One of my favorite places on the planet, this haven in northern California is owned and operated by my college roommates‘ parents, who, having traveled to over 300 countries, know just a thing or two about life and how to make it most pleasant. Originally used by the Pomo indians for healing and relaxation, the naturally carbonated water is a time-tested magical elixir. Springing from the very core of the earth, it is ninety degrees Fahrenheit, and can be imbibed directly from the source. In fact, a very cool picture in the lobby shows a dapper Mark Twain doing just that. (The resort has a storied history, drawing frequent visits from luminaries such as Jack London and Wavy Gravy.) Bathing in water as effervescent as champagne softens both skin and outlook, and the impeccably clean accommodations and massive bunches of fresh flowers nearly everywhere ease the daily transitions. The park-like resort grounds are set in 700 acres of montane wilderness,and hiking trails lead to special natural treasures including a verdant waterfall grotto. I have a favorite spot, a fallen tree that suspends above a creek, where I sit for hours, taking pictures and thinking–no paths lead here, go find your own!
I cherish every season at Vichy–summer for its intense dry heat; fall for the coppers and golds of the vineyards surrounding; winter for the solitude and hot stone massages; spring for the hills of velvet green.