Right before the 4th of July weekend, I spent a couple of days at The Lodge at the Golden Gate, Cavallo Point, in Sausalito.. Henceforth called simply, Cavallo Point.
Some good resorts make almost everyone happy, almost all the time. (Some people will find fault even with perfection. But why make yourself unhappy?) Places at the other end of the good resort spectrum offer certain people, in certain circumstances, what they want. Such is Cavallo Point.
Located on the Marin side of the Golden Gate bridge, and built on the grounds of Baker Fort state park, Cavallo offers views, architecture, and very good food. On the other hand, it’s located very close to Highway 101, and constrained by historic preservation and state park sustainability requirements.
Cavallo offers two categories of accomodation, Historic, and Modern. This one is Modern. When you first see your room, you might think, “Oh, no, earth tones.” I certainly did. Mustard linens to match the burned yellow of California summer grasses always sounds like a good idea. It’s not.
And luxury bathrooms ought to provide showers separate from baths, obviating the need for vinyl shower curtains. Shudder.
But things improve with the balcony, bay and sky beyond.
You wander down the hill to eat. Behold the resort map, if you want to get into details. Note the main lawn, or Parade Grounds, surrounded by Historic lodging. Modern lodging, like the room above, is found on the hill behind the restaurants.
The food at Farley’s, eaten sitting outside on the porch looking at the bay, is good. You can also eat at Murray Circle, but they have a new chef. Yikes. A kitchen in transition is not to be recommended. I’d be inclined to think that management, loathe to lose their Michelin star, will manage the chef and staff tightly for performance. We shall see. For now, I’d recommend fried oysters.
And an evening walk as trees darken against the lighter sky. The effect is marred somewhat by the view of the restaurant’s backside from above, if you’re staying in one of the Modern rooms up the hill. Landscaping is limited by historic preservation and sustainability concerns, and as a result is a little scrubby. But nascent fog sharpens the air just that little bit, and you feel as though your surroundings are more beautiful than they are.
The next day you go for a walk down by the Golden Gate, which obligingly emerges from fog. As bridges do.
You try the spa. Where they feed you sandwiches, soup, and, um, green stuff. Which doesn’t taste too bad, after all, and makes one feel quite virtuous.
The building’s lovely. You get a world-class massage. I know. I’ve had massages on many continents.
And finally, on a last walk around the grounds, you look back across the Parade Grounds. It’s about the flag, turns out. Keep the flag in sight, and you should avoid most flaws in decor and grounds. Which, for a former Army base, is only fitting.
In the end, Cavallo Point makes sense as a spot for locals to use the spa, eat the food, and drink quantities from the interesting wine list. It makes sense for locals who can get a luxury sort of deal, staying in one of the historic rooms for $280 and therefore not driving home after drinking said interesting wine. However, it also makes sense for travelers spending a week in Northern California. Do two nights in San Francisco, get out of the city early afternoon, beating rush hour traffic, spend a night or two at Cavallo, then take your last three nights up in Napa or Sonoma. If you’ve got an expansive budget, stay in one of Cavallo’s Historic King rooms with a view, on the Parade Grounds. Go to the spa. Eat well, drink well, and be sure to say goodbye to the Golden Gate.
*No compensation has been received for this post. The staff was pretty nice though, which counts.