When will it be finished, and what is it called?
Those two questions are at the forefront of the resort being built on the site of the former Silver Rose resort in Calistoga.
The project was approved by the city in 2012. An opening was originally slated for 2015, then pushed back to 2019.
The completion of the resort has been delayed due to a lack of available qualified construction workers, said Resort General Manager Mehdi Eftekari. “Other than that, we are ready to go and anxious to open.”
If it’s any indication, reservations are being taken starting July 1, 2020. If the resort is finished earlier, by March or May, “Then we just open the doors,” Eftekari said. “I don’t think we’re going to have trouble attracting guests to Napa Valley during that time of year.”
A resort by any other name
The resort is being built on Silverado Trail, across from Solage Calistoga. It is common knowledge that it is a Four Season’s property. However, Calistoga has a no-chain ordinance, meaning it doesn’t allow franchises.
Therefore, to comply with the ordinance, within Calistoga the name of the resort is Resort at 400 Silverado Trail. Guests will not find any Four Seasons reference at the resort including any logos on employee uniforms, napkins or stationary. The resort will have its own logo, Resort at 400 Silverado Trail, Eftekari said.
In the hotel chain’s reservation system, however, reservations are made under the name Four Seasons Resort and Residences Napa Valley.
Four Seasons representatives are not sure there is any other Four Seasons property with that particular naming issue.
How big is it?
The resort encompasses close to 23 acres. That includes 20 private homes, ranging from 2-4 bedrooms, ranging in size from 2,000 to 3,300 square feet. According to the Robb Report, home prices started at $3.5 million, and all homes have been sold, before seeing the finished product.
Sixteen more buildings house suites with 2-8 bedrooms, for a total of 85 rooms. One 3-bedroom estate suite has its own pool. Room rates start at about $1,200 per night.
Erin Martin of St. Helena designed the interiors. She’s known for distinctive lighting fixtures. The exterior of the spa is designed to carry the character of the city and look like it has been a part of the landscape for years, Eftekari said. Likewise, the landscape is designed to look like it’s not brand new.
The property will also incorporate a roughly 6-acre vineyard, planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The winery will also create white wines with grapes sourced elsewhere. The resort has engaged local winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown, and will operate a tasting room, open to guests and the public.
The resort has also incorporated design elements for staging weddings, including a 2,600-square-foot ballroom, a wedding barn embedded in the vineyard, with a 2,600-square-foot lawn area in front of it and near a lake. Reservations for weddings and groups will begin in January 2021.
The resort will feature two pools — one for adults and one for families.
The Truss restaurant has an open kitchen surrounded by glass. The restaurant, spa, and tasting room are the only parts of the resort that will be open to the public.
There is one entrance to the resort on Silverado Trail. Two more entrances are for residents only, and there is a utility entrance for the winery.
In a unique feature for Napa Valley, parking for the resort will be underground.
Community involvement and financial benefits
Eftekari has been with The Four Seasons for 31 years, starting out in Los Angeles, and then in New York City.
“I’ve been looking forward to this opportunity, and quite frankly, it’s home,” he said of Calistoga.
Eftekari emphasized that, “The resort is here to be a part of this community.”
“Our goal is to make sure the City of Calistoga benefits from the guests that come to stay with us. We’re here to keep it authentic, and to be embedded as a piece of this community,” he said. “We’re trying to bring in the affluent guests that don’t know about (for example) BottleRock, Chateau Montelena, the mud baths and the experiences you get here. We will encourage our guests to enjoy what Calistoga has to offer, something they can’t experience elsewhere.”
Eftekari said he has already reached out to community organizations like the Rotary Club, and resort chefs have toured the commercial kitchen at the Boys & Girls club for the possibility of renting the space until the resort kitchens are ready for use. Chefs will also provide cooking demonstrations for students at the club.
The resort has also stated its intent to purchase its bicycles, for complimentary guest use, from Calistoga Bikeshop.
“We’re not here to change anything but enhance the city, and power it up financially. To be able to do things that make life easier, not necessarily change the lifestyle. We want to make sure we’re supporting the city to be fruitful and successful. We don’t want to see empty storefronts,” Eftekari said.
Calistoga stands to gain financially from the project. The city estimates approximately $2 million annually from TOT (hotel tax) and $200,000 in increased property tax revenue from the resort. Sales tax revenues would be in the $70,000 range. Nearly $4 million was also paid in impact fees associated with the project.
Aside from the issue of finding qualified construction workers, right now, the resort is operating with 19 hotel employees, Eftekari said. As the opening draws closer, Four Seasons managers, so-called “culture carriers” will transfer to the resort from elsewhere to educate and maintain the culture and expectations.
With the unemployment rate hovering at about 3 percent in Calistoga, and businesses in Napa Valley struggling to find workers in general, what will the resort do to recruit employees?
“That’s a good question,” Eftekari said. “The resort has standards employees must meet, but a great smile and the right attitude is really all that is needed.”
Eftekai said resort employees have reached out to the schools and have taught a hospitality class and will continue to provide education on what kinds of jobs are available with the resort, and offer help writing resumes and with translation.
The resort will also be open to part-time employees who have another job.
To mitigate employee traffic, the resort will be encouraging employees with financial incentives including discount bus fares, and to engage in ridesharing.