SONOMA, Calif. -- After only 18 months of operation, MacArthur Place is expanding. The newest and one of the most luxurious properties in the Sonoma County wine country, MacArthur Place is adding 29 suites, two meeting rooms, a bar to its restaurant and additional treatment rooms to its spa.

The 35-room hotel opened in 1998 on a four-acre estate four blocks from Sonoma's historical downtown plaza.

A view of Sonoma Valley wine country in California. The main building, called the Manor House, was the home of the Burris family, which owned the ranch and vineyard that surrounded it from the mid-1800s until 1971, when it was sold to another family that maintained the estate for the next 26 years.

The woman behind the estate's multimillion-dollar transformation into a hotel and spa is Suzanne Brangham, who, during the past 20 years, has bought more than 70 buildings and homes and turned them into showplaces.

Brangham described her experiences in a best-selling book, "Housewise," and has appeared on network television to discuss her career as a renovator.

In the past few years, Brangham opened the General's Daughter, a Sonoma restaurant, and Ramekins, a local culinary school that is drawing overnight guests with its six attached rooms.

In developing her businesses, Brangham saw opportunity in the growing popularity of Sonoma County, the more rustic, less glamorous wine-country neighbor of Napa Valley.

Only 45 minutes north of San Francisco, Sonoma is closer to the city than Napa and each year is drawing more tourists with its fine restaurants, wineries and shopping.

Brangham decided to use the old Burris barn, built in 1857 and fashioned after Thomas Jefferson's barn at Monticello, as a central point to MacArthur Place.

Today, the barn houses 3,000 square feet of meeting space and Saddles, a steakhouse. The barn is used to host retreats, conferences and events for up to 150 people.

The Manor House, formerly the Burris' six-bedroom main home, contains 10 guest rooms.

Seven more cottage buildings were constructed -- all in the same Victorian style as the Manor House -- among the property's gardens and orchards.

All the rooms are similarly decorated in English cottage style, with floral fabrics, down comforters and pine furniture.

Room amenities include robes, oversize showers, CD players, cable television and dual-line telephones with data ports and voice mail.

A complimentary continental breakfast is served each morning in the barn or delivered to rooms.

There is a swimming pool in the garden courtyard, with an adjacent spa offering aromatherapy sessions, massages and other body treatments.

This summer, MacArthur Place expects to complete an expansion on its adjacent estate property. Twenty-nine new cottage-style rooms will be designed in the same decor and style as the current ones.

Saddles restaurant will be expanded with a large bar and terrace area, and the spa will double in size, with more treatment rooms.

With the additions, Mac-Arthur Place will become one of the largest properties in Sonoma County, trailing only the Sonoma Mission Inn, with 228 rooms, and the Sonoma Valley Lodge, with 75 rooms.

Michael Wilson, director of sales, said the hotel's business is about 40% small meetings and corporate retreats and the rest independent leisure travelers, many on weekend getaways.

Peak months for travel to Sonoma are during the September and October grape harvest season.

Room rates at MacArthur Place range from $150 to $375 depending on the season, and a two-night minimum is required on peak-season weekends.

MacArthur Place
Phone: (707) 938-2929 or (800) 722-1866

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