Don & Jo
Thanks for your welcome home letter, we had a fantastic holiday, everything worked out very well.
Hotels and accommodation were all great, good locations, good quality and met our expectations fully.
The Landings was particularly good, fantastic food, great location and outstanding service with a very good spa experience of a couples massage.
Calistoga Ranch was mind blowing, one of the finest places we have ever stayed and we have some experience of some not to shabby places under our belt! Food, service, location, facilities could not be faulted and we were upgraded, had enough space to entertain about 50 people in our accommodation.
In San Francisco we did the evening Alcatraz tour, would thoroughly recommend it and we spent a day in Golden Gate Park and finished with dinner in the restaurant at Cliffe House overlooking the Pacific at sunset, food, service and view was fabulous. On the last night we revisited Sotto Mare, one of my top 5 restaurants worldwide, unprepossessing brusque Italian specialising in seafood/fish and enjoyed a hearty Crab Copiccino, awesome crab and seafood stew with penne pasta.
Yosemite was breath-taking, Tree House was perfect and the steaks purchased from the local store and BBQ on the deck were just what I had hoped for, cooked while holding hands an swing looking out over the woods with the sound of the brook babbling in the distance. We did a Glacier Point tour from Yosemite Valley, the views were incredible and the waterfalls where breath-taking would definitely recommend to anyone.
We drove over Tioga Pass leaving Yosemite en route for Lake Tahoe, you should tell anyone going that way to stop at Tioga Resort and Café to have a piece of fruit pie, we had Blueberry Pie and Ice Cream, Donna can't stop talking about it, rich thin pastry crust filled deeply with sweet blueberries, YUM!!!!!!!
Lake Tahoe was beautiful, trip up to overlook Emerald Bay and then a walk down to Vikingshome, again would recommend that to anyone, we almost didn't bother to take the tour of the house but were very glad we did. The only slight disaster was that because it was 4th July weekend it was very busy and despite leaving very early for a trip on the MX Dixie across the lake from Zephyr Cove we missed the boat, however, we have received a full refund (even benefiting from the worsening £/$ FX following Brexit vote!) and consoled ourselves with a hot stone massage at The Landings which was a perfect antidote. We also took a 60 minute helicopter ride at sunset around the lake via Reno Tahoe Helicopters which was amazing, just the 2 of us and a pilot, Clint, who was a great host and very knowledgeable about the lake, history and inhabitants, I would definitely recommend this to anyone, great experience.
Sacramento was a pretty brief stopover, Galleria was a nice hotel, we did a visit to Old Sacramento, went around the museum which was very good then walked to the Capitol Building and park on our way to Broderick's for a burger, this had been recommended by the manager at Alamo when we collected the car at SF and they were simply the best burgers we have ever had. We then returned to Old Sacramento for the 4th July fireworks which were very good, not the biggest display in Sacramento that night but very convenient and very good. Only downside of Sacramento was there seemed to be an awful lot of down and outs everywhere, far more conscious of them here than in SF but there were generally a lot more people about in SF so possible just less obvious, wasn't at all threatening but it was a bit upsetting.
Onto Napa, River Terrace was a nice hotel, we didn't eat there, went to a small family run Mexican which was, well Mexican , very nice, cheap and not at all sophisticated, we did have a drink on the terrace when we got back to the hotel which was lovely. Would recommend anyone visiting Napa to visit the Napa Visitor Information centre in the townto get maps and tips on where to go for wine.
We visited a couple of wineries on the first day, Domaine Chandon, lovely location but sensed they didn't have to try very hard, who isn't going to go for a bit of fizz tasting? Next up was Silverado, outstanding location, great service, fantastic views and on the basis of this we returned the next morning on our way up the Silverado Trail to Calistoga. We also stopped of at a Persian themed winery but it was mainly red and their white wine was Chardonnay in which we could taste oak, we don't like oak in our Chardonnay so we went back to Silverado and were welcomed back like old friends! We had intended to tour and taste at Castello Decampo but it was absolutely heaving when we got there so we gave it a miss and spent some time in Calistoga village instead which was very pleasant.
When we arrived at Calistoga Ranch it was immediately obvious we were in for a Maldivain style luxury experience but in a beautiful tree lined valley, it was absolutely outstanding. Greeted with a nice chilled glass of their own Chardonnay and a blackberry granita, upgraded our accommodation, exemplary service, driven to 'room' by buggy etc etc etc. The restaurant was in a beautiful location a little further up the valley, we sat out on the deck and watched 5 wild deer grazing on the fauna, food was magnificent, service faultless, in my top 10 and possibly top 5 dining experiences ever and there is some pretty tough competition in there! We just chilled out at Calistoga, lots of time just pottering around, hot tub got a lot of use, walked a bit and had the best massage we have ever experienced, I had to tell Donna at the end that divorce was on the cards and I was going to marry Gwen my masseur!
Thanks for all your help in arranging what was a fantastic holiday, we recommend you to our friends and colleagues whenever the opportunity arises and it won't be long before you are 'on the case for us again'.
Ed & Donna