California Dreaming

- Jim Haupt, Regional VP Hotel Relations for Kiwi Collection

The past couple of weeks were incredibly busy, but I can’t complain, since they were also extremely enjoyable. Of course, the fact that I spent the entire time exploring some of the best luxury hotels the state of California has to offer might have something to do with that. Read on for some highlights.


Great food and beverages, two pools (one for kids and one for adults), a spa with outdoor treatment rooms, and stylish accommodations… what more could you ask for? The Carneros Inn has its own Village Market, and I would recommend spending an evening – or more – on the (very hip) terrace lounge off the Farm restaurant.

As soon as I arrived at Auberge du Soleil, the sweet smell of healthy gardens in full bloom welcomed me. 110 sculptures are spread throughout the property, and guests are treated to 33 acres of privacy. It is also home to a Michelin Star restaurant, one of the area’s best.

The massive outdoor pool at Solage Calistoga made me want to dive in as soon as I arrived. Eco-friendly design, a Michelin Star restaurant, natural spa treatments (the Calistoga mud bath treatment is so great) and over 20,000 square feet of dedicated health and fitness makes the Solage a “one of a kind” in the Wine Country.

Poetry Inn treats guests to an extra special experience. There are only five rooms here – you can’t get much more exclusive than that! And the property provides the most incredible Napa Valley views imaginable.


San Francisco’s Little Italy offers up some of the best meals imaginable, so it’s not surprising that the fantastic restaurant at Hotel Vitale serves robust Italian cuisine. The popular terrace lounge overlooks waterfront sites, and the vibe is lively – to say the least. This hotel’s brand of luxury is natural and relaxing: lavender vases are placed above the room number outside each entry door, and canopies of leaves are set in the ceiling lights above the hallway corridors.

When traveling on business, InterContinental Hotels are often guests’ first choice as far as accommodation goes. The InterContinental San Francisco is a case in point. Junior Suites take up the 15th to the 30th floor and come complete with expansive views of San Francisco. The Michelin Star restaurant is top notch, home to an extensive grappa collection and an impressive list of liquors you won’t want to miss.

Located in a prime spot for both business travelers and sightseers, the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco has a lot to offer its guests. One of my favorite perks is the fact that the hotel connects with Sports Club LA at a 127,000 square foot fitness club. Guests have free access and can join in on a multitude of fitness classes.

You can feel the history oozing from the walls of the Palace Hotel, San Francisco as soon as you step inside. Sunday Jazz in the historic Garden Court is a regular event you won’t want to miss. The 2.7 million dollar, original Maxfield Parrish’s painting of the Pied Piper, however, is the main attraction in the Pied Piper Bar & Grill.

Before I say anything else, let me draw your attention to the Redwood Room lounge at Clift. A famous and historic space, it has been reinvented as an elegantly modern San Francisco bar. The interior features the original redwood paneling and enormous bar, which – according to legend – was carved from a single redwood tree; Philip Starck-designed lounge furniture and an awesome array of digital artwork is displayed on plasma television screens around the room. The atmosphere in the lobby is very eccentric  and possesses a dark, mystical ambiance that displays an outrageous collection of artistic furniture.


Ventana Inn & Spa is a place that has something for everyone – including a clothing optional pool! Its recent renovations have given Ventana a stylish new look and several new accommodations – the perfect place from which to experience the splendors of Big Sur.

Have you ever fancied sleeping in a tree house but prefer the comforts of home? The Post Ranch Inn offers up both, in a truly spectacular setting. This property is home to one of the most awe-inspiring dining room settings in the world – and the food’s not so bad either!


I felt like I had stumbled upon an intimate European gem when I arrived at L’Auberge Carmel. Set in the ideal locale of Carmel-by-the-sea, the property’s General Manager, Andreas Juhnke, is extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Make sure you bring your appetite when visiting this place – its restaurant (and – of course – its chef) are out of this world.


If you’re visiting Sacramento – for any reason – give Citizen Hotel a try. The hotel is magnificent, and its restaurant is the best in the city. Their brand of low country “slow food” made me want to take things real slow… bite by bite, that is. If only I could have slowed my trip down as well…

  1. melanie says:

    Wow. Love this. I want to live at the Post Rance Inn……

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Janice Wells, InterContinental. InterContinental said: Thank you @Kiwi_Collection for the @ICSF shout out. California Dreaming… […]

  3. Bruce says:

    Thanks for posting these luxurious hotels! I’d love to check out CLIFT in San Francisco, the interior design looks stunning! I look forward to reading additional posts in the future. We’re in the luxury travel business as well and would like to invite you and your readers to checkout our innovative private jet service: To cut to the chase, we offer $3950 per-seat private jet flights between NYC and LA. Any comments would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!