Sunburst Calistoga: The Poor Man’s Solage

The Sunburst Calistoga Hotel

A couple of weeks ago we decided to spend an overnight in the Napa Valley. It happened to be the same time as the Napa Film Festival activities, and almost all the lodging in the Valley was booked. Since we travel so often to the wine country, and tend to spend most of the day visiting wineries and exploring the valley, we are always looking for budget lodging. If you are spending little time in your room, all you need is comfort, cleanliness, and safety.

room view sunburst calistoga

Our room at the Sunburst Calistoga

Our friends at the Stevenson Manor suggested we try the Sunburst Calistoga. They said it was their new sister property. We booked a room that was available and off we went to the Napa Valley. After a day’s worth of activities visiting wineries, we headed to Calistoga to find the Sunburst. Where is this place? Well, it is on the outskirts of the town on Lincoln Avenue. As soon as we saw it we realized that this place had previously been a huge eyesore. It looked like a slum, run down and unkempt. Now the place has been completely redone. Each room has been remodeled and decorated with very bright colors and light. The Sunburst Calistoga opened in August of 2013.

The interesting thing about the Sunburst Calistoga is that it is almost a stone’s throw away from the Solage Calistoga. The Sunburst is on Lincoln Avenue and just over the Napa River on the Silverado Trail is the Solage Calistoga. Room rates for the Solage will start about $600 whereas the typical Sunburst room will be $230 on weekends. I like giving the Sunburst the name “The Poor Man’s Solage.” Each room at the Sunburst Calistoga has a flat screen TV, a mini fridge, a single-cup coffee maker and free Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi sent a very strong signal to our room, which was about as far away as possible from the motel office. I liked that very much. The stay at the Sunburst includes a small continental breakfast in the Lobby.

view of motel rooms sunburst

Solage Calistoga is across the way

The rooms are comfortable and, of course since it is new, the entire room was immaculate. There are also a hot tub and swimming pools that receive waters from the famous geothermal wells of Calistoga. The other amenity that we very much appreciate, and one that is available at all Calistoga lodging, is the shuttle service to local restaurants and wineries. We called and within ten minutes the shuttle picked us up at the Sunburst Office and delivered us to Brannan’s restaurant. When we were done dining, we called and were returned safely to our abode.

pool at Sunburst Calistoga

Warm mineral pool

We found a couple of things we did not care for at Sunburst. Janelle thought it was a little too isolated and had a motel feel to it. Another weird thing was the atrocious warning sign at the pool entrance. Perhaps it is the new code that warrants such an extreme warning. It is so outrageous that I for one would not want to step into that pool. You need to see for yourself. Maybe the powers that be will take that sign down before you visit.

If you’re looking for budget lodging in Calistoga, give the Sunburst a look!

Five Fun Things to Do in the Napa Valley in May

Don’t just have a great time in the Napa Valley, have a phenomenal time! We suggest these five fun things to do in the Napa Valley in May. Enjoy!

Five Fun Things to Do in the Napa Valley in May

Play a round of Bocce Ball
May is “Bocce Ball in Wine Country” Month. The game is easy to play and people of all ages can have an enjoyable game of Bocce. You don’t need to be a fabulous athlete to play this game. Here is a list of the wineries in the Napa Valley that have one or more Bocce courts. Pack a lunch and play Bocce at a winery in May. Simple rules of Bocce

Bocce is fun!

Bocce is fun!

Oxbow Market Public Market
The Oxbow market in downtown Napa is in full swing these days, bustling with locals and tourists as they shop and dine in this wonderful enclave of artisans and purveyors. For lunch or a snack, there are many choices including: Hog Island Oyster, Ca’ Momi, Pica Pica Maize Kitchen and our favorite, C Casa. We love shopping for spices at the Whole Spice Company.

image of hog island at oxbow

Hog Island at Oxbow

Wine Education
There are many ways to get a wine education in the Napa Valley. We like going to wineries that have an educational theme. Try the St. Supery winery, located on Highway 29 in between the towns of Oakville and Rutherford. The winery offers some exhibits and views of the winemaking process, as well as walks in the vineyards. You can also reserve a spot in one of their classes entitled “Vineyard to Glass” at St. Supéry. Check the St. Supery Website and call to reserve your spot.

Visit a 100-year-old winery
One way to get a perspective of the Napa Valley is to visit one of the several 100-year-old wineries. Here is a list of the wineries in the Napa Valley that are over 100 years old. Our favorite is the Inglenook Winery in Rutherford. Francis Ford Coppola has gone to great expense to bring the Chateau back to its former glory. The tour is wonderful here.

Inglenook Winery

Inglenook Winery

Wine Taste around Calistoga
At the north end of the Napa Valley, you will find the “road less traveled.” From our Calistoga Wine Trail, choose at least a couple of wineries to visit. At Summers Estate you can picnic and have a taste of Charbono, a wonderful red wine grape. Calistoga Wine Trail.

Comments on The Wine Spectator’s Napa Valley Getaway

The Wine Spectator’s June 15th issue has a feature article entitled “Napa Valley Getaways, a Wine Lover’s Guide to Fit Every Budget.” Well, not every budget as you might imagine. The Wine Spectator’s subscribers assuredly are in income brackets that span from the super rich to the high middle class. I would surmise, there are few wine lovers below this economic bracket that read Wine Spectator on a regular basis.

At the top end, for “those sparing no expense” subscribers, the article makes recommendations of where to stay and dine in the Napa Valley. They mention Auberge du Soleil, Brandesonno, and Meadowood where room rates run from $450 to as much as $8750 a night at Meadowood.

I would imagine that many Wine Spectator readers immediately did as I did and skipped to the budget portion of the Napa guide. I consider myself an expert in this area since we travel often to the Napa Valley and always travel in the budget mode. I think the article missed some important tips that I would like to add. [Read more...]

Napa Valley Tasting Room Fees – Save an Easy $100

You’re getting ready for a getaway to the Napa Valley but the gloom of the economy is making you feel a little guilty about spending so much money. You can save an easy $100 in tasting room fees if you use the right approach. Plot your strategy with some of these ideas.

Number One: If you walk into a tasting room and the fee is $20, get the heck out of there. No winery should charge that much for a tasting no matter how good the wine.

Number Two: Visit wineries that have a tasting fee of $10 or less and combined with a policy where the tasting fee can be applied to a purchase of wine. Encouraging folks to purchase wine by waiving the tasting fee makes good marketing sense. We don’t understand why more Napa Valley wineries do not have this policy. [Read more...]