Looking for a Listen Up selection for Sonoma’s Best Pools, we were introduced to Carolina singer/songwriter Samuel Beam, who has been recording under the pseudonym Iron and Wine since the early 2000’s. His music has appeared on television shows and in movies (remember the prom scene in Twilight?) and he has released five studio albums — the most recent one, Beast Epic, went on sale this week. A folk art performer often compared to Nick Drake, Iron and Wine is about to launch a 2017-18 national and international tour with a full band. Take a dip in the Iron and Wine pool of emotional, cinematic sound and listen up to “Swans and the Swimming” written and performed by Beam on his “B-sides” album, Around the Well, released in 2009. photo at left: Pangloss Winery in downtown Sonoma
Kenwood Inn & Spa
The Kenwood Inn & Spa was our first introduction to the extraordinary beauty of wine country in 2005, and it remains one of our favorite hotels in the world, so it will come as no surprise that the Kenwood tops our list of Sonoma’s Best Pools. Now a Four Sisters Inn, the 29 luxurious Tuscan-inspired rooms are hidden away on 2.5 acres of lush Mediterranean gardens. The swimming pool has a waterfall fountain to drench away all your cares and worries and to help you stay cool in the summer heat (105 sultry degrees today!). Frosty spa water throughout the hotel, a signature breakfast every morning and an afternoon magic hour with fine local wines and artisan cheeses are just a few of the guest amenities. The award-winning spa includes Vinotherapy baths, a list of specialty massages, facials and body wraps. Open to guests and day visitors, it is one of the ways for locals to gain access to the pool. In addition, the Kenwood Inn is now offering two poolside cabanas for rent to both guests and visitors. The cabanas comfortably accommodate four people for the day and include a free bottle of wine, bottled water, a refrigerator stocked with beverages, and use of the swimming pool. Prices range from $209 to $259 per cabana. Contact the hotel for more information and to make reservations.
Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Leave it to filmmaking icon and hotel, wine, and restaurant entrepreneur Francis Ford Coppola to have the brilliant idea to add two family-oriented swimming pools (totaling 3,600 square feet) to the mix at Coppola Winery in Geyserville. With wide open hilltop views of big sky, vineyards, and the surrounding mountains, the pools are open to the public for a fee. You can choose to rent a 4-person cabine which includes a private shower, lounge chairs, towels, drinks, Coppola playing cards, and a copy of Zoetrope: All Story Magazine at a cost of $135 to $215 per day; or, simply purchase a day pass which ranges from $12 to $20 for children and $28 to $40 for adults. In addition to the swimming pools, there’s plenty for the whole family to do at the winery: wine tastings; a Movie Gallery of memorabilia from some of Coppola’s classic films; bocce courts; a mini amphitheater and teepee for storytelling; eating at the Rustic restaurant or the poolside café; and shopping. Pool and cabine reservations are subject to availability and must be made online in advance at the Coppola Winery website.
Settled in 1850 as a vineyard, fruit orchard, and working ranch for prized trotters, more than a century later the David Burris family estate morphed into MacArthur Place, a splendid 64-room luxury hotel and spa set on 7 acres of gardens. Bordered on its western edge by Nathanson Creek, paths wind through the hydrangeas, dogwoods, and hedgerows, past sculptures and fountains, checker board table and giant chess pieces, all leading to the Garden Spa and heated swimming pool. The secluded garden setting surrounding the pool is a sylvan composition of mature and flowering trees, chaises and Adirondack chairs. Use of the pool is free to hotel guests and is open to day visitors for a fee of $100. However, day trippers can apply that fee toward a spa treatment of $125 or more. With 30 signature treatments available – many of which use oils and scrubs made from the plants and flowers on the premises – the spa holds a wealth of wellness possibilities. Spa reservations are required and the hotel recommends scheduling a minimum of two weeks in advance. The hotel’s restaurant, Saddles Steakhouse is a wonderful spot to stop for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or for a cocktail during happy hour.
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
For hundreds of years, mineral hot springs have flowed beneath the site of the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa in Boyes Hot Springs. The area’s first hotel, the Boyes Hot Springs Hotel, opened on the site in 1900 and quickly became a popular resort for wealthy San Franciscans. Tragically burned to the ground in 1927, plans for a new hotel were based on a replica of a California Mission. The new Sonoma Mission Inn quickly opened and experienced a brief period of prosperity, only to be cut short by the Great Depression. Put to various uses for the next fifty years, the buildings underwent a spectacular restoration, renovation and new build in 1980, re-emerging as the luxury wine country hotel it was always meant to be. In 2013, the Mission Inn underwent an additional $10.7 million renovation. Thirteen acres of sand colored architecture and opulent, verdant grounds take the visitor back in time, while affording 21st century accommodations. With 6 geo-thermal mineral hot springs to choose from — several surrounded by towering palm trees — it’s difficult to decide which pool to submerge your aching bones in first. The pools and the Willow Stream Spa are open to hotel guests, and to non-guests for a fee of $89. Locals who live within 100 miles of the Inn should contact the spa for additional discounts. Added amenities at the Mission Inn are the championship Sonoma Golf Course and Sante, the hotel’s elegant, modern, Michelin-rated restaurant.
Morton’s Warm Springs
A big red arrow and the American flag point the way toward the best swimming pool deal in all of wine country. Down a country road, past vineyards, horses, llamas and a white steepled church that dates back to 1894, the healing geothermal waters in Glen Ellen were first discovered by the Mishewal Native American tribe. Ethel and Harold Morton bought the land in 1946 and built the current swimming pools and pool house in the 1950’s and ‘60’s. Morton’s Warm Springs quickly became a family destination for picnicking, barbecuing, and swimming in the mineral-rich thermal pools. After the Morton family sold the property in the 1980’s, new owners had big plans for expansion, but the county stepped in and issued a resolution to keep Morton’s Warm Springs frozen in time. With two thermal pools, picnic tables and grills near the pool site and along Sonoma Creek, individuals, families, and groups of all kinds gather at Morton’s Warm Springs – the ideal spot to celebrate summer and community. During June, July and August, the Springs are open 10-6PM (pools close at 5PM) Tuesday through Sundays. Day admissions are: Adults (18-64) $12; Teens and Seniors $10; children (3-12) $6; and infants are free. Admission includes parking and use of all of the facilities and hiking trails.