Healdsburg, California (CNN) — The newest extremely-luxury vacation resort in California Wine Region has a yoga garden in the center of a winery, a visitor-pleasant apiary software, a massage with domestically sourced olive oil and a specific glass-enclosed dining room that is cantilevered into the center of a 100-calendar year-previous oak tree.

However, maybe the most notable attribute of the new Montage Healdsburg in Sonoma County is that the 130-space vacation resort with fees beginning at $695 for each night time opened in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Technically, the 258-acre resort in this little-but-lively city opened before this month (Dec. 12). Simply because that date also was the commence of the county’s most current shelter-in-position edict, occupancy is way below what administration anticipated, and the lodge is considerably minimal to “important” travelers only by order of the county community health and fitness officer.

When the purchase expires, visitors will take pleasure in a person of the most highfalutin resorts in a hotspot total of them.

Montage Healdsburg is rumored to have value more than $300 million, and it represents the only luxury resort on the west side of the mountains that separate Napa and Sonoma. All the others — like Meadowood, which endured harm through a the latest wildfire — are to the east, on the Napa aspect.

The Healdsburg resort also will turn out to be the first Montage house in Northern California the hotel corporation at present manages 4 other motels in the United States (a single just about every in California, Utah, Hawaii and South Carolina, with a fifth house less than building in Montana), as nicely as a resort in Mexico and a single below design in the Bahamas.

The Montage Healdsburg is a 258-acre luxury resort in Wine Country, opened as California was under shelter-in-place orders.

The Montage Healdsburg is a 258-acre luxurious vacation resort in Wine Nation, opened as California was below shelter-in-position orders.


“For all our resorts and motels, a sense of area is the dominant topic as it relates to what we construct, how we develop it, and the locale it really is in,” explained Alan Fuerstman, founder and CEO of Montage Hotels & Resorts. “With Healdsburg we required to be consultant of the Wine Region, be respectful of the land and emphasize vineyards, hills, oak trees and all-natural attractiveness. I assume we have attained that. Visitors will have to come see for on their own.”

Difficulties of opening for the duration of pandemic

Of training course, no person at Montage at any time imagined the Healdsburg property woulfd be producing its debut in the center of a global pandemic.

Considering that April, the leisure and hospitality industry has shed about 3.5 million jobs — a genuinely staggering quantity. While federal stimulus served firms keep afloat early in the pandemic, a the latest study from the American Lodge & Lodging Association showed that approximately 3-quarters of hoteliers say they probably won’t survive an additional six months devoid of additional relief.

This conundrum definitely is on Fuerstman’s brain.

In an unique interview with CNN Vacation previously this month, he lamented the truth of opening throughout this challenging time. Fuerstman additional that his group has manufactured two diverse sequence of adjustments — a person guiding-the-scenes that applies only to personnel and yet another for company.

The initial adjustment was tactical: Alternatively of having all-employees pep rallies and orientation, Standard Supervisor Allen Highfield and his workers postponed the rallies and broke down these preliminary interactions into smaller-team masked and socially distanced settings, at times even masked just one-on-types. Fuerstman reported this necessary a bit of a leap of religion, since most of the staff experienced never accomplished early-phase organizing any other way.

“A resort like this is designed for generations to occur,” he claimed. “It is not about a flashy grand opening or the points that would generally accompany the opening of a vacation resort like this. We are centered on giving as secure of an practical experience as we can and adapting as the setting variations.”

The lobby of the Montage Healdsburg

The lobby of the Montage Healdsburg


The second adjustment has intended educating attendees about how and the place they can have an authentic Montage working experience all through this time. Precisely, Fuerstman explained his staff members is demonstrating visitors how the hotel’s safety measures can secure them from publicity to Covid-19. Some of those safeguards are incredibly basic. Since no setting up at the vacation resort is extra than two tales tall, company you should not have to fear about elevators.

Fuerstman included that given that every area has a private entrance, guests have been turning to area provider dining in a significant way — and liking it as an alternative.

“Well being and protection is our No. 1 problem,” Fuerstman said.

Lay of the land

The latest Montage sits in the northernmost part of Healdsburg, a city of around 11,000 persons. Healdsburg has become a mainstay on just about each individual “Best Destinations to Stay” record. It is, with no query, the best place in all of Wine Country.

Rooms at Montage Healdsburg are laid out campus-model, with specific models lining a secluded bowl in which the key creating sits at the heart. Most visitor rooms are approximately 650 sq. ft, and each and every has its individual personal patio. Artwork from neighborhood artists will be exhibited on the partitions.

There are 34 suites of varying sizes. The major lodging, The Visitor Home, is a lot more than 4,600 square toes and offers three bedrooms, a personal patio and a personal hot tub.

An outdoor shower reflects the openness of the Montage Healdsburg resort.

An outside shower demonstrates the openness of the Montage Healdsburg resort.


The primary lodge, with jaw-dropping views of Mount St. Helena to the east, comprises the key lobby, two places to eat, assembly place, a basic retailer, a bar and an open up-air patio with bocce and other diversions. Close by, a separate setting up residences the nearby chapter of Paintbox, the Montage kids’ club.

For the reason that the resort was constructed on beforehand untrammeled land, Highfield explained Montage preferred to build a vibe that would rejoice the bordering landscape. The consequence is a structure that blends with and displays off the scenic beauty of Sonoma County.

In the main lodge, for instance, guests dine at Hazel Hill, a “terroir-to-table” cafe that overlooks the resort’s vineyard, dozens upon dozens of oak trees, and some of the picturesque hills of the 2,000-acre Jordan Vineyard estate.

1 segment of the cafe — a personal dining region — is cantilevered out into an historic oak. A wall of Scout Field Bar in the foyer has home windows that fold absent to allow the outside in.

Visitors can appreciate equally spectacular views from the zero-edge pool at the 11,500-sq.-foot spa wanting out on the grandeur, you come to feel like you have surfaced at an oasis in the wilderness.

Even obtaining about the residence is comfortable. Nothing is much more than five minutes from anything at all else, and visitors drop their cars at the primary valet on check out-in and stroll or use golf carts to navigate the vacation resort from there.

Hazel Hill, a "terroir-to-table" restaurant that in the main building of the Montage Healdsburg, overlooks the resort's vineyard

Hazel Hill, a “terroir-to-table” cafe that in the primary building of the Montage Healdsburg, overlooks the resort’s winery


“It truly is a wonderful position to appear and completely unplug,” Highfield claimed.

The winery is managed by Jesse Katz, a growing star in the wine world who is the operator of Aperture Cellars on the other aspect of Healdsburg and a short while ago was named as Wine Spectrum’s 2020 Winemaker of the Yr.

Katz also masterminded one particular bottle of a 2015 cabernet sauvignon/cabernet franc mix that offered at a superior-finish charity auction for $350,000 in 2017, continue to an sector record for a 750-milliliter bottle.

What is following

Once the neighborhood shelter-in-put buy expires, and when the resort can welcome guests with open up arms, GM Highfield mentioned it is likely to start many significantly-predicted guest programs.

Fittingly, the very first revolves around wine, and Katz.

The 36-yr-old vintner options to use grapes from the home to make estate wines only accessible on web-site (and, likely, at other Montage qualities). He expects to carry out frequent talks and tastings with visitors on-web-site. Katz has been consulting on the job for many years and claimed the prospect to develop grapes on 14 acres in the middle of the Alexander Valley is distinctive.

“There aren’t a great deal of initiatives of this measurement that would enable me go no-retains-barred on high quality and interest to depth and allow me do what I want from viticulture to winemaking,” he reported, noting that some blocks of vineyard are planted so densely that crews will have to decide the vines by hand, as a substitute of with a tractor.

The vacation resort also has partnered with Sonoma County Bee Firm (SCBC), a neighborhood apiary administration agency, to run its five-hive bee software made to create honey for the places to eat and wax for the spa.

As component of this connection, SCBC founder Candice Koseba will make common visits to the resort to give demonstrations to interested visitors. Koseba reported most of her talks will highlight a log hive — a distinctive sort of hive in a hollowed-out log. Visitors will not likely be ready to get the job done with bees, but this certain log hive will have a Plexiglas wall so people can see what the bees are carrying out inside.

“It will be a fascinating standpoint, for positive,” Koseba stated. “Not lots of people today get to see inside of a hive.”

The resort also has partnered with Sonoma County Bee Company to offer guest demonstrations.

The vacation resort also has partnered with Sonoma County Bee Organization to supply guest demonstrations.

Christian Horan Pictures

Montage Healdsburg also shortly will roll out a two-pronged bicycle software, a beloved amenity for a vacation resort in the middle of what nearby gearheads simply call “Ride Country.” The resort delivers e-bikes for novice riders and highway bikes from Scott Bikes for attendees who are passionate about highway biking. There’s even an on-website bike technician to make absolutely sure all the equipment keeps functioning smoothly.

Highfield claimed he is “fired up” to get the vacation resort up and functioning at complete pace, but also understands that at least for now, with Covid-19 situation figures on the rise across California, there is only so substantially that he and his team can do.

“We appear forward to getting a safe and sound position of comfort and a respite for our group, neighbors and over and above when the time is appropriate,” he reported.

Journey to the significant time

To be clear, the resort’s origin story isn’t really devoid of hiccups or controversy.

Fuerstman 1st frequented the web-site in 2005, and the task commenced in earnest five several years right after that. Construction has been heading strong given that early 2018, inspite of a sequence of problems.

Some of the issues have been regulatory in mother nature. Earlier this thirty day period, the internet site developer obtained a great of $6.4 million — the greatest charge in the heritage of the northern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area — for environmental violations tied to hotel design throughout the winter of late 2018 and early 2019.

The 38 violations put forward by regulators provided inadequate erosion regulate measures documented above quite a few months by water high-quality investigators. Prosecutors stated nearly 9.4 million gallons of prohibited runoff and sediment-crammed stormwater escaped the design internet site and into streams of the Russian River watershed.

However the fantastic wasn’t levied against Montage, it nonetheless elevated neighborhood eyebrows about the brand’s commitment to the potential.

Other difficulties have been political in mother nature. The venture, the moment referred to domestically as Saggio Hills, has been satisfied with indefatigable skepticism from a smaller-but-vocal group of locals who wonder how Montage clientele who are shelling out up to $1,000 per evening can and will add positively to the nearby economy.

Previous Healdsburg Mayor Brigette Mansell has been 1 of the staunchest critics.

By no means shy to share an belief, Mansell has hammered social media web-sites with worries about how the new vacation resort allows the people today of Healdsburg, several of whom can scarcely afford to dwell in their hometown.

“I am much less apprehensive and extra committed to vigilance,” she wrote in a the latest e mail assertion. “I know the project’s heritage and the negotiated conditions. Simply because of these ultra-luxurious resorts, the prosperity necessitates social accountability.”

When asked about this criticism, Fuerstman insisted the resort is executing anything it can to hold locals front-of-thoughts.

Exclusively, he cited the reality that a lot of resort workers dwell in and all over Healdsburg and mentioned that the hotel has strived to set up relationships with area restaurateurs, winemakers and artisans to prolong and amplify the Healdsburg vibe into each visitor room. Two examples: Traveling Goat Espresso, roasted in Healdsburg, will be the dwelling brew and path combine from the Girl & The Fig cafe in Sonoma will be offered for invest in across the property.

“We feel a terrific resort requires to be the centerpiece of a community and not an outlier,” Fuerstman said. “My view of good results is when every regional feels they’re a element of the resort, and they display it off to close friends and readers with wonderful pleasure.”

Tallia Hart, CEO of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, attempted to set the opening into standpoint from which absolutely everyone could benefit.

“We are fortuitous to have a Montage in our local community,” she reported. “This is an awesome residence that will contribute to the economic vitality of Healdsburg. The Montage is a entire world course model that will utilize quite a few hundred men and women that support the neighborhood economic system in a wide variety of techniques. We are delighted to have them as a husband or wife and glimpse forward to acquiring them be element of our stunning town.”