A Relaxing Retreat in the East Bay
If I could have my Mother’s Day wish for this weekend, I’d return to the Purple Orchid Wine Country Resort & Spa. The bed and breakfast inn is located 40 miles east of Oakland, just as the East Bay’s seemingly endless stretch of strip malls and housing developments give way to bucolic scenes of the Livermore Valley’s ranches and vineyards.
I had the chance to stay at the Purple Orchid Wine Country Resort & Spa a few months ago when I traveled to the East Bay for work. After an agonizingly slow commute in rush hour traffic on the 580, I turned off the freeway and wound my way south. Horses grazed along the side of the road and tasting room signs began cropping up, pointing the direction to Livermore’s 40-plus wineries. I turned into a driveway lined with olive trees and found the inn aglow in the late afternoon sun. The peacefulness of the rural backdrop settled over me and the stress from the drive began to slip away.
Nestled amid a 24-acre olive orchard, the contemporary-style log resort was built in 1996. The inn offers 10 rooms and suites, all with fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs. I stayed in the Double Eagle Suite, which is on the ground floor of the main house. With décor that pays homage to Livermore’s golf courses, the suite features a supremely comfortable king-sized bed with luxuriously smooth sheets, an electric fireplace facing the bed, a spacious bath with a Jacuzzi tub for two, and a private patio that opens to the inn’s pool, gardens, and spa.
The heated pool has an impressive stone waterfall feature, two hot tubs, and a freeform clover-like shape ringed by lounge chairs, patio umbrellas, and cabanas. Just beyond the pool area, more private seating areas are nestled into the surrounding gardens. The gardens open to an expansive lawn that’s perfect for weddings and private events.
Beyond the lawn, rows and rows of olive trees climb the rising hillside behind the inn. The inn presses its own Handprints Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the olives grown in its orchards. The inn serves samples of the olive oil with wine and cheese boards at its nightly Gathering Hour. The olive oil is also used in many of the inn’s spa treatments.
The inn’s private day spa is tucked behind the pool and offers a full range of facials, massages, body treatments, and waxing services. I confirmed my appointment for Ashiatsu massage in the morning and then joined the owner Derek Eddy and his other guests for wine and olive oil tasting. The lively conversation was capped with Derek’s suggestions for dinner. He helped make a reservation for me at Posada.
While Livermore’s charming downtown offers a number of great places to eat, Posada is one the locals’ top choices. Tucked into a strip mall around the corner from a grocery store, the location may lack appeal, but the restaurant more than makes up for it with its convivial atmosphere and the bold, inventive flavors of Chef Eduardo Posada’s Southwestern cuisine. Reservations are a must. The restaurant was packed. It’s a lively spot to rub elbows with local winemakers and be treated to Eduardo and his wife Blanca’s warm hospitality. I opted for the spicy chipotle-rubbed mahi mahi tacos paired with a cool watermelon salad and a kick of mango-habanero vinaigrette. It might have been the best Southwestern fusion cuisine I’ve ever had.
Later that night at the inn, I slipped into the steaming waters of the hot tub and gazed up at the stars while the sound of the pool’s waterfall lulled me into a relaxed, sleepy state. I slept well and was nearly late for breakfast.
The inn serves a full plated breakfast each morning and offers a choice of entrees and sides. I enjoyed a hearty breakfast burrito served with a side fruit and potatoes. After breakfast, I slipped off to the spa for a blissful, relaxing massage.
I wish I could return to the Purple Orchid Wine Country Resort & Spa for Mother’s Day this weekend, but I have mom duties: I have to go cheer a kids’ soccer game instead.