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A sneak peek at Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs' renovations in Calistoga

A sneak peek at Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs' renovations in Calistoga


The renovation of Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs in Calistoga is nearly completed, and the resort plans to reopen mid-October as Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs.

The iconic resort was opened in 1952 by pioneering wellness experts “Doc” and Edy Wilkinson, and was known for its innovative mud bath treatments. The Wilkinson family sold the resort last year.

The new co-owners, Robert Kline and Maki Nakamura Bara, and the The Chartres Lodging Group, a San Francisco-based hotel investment firm, have said the resort will retain its essential purpose — and its iconic neon sign — while updating the resort with an “elevated detox” experience.

“When we purchased the resort, we wanted to be respectful of the legacy. Our goal is to embrace Doc’s pioneering spirit and time-honored, stress alleviating and health balancing treatments in a completely re-imagined environment, with every element of the resort experience designed with integrated wellness in mind. Dr. Wilkinson’s will continue to be the resort destination where wellness meets happiness,” Nakamura Bara said.

Safety measures in place

The resort is currently accepting limited reservations for an unofficial opening in early October, and has taken precautionary measures guided by recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure the safety of guests and staff.

Additionally, state and county health and safety COVID-19 guidelines will be implemented, the owners stated.

Guests will have the option to check-in by using their cell phones as keys, and can check in online without stopping at the front desk.

The majority of the guest rooms open directly to the exterior, which will also enable guests to access their rooms without entering the lobby. The entire staff will practice social distancing, use personal protective gear, and implement enhanced cleaning and safety measures.

Modern design

The resort will feature 50 renovated guestrooms, including Edy’s House, which will have two guest rooms with separate entrances. The nearby restored Victorian “bunkhouse,” with five separate bedrooms and “high-end bunkbeds” will be able to sleep 15 guests, Nakamura Bara said.

The resort has also reconfigured central parking area into an expansive outdoor area for picnics and outdoor games, and a newly-developed open air restaurant and bar with trellised seating.

House of Better was developed in partnership with Trevor Logan, former owner of the popular Green Chile Kitchen in San Francisco, and current owner of Chile Pies Baking Co. in Guerneville. It will be open to the public.

“We really want to be a part of the community,” Nakamura Bara said. “The location on Lincoln Avenue lends itself to that.”

The retro-inspired lobby will sell apothecary products from Napa Wine Country’s best artisanal purveyors.

Doc Wilkinson’s favorite car — the 1952 Buick Special — will also be displayed onsite.

Art displayed throughout the property will highlight local artists and Edy’s beloved mosaics and feature a water tower in the new lobby, a nod to the property’s mineral-springs history.

SB Architects out of San Francisco is responsible for the renovation in collaboration with EDG for the interior design and TLEE Spas for the spa.

The spa

The expanded spa will offer the same mineral-rich mud bath treatments and original mud mixture guests have come to expect, but in a renovated setting, with four mud baths, three geothermal mineral pools, eight new mineral baths, falling water treatments, and new outdoor cabana treatment “rooms” in a garden area.

“It’s important to us that we honor the resort’s vibrant past and beloved status in California’s first resort destination as we modernize the experience for today’s discerning customer,” Kline said.

You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at 942-4035 or

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The Weekly Calistogan Editor

Cynthia Sweeney has been editor of The Weekly Calistogan since July, 2018. Previously, she was a reporter for the St. Helena Star, and North Bay Business Journal. She also spent a significant amount of time freelancing in Hawaii.

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