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Celebrity chef Charlie Palmer brings new hotel to wine country

Celebrity chef Charlie Palmer is opening a food-focused hotel in Healdsburg next year.

The 8-acre, 108-room North Healdsburg campus (16977 Healdsburg Ave.) will feature a Palmer restaurant and rooftop bar; extensive orchards and gardens; and pantries stocked with coffee, snacks, and cocktails instead of minibars. It goes by the name of Appellation and is part of a new hotel venture of the same name, founded by Palmer and Four Seasons veteran Christopher Hunsberger. With each hotel, the company’s focus is on discovering what is unique about its city.

“Guests will experience what it’s like to live as a local in Healdsburg,” said Palmer, who lives in the small town of Sonoma County. Appellation is also opening properties in Pacific Grove and Sun Valley, Idaho.

The Healdsburg Hotel’s restaurant, which will seat about 160 people, doesn’t have a name or concept yet, but Palmer said it will aim to attract Healdsburg locals. The meal will focus on Palmer’s relationships with local farmers as well as the produce he grows for his restaurant and advisory group, which includes Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg and Charlie Palmer Steak in Napa. Palmer operates more than 15 restaurants that have received 20 Michelin stars and numerous James Beard awards.

A depiction of Chef Charlie Palmer's 260-seat restaurant planned for Appellation in Healdsburg.

A depiction of Chef Charlie Palmer’s 260-seat restaurant planned for Appellation in Healdsburg.

Provided by appellation

“I haven’t come up with a concept for what the kitchen will look like,” he said. “I think farm-to-table has been used so much — we’re doing farm-to-table in New York City now — so (the term) doesn’t speak well enough for it.”

Appellation has also partnered with Seattle-based company The Works to develop courses and demonstrations with local manufacturers. Guests can learn about cupping from a coffee roaster in Healdsburg, sample from a winemaker, or see how to properly cut sausages from a butcher. Nods to the brand’s culinary roots are made throughout the hotel, starting with the butcher block check-in desk in the lobby. “We want you to feel like you’re in a fairly large version of Charlie’s kitchen,” Hunsberger said.

Other amenities include a spa, fitness center, two pools, walking trails, and a massive event space called Grange Hall, which Palmer bills as the pre-eminent wedding venue in wine country, accommodating up to 500 people. The hotel is located in a larger, 32-acre mixed-use development that will include retail stores, apartments, quality senior housing and affordable housing units. Of these, 53 are reserved for hotel staff.

Hunsberger described Appellation Hotels as “affordable luxury”.

A depiction of Appellation, a food-focused hotel by celebrity chef Charlie Palmer, planned for Healdsburg in 2023.

A depiction of Appellation, a food-focused hotel by celebrity chef Charlie Palmer, planned for Healdsburg in 2023.

Provided by appellation

“There are some fabulous new additions in Napa and Sonoma,” he said, referring to the Montage in Healdsburg and Stanly Ranch in Napa, “but we believe there are people who want the convenience of the five-star experience in want a more accessible and affordable way.” Opening rates for the Appellation Healdsburg Hotel start at about $600 per night, compared to $1,500 at Monday, Hunsberger said.

Appellation’s Pacific Grove Hotel will be the largest of the first three projects with 225 guest rooms and a targeted opening date of 2024. Located in a former sardine factory, just steps from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, it will offer one of the highest views of the Bay from a half-acre rooftop garden.

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