Claremont Resort and Spa
Second Visit & Review:
In a community such as Berkeley which so completely celebrates diversity, it is odd to think of the original estate which is now the Claremont Resort and Spa as once being a place designed to entertain British aristocracy. Today, the still stately property is more in tune with the general ambiance of Berkeley, with an eclectic and modern clientele. Its breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco bay draw travelers from all regions of the world. Even more so now than during my last visit eight years ago, there seem to be many families with young children staying here. I revisited this resort with my four elementary aged kids, and we all had a wonderful time.
First Visit and Review: This resort ranks near the very top for me in overall appeal. The service of the staff, from the Public Relations Director down to the waiters in Jordan's (the lovely restaurant) is first-rate. Their newly renovated spa is wonderfully refreshing. The food is memorable and the resort offers an array of children's activities. If you value a sense of old-world charm and quiet serenity, this is your resort. While the Claremont Resort and Spa has hosted some very well-known names, it maintains a low-keyed sublimity. Frank Lloyd Wright called The Claremont, "One of the few hotels in the world with warmth, character and charm." I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Wright.
The Claremont Resort and Spa is located twelve miles from downtown San Francisco, twenty-five miles from the San Francisco Airport, and twenty minutes from the Oakland Airport.
This resort felt to me immediately like Northern California's version of Hotel Del Coronado (also included in this site). The Claremont possesses the same stately, castle-like architecture including the white spirals of the Del, along with the same historic sense and feel. Like the Del, the Claremont Resort and Spa has also hosted an impressive list of celebrities. A picture of Farrah Fawcett, smiling gleefully on the resort's tennis courts, with her then-husband, Lee Majors, is displayed in their lobby. The picture hangs next to one of Gerald Ford, another prominent guest.
The resort consists of 279 guest rooms. My fourth-floor suite offered a delightful blend of romance and child-friendliness. The entire side of the front-facing wall was glass, allowing for a breathtaking view of the San Francisco Bay and skyline which certainly creates a romantic ambiance. Yet a metal railing lined this glass, so, although Mandalin tried persistently to touch the glass and kick the window, the railing prevented this completely.
Our suite contained a well-lit, spacious bathroom with a skylight and a spa-quality, jet-stream, whirlpool tub.
There was a complete living room with sofa, lounge chairs, coffee table, and television set. The bedroom area was set off from here with a second television and boudoir. Rooms had Internet access.
Again, let me emphasize the importance of getting a suite such as this when traveling with multiple children and particularly babies. You will absolutely need this space for all the baby paraphernalia, the two cribs, and the extra space which will also allow you to nurse or rock one baby in the middle of the night without disrupting the rest of the family. The price range for rooms at this resort, at the time of my stay, was $235.00 to $850.00 per night.
The refurbished Spa Claremont, opened in December, 2000, includes a new line of "Signature Journey" treatments from around the world, such as the English garden Journey for $250.00 or the Philippine Journey for $250.00. For example, the English Garden Journey starts with a rose and lavender infused bath accompanied with a cup of tea. Following is an oil-massage and, finally, a flower essence scrub.
The centerpiece of their new spa is a well-lit room with a whirlpool that overlooks the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. The tranquil waiting room contained a huge jug of fresh-squeezed orange juice from which I continued to refill my cup, as I awaited my treatments.
I enjoyed the eighty minute therapeutic massage on the night of my arrival. Edwina, the therapist, relaxed my muscles and explained to me some exercises for keeping my upper back and shoulders limber on my return drive home. The cost of this treatment was $145.00
On the first morning of my stay, I also tried a custom aromatherapy facial for eighty minutes. The cost of this treatment was $145.00.
I cannot stress the importance of these indulgences enough. If you are a parent of young children or babies, you certainly need some personal time and pampering. Some of us need these treatments more than others. Prior to my stay at the Claremont, I had injured my back when carrying Autumn in her baby carrier. (Don't believe what the advertisements tell you about those front carriers. I think they can be perilous to your back, as they pull your baby's weight completely forward onto it.) Edwina talked to me about how nursing makes all of my joints and muscles more vulnerable to injury, and the excess pulling on my back made the muscles cave in. I had thought that I would need to see a chiropractor. However, the massage I received at the Claremont turned out to be the only treatment I needed, and my back pain literally disappeared. This was a truly exceptional massage.
After my massage, I went to the Women's Lounge for a shower. This was no ordinary shower, but a high-tech, invigorating one with twelve faucets. It felt much like a treatment in itself, especially when I dried off in the eucalyptus-filled steam room.
If I had more time to spend, I would have liked to have tried the spa's flotation tank, one of the spa's many recent enhancements, and available at only a few select spas in the country. In the flotation tank at the Claremont, you float in a warm, dark, enclosed tank containing eight-hundred pounds of Epsom salt in eleven inches of heated water to create bouyancy. The purpose is to enable the guests to go into a deep relaxation as they float, enabling the brain to rest.
The resort's fine restaurant, Jordan's, is a recipient of the Four-star Award and the 2000 AAA Four-Diamond Award. Overlooking the San Francisco Bay, we enjoyed a sumptuous dinner with my older daughter, almost two, and infant daughter, six months. Jordan's is quite an upscale restaurant and yet our server, Fraidon, never tired of catering to the needs of our young children. Booster seat, hot water for a bottle, ketchup, sippy cups...no problem. "I have a baby myself," he smiled. "I understand." What a relief to eat in such a situation! When my toddler got restless and irritable, my husband took her down the expansive hallway to burn off steam, and she returned calm. There is plenty of breathing space here for toddlers.
The menu emphasizes California cuisine with a Pacific Rim influence. Natural California ingredients are utilized on the menu such as Monterey prawns, Napa cheese, Sonoma lamb, and San Joaquin Valley fruits and vegetables. A segment of the menu is a health-oriented "Lifestyle Cuisine." I ordered free-range chicken from this menu. The chocolate, flourless cake my husband ordered, and I sampled, stands out as sinfully rich and delicious to me.
Although the Claremont does not sit at the helm of the ocean as the Del does, it does boast lovely ocean views. From our stunning, fourth floor suite, we enjoyed to-die-for views of the San Francisco Bay and skyline. Instead of the beach village of Coronado, this resort is settled in the heart of the charming and quiet Berkeley neighborhood of Claremont. While I would not normally consider Berkeley either a romantic or child-friendly environment for many reasons, I feel comfortable recommending the area of Claremont in the Berkeley hills as a lovely, safe village to walk with a stroller or with young children...or to enjoy a romantic vacation. The streets are lined with trees, estate homes, bakeries, and boutiques. Feel confident taking your family here, not only to this resort, but also its environs. The neighborhood is just right for taking long, leisurely walks with someone special.
The resort opened in 1915 as a country getaway for San Franciscans to escape their ever-present fog. It is situated on twenty-two acres of landscaped gardens and contains a complete aquatic center with two heated Olympic-sized pools; a jet stream whirlpool hot tub; four saunas and a children's wading area; a tennis club; an award-winning spa; and extraordinary cuisine and service at Jordan's, the East Bay's only Four-Diamond restaurant. Romance-seekers have everything they could want here. You know you are close to the city, but you feel galaxies away from it, within the resort's tranquil setting.
The Claremont resort and Spa is an award-winning hotel, including the 2000 Millennium International Award of Excellence. It has a wonderful restaurant, refreshing spa and gorgeous suites with views. What stands out the most to me, however, are the thoughtful individuals who personalized my stay and made the visit a warm, memorable one. I am confident you will find this same unusually attentive service when you go there.