So we have to succeed first on that platform: A luxury hotel competing with Calistoga Ranch, Meadowood, you know, competing with the top hotels in Napa Valley, which are also the top hotels in the US.
GO: Do you have people who are going to the local farms and sourcing their own foodstuffs and bringing them back to do their own cooking, or anything like that?
JT: No, not really. We buy from local farms and farmer markets but we also have a culinary garden which is almost an acre. So we grow our own produce and vegetables, and herbs and spices, and then we pair our produce with an appropriate entrée item, a protein item. For example, we grow eggplant, and we dig it right out of the ground that day and pair it with something like a nice lamb preparation. Everybody does food and wine pairings, but we do produce and entrée parings as well, which is really interesting. So it truly is a farm-to-table or garden-to-table experience.
We do events where guests go out with one of our chefs to participate in the process. You know, just the other night I saw our chef walking out to the garden with a big basket, and I wanted to say to someone, ‘Come out with me and take a look at what we do here.’ But yes, definitely, we’re more than happy to put something like that together.
GO: What can you tell us about wine education for guests?
JT: We do tastings every Friday which are open to our guests only, where a top local winemaker and their sommelier—there are 3,000 wineries in Napa and Sonoma Valley—will come in and they’ll educate while you taste, and our guests love that. We can do that for couples or families who want to have a private tasting. We do wine pairing dinners. There are all sorts of things we can do because we’re in the heart of the food and wine capital of the world.
GO: There are probably some amazing boutique winemakers who are known mostly only by those in the valley?
JT: We have relationships with a lot of wineries but some of them are pretty private…. I’ll give you one example. Fleury Wines, there’s Brian and Claudia Fleury, they’re friends of ours, and they have a little winery where they produce some extraordinary high-end red wines. They ship direct to a number of celebrities; they have a very exclusive wine club. And Brian and Claudia will come here and work with our guests.
Because of our status in Napa Valley, we can call any number of winery owners and say, ‘Look, we have a family or group here and they would like to have a private, very exclusive dinner with you and your winemaker.’ We can make that happen.
GO: If your family or close friends were coming to visit, where would you take them to dinner?
JT: Bardessono. Our restaurant (laughing).
GO: Okay. How about the second night?
JT: Well I think The French Laundry. Everybody in their lifetime should have one dinner there. It’s exquisite, it really is. Thomas Keller is wonderful. He’s the world’s best chef; he’s also a friend of mine and a friend of our hotel. If you want a less formal dining experience, say, California cuisine with a French influence, then Bouchon, which is also one of Keller’s restaurants. And then for Italian, you have to go see Michael Chiarello at Botega. Or for very eclectic American fusion cuisine, something casual, Richard Reddington at REDD is the place to go.
GO: What other experiences are available outside the wining and dining?
JT: We’re in such a popular destination so there are many experiences off-property, such as hot air ballooning, golf, fishing, river rafting, horseback riding—all of that exists within a 30-mile radius. There’s also the Infineon Raceway as well, with classic car races and really high-end vintage sports cars, and that’s about a 25-minute drive.
GO: Is there anything else you want to touch on, Jim?