When, in 2012, Samuel Leizorek, the founder, owner, and CEO of the Las Alcobas Hotel group, first visited the plot of land that would become the much-anticipated Las Alcobas Napa Valley, he discovered a three-acre property dotted with abandoned homes that had all fallen into disrepair.
But what this land had that most others still do not was proximity to the area’s most coveted feature: a vineyard. “Napa chose me,” says Leizorek. “I am always on the lookout for the next destination to expand the brand. The heart of wine country strongly appealed to me.”
The second property in the brand’s portfolio, and its very first in the U.S. (the 35-room Las Alcobas opened in Mexico City in 2009), the wine hotel, set to open in the appellation of St. Helena in mid-February, is also—importantly—one of the only properties in the region to actually overlook a vineyard.
“This is about a room in a vineyard versus vineyard views in the distance,” says Leizorek of the hotel's mission. In fact, it was the property's unique location right next to the Beringer Estate vineyards, one of Napa Valley’s oldest wineries (Jacob and Frederick Beringer bought the land in 1875), that sold Leizorek on the locale's potential.
While many hotels claim they are within “walking distance” of a vineyard, rarely are they this close: At Las Alcobas, the only thing separating Beringer from the hotel is a slender creek in the summer (it swells into a river in the winter). A leisure stroll to the vineyards’ tasting rooms takes just a few brisk minutes, and a bridge, currently under construction, will soon give hotel guests direct access to the estate.
Leizorek and his partners, the California-based Presidio Companies (which has owned the property since 2010), started construction in August 2014 by bulldozing two of the property’s three abandoned buildings, keeping a single Victorian-style mansion, constructed in 1905. Now called Acacia House, the building—which they gutted to its foundation and restored to its earlier glory—functions as the heartbeat of Las Alcobas, with a 50-seat restaurant helmed by Chris Cosentino of San Francisco’s Cockscomb. The building also houses a lobby lounge with a porch, eastern facing views of the valley and mountains. Both spaces feature original stained-glass windows, giving them an airy, ecclesiastical ambience. The mansion also hosts six of the hotel’s 68 guestrooms and a boardroom for meetings.
The rest of the property is made up of brand-new construction, with a salt-water pool, three buildings for accommodations, a freestanding 3,500-square-foot barn-style Atrio spa (with exposed stained cedar wooden beams, 25-foot ceilings, and bespoke amenities fom Naturopathica), and a meeting space all loosely arranged around the main house.
Each of the 650-square-foot guest rooms are outfitted with light wood paneling, marble tile bathrooms, oiled bronze hardware, and glass doors that open onto private outdoor space and double as floor to ceiling windows. Most accommodations face west for a full view of the magic that occurs at sunset, and feature terraces with Ipe wood flooring, a gas-powered fireplace, and a pair of rocking chairs. Another set have terraces with private fire pits, and ten of these also come with an alfresco tub. Moss and Lam, a Canadian art studio, created the artwork to be reflective of the locale with paintings, sketches, and multimedia artworks evocative of St. Helena’s lifestyle and ambience—including the area’s flora and fauna. Yabu Pushelberg, the firm that also handled Las Alcobas in Mexico City, designed the space to highlight the location’s natural assets.
“We looked at every detail,” says Leizorek, “from the color of the paint, to how the curtains close tightly at night.” The ultimate goal of the hotel, after all, is to connect guests to the authentic beauty of Napa Valley.
But it’s also a little piece of home, the concept of sobremesa, best described as a moment of convivial rapport after meal, that he seeks to bring to St. Helena. “I love the word,” he says of the term, “as it denotes a feeling of sharing with dear people.” Like its sister south of the border, Las Alcobas Napa Valley has the feel of a guesthouse, and Leizorek the soul of an innkeeper. “By the time guests leave,” he says, “they become family.”
Las Alcobas Napa Valley, a Starwood Luxury Collection property, is expected to open in mid February. Rooms start at $695; 1915 Main St., St. Helena, CA 94574; 707-963-7000; lasalcobasnapavalley.com.