The Montage

By: Elise Thompson

Many have already heard of Healdburg’s new luxury resort, the Montage Hotel, which is valued at more than $300 million. This hotel has not only caught local attention, but also the attention of many travel enthusiasts from around the United States. This resort is the newest of 5 Montage hotels: three are located in South Carolina, Hawaii, and Utah. The last two are both located in California, the newest one located in the heart of wine country is the first established in Northern California. 

Located on 258 acres of oak-tree groves and vineyards, the resort is nestled in northern Healdsburg, somewhat near to the Parkland Farms community. The hotel consists of 130 bungalow-style rooms and suites, each starting at around $695 - $1,695 per night. This sprawling resort also has a variety of different dining options, expansive pools, spa options, and more. From the onsite archery range, to yoga amidst the rolling vineyards, the Montage Healdsburg seems to have it all. 

“The idea was to build within the constraints of the natural landscape and not move nature to build, resulting in a design that authentically shows off the scenic beauty of Northern California’s Sonoma wine country all while featuring the renowned hospitality, charm and amenities Montage is known for.” said Allen Highfield, the general manager, in an article written by Carrie Coolidge. This environmentally conscious design maximizes outdoor space to its highest potential. Each room is about 650 square feet and in addition ⅓ of each space is dedicated to outdoor living consisting of either a balcony or a deck. 

Although on the outside this luxurious hotel may seem flawless, the Montage developer is now facing serious penalties for water violations during construction. This developer, Sonoma Luxury Resort LLC, is said to have violated many water quality rules, both state and federal, during the Montage’s construction in late 2018 and early 2019. Many of these alleged violations regard streams and tributaries that feed into the Russian River. Poor erosion control during construction led to around 9.4 million gallons of sediment contaminated water and mud being released into natural waterways. This sediment has endangered many aquatic animals, especially fish. The Russian River is also home to several endangered species: Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Trout. As a result of these violations, Sonoma Luxury Resort LLC has now received a 6 million dollar fine. 

While the Montage may depict a scenic outdoor lifestyle on the surface, the processes involved in its expansive construction are anything but environmentally friendly. This high end resort claims to authentically show the beauty of the area, yet it failed to protect the environment in doing so. The Montage is a prime example of how humans continually impact the environment negatively. Beauty is often only on the surface, and it is time for the public to become aware of the truth behind many of our actions and recognize that everything comes at a price.