If the perfect villa rental in Provence continues to elude you summer after summer, the newly revamped private maisons at in Napa Valley could be a worthy substitute—without the transatlantic airfare. For more than 30 years, Auberge, with its location near St. Helena and a backdrop of the Mayacamas Mountains, has been a favorite vacation spot for San Francisco residents and East Coasters, alike. The 33-acre grounds include beautifully landscaped gardens and olive groves, its restaurant has received Michelin stars for 13 years and nearby wineries include , Frog’s Leap, and Mumm.
In addition to 48 rooms, Auberge du Soleil has two private maisons on property. ED 2019 A-List designer Suzanne Tucker, of Tucker & Marks Inc., recently revamped the 1,800-square-foot houses, building on their pre-existing Southern French air with an olive grove-inspired palette, floor-to-ceiling windows and doors, and pale persimmon detailing. Here, Tucker walks us through her refresh.
What did the maisons look like when you first embarked on this project? And what was your vision of how to redesign them?
The maisons have always been lovely and highly sought after, but it was time for a “refresh” for both the interiors and the architecture. The redesign was all about bringing the interiors forward to a more contemporary/younger look without losing sight of place and location. All the rooms are created for a sophisticated clientele, who is worldly and well-traveled with high standards and expectations. I’m somewhat of a hotel “groupie” so I know what I want and expect to find at the best hotels in the world. And those expectations are not easily compromised so I plan for that discerning guest! Exuding a rustic yet stylish sophistication, the hotel has a casual complexity one finds in the beauty of the Napa Valley—the fantastic light, the views over the vineyards and olive groves, the seasonal colors, the fragrances of lavender and sage, and, of course, the food and wine, which is unrivaled.
These maisons are both individual, temporary homes and part of a larger hotel. How did you straddle making them feel like self-contained, special spaces, but also continuous with the rest of the hotel?
Privacy is one of our greatest luxuries today, so we wanted to ensure that guests walking into Cannes and Monaco would feel like they have the property all to themselves. These two free-standing suites are located in the most secluded area of Auberge du Soleil. Their beauty is that you don’t see any of the other buildings and feel as though you have the ultimate privacy with gracious proportions, luxurious furnishings, and a peaceful outlook surrounded by a color palette of soothing hues and quiet textures.
The palette is very soft and neutral, but there’s a lot of textural variety across the spaces. What are some of the specific materials and textures that were important to you in working on these rooms?
The suites have an intentionally understated look to them but are in fact, quite complex in their subtleties. The plaster walls have a quiet softness, the cedar ceilings and oak beams reflect a hand-hewn texture, the stone catches light with its chiseled surface, the oak floors feel soft underfoot, and the textiles all have a tactile qualities of soft, low-key luxury.
I particularly love the outdoor bathtub on the balcony. What inspired that design choice?
The tub itself is not only meant to be inviting but also to act as a sculptural piece. The Auberge du Soleil has always been a sophisticated country escape that is both romantic and seductive. What is more seductive and escapist than an al fresco bath looking at a dreamy sunset, surrounded by birdsong and fragrant blooms with a glass of the best Napa wine… Cue the romance!
You have collaborated with Auberge du Soleil for years, first with designer Michael Taylor and now on your own. Tell me about your ongoing relationship with them. What continues to excite you about your work with them?
Michael's original vision was all about blending the inherent sensual vibe of the South of France with the spectacular setting of the Auberge du Soleil to create a contemporary California retreat. I feel incredibly lucky to have worked with him and grateful that I was tasked to continue that vision into the 21st century. As a designer, it has been an incredibly rewarding journey to redesign all 50 of the rooms and suites and to work with the stellar team at the Auberge. And now I am working on a fantastic redesign of the restaurant and bistro with the AvroKo design team which will be quite fabulous. The old guard will say, ooh la la and the newbies will say, wow!