Sonoma's Sanitas Per Aquam

In the heart of Sonoma, but invisible to the naked eye, The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa is a wine country classic.  Built atop an ancient thermal spring, the elegant Spanish-Mission style inn is a collection of Terracotta buildings surrounded by lush greenery, enchanting water fountains, and nooks and crannies where fire pits and seating areas allow guests to take in the beautiful grounds.


Our Wine Country Junior Suite boasted a comfortable vintage-style, and included a fireplace, plush seating area, dining table, bar, writing desk, a beautiful wooden four post bed, Jacuzzi, and spacious outdoor patio.  As beautiful as it was, we couldn’t help but abandon our elegant room in favor of the inn’s legendary spa.  


Housed in a secluded area of the resort, Willow Stream Spa occupies 40,000 square feet. A U-shaped building surrounds a central courtyard where several mineral pools and Jacuzzis create a calm energy and the healing properties of water are front and center. The Watsu pool, whose name is derived from the combination of water and shiatsu, offers a unique spa experience that stays true to the Sanitas Per Aquam philosophy. The waist-deep pool remains at body temperature and is used for specialized stretching exercises and shiatsu massages conducted entirely in the water, allowing for flowing, unrestricted movement.


The spa’s indoor relaxation lounge was packed with guests awaiting their scheduled treatments when I arrived, and the co-ed bathhouse, complete with two mineral water soaking pools, herbal steam room, sauna and showers, was buzzing as spa-goers lounged and soaked in therapeutic waters. 


Upstairs, in one of the spa’s cozy treatment rooms I would experience the Executive Meltdown – a signature treatment specifically designed to provide relief for busy professionals by way of exfoliation and warm stones applied to the back, along with a scalp, hand, foot, back, neck and shoulder massage. My therapist, Diane, a spa industry veteran, helped design the treatment, and I could tell from the moment the treatment began that she was a rare find. I left the spa noting this as one of the best massages I had ever had. 

Back at the hotel’s living-room-style grand lobby, a large wooden dining table was strewn with empty wine glasses as En Garde Winery prepared a complimentary tasting for guests.  The winery showcased a Cabernet Franc, Albarino and Dry Rose, but the star of the show was the Magdalena Berry Port. Staying true to Portugese tradition, it is made entirely of fruit juices instead of wine grape varietals.  It was utterly refreshing, and although meant to be sipped after dinner, it perfectly wet my appetite before we headed out to an all-time Sonoma favorite – The Girl and the Fig.

Always an excellent dining experience, we started with a cheese tasting, chosen from the extensive a la carte menu of cow, goat and sheep’s milk cheeses. Of course, we paired this with a 2009 Cosa Obra Syrah and went on to enjoy The Girl’s classic Quiche Lorraine and braised short ribs on a warm kale salad, accompanied by a mashed potato croquette.

With chocolate covered figs in hand, we made our way back to the Inn for a quiet night by the fire.

For more on Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, download Spa Wanderlust for Apple or Android.