The sky’s the limit when it comes to hotel renovations these days. Wine country resorts spare no expense as they work with award-winning architects and designers from around the world to revamp their properties. While the results are impressive, ubiquitous design trends can sometimes make you lose your sense of place. You’ll see the same color schemes and the same pieces of furniture whether you’re in Sonoma or Singapore.
So it is particularly refreshing when a hotel receives a facelift without losing touch with the surrounding area and its history. As The Lodge at Sonoma emerges from a $17 million renovation, it’s clear where the inspiration came from — its own backyard.
Conceptualized by Sonoma interior designer Mark Wilson and his business partner Yoko Ishihara, the resort’s redesign is visible already from the outside. The facade has been repainted in a particular shade of white to match the exterior of Mission San Francisco Solano, the last California mission, which is located just a mile north of the property on the historic Sonoma Plaza.
Inside the redesigned lobby, you’ll find another tribute to the neighborhood: a shimmering tapestry stretching the length of one wall depicts the Franciscan mission and its neighboring buildings in the 1800s. Above the fireplace, a photo collection includes a portrait of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, the founder of the town of Sonoma, together with his wife, Francisca Benicia Carrillo.
“Our goal is to tie the property to Sonoma and the community,” said Xavier Bon, Director of Sales & Marketing at The Lodge at Sonoma. “It’s a celebration of Sonoma.”
With a nod to Sonoma’s history, the property has been upgraded with contemporary elements. All 182 guest rooms, suites and cottages have been modernized and some of the cottages and suites now boast private patio areas with outdoor fireplaces and soaking tubs.
With more reasons to linger in their rooms, guests will still want to explore the lodge’s expansive outdoor spaces.
The pool area, which always draws a crowd, is lined with comfy loungers and cabanas. On select days, a horse trailer-turned-poolside bar — High Horse Bar — slakes the thirst of sunbathers and serves up nachos, burgers and bacon-wrapped hot dogs. A few feet from the pool deck, a few well-placed hammocks on a stretch of grass offer the perfect spot for a post-wine tasting snooze. In a hidden corner of the property, you’ll find grapevines, wine barrel cornhole games, shaded cushy seating and a 400-year-old oak tree equipped with a wooden swing.
The Lodge at Sonoma is also home to celebrity chef Michael Mina’s first wine country restaurant, Wit & Wisdom. The restaurant, whose name pays homage to Jack London (the author lived in nearby Glen Ellen), serves flavorful inventive dishes. The savory “Pop-Tart” is a favorite: Braised short rib, horseradish cream and black pepper meld together with the tasty assistance of a crispy rectangle of puff pastry. It pairs particularly well with the roasted heirloom carrots. The dinner menu also includes wood-fired pizzas, handmade pastas, seafood dishes and a burger served with potato wedges fried in duck fat.
In addition to a wine list that’s 20-plus pages long, Wit & Wisdom boasts a standout cocktail program. Short of eating dessert first, do what you can to save room for The Chocolate Bar with Caramelia milk chocolate and peanut butter crumble. You can thank us later.
The Lodge at Sonoma, 1325 Broadway at Leveroni & Napa Roads, Sonoma, 707-935-6600, thelodgeatsonoma.com. Rates start at $299 a night, plus a daily $45 resort fee.