Some dear friends recently celebrated their 10 year wedding anniversary with a stay at the Claremont Resort and Spa, an old school “Grand Hotel” in Berkeley, California. In addition to being a beautiful and historic property, it’s also where they spent their honeymoon.
Pools, Bars and Chicken Fingers
The Claremont was nice enough to offer me a room at their media rate, so my husband and I decided to join our friends with a one-night staycation of our own!
We spent a delightful afternoon by pools (yes, plural — one for everybody, a second for kids and a third for laps) sipping cocktails while nibbling on chicken fingers and fries, which were delicious and a bargain at $7, don’t miss ‘em!
That was followed by an hors d’oeuvres and wine-filled evening in the Paragon Cafe and Bar, home of amazing San Francisco skyline views and breathtaking sunsets over the Golden Gate Bridge. Oh, and tasty food and drink. After so much decadence, we were more than happy to stumble upstairs to our room with a partial Bay View and extremely comfortable king sized bed.
Secret Agent Hotel Reviewer Financial Services Offsite Meeting Attender
But let me back up: before I could start drinking by the pool, the Claremont’s extremely friendly and funny Senior Sales Manager, Quincy Smith, gave us a tour of the property so I could do a (relatively) informed review of the hotel. Little did he know, I’m sort of a ringer.
You see, I’ve stayed at the Claremont several times over the years. In my past life as a Marketing VP for the “Knickerbocker Bank” I was constantly being sent to the East Bay institution for offsite meetings. I can vouch for the first-rate comfort of the seats in the meeting rooms, and for the views that keep you from falling asleep during the third hours of recurring revenue model reviews. Also, the catering is quite nice, with a good balance of indulgent (pastries) and healthy (fresh fruit) and a dandy cold meat luncheon spread.
Why Yes, Spa Treatments Were Always Part of Those Offsites
I am likewise a fan of the spa — practically everyone in the world is a fan, including Elle Magazine (“Top 20 Spas”), Vogue Magazine (“One of the Country’s Top Urban Spas”) and National Geographic Traveler (“One of the 24 Best Spas in America.”) Next time you’re in the Bay Area and need a massage or facial, check out the Weekday Wellness package for $99.
But I gotta say, those rooms used to be kind of blech. My first reaction to hearing I was going to stay there was usually, “God, when was the last time they changed the carpets?”
Guess what — they changed them! And updated the rest of the rooms, too! Now everything is clean and fresh, the bathrooms are huge (with low-flow water fixtures, thank you green policies) and of course, all rooms have the obligatory flat screen TVs and cable channels.
Our room was good sized, although down a seriously long hall. And like I said, that bed was comfortable. You have to love a new mattress.
Yes, Some People Workout on Vacation
Quincy did surprise me with the tour of The Club, the Claremont’s amazing fitness facilities. In addition to the three pools, there are ten tennis courts and a full-service fitness center with tons of cardio machines, a weight room, and several group exercise classes each day. Which is good, you know, if you’re into all that.
They don’t actually have full on refrigerators and mini-bars in the non-suite rooms, just a basket of salty treats, and a coffee maker. Of course you’re thinking, it’s a Real Life Review, what about the cashews? I’m a roll here, and once again I totally forgot to record the actual price (hangover cough, cough) but my husband swears I said, “Oh, that’s reasonable price.” So there you have it — they must be under $10.
If You’re Going to Stay
Bring sunscreen and plan on hanging out by the pool with Luke, the best bartender, who mixes a perfect Greyhound using grapefruit flavored vodka. But be prepared with layers if it’s not super hot — this is the Bay Area, where summers are cold and foggy.
Welcome Home to the Troops
A nice gesture — the Claremont, along with other Pyramid Group hotels, offers a special rate to active duty reservists and retired men and women of the armed forces, and their dependents. They can stay at the resort for a Friday or Saturday night for 25% off the government rate. Of course it’s very well-deserved.