Cavallo Point

Cavallo Point

15 June, 2012
The Lodge at the Golden Gate
San Francisco's luxe eco offering

Cavallo Point – the Lodge at the Golden Gate is a special place that defies easy definition. It’s a sprawling resort, an award-winning spa, a Michelin-starred dining destination, a historic site, and a nature retreat – sitting, as it does, within a national park and at the base of the Marin Headlands. It offers many things, but most of all, the Lodge offers a comprehensive sweet escape just 15 minutes from the thrum of the beautiful city of San Francisco.
When we had the good fortune to stay there recently, we were lodged in one of the resort’s 68 ‘historic’ rooms. Ours, a two-bedroom suite, was a spacious and welcoming 800 sq ft space, able to comfortably sleep six in its king bed, twin room and pullout sofa in the sizeable living room. We fell in love as soon as we entered; carefully restored original punched-tin ceilings, a gas fireplace, ceiling fans, ornate mantels and wood floors that all contributed to the romantic sense of ’home’. Adding in the modern luxuries of large panoramic windows, iPod docks and coffeemakers, we had a distinct sense of that perfect balance of old and new, which exemplifies the Cavallo Point aesthetic.
Although the Cavallo Point has only been open since 2008, its immaculately restored historic buildings lend it an authentic quality that we found utterly charming. 24 of these lovingly maintained Colonial-style buildings, previously officers' quarters on the Fort Baker military base, form the foundation of the resort complex. Meanwhile, its location at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge means that spectacular views back across the harbour to San Francisco are available from almost anywhere on the horseshoe-shaped property.
The 45 acre resort also features 74 light and airy 'contemporary' rooms and suites, each featuring radiant floor heating, lovely bamboo furnishings and floor-to-ceiling windows, and all housed within a two-storey complex built to exacting green standards, right down to the solar power panels and low-VOC paints and carpets.
Both the historic and modern accommodations feature thoughtful amenities such as organic bedding and deliciously cosy robes and slippers, as well as Cavallo Point’s own signature spa products in the bathroom. And, for those of us with furry travelling companions, pet-friendly suites are available. Purr.
During our all-too-brief visit, we spent our days exploring the windswept cliffs around the property, and took walks to the nearby Golden Gate Bridge and quaint, friendly town of Sausalito. Returning ‘home’ to our suite was always a pleasure: strolling across the expansive green lawn (once a parade ground) to our front porch and sinking wearily into our own personal lounge chairs with a cold beer as the sun set.
It wasn’t all rugged outdoor adventure for us, however; not when nestled within the property is the Healing Arts Center, a beautifully appointed spa whose highlight is its outdoor meditation pool and fire pit, all surrounded by fragrant eucalyptus plants, where one can relax and breathe in the fresh air with an herbal tea or healthy snack. We treated ourselves to a massage, and were delighted with the skill and soothing demeanor of its therapists. We took the spa’s advice and arrived early to take advantage of the hot tubs and steam, warming our muscles before the deep tissue massage kneaded them into buttery relaxation. The spa itself has a clean, natural aesthetic and lots of natural light. We could have stayed there the whole trip.
The resort follows environmental guiding principles to make it as environmentally-responsible as possible, while giving visitors a special stay and maintaining the historical and cultural significance of Fort Baker. The re-use of historic materials, meticulous landscape restoration with native plants, and plenty of green building elements all contribute to the resort’s LEED Gold certification, awarded in 2010, as well as the Green Seal Environmental Standard for U.S. Lodging Properties. 
It doesn’t stop at the certification, however. Everywhere we looked, small measures were taken to help educate visitors about environmental issues, without intruding on the relaxing holiday experience. Names of local rare, threatened and endangered species are used to name the meeting rooms;  eco-friendly clothing, books and local artisan designs are featured in the Mercantile shop; and a variety of informative guided hikes and walkabouts are offered for guests. The art on the walls supports local artists, and the popular cooking classes often feature local produce and healthy recipes.
As part of Cavallo Point’s commitment to sustainability, The Institute at the Golden Gate was created in partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and National Park Service. The Institute’s purpose is to promote dialogue, collaboration, shared problem solving and action through the gathering of global leaders in the nonprofit, government and business sectors. Its programs focus on sustainability, national parks, protected areas, environmental arts and communication, and resource conservation. Groups are invited to host meetings at special rates, and local residents in the Bay Area are also invited to share about environmental topics and attend lectures. 
There’s more. Cavallo Point is also a partner of The Good Night Foundation, which is based on the concept that a guest’s hotel night can contribute to doing good in the community and beyond. A four-dollar charitable donation is deducted from each guest’s nightly charge, and contributed to funding programs that improve health, education, poverty and the environment.
Next time, we’ll have to sample the cuisine at the renowned Murray’s Circle restaurant, where chef Joseph Humphrey has garnered a Michelin star for his creative and mouthwatering offerings, many of which feature fresh local organic produce. During our visit, the fully booked restaurant spoke for itself, and on eavesdropping in the lobby we heard glowing reviews from departing dining guests. As for us, the in-room service was impeccable – not surprising, as it is dispatched from the very same kitchen.
All in all, we can’t wait to return. Paradoxically, our time at Cavallo Point seemed all too short, yet our departure felt like leaving home.
Photos courtesy of Cavallo Point Lodge
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By: Ecozine Staff


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