For a quick getaway, full of holiday shopping and sightings of ornamented trees, book a weekend trip to San Francisco this winter season. From outdoor ice skating at Union Square to theater, ballet, and opera experiences to fun happenings at Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, Haight-Ashbury, Ghirardelli Square, the Presidio, The Castro, Chinatown, and Nob Hill, there’s much to do to fill your holiday-maker’s wish list.
For a stay in a national park-like locale, look no further than Cavallo Point, The Lodge at the Golden Gate, located eight miles from downtown San Francisco in Sausalito. Named for the wild horses that once called this coastal land home, Cavallo Point was developed by the U.S. military in 1866 for use as a military base with the goal of protecting the entrance of the bay, and later the Golden Gate Bridge. Currently, Fort Baker is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of the most visited national parks in America.
“The wife of the former editor for Departures magazine once said that she never felt so energized and relaxed at the same time,” says Brendan Carlin, General Manager at Cavallo Point. “She asked if there were crystals under the property. To that I say, one of the strongest natural energy forces is created by two land masses separated by a body of water, and Cavallo Point’s horseshoe design just happens to capture some of that energy.”
For the winter season, there’s plenty to do on property. Guests can enjoy Santa visits under a holiday tree, horse-and-carriage rides around the grounds, and the first-ever Holiday Outdoor Marketplace at Callippe Terrace, inspired by Christmas markets in Germany. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve multi-course pre-fix dinners will be served at Murray Circle Restaurant.
Guests can stay in two distinct accommodation styles—historic, where the longstanding officer’s homes, complete with porches, have remarkable views of the parade grounds and the San Francisco Bay; and contemporary, which are all modern in design and located near the hiking trails.
“We were able to create 68 guest rooms in the historic officers and non-commissions officers’ quarters, built between 1900 and 1915 during the Grand Marshal Endicott period,” says Carlin. “Endicott’s vision was an elevated lifestyle for the military, and the homes that were built to house the officers and their families were beautiful, grand Victorians with formal living rooms, dining rooms and fireplaces, originally painted in winter green with slate roofs. They were meticulously restored in 2008 and provide a true sense of what life was like so many years ago.”
The contemporary guest rooms, Carlin says, were “built on the sites of what were referred to as Capehart housing, part of the New Deal measure that Congress adopted in 1955 to revitalize the construction industry, which required private developers to build housing for the military. There are three existing Capeharts on property today. The homes lacked the level of quality of the historic homes and most were demolished to construct the contemporary units in 2007-2008. In an effort to maintain the historic integrity of the property, the new buildings were designed to emulate the Capeharts, with a stucco exterior infused with modern elements.”
“At the same time, they were built with sustainability in mind,” Carlin says. “Our cool climate allowed us to forego air conditioning, and the rooms are heated with radiant heat and gas fireplaces during the evenings. Bamboo was used for finishes and shredded blue jeans were used for insulation in the walls.”
The eco-friendly practices at Cavallo Point have earned them a place at the table with Beyond Green, a global portfolio of properties that signify sustainability leadership. Members characterize innovative design, guest-forward service, and stellar experiences.
“It is an honor to be showcased among the most iconic sustainable hotels in the world,” says Carlin. “Sustainability, environmental responsibility and social stewardship are core values for Cavallo Point. We want to show the world that travel can be done responsibly with little impact to the environment. We are recipients of both the National Geographic World Legacy Award and Virtuoso’s Sustainability Leadership Award. We were also the first historic hotel to achieve LEED Gold certification.”
Through The Cavallo Point Fund, an optional donation of $3 per night, six nonprofit organizations that focus on mental health, education, and the environment receive quarterly contributions: Turning Green, a school lunch program focused on organic sustainable foods grown by the students; The Marine Mammal Center, which rescues sea mammals along the California coast; Wildcare, which rescues all land animals in Marin County; Environmental Traveling Companions, which provides accessible outdoor adventures to people with disabilities and under-resourced youth; the Bay Area Discovery Museum, a children’s museum with a focus on education and the environment; and The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, a fundraising arm of the National Park Service.
Cavallo Point makes big moves to stand by their environment-friendly ethos. “Our laundry uses a water reclamation system that saves approximately a million gallons of water each year,” says Carlin. “Complimentary distilled water is provided in glass containers that are sanitized and refilled; our mattresses are produced in California and made from organic cotton, with a removable cover so that they never end up in a landfill, if damaged; 90% of the food we serve is sourced within 200 miles of the hotel; and our contemporary rooms were designed to retain heat during the day with metal roofs and solar film.”
“Cavallo Point is a place that invites visitors to disconnect, embrace the natural beauty of their surroundings, and breathe the fresh air coming off the ocean,” says Carlin. “Guests return again and again for the opportunity to clear mind, body and soul, and go away relaxed, energized and at peace.”