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Las Alcobas, St Helena (Napa Valley), CA [Master Thread]

Las Alcobas, St Helena (Napa Valley), CA [Master Thread]

Old Apr 17, 17, 1:39 pm
  #1  
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Las Alcobas, St Helena (Napa Valley), CA [Master Thread]

I just finished my stay here so thought I would post a review to let everyone know how the property is shaping up. It's not fully open yet. I believe while we were there, only 22 rooms were open and the pool is still closed. That said, I think at the end of the day, it's a great 4.5 star property, but still does not compare to the best of the best.

SPG PLT status was acknowledged, but were just offered points and no upgrade. not sure if this is because of the limited opening or going to be a trend. We did ask and were given late checkout.

Also, please note that, while the SPG site promotes free breakfast, while we were there, they modified this to just continental breakfast, with entrees being an up-charge. Thankfully, since the change was mid-stay, they did not apply this rule change to our visit.

One last quick tip: the vineyard is a bit raised from the grown level and there is a landscaped mound. Initially we were given a room on the first floor, but that looks directly into the mound, with limited vineyard view. I would always request a room on the 2nd or 3rd floor if you want a vineyard view.

Here are some highlights:

Pros
- Staff was very well-meaning and friendly. I think they will shape into a great staff that provides excellent service, but are still learning the ropes
- The restaurant served excellent food and had a great staff. Breakfast each morning was truly top-notch. While the menu for dinner is limited now, it seems like it will be a great spot to get a bite on-property.
- The balconies of the rooms are really why one should stay here. With 2 rocking chairs, a couch and fire pit, there is no better place to spend time while at the resort. You are literally right on the vineyard with truly special views of the vines and mountains in the backdrop.
- The rooms all had free mini-bars with sodas, water, sparkling water, wellness drinks, smalls snacks, tea and french press coffee. They said we could get a refill whenever we asked, though it was a bit spotty.
- The bathrooms have Toto toilets which are a fun perk.
- Valet is free and was very quick each time we used it.
- The hotel is about 5 min walk from downtown St. Helena, which we prefer to Yountville as it's less bougie, but still has some good restaurants. It's also quite easy to get to Yountville or up to Calistoga. We had dinner at Redd and French Laundry in Yountville, then Farm Stand in Helena, all were easy to get to.

Cons:
- The rooms are a bit goofy with their setup with lots of wasted space. It seems like there was a focus on design without a focus on practicality. There is a weird outdoor area with a bench in front of each room that is truly wasted space, as I can't think of a single use of the space. Also it looks like there is a blocked space adjacent to the outdoor area with a sole focus on providing natural light to the bathroom. It's impossible to describe without seeing it for yourself, but it just didn't make sense as it just provided some natural light through fogged glass in the bathroom. between these two spaces, you are probably losing 50-75 sq ft. of space for no reason whatsoever.
- The bathroom is very small, has only 1 sink and this awkward towel holder that wasn't big enough for 2 towns and hand/face towels. Again, this goes back to design (it looks very nice) vs. pragmatism. There are 2 extra towels hiding below the sink that we didn't find until the last day. If they would just get rid of the empty space behind the tub that kind of lets in natural light, there would be much more space to navigate and be comfortable. Also, there are no towel hooks, so you can't hang our towels or a shirt if you wanted to steam it own. Its frustrating when a want-to-be 5 star hotel cares far more about form over function.
- The closet is incredibly small and there are only 2 small drawers for storage. These drawers are under the hanging bar, so my wife's dresses would either be crumpled at the bottom or caught in the drawers.
- There is no iron or ironing board in the rooms. Nor is there free pressing. When asked for an iron, about 2 hours later they brought a commercial steamer that didn't really do the trick. If they want to be a 5 star hotel, they should do pressing like the St. Regis with the butler service or be able to provide an iron on request. It was quite frustrating coming in from a long day of travel and not being able to de-wrinkle a shirt before dinner.
- The light switches are just dumb. The toilet room switch is across the hall, so if you need to use the restroom at night, you have to turn it on then cross the hall to use the restroom, which can easily wake up another person sleeping. The lights for the closet are be the entry, not by the closet and the bathroom lights are outside the bathroom. They also have their weird, bright lights hanging down from the ceiling that were quite awkward.
- The gym is very pedestrian, though it does have a yoga studio. They had a yoga class one morning at 830 while we were there, though i'm not sure how often its offered. That said, one of the worst issues is that there were no wipes for the equipment and limited towels. When we went down to exercise, the equipment was gross with other people's sweat. When I was done one morning, they were out of towels as well, so i went to the bathroom to get paper towel to try to clean the equipment best I could. If this is a 5 star hotel, there MUST be an attendant down there to make sure the equipment is clean or at least have cleaning wipes available. This was gross and quite annoying. There is also no cold water in the gym, only bottled, room-temperature water. I'm hoping this is just temporary and that they install a water cooler of some sort when they are fully operational.
- Housekeeping was hit or miss. They missed turn-down service one night and we also requested foam pillows as their feather pillows were very flat and limited. They did not bring pillows on the first attempt and after the second attempt, they brought feather pillows in plastic without pillow covers and said they do not have foam pillows. I'm really hoping this is not the case going forward.
- We did not use the spa, as they wanted to charge $200 for a basic 50 minute massage. Too much of a a risk We went to a standalone facility in Napa for $150/110min treatment and loved it.

Overall, this seems to fit in with other Luxury Collection hotels I've stayed at that want to be 5 star, but simply aren't at the same level of other luxury hotels. I would certainly never spend 30K Starpoints on it per night, as that's an absurd cost compared to other 30K/nt hotels and for $700+/nt there is MUCH better in the valley. We much prefer Solage and you can often find rates under $500/nt. While no one can argue with the views and their patios were very special, I don't think that compensates for the other shortcomings of the facility.

[Moderator Note: Pre-opening discussion can be found at http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/starw...l#post28193350 ]

Last edited by yosithezet; Apr 17, 17 at 9:02 pm
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Old Apr 17, 17, 2:49 pm
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Originally Posted by playbbg View Post
I would certainly never spend 30K Starpoints on it per night, as that's an absurd cost compared to other 30K/nt hotels and for $700+/nt there is MUCH better in the valley. We much prefer Solage and you can often find rates under $500/nt. While no one can argue with the views and their patios were very special, I don't think that compensates for the other shortcomings of the facility.
Thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough and helpful report. I'm particularly appreciative of your conclusion as it really helps position this property for me.
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Old Apr 21, 17, 4:53 pm
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We had to cancel a planned stay here in June because of business. You certainly made me feel better about that.

Thank you !
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Old May 22, 17, 4:04 pm
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Just spent the weekend here and will add a few of my comments, changes and observations since the review above.

We stayed on points for 32.5K per night for the vineyard view balcony fire pit on the 3rd floor which gave great views. It wouldn't have been the same experience without a vineyard view and we didn't want to take a chance for a plt upgrade. I didn't like the abundance of battleship gray colors especially in the room. I would prefer an offsetting supplemental color.

Arrival at night is a bit confusing. Hard to find the turn in from the highway with the poor lighting in the area and it really is unclear where to drive for valet afterwards too.

The Acacia restaurant is now open for dinner and hard to get reservations. We met a local who had been twice and was raving about it so we cancelled our reservations at Bouchon for a late table on Saturday night. If they are able to work through some minor service issues the food quality is a solid michelin star imo. Evidently for the time being they only allow hotel guests to dine for breakfast to keep up service standards but as reported breakfast is good as well.

We recognized the concierge who had spent years at the Andaz. Las Alcobas has an arrangement with Beringer next door for private tastings for guests. It isn't cheap but tastings of single vineyards and reserves without the crowds. They also share employee parking lot located between the two.
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Old May 22, 17, 6:52 pm
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I also stayed here recently - a week ago. I was very happy with the experience.

Like @texmanufan I also stayed on points and had a vineyard view balcony room with fire pit. The rooms are very nice and we enjoyed sitting out on the balcony in the morning and evenings.

I arrived during the day and so had no trouble finding it. As I pulled up the driveway I was met by an employee who took my name and directed me where to pull up the car - I can see that during the night it would be confusing where to go as the entrance is at the side of the main house rather than the front. By the time I pulled up and a valet was helping with bags someone from the front desk had walked down with our keys and we were immediately taken to our room - there was no need to go to the front desk which was a nice touch.

I thought the room was stunning, but was surprised to find no wine in the room - although there are plenty of wine glasses. Snacks and soft drinks are all included - there's even a bottle of freshly squeezed juice in the fridge - it all really added to the feel of a luxury property. We'd only been in the room a few minutes when someone from the restaurant arrived with a desert for my girlfriend's birthday which was a nice personal touch.

We had two problems with the room - first, there was no bath plug, but the front desk were able to find one and send it up. Second, we found that our door stopped locking, we weren't sure if had ever locked, but once we alerted a staff member they had maintenance fix it and stayed there until it was fixed so we didn't have to wait. Both seem like typical things that can happen at a new property and weren't a big deal.

The bar and the restaurant are both great. We had a bottle of wine in the bar and were surprised how reasonable the prices were. The restaurant had been open to hotel guests since the hotel opened, but the weekend we were there was the first time it was opening to non-guests. The chef - Chris Cosentino was onsite and could be seen in the kitchen and dining with his family. My girlfriend and I were looking forward to the meal as we've enjoyed the Chef's other restaurants and weren't disappointed. The wagyu rid-eye cap steak was phenomenal.

Breakfast is included in the room rate - but is just a continental breakfast - coffee, juice, a pastry and a yogurt parfait. You can order from the full menu (which is good), but you're paying the menu prices - it wasn't clear to me if there was a way to forgo the included breakfast and order a-la-cart. Be warned though that the included breakfast is quite small. In some cases it's not a full pastry, but one that has been cut in half which seemed really cheap - they should consider making the pastries slightly smaller and serve a whole one. That said, the small freshly baked strawberry muffins were excellent. The yogurt parfait is also delicious, but equally small.

My stay was a week ago and hasn't posted to my SPG account. I'm following up to see what happened there.

I'd definitely stay again if the rate was good - but with rates hovering around the $800 to $1000 a night I couldn't justify it. It'll be interesting to see if they are able to maintain these sort of rates.
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Old May 22, 17, 7:04 pm
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great reports!

will pool open before all rooms open?

sounds like good award value over holiday/peak, which may change under marriott
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Old May 22, 17, 10:17 pm
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The pool appeared to be open although we didn't use. Temps got up to the 90's in the afternoon this weekend but cooled down quite a bit later in the evenings.

We were told the hotel was sold out which seemed right as there was a large function over the weekend. Couldn't get checkout past 1:30 which didn't help me much keeping my wine purchases cool before heading to the airport.
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Old Jun 3, 17, 4:43 pm
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How's this property comparing to Westin Napa and Andaz Napa?
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Old Jun 10, 17, 8:19 pm
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So I unexpectedly ended up in the Napa Valley this weekend and thought I would give the Las Alcobas a try. However, the rates were quite steep ($900+), but there was a redemption option available.

The room types that showed available were as follows:

Superior King
Accessible Deluxe King
Grand Deluxe King (winery view)
Grand Deluxe Two Queens (vineyard view)

I was willing to redeem points for a room, but I just wanted to see what the rooms were like prior to booking since I was outside the cancelation policy. Fortunately I was nearby as I had a lunch reservation at Farmstead which is five minute drive away.

So I arrived at the hotel and was greeted by a gentleman whom I assumed was a valet. I told him that I wanted to see one of the rooms prior to booking and he had to call the front desk via his headset. He replied that they were sold out even though I saw the room types available online. I then said I would love to see the public space to get a feel of the hotel. He then told me to pull the car forward and proceeded to give me one of those valet tags for the keys.

The walk from the valet area to the "front desk" is no more than a 20 second walk away. Unlike most hotels that have a decent size front desk, this was more like a sitting room and there was only one gentleman at the "front desk" on the computer. He said the rooms were sold out, unless he was unaware of a last minute cancellation. I then said the spg app was showing rooms available online and then he checked his computer to see stuff was available.

I then proceeded to check out the restaurant space and was greeted by one of the staff who was more than gracious and explained what was offered in the restaurant, Acacia House. She did mention that breakfast is only available for hotel guests. After checking out the restaurant I proceeded back to the valet area and to do this you must walk back through the "front desk."

During this time another gentleman appeared and I inquired about the Platinum benefits. He then questioned whether I was a Platinum I know the Platinum benefits are pretty clear cut, but as we all know some hotels offer more than some even with the same brand family. He really didn't mention anything about upgrades so I asked if the Grand Deluxe Vineyard View rooms were part of the upgrade pool and he said no. I thanked him for my time and proceeded to the valet area to retrieve the car.

So the car was in the same spot where I left it, but it had been locked by the valet. I was standing by the car as I was waiting for my keys as the valet was tending to another customer who was dropping off a car. Instead of giving me the key he made me wait (as he parked the other car) and then he came back he asked if I had left him the keys as I gave him the valet receipt.

Even though the staff interaction was shaky at best I was willing to book the hotel as a redemption, but wanted an upgraded view. Since this can't be done on the website I had to call CS, who couldn't seem to get it done. They called the hotel and was told the upgraded room was not available on points due to a wedding party. Go figure.
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Last edited by kluau88; Jun 10, 17 at 8:27 pm
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Old Jun 12, 17, 12:37 pm
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Originally Posted by Giroud View Post
How's this property comparing to Westin Napa and Andaz Napa?
I've stayed at the Alcobas and the Andaz but not the Westin. Loved both hotels. Overall I'd say the Alcobas is a better property but the Andaz is a great hotel such that I personally don't see the value in the several hundred dollar premium for the Alcobas (and while i might pay the points premium, this hotel is definitely not on the same plane as other Cat 7 properties). I'm in Napa to enjoy the wineries and the good restaurants...the Andaz meets my needs for a good night's sleep, hot shower, and delicious breakfast.

Location: Alcobas. Andaz is in downtown Napa and the Alcobas is in St. Helena. They're about half an hour apart without traffic. Downtown Napa is on the edge of the valley whereas Alcobas is in the middle of the valley floor wineries and restaurants. Alcobas is walking distance to downtown St Helena which has a good market, some good restaurants, and lots of retail that shuts down around 5 or 6. Downtown Napa has a lot more going on in terms of places to eat and drink after 6 if you are looking for things to do in the evening. The entire downtown napa corridor is also very walkable. That is the one aspect where Andaz is better location

Property: Alcobas. Andaz is in a building on a city street. Alcobas is more of a "grounds" amongst the vineyards with a separate "main house" which houses the restaurant and a few rooms, three buildings worth of rooms, and a separate barn for events and similar type structure for the spa and gym. Also a small pool area. I don't know if the Andaz has a pool.

Rooms: Alcobas. Alcobas would be bigger than the standard room at the Andaz. But the Alcobas room, as mentioned upthread, is just poorly designed. The Andaz room is very nice. Both have free minibar. The kicker for the Alcobas room is the patio with couch, rocking chairs, and gas powered fire pit.

Vibe: Andaz. This is just a more fun and welcoming place to me. They also don't have any service issues which the Alcobas still has.

Food and Beverage: Andaz. The Acacia House at the Alcobas is delicious for dinner. But you don't have to stay at the hotel to experience it. I thought the Acacia House breakfast was outstanding but way overpriced. I do not know about dinner at the Andaz restaurant but thought breakfast there was very good and more reasonably priced for those not getting it free from status.

Status Recognition: Andaz. We did not get an upgrade at the Andaz but the hotel was sold out and we received profuse apologies for not getting an upgrade. We were lucky enough to get a vineyard view at the Alcobas but i believe due to the fact that an entire wing of rooms was still under construction. I don't think upgrades will be easily had at this property. As a diamond, full breakfast at the Andaz was free. The Acacia House only offers a continental breakfast for free on most (all?) room rates, which includes a pastry, coffee, juice, and yoghurt with fruit. There is no additional option for a platinum breakfast benefit. We ended up supplementing with a couple hot items that we had to pay for. Realize this is per T&C of the different programs.
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Old Aug 18, 17, 1:22 am
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Do they have any deals with other wineries beside Beringer?
Thinking about staying here for a weekend.
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Old Aug 18, 17, 11:44 am
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Some comments:

1. OP mentioned bathroom light switch being located in the hall. Note that in some places, building codes require this as a safety measure. AFAIK this is true in Germany. I don't know about various localities inn California.

2. Andaz is located in downtown Napa, while the Starwood property is close to the market, overlooking the river. Both locations have advantages and disadvantages; I've stayed in both, in suites. There was/is a highly rated restaurant in the Starwood. The Andaz restaurant has lots of bare wood and emphasizes local ingredients. Breakfast is creative and very good, although there's a quick continental option in the bar.

3. Andaz has a small outdoor pool on the deck, on about the third floor. It's pretty with modern resort furniture, IIRC including some cabanas. I think there's a jacuzzi too.

4. Andaz service can be spotty. My biggest objection was the attitude of the "concierge" I was advised to wait for, who was supposedly an expert on the local wineries. She found some brochures but was otherwise worse than useless. I asked whether she could recommend some special smaller wineries off the beaten track or normally not open to the public or whether she could hook me up with some appointments for special tastings not open to the public. I was scolded that my requests weren't fair to others and that I should have to go to the publicly available tastings for the masses (my words) and wait in line like everyone else rather than using connections and money to get a better experience more in line with my knowledge of wine. I think she was some sort of socialist, although I didn't try to bribe her with a big tip. Horrible service!

6. Similarly, I found the Starwood's service to be highly variable, to the point where this caused me to cancel my dinner reservation in their restaurant and just forage elsewhere.

5. Andaz suites are highly variable; my DSU got me one where the living room was an alcove barely large enough for a large loveseat. So are those in the Starwood, where the best are corner two bedroom luxury suites with balconies and full kitchens. [I was upgraded to one of these on a stay where the AAA one bedroom suite rate was less than the lowest available rate for a regular room.]
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Old Aug 18, 17, 3:01 pm
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The concierge at Andaz seems nuts. What the hell is wrong with her? You should have escalated the service issue. I wouldn't even stand it.

Anyway, if alcobas doesn't have any real connections, what good does it do?
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Old Mar 11, 18, 10:09 pm
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Just had a short one night stay here and loved it. The quality of the room and property was A+, and we were upgraded to a unbelievable vineyard view suite. After walking in, I quickly regretted that we were only there for one night. We were there midweek, and the hotel seemed pretty slow so I'm sure that helped a lot with the upgrade. I also used a suite night award, which probably helped too. The location was great for a day of exploring and the staff at Acadia house was great for lunch. This was our first trip to Napa, so I can't really compare it to other top properties, but I was seeing rates $600+ at all the other top properties, so I was very pleased with my sub-$500 rate and suite upgrade. I also thought the complimentary bikes and helmets were a great touch and I only wish we had more time to enjoy the area and property.

One other thing that impressed me was at checkin, I mentioned we were checking out super early to catch a flight and they proactively offered coffee and pastries for the morning. When we came down in the morning, the car was warmed up with coffee ready to go. I felt a little stupid for never thinking of this on my own, so it was extra surprising and appreciated.

The only negative during the entire experience was that when we checked in around 12:30pm, I initially got the standard line about rooms not being ready until 4pm and how there wasn't a single room available at that time at the whole property. Since I was leaving in the middle of the night, I made a much bigger deal out of this than I normally would and within an hour they had a beautiful suite ready for us. I didn't even want to mention it because everything else was so great, but the "Sorry there are absolutely no rooms ready, and then magically every room is ready right at 3pm or 4pm" line is one of my personal pet peeves.

Overall though we loved it and we are already looking at some dates to come back in the fall.
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Old Sep 6, 18, 8:38 pm
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Originally Posted by Woodsmit View Post
Checked into Los Alcobos in Napa last weekend and I looked at the checkin card the attendant had on their clipboard (they meet you at your car and take you straight to your room). The card had all the loyalty categories laid out, i.e. plat prem w/ ambassador, plat prem, plat, etc with a check mark next to my level. So clear they know and use it for some purpose; perhaps just recognition but could be more. In any event, the system definitely spitting that out.
Hi @Woodsmit, sorry for responding to you on the Las Alcobas thread, but I thought it more appropriate to ask here about your thoughts on the property and elite recognition. I hope you can share more details of your stay. Did you get upgraded? How was your accommodation? How was breakfast? Lunch or dinner if you dined there on property? How was the service? Did the air con work well?

Thanks for anything you can share!

We definitely hope to stay here, though they don't permit dogs. We usually bring our dog to Napa. In the past decade, we've stayed numerous times at Bardessono in Yountville, which allows dogs of all weights. We've also stayed before at Calistoga Ranch (dogs permitted) and Auberge de Soleil (dogs not permitted). I love the St. Helena location of Las Alcobas, though!
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