Indian Springs Resort in Calistoga is a healing haven more than one million years in the making.
All those years ago, Mt. Konocti erupted 20 miles from what is now Calistoga, which is the northern California region where the resort sits today. As a result, both naturally warm and mineral-rich springs called thermal geysers formed, and volcanic ash was deposited on Indian Spring’s property.
While the term “volcanic ash” may not sound like a term associated with a relaxing sojourn, consider this: natural hot springs like these have long been heralded for improving circulation, promoting sleep and reliving stress.
Due to its level of sulphur, volcanic ash it has been shown to disinfect the blood, aid the oxidation reactions in the body, protect cells and stimulate collagen production. In fact, the Native American tribes who settled this land over 8,000 years ago took advantage of both for medicinal and meditative purposes.
Indian Springs Then
The seeds for Indian Springs Resort as it is known today began with Sam Brannan, founder of Calistoga, who built the first version of the resort in 1861. History buffs will also recognize Brannen’s name as he also founded the California Star, which was San Francisco’s first-ever newspaper, back in 1847.
The resort would continue on for another 100-plus years before being updated and renamed Indian Springs Resort in homage to the area’s first settlers, which occurred in 1988. Then in the past six years, the team on property was able to expand on several previously untouched areas of its 17 acres land of land to create the soothing, chic and ultra-relaxing Indian Springs as most know it today.
Indian Springs Now
Today, the sprawling property is the perfect retreat, especially given it offers three 1,200-sq.-ft. bungalows and two intricately designed and appointed homes in addition to standard resort rooms and suites, which are all impressive in their own right as well.
But let’s talk about these guest homes. Because…wow.
The cozy 800-sq.-ft. Hill House overlooks the entire property and has two bedrooms with their own decks, bathrooms and both family and dining rooms. Then, the Merchant House is 1,600 square feet and features three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen, family and dining rooms, an expansive deck and fire pit.
All guests on property – be it in a room, suite, bungalow or home – are able to take advantage of the resort’s complimentary bicycles, bocce ball courts, shuffleboard, croquet, fireplace lounge, walking labyrinth, hammock-filled garden and – of course – the private hot springs during their stay.
The main mineral pool is Olympic-sized and open until midnight by design to encourage guests to consider floating under the stars. It is between 92 and 102 degrees year round, making it an especially lovely choice in the late fall, winter and early spring. If you have the chance, head over to the exclusive cabana area at this pool. With a romantic fireplace, books, sparkle lights and lush furniture, it feels almost European in nature, in all of the best ways possible. There is also an adult-only pool, which is smaller but offers all the same therapeutic properties. It is a bit more modern in its design, and more 80 to 90 degrees any given day of the year. On warmer days, it is a perfect escape.
Then, there is the spa, where mud is a main attraction.
Indian Springs is one of the only locations worldwide able to mine and hand-sift its own ash. This is an important distinction as most spas that offer mud baths need to combine ash with peat as filler and import mineral water, but all of Indian Springs ingredients are naturally occurring on property.
Guests can book classic mud baths or a simpler mineral water-only soak. Both are time-honored Indian Springs Calistoga traditions and are sure to leave visitors relaxed and rejuvenated.
For guests seeking more traditional takes on spa services, the spa also offer massages, facials and extensive body treatments as well as chardonnay bubble baths and even goat milk baths.
While most guests first come for the spa and pools, they come back – as guests or not – for the food. Sam’s Social Club (pictured at top of page), named for Brannen noted above, is “the spot” in Calistoga. While completely unpretentious, the food is a beautiful and extremely elevated take on the best in California cuisine at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Executive Chef Sergio Morales takes great pride in his friendships with local purveyors and artisans as well as farmers, and the guests benefit from the bounty he enjoys from them.
Both the interior – with massive ceilings and an artsy bar serving an eclectic list of cocktails and laundry list of wines from the region and elsewhere – and exterior – glowing with sparkle lights and fire pits every evening – make the guest feel welcome, special and part of the family.
Insider tip: while the weekends have plenty of reservations, opt for a weekday visit where you will have more of the patio to yourself and can take advantage of one of Morales’ weekday specials, which he creates in direct partnership with his best farmer buddies based on what is the freshest of fresh and bursting with flavor in every bite.
For more on Indian Springs Resort, visit www.indianspringscalistoga.com.