Newberg’s Semisecret Luxury Destination
Maybe you’ve stopped by the Allison, the wine-country luxury hotel that attracts oenophiles from around the world and spa-goers from around the state, and where rooms will usually run you about four Benjamin Franklins. If you’ve popped in to sample Jory restaurant, attended an event like the Cuvée Weekend, or visited the spa with some friends, the day trip might have had an unplanned side effect and caused you to start saving up for a special-occasion overnight. That’s what happened to us when we were invited, on an offseason midweek night, for a media preview at the hotel.
The “I didn’t know anything in Newberg was this fancy” feeling starts with the valet parking. Along with the humble Hyundai that ferried us there, the parking lot is also home to two Lexus models available for guest use.
Our matching king suites each have a fireplace, window seat, jetted tub (with a view of the TV, so you can sit in a bubble bath, glass of wine in hand, and watch Seinfeld and Sex and the City reruns), walk-in shower, separate loo, complimentary local snacks and glass-bottled water, and free Wi-Fi. When we ask if these freebies and the valet parking are just perks of our media visit, we learn that the Allison considers charging for those little things to be too nickel-and-diming for a true luxury hotel.
And, oh, the spa treatments. The Allison Spa is the kind of place where you’re asked your robe and shoe size when you make the appointment (something you should do early—the calendar can be booked weeks in advance), and appropriate items are waiting for you. One of us opts for a hot oil wrap, and the other tries the facial: in a completely dark room, this thirty-something is steamed and hydrated until she looks like a teenager. (Healthy-glow compliments rolled in for days for days.) Tips: Go early to enjoy more complimentary snacks and tea in the sunny reading room and visit the sauna and steam room pre-treatment. If you go with a group, note that there are men’s, women’s, and coed lounges.
At dinner, we meet the other media visitors in the private dining area of the restaurant, Jory, and are joined by the hotel’s general manager, a cosmopolitan Beirut native named Pierre who was brought on before the Allison’s 2009 opening; he tells us he’s managed or opened loads of hotels, but this is the first place he’s ever stayed. A round of sparkling rosé kicks off a parade of plates from Jory chef Sunny Jin and perfectly paired local wines. The kitchen sends out enough servers to set each person’s food down at the same time. (It feels like an early-season episode of Downton Abbey, when the house was at full staff before they started laying off footmen.) There’s a clam chowder that stands out, and a truffle pasta, and a super-clean Domaine Drouhin chardonnay, but the rest is a bit fuzzy thanks to all the wine on top of our post-spa daze. Good thing our rooms are just down the hall. Somehow one of us creeps back to the bar for a pint later, where we learn the Allison’s one flaw: a woefully limited beer list. Aside from some 22-ouncers from Newberg’s Long Brewing, which are too big for nightcap, the bottle selection (no draft available) is a one-way ticket to Snoozeville. It’s definitely a discovery-free zone, unlike the vast vino options. We are in wine country, of course, but we’re still in Oregon!
Our rooms’ blackout shades, controlled by a set of wall switches, are so effective that it’s easy to sleep through a breakfast date (hurray for room service) and barely leave any time for a trip to the pool or return to the sauna. (Note: Only hotel guests can use the pool, and only hotel guests and/or spa customers can access the sauna and steam rooms.) Good thing late checkout is just a phone call to the front desk away.
On the 45-minute drive home, we do a little hotel ranking. This new construction in Oregon’s rolling hills may not have the Old World grandeur of some overseas spots we’ve been lucky enough to visit, or the quirky personality of, say, California’s Madonna Inn, with its caveman- or Vegas-themed rooms, but we don’t think we’ve ever been anywhere nicer. The warmth of the customer service (maybe they were all turning it up to 11 for the media preview, but everyone else we saw looked just as pleased as we were to be there), the relaxation of the spa, the view of the misty rows of grapevines on the hillside … time to start saving up for that return trip.
The Allison Inn & Spa
2525 Allison Lane
Newberg, Oregon 97132