Famed Napa Valley hot springs resort awaits a revival

In a few years, the former site of Aetna Springs Resort in Napa County is set to become a luxury hotel and spa centered around the location’s beloved thermal springs. 

Six Senses, a luxury resort brand owned by Intercontinental Hotels Group, announced in a press release that it plans to open a new location on the 3,000-acre property in Pope Valley, 20 miles northeast of Santa Rosa. The property includes the site where the historic Aetna Springs Resort operated from the 1870s to the 1970s. 

Aetna Springs Resort once served as a beloved vacation destination that drew visitors from across California to its famed thermal springs. Water from its springs was also bottled and sold throughout the American West as Aetna Mineral Water — a tradition Six Senses hopes to recognize through a new water bottling and distilling program. 

During its golden years, the resort was owned by San Francisco advertising tycoon Len D. Owens, who bought the property in 1891 and sold it in 1945. The resort attracted esteemed guests throughout the decades, including Ronald Reagan, who announced his plans to run for governor of California there in 1966. 

The property was sold to a religious nonprofit corporation in the ’70s and operated as an educational retreat center before officially closing in 2009. Other than a few ownership changes, it’s been left to deteriorate for the past several decades, with a 2011 study finding most of its structures to be in poor or very poor condition, according to the Napa Valley Register. 

The Aetna Springs Historic District has since been included in the National Register of Historic Places in Napa County. It’s made up of 32 buildings and some related landscape features, including an entrance gate made from wood and boulder, two stone bridges, and a golf course that was revitalized in 2006.

Six Senses has partnered with architectural firms Olson Kundig and Architectural Resources Group, developer Weller Development Partners, and investment group Pegasus Capital Advisors to bring the 95-room hotel to the estate’s western edge. The project will include restoring and preserving some existing structures from the original resort, according to the press release.

“Six Senses Napa Valley will marry the region’s beauty with the unique natural resources of the original Aetna Springs,” Six Senses CEO Neil Jacobs said in the release.

The hotel will be Six Sense’s first American location. The company has various resorts and residences in Asia, Europe, East Africa, Melanesia and the Middle East. Plans for Six Senses Napa Valley include indoor and outdoor bathing facilities featuring water from the property’s mineral springs, along with 95 hotel rooms and 16 units for permanent residences. 

The Napa County Planning Commission approved plans for a revival of the resort in 2012, but those plans never came to be, according to the Napa Valley Register. Wellness resorts company Alchemy Resorts bought the property under the name Aetna Springs Resorts in 2018. Public records show that the company still owns the land, the San Francisco Business Times reported.

According to Six Senses’ press release, the new resort is slated to open in 2026. 

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