FAR TOO OFTEN... the idea of the old-school, charmingly laid-out motor court is a concept relegated to documentaries about the golden age of highway travel in America. Of course, motels and motor courts are still very much in existence, and to claim that either is a product of another day is to reveal that you may need to hit the road a bit more. In recent years the chic-ing up of various mid-century-esque motor courts has been high on the docket of hospitality-minded sorts, and the stunning results of many are colorful and playful and full of fun details, without the way-upscale prices that fun details sometimes bring. Look to the many motel-y hot spots dotting the Palm Springs area, and look to examples like The Sunburst Calistoga in wine/mineral pool country. The you-drive-up motor court recently completed a stylish update to its room and the property, and the orange-and-white hue palette is a bright reflection of the property's bright name. Of course, some things at the stay-over have stayed, and they remain quite old, even ancient: There's a trio of mineral pools right on the grounds, so you can take a quick dip before your travel-weary afternoon nap.
SERIOUS QUESTION: Is there anything better than pulling into a cheery motor court that has both mineral pool possibilities and nap-ready beds. (No, there isn't.) After you're nap, you can meander the Silverado Trail or hike the not-too-far Oat Hill Mine Trail or head into the heart of Calistoga. Are pets allowed? As befits the casual spirit of the retro-fied place, you bet. Are beds and bowls offered during your visit? For sure, further staking The Sunburst's claim as a place that welcomes and spoils our best beasties. Are there mid-week specials or money-off deals, from time to time, and other ways to try out this value-in-wine-country without doing any bank-breakery? That's the nature of the motor court, so absolutely: It's a fine way to bed down in Calistoga, with your furry one, and some mineral soaking possibilities nearby, without having to save for several months. Want to eye all the freshening-sweet, throwback-yet-contemporary touches The Sunburst just took on? Start here, motoring mavens. Oh, and is there a suh-weet neon "Vacancy" sign greeting you at the driveway? C'mon; those are classic. May that slice of Americana never fade away.