fairmont mission inn fountain

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa

There is much to marvel at in Sonoma Valley. The 17-mile stretch of land in Sonoma County between the town of Sonoma and Kenwood boasts more than 100 wineries, lush forests, golf and some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the nation.

Tucked into what feels like a regal woodland in the heart of the Valley – almost appearing out of nowhere with its distinct pink buildings peeking out from mature trees that tower well over 100 feet – is the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. It is just a few miles from the bustling historic Sonoma Plaza but feels as if in a remote world all its own.

The 226-room resort sits atop a natural geo-thermal hot spring – more on that in a moment – and is a member of the Historic Hotels of America. Though its history dates back thousands of years, the resort’s story starts in the 1800s when Captain Henry E. Boyes purchased the land, then being used as a large country estate and farm, and began digging for a water source. Upon discovering the natural steam underground and ample water, he decided to transform the property into a wellness destination: Boyes Hot Springs Hotel.

Sadly, a fire would eventually ravage the hotel and surrounding area in 1923, but it was rebuilt by new investors some four years later, bigger and better than ever. The new hotel even had en suite bathrooms and access to telephone services, luxuries of the day. Its new name: Sonoma Mission Inn.

Certainly, there was immediate success. However, it was short-lived as soon as the Great Depression took hold of the nation in 1929. For the next several years, it was abandoned, restored and even used as a place to house troops returning from overseas during World War II until famed hoteliers E.B. Degolia and George T. Thompson saw its potential and took control of the property. They led it successfully for many years, notably hosting movie stars, athletes and dignities the world over, until their passing in the 1960s. The more recent decades saw it switch hands responsibly, each time earning multi-million-dollar investments and cutting-edge renovations.

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts purchased the hotel in 2011 and has ensured its history is not only kept alive but celebrated inside and out. In true Fairmont fashion, the resort is also now home to a luxe spa, an award-winning culinary program committed to locally sourced food and regional wines and ample amenities ranging from luxury bath products and welcome sparkling wine to cigar services and even treats for visiting pups. They also have exclusive access to championship golf at the neighboring Sonoma Golf Club.

Let’s really dig in…


Certainly, the standard rooms are sensational, but if visiting the resort, consider splurging on a suite, either a traditional option or one of the Fairmont Legacy Suites.

There are four of what I am calling the more traditional suites: the Vineyard Suite with wood-burning fireplace, seating area and deep soaking tub big enough for two; the Mission Suite with a romantic four-poster bed, ample balcony or patio and living area with a pull-out coach; the Signature One-Bedroom Suite with separate bedroom and living room; and the Fairmont Suite with its contemporary look, extra-large bedroom and ample living area.  

Then there are the three Fairmont Legacy Suites. The first is approximately 600 square feet – the same size and scale of the Signature One-Bedroom – and called the Williams Sonoma Suite. Why? As you might have guessed, its furniture, lighting, entertainment pieces and accessories were all custom curated by Williams Sonoma Home. The second suite, a sprawling 1,010 square feet, is named to honor General Don Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, credited with founding Sonoma. It offers one-and-a-half baths, a separate primary bedroom and living space and feels more like a home than hotel room. Finally, there is the Jack London Suite, named for the iconic author who called Sonoma home. It is the same size as the General Vallejo Suite and features a separate primary bedroom with fireplace, primary bath with double Jacuzzi tub, separate living area with half bath and a pull-out couch, a fireplace, wet bar and extra-large balcony.

Spa, Pools and Fitness

At 40,000 square feet, the Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and its surrounding pools are showstoppers by even the grandest of standards. 

Remember how the property was built atop a natural geo-thermal hot spring? Resort and spa guests can experience the hot springs with 27 natural-occurring minerals via three pools, each ranging from 92 to 102 degrees 365 days a year. The main pool is set outside of the spa and open daily, but there are also two soaking pools within the spa to enjoy, as well as a halotherapy sauna and an aromatherapy steam room. Halotherapy, also called salt therapy, is considered an alternative treatment for lung problems such as asthma, bronchitis and cough, while aromatherapy involves the use of oils to help aid in a number of therapies, from relaxation to circulation.

Treatments available at the spa include stress recovery and deep relaxation massages as well as a full menu of “Prescription Facials,” each using technology, technique and high-quality products to hydrate, purify, correct and/or brighten the skin while fighting the effects of aging and sun damage. There is also a full hair and nail salon, plus restorative journeys available for booking including guided meditation, healing reiki with reflexology, intuitive readings, tarot card sessions, chakra reading and balancing and energy work.

For those looking to get their sweat on, the fitness center on property is open 24 hours a day. Beyond weights, machines and cardio equipment, the fitness center also offers guided hikes in the area, morning stretch programs several days a week and personal fitness consulting and classes.


There is no shortage of places to imbibe and on property thanks to a crave-worthy food truck CaliForno, which serves seasonally-inspired Sonoma street eats; the al fresco Spa Café; 38° North Wine Bar, a sleek and chic lounge named for the 38th parallel, which happens to the latitude where the world’s most iconic wine regions are in Spain’s Alicante, Italy’s Calabria, New Zealand’s Hunter’s and Hawke’s Bay and of course Sonoma Valley; and in-room dining.

But, there is one restaurant to rule them all – signature restaurant, Santé, amongst the top-rated restaurants in Northern California. The restaurants unwavering commitment to using seasonal ingredients from regional wineries, breweries, ranches, fisheries and farmers is impressive, and the loving way they are used in recipes allows them to shine without too many bells and whistles. It feels like California cuisine yet kicked up a notch thanks to precise technique and clear talent. Inside tip: you must visit on a night when the sommelier is in house (which may very well be most nights) as his knack to find your palate’s perfect pairing is uncanny, and oh so satisfying to the very last sip.

For more information, visit www.fairmont.com/sonoma.

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