POSTED ON January 23, 2009 | IN Tasting Rooms | BY Joe Becerra

There are a number of big construction projects in progress in the Napa Valley. It is almost as though the builders are ignoring the fact that we are in the worst economic time since the Great Depression. Undoubtedly, they are looking ahead to the years of good economic times and booming prosperity.

In the town of Napa the Westin Verasa opened in late 2008 and is selling luxury Condominiums. The concept is ownership of residences that have all the amenities of a hotel. The Condos start at $500,000 for a one-bedroom studio and move upward from there. The entire complex looks stunning.

Nearby on First Street in the downtown area, the Avia Hotel is set to open this summer. The hotel will have 140 rooms and suites. The building takes up the entire 1400 block of First Street. The Ritz Carlton was given the green light by the City in July of this year and construction is just beginning. 2011 is the target date for the completion of this hotel in the Oxbow Public Market vicinity. Together, all of these hotels should add about 900 rooms. Has anybody considered how much traffic this will add to the highways and downtown streets when these places are booked solid?

Avia Hotel

Avia Hotel

The Riverfront development on Main Street in Napa has a target date of opening this summer. This is a beautiful multi-use complex of businesses, boutique shopping, and restaurants. The complex will run along the Napa River. We wonder how many businesses will occupy the building at opening. Over at the nearby Oxbow Public Market a few of the artisan shop owners are finding the going a bit rough. I asked one shop owner how business was. He said “lousy” but his facial expression said much more.

In Yountville the most startling project is the Bardessono Hotel due to open on February 2nd. The high season weekend rates for the rooms will begin somewhere around $800 a night and up to $1200 for the most luxurious room. The Bardessono boasts that is the most “green” hotel in the nation, applying for the highest LEED certification rating of Platnium. The hotel consists of 62 luxury rooms and a restaurant that will seat ninety.

Just up the street from the Bardessono, Chef Thomas Keller has city approval to build the Aloysius Inn, directly across the street from his French Laundry Restaurant. The inn will have 20 rooms.

So what does this all mean for the Napa Valley traveler? We think for 2009 at least, additional accommodations translate to reduced rates. We don’t know how long or how deep the recession will go. Judging from the record unemployment figures and the daily list of companies filing for bankruptcy, 2009 will not be a very good year for wineries, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses. It could mean some businesses including wineries will go under. If you have the means, the Napa Valley may offer some terrific bargains for the tourist in 2009 . Stay tuned.