An open expanse of land across from The Meritage Resort and Spa in south Napa is rapidly being transformed into an upscale addition called The Village at Meritage Resort.

Come next summer, some 145 new guest rooms and suites, a food and wine “village,” boutique market, demonstration and exhibition kitchen, rooftop terrace, fitness studio, 9,000-square-foot event lawn and outdoor pool will be open to both guests and locals. Hundreds of trees, including olive and oak varieties, will be planted at the site.

The Village at Meritage Resort is “an elevated resort experience that complements the existing Meritage Resort by introducing new attractions and amenities that guests and Napa Valley residents alike can enjoy,” said Nate Tanner, executive vice president of asset management at Pacific Hospitality Group.

With some 322 rooms currently available, Meritage will grow to 467 rooms, the most of any resort or hotel in Napa County. Silverado Resort had held the top spot, with 385 rooms, according to Visit Napa Valley.

“It’s an amazing project,” said Tanner.

PHG manages, develops, finances, and owns hotel assets in California including The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa Valley, Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara, Balboa Bay Resort, Balboa Bay Club, Newport Beach Country Club and Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa.

“Napa has become such a destination,” said Tanner. “People just love Napa.”

According to Visit Napa Valley, tourism remains strong in Napa County, with lodging revenue hitting an all-time high of $408 million — an increase of 7.8 percent — for the 12 months ending June 30.

“Naturally as the tourism industry continues to rise, the demand for hotel rooms and additional tasting experiences and attractions will also increase,” said Tanner.

During a tour on Monday morning, the site was a hub of activity as some 200 workers went about their business on the 9-acre parcel. That site is directly across the street from the original Meritage at 875 Bordeaux Way.

Near the future pool/event lawn, a driver controlling a giant corkscrewing drill dug deep holes where trellis posts will be installed.

Towering above, workers on the fourth floor hauled in equipment and materials to finish the top floor.

On another section of the project, drivers using forklifts and other machinery moved other supplies. Other workers were installing plumbing, mechanical and other systems, along with roofing materials.

Meritage Resort guests want a personalized experience, said Tanner.

“We want to create a personalized and customized experience,” he said. “Everyone has a Napa story and we want to facilitate that as much as we can,” he said.

“We want that sense of arrival to be a whole lot more beautiful and Napa-esque,” said Tanner. To achieve that, careful attention is being paid to the design of the exterior and entrances of the new complex, he said.

The wine tasting “village” will offer an array of vintners and wineries. Trinitas Cellars and Foley Family Wines are among the wineries set to have a tasting room on site.

A market will sell groceries, prepared foods, sundries, coffee and other supplies. The demonstration kitchen can accommodate groups as large as 40 for cooking classes or other food related events. The large outdoor area will include a lawn and pool with both seating and cabana areas.

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For those who are only in Napa for a short visit or conference, or prefer to stay closer to the hotel, the new amenities are convenient and accessible, he said.

Locals are a key target market for the expanded resort complex. Just like locals visit the Meritage for the Siena restaurant and Crush Ultra lounge and other amenities, this new space is intended for Napans as well.

“We want it to feel like Napa,” said Tanner. “We’re being very thoughtful because we want to make it a place locals love.”

Construction started in September 2016. A rainy winter caused significant delays, said Tanner, “but we’re caught up.”

Room rates will be comparable to the current Meritage and Vino Bello rooms across the street, but since the new rooms represent “an elevated experience,” they will probably run a little higher, said Tanner.

The Meritage Resort already includes an Estate Cave with Spa Terra and the Trinitas Cellars tasting room, event spaces, an additional 180 vacation rental rooms at the adjacent Vino Bello Resort, more than 50,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor event space, Siena Restaurant, Crush Ultra Lounge featuring six bowling lanes and a full bar.

The Meritage first opened in 2006 at an estimated cost of $50 million. A later addition of a spa and cave totaled $11 million.

In 2011, it underwent a $40 million expansion, adding 165 guest rooms to the original 155 rooms and an extra 28,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space.

A cost for the current expansion was not provided.

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Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.