Nestled within the vast 80,000 acres of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Cavallo Point is an enclave brimming with tranquility, architectural elegance, and historical resonance. This 45-acre luxury property — celebrating its 10th anniversary as the newest lodge in the National Park System — ranks as the most enticing getaway for San Franciscans. Practically in the Marina’s backyard just a half mile from the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito, urbanites can become refugees from the fast-track frenzy.
Amidst a landscape of Monterey cypress trees, redwoods, palms, and meadows, the lodge overlooks spectacular panoramas of the Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco skyline, and the bay. The U.S. Army established Fort Baker here in 1897 as a key strategic base to protect the Golden Gate strait. Initially an artillery fort, it became a mine depot in the 1930s and, during the Cold War years, a ballistic missile launch site.
Twenty-eight historic structures were masterfully repurposed into hotel rooms in 2007. Half of its 142 rooms and suites, built between 1901 and 1915, are meticulously restored Colonial Renaissance structures that once served as stately officers’ residences. They encircle the Parade Ground where American and international dignitaries were honored during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Turn-of-the-century barracks and the old gymnasium were transformed into grand venues for executive think-tanks and corporate retreats.
The other accommodations, contemporary rooms on a eucalyptus-adorned hillside, instill a Japanesque aura. Their allures encompass spaciousness, floor-to-ceiling windows, high bamboo ceilings, fireplaces, and large balconies to savor the dramatic panorama. The highest standards of ecological sensitivity include organic bedding, renewable woods, and radiant floor heating linked to solar panels.
Upon its 2008 opening, the lodge was immediately hailed as the gold standard for historic site preservation, sustainable design, and the launch of bold environmental initiatives. Planners utilized organic paints and carpets, draught-resistant native plants, floors made of renewable woods, and minimal outdoor lighting to protect wildlife habitation.
It seems ironic that in its latest reincarnation a site once dedicated to artillery, mines, and missiles has been transformed into a place honoring peace and protection of the natural world.
For its impassioned commitment to environmental leadership and ecological sustainability, Cavallo Point has won numerous accolades, including Travel and Leisure’s Global Vision Award (2013) and the prestigious Gold Certificate (2017) bestowed by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the most widely used green building rating system in the world. For its beauty, Travel & Leisure honored the lodge in 2015 as the No. 1 Best Hotel in the San Francisco Bay Area and one of the top 10 resorts in the continental United States.
RELAX, PLAY, AND EAT
Beauty is also evident at the 11,000-square-foot Healing Arts Center & Spa. It glows with a Japanese ambiance, bamboo structural elements, and rich Mediterranean colors. Spa aficionados would find it hard to imagine a more impressive menu of over 70 modalities, both ancient and modern. They range from Swedish, Thai, and Himalayan treatments to clinical, organic, and cranio-sacral massage, transformative meditations, acupuncture, shamanic healing, and physician-led consultations. The structure, with its soaring ceilings, overlooks a meditation pool and garden.
Additional activities include kayaking, birdwatching, wildlife viewing, extensive hiking trails, an art gallery, and watercolor and daily yoga classes.
The resort’s award-winning Murray Circle restaurant, considered one of the Bay Area’s top dining destinations, features seasonal menus and locally sourced organic ingredients transformed into creative Northern California cuisine. Among its signature delicacies are fresh king salmon with beets and a sweet corn reduction, Pacific swordfish over hearts of palm, and seared Peking duck complemented by pistachio puree and charred cucumber. A similar philosophy underlies the adjacent Farley Bar, specializing in seasonal cocktails.
The wine cellar proffers over 2,000 choices, making it among California’s most extensive collections, garnering Wine Spectator’s Grand Award. A cooking school (open to the public) showcases luminary chefs who reveal the gustatory secrets of Asia, the Mediterranean world, and beyond.
The lodge feels like a world apart. For today’s multitaskers, its essence is that of an enclave dedicated to the rejuvenation of body, mind, and spirit. But it also draws guests into another more distant world — one with decades of fascinating history. As one returns to the urban fervor, it’s easy to feel enhanced by the gifts bestowed at Cavallo Point.
Cavallo Point — The Lodge at the Golden Gate: 601 Murray Circle, Fort Baker, Sausalito, 415-339-4700, cavallopoint.com