Merlot and Mud – Wine & Wellness in Napa Valley
I admit, the scale for my recent Wine & Wellness in Napa Valley trip got tipped heavily towards one side…the wine side…
Wellness is not really the most prominent thing that comes to ones mind when thinking about Napa Valley in California. Is it not all about wine & cheese out there?
Well, according to InStyle magazine Napa valley has become the ultimate wellness destination, for its fresh and healthy and seasonal food offers, an increasing number of wineries going organic, and wellness activities such as hiking and biking.
I don’t disagree and on my recent trip to Napa I had some great wellness experiences.
Couple’s Mud Bath at Golden Haven Natural Hot Springs in Calistoga
The Calistoga area’s spa specialty are the mud baths for over 100 years. Natural mineral water is used for balneo and mud treatments at a number of spas in the area. The pure mineral water comes from a geothermal acquifer out of the ground at a temperature of about 150 F and is cooled down for use.
Apparently the Wappo Native Americans used the waters as a place of healing, long before the first European settlers set foot to the wild wild west and planted their first crop around the Napa area.
Golden Haven Hot Springs is an outdated resort, that reminded me a little of a senior citizen rehab place. It is not your sparkling modern spa facility for Wellness in Napa Valley, however has some charm to it.
As a non-resident, it was easy enough to find and parking was available right in front of the spa entrance. We had made reservations prior to arrival which I highly recommend, particularly during the main season. Our therapist received us right in the spa check-in area. She took us straight through to our mud chamber and explained what was going to happen to us. She then left us alone to undress and to immerse ourselves in the mud, which gave me a little to time to look around the room:
There was a corner mud tub spacious enough for two people, a Jacuzzi and two showers. Since I had read about the place beforehand, I was not surprised to find a very outdated – yet clean – facility. The walls were painted in a 1970s brown colour, which totally makes sense.
The minerals in the water give it its distinctive sulfur odor, and also a discolouration. Combined with mud, this would make an arty pattern on a white wall…
We were warned not to stick our feet into the mud too deep whilst entering the tub, the mud is boiling hot on the bottom! Instead we sat on the rim and swung our legs over. The mud is heavy and thick and it actually took a little while to submerge entirely. The dark and warm mud feels like a thick pudding, my husband actually compared it to cheesecake!
The 3 step mud bath experience
Our mud bath experience involved three steps (there are further options available such as massage or facials, which I personally did not opt for this time):
the actual mud bath of about 12 minutes
the hot mineral jacuzzi of about 12 minutes
and a blanket wrap of about 20 minutes
As I lie in the heavy and warm mud, I immediately feel the relaxing effect. I feel super comfortable, kind of floating weightlessly in the mud. Besides my head that rest on a little headboard that is stuck into the mud, none of my body parts touch the walls of the bathtub.
Afterwards rinsing the mud off took some effort, as this sticky stuff gets into your every fold. For example I really had to scrub to get it off my armpits.
I was surprised to find my fingernails clean again, however my toenails were somehow discoloured. Well, looks like I have to get another pedicure soon again, not the worst outcome.
We then sat in the Jacuzzi filled with just slightly caramel coloured mineral water and made sure to drink lots of water, that was offered and handy.
Finally we had to leave the mud chamber and were escorted to our relaxation room, where we slept, relaxed, snored, and dreamed for about 20 minutes, cosily wrapped up in warm blankets.
What do we think about the mud bath?
As with many many other therapies, a single treatment is usually not getting you a significant effect or result.
The treatment is said to detoxify, relaxing the muscles and cleansing the skin.
My skin felt normal after the experience, I did not notice any changes. The relaxing effect is probably the most immediate. For the detoxifying effect I cannot say much, since I had the treatment in between a series of wine tastings…
Overall I did enjoy the treatment as I like warm experiences, such as steam rooms, very much.
Yes, the facility is a minus, however the treatment is lovely.
My husband would have preferred an outdoor setting, which of course would have been lovely, just imagine a spectacular view over the valley and rolling hills, overlooking the vineyards tainted in beautiful rich autumn colours while you float in a warm thick substance…
Overall we loved staff attendance, the mud and water, and the timing. I found the price to be appropriate (check for online promotions!).
When driving on the romantic Silverado trail the next day, daydreaming along, my husband asked me if I would do the mud bath again?
Yes. Would love to.
I have paid for this treatment myself, which does not affect my honest opinion about the experience. I describe products, activities and therapies in this article solely based on personal experience. They are no substitute for medical advise.