With over 70 locations in the United Kingdom and Europe and 2 locations in the U.S. in Boston and New York, the British Cocoa Grower and Chocolatier Hotel Chocolat is now launching their USA website.
In celebration of the launch, Hotel Chocolat graciously sent me some samples to try and I must say they were quite a treat. The samples were amazing, which included The Sleekster Everything Collection and Caramel Cheesecakes. The Everything Collection was a delightful array of luxurious chocolates made with bean to bar chocolate and the highest quality of ingredients including whole macadamia nuts, buttery shortbread cookies, rich caramel and more. The Caramel Cheesecakes were creamy and delicious. The elegance and quality of these chocolates made me curious to find out more about this Hotel Chocolat.
Turns out, they are one of the world’s few chocolate makers that actually grow their own cocoa. In addition, they also own a few restaurants and the Hotel Boucan in Saint Lucia, which is now on my bucket list. Who can resist a vacation in a tropical rainforest surrounded by chocolate, not me!
For serious chocolate aficionados you might be interested in the Hotel Chocolat Tasting Club, where you can sign up to have new and different tasting selections sent you every few weeks.
With over 20 years of experience as the UK’s largest online chocolate retailer, those of us in U.S. can now enjoy the luxury chocolates and stylish gifts Hotel Chocolat offers. Visit the Hotel Chocolat website for more information on ordering chocolates or one of the many other ventures Hotlel Chocolat is famous for.
A visit to Nappa Valley has been on my bucket list for quite some time and much to my surprise a friend of mine had been invited to a girlfriend’s weekend getaway and needed a roommate. She asked if I wanted to go. I always imagined it would be with my husband, as I cannot think of anything more romantic than sipping wine in the beautiful mustard covered grapevines. However, with hubbies blessing and him saying…..Merry Christmas, Happy Anniversary, Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Birthday, I packed my bags and kissed him goodbye!
The weather was a wee bit chilly but nothing compared to the February winter we were having in Missouri. I even left a day early to beat the Snowmageddon that was due to hit the day my flight was scheduled.
Solage Calistoga Resort and Spa will literally astound you. The beautiful grounds host about 80 studios and suites all of which are within walking distance to the main facilities and quite contemporary. Room layouts vary but all are equipped with the latest technology, full sized locally made bath amenity products, luxurious bedding and linens, complementary coffee and tea at the mini bar and each room is complete with bathrobes and slippers. This clip gives you a nice tour of the room we had.
Outdoors you will find a comfortable patio with a grapevine-thatched roof and two cruiser bicycles that can be ridden in to town and wineries close by. The grounds are pristinely manicured and landscaped with fragrant rosemary and lavender.
Nightly turn-down service includes a glass water bottle adorned with mint leaves left at the bedside. The water is delightfully tasty and a perfect way to re-hydrate after indulging in wine tours all day.
The Spa is phenomenal and our package included Solage’s signature Mudslide treatment experience. This treatment begins with a visit to the Mud-Bar where you have Mudtenders mix a customized scent using Solage Mud, essential oils and geothermal water. You are then whisked off to the treatment room that can be booked as a group or individual and coat yourself in the mud concoction. After a serene 20 minutes of laying on the warm tiles with cucumbers over your eyes and then a quick rinse, you then make your way to the to the mineral baths in footed tubs. There are curtains separating the tubs if you prefer a little privacy. Following a rinse off from the baths, you will then cocoon yourself in the NASA-inspired Sound Chair that vibrates to music and reclines you to “zero-gravity”.
All though you may feel like melted butter afterwards and I mean that in a good way, if you so desire you can then relax in the separate private soaking areas for men and women. These areas include a mineral cool plunge, a warm mineral Jacuzzi, eucalyptus steam room and outdoor shower. These areas are a clothing optional zone, so just beware you may see your share of unique trim jobs and other things you may or may not want to see!
With all the amenities, the spa has to offer it is easy to spend all day there. You can work out, get a plethora of spa treatments, take a dip in the pool and if hunger strikes, enjoy lunch in one of the poolside cabanas.
The restaurant on sight is Solbar and has excellent service and food. Our package included breakfast every morning and the Lemon-Ricotta pancakes are amazing.
The dinner menu at Solbar is upscale but accessible and will please the pickiest palate. The Steak Frites dish has been featured on The Food Network show The Best Think I Ever Ate. The dining room during the day is bright and cheery while in the evening you will feel like you are in a very different restaurant with the soft lighting and fireplace. The restaurant is open to the public so it is a good idea to make dinner reservations, as Solbar is popular with the locals.
Solage is partnered with Mercedes-Benz to offer complimentary use of their newest vehicle models to resort guests upon availability. We reserved the convertible one evening to use as transportation to nearby St. Helena where we dined at the Farmstead restaurant. The service and staff are delightful and accommodating and were amazing at helping us with transportation back to San Francisco to catch our flight after our previous arrangements fell through.
This trip was truly a serene getaway. Everything was phenomenal and I will be returning. I would have no hesitation to recommend Solage and will stay there again.
Our Travel agent Sue Griffin at Century Travel put our girlfriend’s getaway package together but you could use whomever you like or make your own. She did set us up with Jack Swanson of Swanson Wine Tours who was amazing. He drove us all through Napa Valley, took us to three wineries, and planned a stop for lunch. If you are looking for a wine tour contact Jack. I would do this same trip over and over again!!!