The best parts: real people and a next-level tent
The staff is excellent, up there with white-glove service from crews at some of the finest hotels I've had the pleasure of hanging my hat inside. Better still, we got to know them. Chris hung out with us at the winery and his girlfriend, Lisa, kicked it late-night at our private, Reese's s'mores-featuring campfire (that was built for us by a Collective staffer).
About that campfire: we met a gregarious couple from the East Coast who we ended up partying down with for, well, I'm not even sure how long. (It was a long time.) And, yes, they worked in finance and, yes, they seemingly could've kept the fire raging with wads of Benjamins. But, here's the thing: they were great company. I would take a Baileys shot out of a melted marshmallow again, any day of the week. (The alcohol policy, it should be noted, states that booze needs to be purchased on property, but I'm sure the strictness wavers from staff to staff. Lord knows we bought enough Vines at Vail -- an allowed libation -- to make a Frenchman on Bastille Day blush.) I'm sure there are some assholes who show up at these kinds of places, but I'm also willing to bet that the relatively pastoral surroundings attract relatively interesting people.
The major selling point on all of Collective Resorts' collateral: this tent delivers. It's totally decked out. The bed is majorly comfortable, there are splendidly appointed Western rugs and furnishings, and it has electricity in a place that has no business having electricity. I'm betting by next year, the tents will have Wi-Fi and, maybe, private hot tubs. A man can dream.
The experience may be eccentric, but therein lies the appeal. You have to look for this particular kind of sojourn. And you certainly can't mimic the St. Regis feel with your REI tent. It's a strange halfway point between the two, but we kept catching ourselves saying, "How cool is this?" Where else can you pet a bull named Billy then retreat to the rocking chairs on your private patio to take in views of mountain vistas? Not many other places, that's for sure. If you've got the Benjamins to burn, you could splurge on worse.