Located minutes from downtown Sonoma and 40 miles north of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge, the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa is a destination resort in the heart of California wine country. Within its 13 sprawling acres and towering historic water tower, this Spanish-style mission California hotel offers an abundance of amenities, including natural mineral waters, outdoor pool, European spa, world-class golf, and Mobil-Four Star dining.
Its natural underground hot mineral waters were discovered by Native Americans and considered scared healing grounds. After a series of owners, English Captain H.E. Boyes acquired the property in 1895 and within5 years he built the Boyes Hot Springs Hotel on the site of the current Fairmont. This became a hot springs destination for wealthy San Franciscans until a fire destroyed the hotel in 1923. In 1927, the current Inn became an architecturally accurate replica of California Mission.
Over the years, various incarnations and owners of the inn came and went, until in 1980, a major renovate brought the Inn back to its 1920’s grandeur. In 2000, expansion of the spa into a European Spa was completed, and recently the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn added 60 new suites, parking garage and function space.
The moment you step onto the property you feel as if you’ve entered paradise. The meticulously groomed grounds are reminiscent of a country estate – Spanish style. Enter onto a circular drive, and be greeted by the three-story pink replica of a California-Spanish mission.
The lobby is a located in the main building, and it’s another sprawling mission-style building housing the reception desk, lounge and restaurant. The core of the lobby is series of living spaces, encouraging group meet-ups and reclining. The reception and concierge desk are located on opposite ends of the lobby.
However, instead of the requisite reception check-in and potentially long lines, I checked in online, so I was met with my room key and guided to my accommodations.
My Mission Suite accommodations were a short 2 minute walk to a building near the outdoor pool. My beautiful mission suite was luxurious and spacious with spa-like bathrooms including a sunken tub dividing the bathroom from the sleeping area.
The sleeping area consists of an king-size bed, a cozy sitting area in front of a fireplace, and a work desk. My ground floor room opened up onto a small patio. The room was simply heaven, and lived up to my Fairmont expectations.
The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn offers a diverse selection of dining. The casual bistro Big 3 Restaurant serves country breakfasts and American Cuisine, and also offers the Big 3 Wine Bar, to enjoy some of the best Sonoma Valley wine. Casual dining is available poolside underneath the Water Tower, and at the Sonoma Golf Club Grill. Choose from fine dining at Santé Restaurant, recipient of Michelin Star and AAA Four Diamond Award, the ultimate experience. In-room dining is also available.
Willow Stream Spa
The swanky Willow Stream Spa is rated amongst the top spas in the world, so no surprise that the 40,000 square foot facility is a constant flow of guests. The co-ed spa was located on the opposite side of the property from my room, so it was a pleasant 5-minute walk on a late summer day. The focus of the spa is the on-site thermal spring water and its healing powers. Guests are encouraged to soak in mineral baths and the Watsu® pool while awaiting their treatment. Fitness classes and the gym are also located in the spa area.
A vast array of massages and treatments were at my disposal, but I opted for a standard 60-minute Swedish massage following my golf game. Check-in was relatively smooth, but navigating the maze of locker room, down the stairs to the pool area and then finally located the treatment area was a bit frustrating, and not marked well. However, the reward was one of the best spa treatments I’ve ever had.
Sonoma Golf Club
Guests of the Fairmont Sonoma are also given access to the prestigious private 18-hole Sonoma Golf Club. The historic golf course was designed in 1928 by Sam Whiting. Set on 177 acres. Former home of PGA Champions Tour season ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, the classic course plays just 7,100 yards from the championship tees. The course gives players of all levels a balance of long and short holes and fair play set amongst 76 bunkers, massive oaks, lakes and views of the Sonoma Mountain Range and vineyards.
I’m not a professional golfer (handicap 22), so I play from the front tees. Sonoma Golf Club offered 5,554 years from the their front tees, and I found the course very playable, challenging yet fair, even managing to pull a couple of pars. Finishing off with a cold glass of Sonoma chardonnay in the multi-million dollar new club house was the perfect finish to a perfect day of golf.
Cost: $125.00 USD November through March; $185 USD April through October.
Rental clubs $75
There’s so much to do and see in the area, and the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn even offers free guided daily hikes, well worth the opportunity to see Sonoma.
Accommodations range from $900 – $2,500, depending on season.
Photos © Diana Rowe
Accommodations courtesy of Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa.