LOCATED ABOUT 50 MILES OUTSIDE of San Francisco, Napa and Sonoma counties are known as prime wine destinations. However, both regions offer visitors ample opportunities for business and leisure activities.
There is no shortage of recreational activities in Napa and Sonoma. In Sonoma County alone, the tourism industry generates more than $1.99 billion annually. There are more than 425 wineries, 40 spas, 500 restaurants and 20 golf courses in Sonoma County, perfect for off-site team-building activities or leisure visits. In addition to year-round activities, each month brings annual festivals including the Artisan Cheese Festival and the Sonoma County Harvest Fair.
“Tourism not only powers the economy every day; but as almost every relocation and business site selection begins with a visit, it’s an important tool for cultivating the area’s long-term future,” said Claudia Vecchio, president and CEO, Sonoma County Tourism.
The tourism industry in Napa Valley employs more than 13,400 workers across hotel, retail, dining and other sectors.
“The tourism industry continues to provide a significant positive impact to Napa Valley’s economy,” said Clay Gregory, president and CEO, Visit Napa Valley. “Strategically managed efforts have seen visitor spending increase 17.5 percent from 2014 to 2016, with only a 6.3 percent increase in visitors over the same two-year period.”
In the fall of 2017, devastating wildfires ravaged California, including the Napa and Sonoma county regions. Following recovery efforts, the area welcomed back visitors within about six months.
Several airports service the Napa Valley area: San Francisco International Airport, San José International Airport, Sacramento International Airport and Oakland International Airport. Travel time to/from each airport is about an hour and a half to two hours, depending on traffic. Travelers can also fly into Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, where there is service from Los Angeles (LAX), Phoenix (PHX), Portland (PDX), San Diego (SAN), San Francisco (SFO) and Seattle (SEA). Sonoma County is also less than a two-hour drive from San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento airports. Due to general increased popularity of the region, the county airport offers new routes often.
To accommodate growing tourism, new and refurbished properties are cropping up. Look for new hotel openings in 2018 and 2019 throughout the region. Four Seasons Resort & Residences Napa Valley is set to debut in 2019. Recent openings for 2018 include The Francis House in Calistoga and Harmon Guest House in Healdsburg. Existing properties undergo renovations to keep up with the new openings. Bodega Bay Lodge on the Sonoma Coast saw renovations in 2017. The property at Indian Springs Calistoga expanded in 2015.
Venues look to sustainability and work toward green initiatives. Hotel Healdsburg and h2hotel, sister properties to Harmon Guest House in Sonoma County, feature environmentally friendly elements including electric car charging stations. Cakebread Cellars in Napa recently received the 2018 California Green Medal Award for Business. The award recognizes leadership of wineries and vineyards committed to sustainability through efficiencies, cost savings and innovation.
Throughout the region, venues offer opportunities for meeting planners looking for intimate team-building activities or large meeting spaces. From hotels to wineries, there are spaces for every type of event. Visitors can take part in culinary classes, outdoor adventures and — of course — wine tours. Wineries, restaurants, hotels, museums and galleries offer meeting space opportunities. For some, a meal at the iconic restaurant The French Laundry in Napa Valley is worth the trip alone.
Travel about 80 miles south along California’s coast to Point Reyes National Seashore. The protected coastline boasts rocky headlands, sandy beaches, grasslands and hillsides. Expect to see wildlife including harbor seals and snowy plovers. Make your way to the Point Reyes Lighthouse for an ideal vantage point to watch migrating whales.
Berkeley, situated on the east side of San Francisco Bay, is known in part as home to the University of California, Berkeley campus. You’ll find plenty of outdoor activities and cultural experiences to take in during your visit, from Tilden Park to the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive. The city is also known for its budding culinary scene.
Many visitors will likely fly in and out of San Francisco (SFO), so carve out some time to explore the Golden Gate National Recreation Area before or after your stay. Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, the U.S. National Recreation Area sits on about 82,000 acres of land. The park is home to 19 distinct ecosystems and more than 2,000 animal and plant species. There is plenty to see and do, whether you have a few hours or the entire day. Be sure to take some photos with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
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I arrived in Mexico City on a sunny late afternoon and zipped through light traffic from Benito Juarez International Airport to the heart of Mexico City, Paseo de la Reforma. Four Seasons Mexico City sits in the middle of the bustling area; but once you arrive in the covered driveway, you are transported into a sense of calm, art and luxury.
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