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Meritage expansion puts Napa on the destination resort map | Fun

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Meritage expansion puts Napa on the destination resort map
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NAPA -- Napa is known for great wine, cozy bed and ,and gorgeous scenery. But if you wanted to have a resort experience or hold a large conference, you needed to go to Sacramento or San Francisco. That is...until now.

"We began back in October of 2010 thinking that by now the economy would be turned around, which it is," said Tim Busch, the CEO of Pacific Hospitality Group/owner of The Meritage Resort and Spa.

Their goal was to build a destination resort to bring in groups during the week and on the weekend draw in tourists coming to the Napa valley for holiday and wine tasting. The total cost of the expansion was $40 million and it took 19 months to finish. They added 165 rooms to their existing 150 rooms so more than doubling their occupancy. They also added 10,000 square feet of interior meeting space and about 18,000 square feet of exterior meeting space which they plan on using mainly for weddings, lunches and dinners.

"This is now the largest resort of its type for groups outside of San Francisco and Sacramento," Busch said.

But they didn't just add space; they added fun. The resort features North America's first underground, full-service spa. Plus, the Meritage has its own vineyard and an underground tasting room. But the expansion item that has both the guests and the locals talking is the 6-lane bowling alley.

"We don't have anything like this in Napa. I can see us coming here and hanging out to watch the games on the big screens or doing some bowling ," said Eric Tracy, Napa resident. "It's really nice and different."

The bowling alley is part of the Meritage's Crush Ultra Lounge, and it is quickly earning the reputation of being Napa's newest premiere location for cocktails, sports entertainment, dining and bowling. This multi-level space also includes a pool table, shuffleboard, fireplace and both high-top and lounge seating.

The locals aren't the only ones excited to see the Ultra Lounge open. Busch says this has been a dream of his for a while.

"Ten years ago the kids were at Greenbriar, which is a destination resort in West Virginia, and they were bowling for hours. I said, 'This is so cool.' I told my daughter we're going to build a bowling alley in our resort," said Busch. "It's one of those sports that appeals to people of all ages. They have fun and make some noise. You don't have to be good at it. You can just play and it works out."

The bowling alley isn't the only part of the expansion that has Napa locals and business people talking. More people at the hotel translates into more money coming into the Napa economy.

"Hotels pay a bed tax and all of that goes to the city. We're the largest tax payer in Napa because we are in the city even though we aren't downtown. But we also bring people here that otherwise wouldn't come because they are groups. They set up a base of operation at the resort, and then go out and support the local wineries and local restaurants and all the other services here," Busch said. "We also offer free shuttles at night to downtown Napa."

The newly expanded resort opened in May. Even if you aren't staying the night, guests are welcome to check out the spa, tasting room, the many restaurants and bars, and of course, the posh bowling alley.

Related link: The Meritage Spa and Resort in Napa

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