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Milliken Creek Inn and Spa >
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Perhaps this should really be called “The Perfect 48 Hour Getaway”. We recently headed up to the Napa Valley wine country just as early spring was bursting out all over. Lush green land, dotted with pink blossomed fruit trees under bright blue skies greeted us. At twilight, we made it to Milliken Creek Inn and Spa. A fire was roaring and wicker or leather chairs were arranged around the main room in a cozy and inviting manner, all cradling plush palm tree motif pillows. A local vintner was pouring his chardonnay and cabernets around a circular table brimming with cheeses, breads and fruits. There we checked in and met the owners, Lisa Holt and David Shapiro, the attractive young visionaries behind this alluring inn. The Milliken Creek Inn, once a carriage inn, had seen many changes in its more than 150 years, but David and Lisa have now brought it up to highest standards. Twelve guest rooms in a palette of chocolate, olive and white include fireplaces, Frette linens and L’Occitane amenities. Decks circle the rooms, and breakfast includes house made quiches, pastries, fresh fruits and juices.

On our first night, we dined at Budo on 1650 Soscol Avenue (707 224 2330). This handsome new restaurant, featuring fresh California cuisine with touches of Asia, is outstanding and we cannot recommend it enough. The bar is sleek and elegant, and the dining room has the feel of a small modern cathedral, with high ceilings and spacious table arrangements. I began my dinner with a “Crystal Persuasion” cocktail-- sparkling Napa wine poured over crystallized ginger—real charm! The sophisticated menu reflects the thoughtfulness, the diversity and the utter respect the chef-owners have for local produce.

The next morning, I had a Grape Seed Polish and Massage at the beautiful and immaculate Spa. The Spa store has an amazing array of products, including L’Occitane, Kai lotions and perfumes (white blossom scent from the tropics), Eminence (from Hungary), and the Sonoma Lavender Collection. I returned to our room very joyous and relaxed, toting my Kai products.

We drove to the Hess Vineyard at 4411 Redwood Road (707 255 1144), especially to see the amazing Hess Collection, which Swiss vintner Donald Hess has been putting together for ten years. Among his collection are works by Anselm Kiefer, Leopold Maler, Franz Gertsch, Francis Bacon and Frank Stella. Of course we tasted the wine and came away with some good cabernet.

Our big dining night was The French Laundry at 6640 Washington Street, Yountville, a town a few miles up the road. Getting a reservation here is close to impossible, so I will let our readers find the number on their own if the want to choose this restaurant. Quite frankly, I was disappointed. It could be that the restaurant was having an “off” night, but the room in which we sat was cramped, unattractive and thoroughly undistinguished. The tables were so close together we could scarcely believe we were in “the best restaurant in America”. The food was plentiful and meticulously prepared—we chose the vegetarian menu. Unfortunately we were seated under the stairway, and when a server climbing the stairs dropped a wine glass and it shattered all over me, the room became as silent as a tomb. The staff acted like they were in shock, and reacted slowly and clumsily. They took all our food and various glasses of wine away, and then did not think to replace any of it. They finally brought me a dessert wine which they opened with great flourish and many apologies. It was a bizarre culinary evening to say the least.

The next day was reserved for shopping discoveries in magical St. Helena, a few miles north of Yountville. I have to say that Footcandy at1239 Main Street (707 963 2040) is one of the most chic shoe stores I have ever seen. You can find George Mang, Pucci, Blahnik, Choo, Alexandra Neel, Louboutin, Brian Atwood, and Marc Jacobs among others. I found a pair of Christian Lacroix sandals that I wore to a meeting in Los Angeles the next day with the directrice of Lacroix, Marie Martinez. She had not even seen the shoe yet! Also on Main Street is Reeds, selling upscale cutting edge lines with Japanese and global sensibility, and Woodhouse Chocolates, purveyor to Milliken Creek Inn.

Lisa from Milliken Creek Inn recommends spending a day with George Stone of Napa Valley Chauffeurs. “Let him take you on a wine tour, including lunch, at one of the more elite vinters in the valley,” she says. (707 253 2029). I sure wish we had known about George during our 48 hours in Napa! Nonetheless, a trip to Napa isn’t complete without a visit to Vintner’s Collective, one of the best “cooperative” tasting rooms, where you may find Dcubed, Patz and Hall and a host of other small release, hard to get wines. This is a great place for the serious wine collector. And one more tip---try to go in spring!


Milliken Creek Inn and Spa

1815 Silverado Trail

Napa, California 94558

707 255 1197



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