trinitas Cellars’ excellent portfolio. You can even sample flights of Trinitas wine paired with special artisan chocolates. Other exciting tasting experiences are available throughout the resort, including the Italian-influenced Siena Restaurant and Crush Ultra Lounge, a unique spot offering six luxury bowling lanes, a pool table, a shuffleboard, and a cozy fireplace. The Meritage Resort and Spa celebrates the Napa Valley’ s renowned climate with plenty of great things to do outdoors, including a nine-acre vineyard with hiking trails, two swimming pools, three hot tubs, and inviting lounging areas.
Bacara Resort & Spa
When it’s time to move on, you’ll enjoy a captivating, scenic drive down California’s Central Coast to Bacara Resort & Spa, perched on a stunning bluff overlooking its own secluded beach. The property features 354 spacious guest rooms, luxury suites, and luxury retreats, each appointed with a private patio or balcony. Bacara embraces its natural surroundings at every turn, with a pristine beach, adjacent hiking trails, and two zero-edge oceanfront swimming pools designed to celebrate the jaw-dropping view. There are four restaurants and lounges on the property, including an award-winning restaurant, which has a 12,000-bottle wine cellar and tasting room. Wine lovers need not wait for their next meal to embark on an exciting wine tasting experience though. In the front courtyard, just next to the resort’s main entrance, sits the tasting room for Foley Food & Wine Society, where you can pursue your passion for wine, food, and travel. More than 70 wines from the Foley Family portfolio of wineries are poured here, and the tasting menu changes each day. The award-winning Spa at Bacara has an amazing menu too, with more than 60 specialized spa treatments and services. Dedicated to getting guests to slow down and enjoy the present, the luxury spa spans 42,000 square feet providing 36 treatment rooms, a saline pool reserved for adults, and a rooftop terrace with a private European sunbathing area.
Balboa Bay Resort
Departing from any Meritage Collection property is never easy, but when you do, you’ll embark on another breathtaking drive through Ventura, Malibu, and Los Angeles, to the only full-service waterfront hotel in Newport Beach, Balboa Bay Resort. With stunning bay views and sunsets over the Pacific Ocean, a full-service 10,000-square-foot spa, a 24-hour fitness center, and a wealth of possibilities for outdoor recreation, it will take no time for you to settle in. Unpack in your luxurious guest room or suite—complete with a plush bed and lavish marble bathroom with dual sinks, a deep soaking tub, and a separate shower—and then sit back on your private balcony to unwind. Naturally, you’ll want to dine at the resort’s new, acclaimed bayfront restaurant, Waterline Newport Beach. Executive Chef Vincent Lesage and Chef de Cuisine Rachel Haggstrom have created a captivating water-to-table dining experience featuring the freshest seafood within this unique chef-driven concept. You’ll also want to spend time in the new waterfront bar and gastropub. As part of the Meritage Collection, Balboa Bay Resort is dedicated to providing guests exclusive wine tasting experiences, so special wine seminars and events are frequently given here. Round out your stay with time at the year-round heated outdoor swimming pool and whirlpool and on the private dock, where you can rent electric boats, stand-up paddleboards, and kayaks.
Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa
Your final stop awaits just one hour south, at Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa. This lavish three-story hacienda-style hotel on the north side of San Diego provides 210 elegantly appointed rooms on a 10-acre property that has won awards for its beautiful landscape design featuring palm trees, lush gardens, native plants, and unique botanical gardens. It’s not hard to relax with a divine saltwater pool and whirlpool, a fitness center, and highly acclaimed spa to enjoy. Recognized by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the top spas in the world in 2012, the spa includes a Couples Bungalow complete with a private outdoor fireplace and soaking tub for two. The guest rooms offer plenty of privacy too, with intimate balconies and/or patios and spacious floor plans that include elegant wingback chairs for reading, handsome desks for business matters, and luxurious bathrooms. What’s more, as part of the Meritage Collection, Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa is home to its own tasting room: Trinitas Cellars Wine Bar. This charming wine bar pours the wines of Trinitas Cellars, where our odyssey began. Sample the wines as flights, by the glass, or paired with artisanal cheeses or chocolates from a local La Jolla chocolatier. You can also opt to taste a series of Trinitas wines, with tasting sensations prepared by the house chef. Private wine-paired meals and special wine education classes can also be arranged for guests who want to learn more about wine as they revel in the divine environment they’ve come to expect from the Meritage Collection.