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The new owners of Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort are on a mission to preserve and elevate the founder’s original intentions of providing a wellness retreat in the heart of Calistoga.

Improvement plans are being readied for the nearly 70-year-old property that will include renovations to the lobby, guest rooms, baths, mineral pools and the grounds.

In April, San Francisco’s Chartres Lodging Group announced it bought the historic Calistoga resort from Dr. John Wilkinson’s son, Mark Wilkinson, and daughter, Carolynne Wilkinson Clair.

Kokua Hospitality, also out of San Francisco, will manage the 42-room resort and held a July 18 open house at the Community Center in Calistoga, where they met informally with residents and presented ideas for future upgrades to the resort.

Jose Ortega, the resort’s new general manager, previously worked for Kokua in Carmel. He said the Wilkinson resort “meets and exceeds the profile of other properties owned by Chartres and managed by Kokua. But the new owners also saw something “really special” in Wilkinson’s with regard to providing guests with a health and wellness experience.

“This is a special property, for sure, we’re just expanding on what Dr. Wilkinson had built up” he said. “The resort will provide the same amenities, only better. Doc knows best.”

Ortega said the property’s new look will emphasize simple resort elegance.

The lobby will be redesigned so guests feel like they are walking into a peaceful apothecary, with mineral water, and healthful and relaxing tinctures on display.

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“So you know immediately this is what you’re here for, you’re already relaxing,” Ortega said.

The resort will have a fun side as well. There is room outdoors to design a space with “a backyard feel” to it, Ortega said.

Business at the resort has increased since April, and the resort will be looking to hire additional employees. There are no plans to compete with more pricey spas in town, like Solage Calistoga or Indian Springs Resort, Ortega said. Indeed, Wilkinson’s is now a sister property of Calistoga Motor Lodge, which is managed by Filament Hospitality. Rooms at the Lodge start at $199 a night.

Kokua and Filament Hospitality merged about a month ago under the temporary name NewCo Hospitality.

Ortega has been brainstorming with the Motor Lodge’s General Manager Ric Pielstick for ideas on how to engage the community with activities.

The resort also wants to compliment other businesses in town.

“Because of where we are located, I know every single guest spends time in town,” Ortega said. “That’s how everything comes together. The guests have a place to stay, they wander into town, and there are a lot of things to see and do in Calistoga.”

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You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at csweeney@weeklycalistogan.com or 942-4035.

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