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Claremont Resort and Spa

Ratings:

Baby/Child Friendliness:

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Contact Information

41 Tunnel Road
Berkeley, California 94705
Phone: (510) 843-3000
Fax: (510) 843-6239
www.claremontresort.com

The Claremont Resort and Spa (pictured here) maintains an architecture and style much like the Hotel Del Coronado, as well as its own impressive list of famous guests.

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.

The history of the Claremont Resort & Spa is interesting. The property was originally constructed in the 1870’s by an English architect hired by William Thornburg to design his wife’s dream home. It became known as the Thornburg Estate where the Thornburgs entertained English royalty, including titled ladies, and gentlemen in what they called “a piece of transplanted England,” complete with rolling pastures, carriage horses and sauntering peacocks. This home was later sold to the Ballard family who continued to entertain guests in the estate until a fire in 1901 destroyed it. In 1915, it became reconstructed as the Claremont Resort. And now today as a resort, we find not just royalty amidst the grounds, but a melting pot of everyone. Adults and children enjoy a smattering of activities to suit both tastes.

Let’s begin with the activities for kids: The Claremont offers two heated lap pools and a shallow activity pool with water fountains that shoot up over four feet high. My kids played between these pools for a few hours with the Bayview Café—offering healthy options such as salads and turkey sandwiches—right there for them. It was so pleasant to have smoothies available to us there, rather than the typical soda varieties.

Youth programs for the summer: The Claremont offers day camps, including Lil’ Sprouts, for ages 3-4, and Adventure Day Camp for ages 5-10. These programs facilitate indoor activities such as art, cooking and also outside fitness games as well as music and movement. The counselors also lead the kids in sports and scavenger hunts. There are also Adventure Day Field Trips for ages 5-10. This program takes kids to eleven different Bay Area attractions during the summer and runs 9 am to 3:30 pm with half day options also available.

Kids’ Club: These aforementioned camps are for the summer only, but the Kid’s Club is year-round and is situated in a quaint and cozy building below the fitness club area replete with toys, games and a gated playground which holds a large playset with a slide. Kids may engage in individual or group activities, depending on their tastes. Kids’ Club offers a Friday movie night and the resort provides complimentary care of up to three hours a day per family which can be applied to the Friday movie night.

Nearby attractions:
My kids enjoyed driving across the Golden Gate Bridge and going to the Exploratorium, a science center for kids and adults, where their intellect and imagination were stimulated for hours. The Exploratorium is located at the Palace of Fine Arts, 3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco, CA 94123. (415) 563-7337.

Here are some additional nearby kids’ activities in the Oakland/Berkeley areas:

Habitat, A children’s museum: 2065 Kittridge St., Berkeley, CA; (510)647-1111;

The Lawrence Hall of Science, 1 Centennial Drive, Berkeley; (510) 642-5132.

Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland; (510)238-6876.

The Oakland Zoo, 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland; (510)632-9523.

And for the adults:
I think one of the biggest draws for adults to this resort is the amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay, which is showcased throughout the resort in the restaurants, rooms, and even the pool area.

The Claremont provides ample opportunity for physical activity including tennis and a new state-of-the-art gym with Cybex weights and pilates equipment. Hotel guests have use of the Claremont’s private Club facilities, which includes ten outdoor championship tennis courts.

A diverse and interesting menu of fitness classes are also available through the Club including Active Yoga, Bosu Workout, contemplative Aikido, Cardio Blast, Kick-Boxing, Pranayama, Samba, Salso, Rumba, Tai Chi, Vinyasa Yoga, World Rhythms, and Zumba.

Dining at Claremont: Besides the Bayside Café, the Claremont offers the formal Jordan’s Restaurant and the Paragon Bar and Café. My family ate at Jordan’s and my kids enjoyed watching the fog roll in, enclosing the Golden Gate Bridge amidst a misty blue-grey San Francisco bay as they ate. For a formal restaurant, it was reassuring to find a kid’s menu. The waiter worked very hard to please my kids, including bringing out multiple pizzas because the kitchen didn’t get the order right. The menu is pricy, but the food was tasty with attentive service.

The in-room dining gets two-thumbs-up from both kids and adults. The menu offers many breakfast items to satisfy both palettes and my kids especially enjoyed the chocolate chip pancakes while I relished the smoked salmon. The service was timely and friendly.

Spa: The resort boasts a 20,000 square foot spa which includes a hair salon, skin, and nail care. Some of the massage choices include the Therapeutic (50 minutes for $135.00 or 80 minutes for $190.00), Deep Tissue, Lomi Lomi, La Stone, Spa Thai, Prenatal, and Shiatsu (priced similarly). There are 32 treatment rooms, many with views of the San Francisco bay. The full salon offers cuts, color, oil scalp treatments, and texturing. Mom can get her nails done as well as a facial at this spa.

Shopping: Right below the Claremont Resort & Spa sits a little community of shops including a handful of restaurants, clothing stores, a bakery, and a Peet’s coffee shop. This is a charming addendum to the resort and makes for pleasant strolling with a young family.

Although the building and rooms have an older feel, this is unavoidable for any classic, historic building. Berkeley is an exciting and intellectual destination, and when coming here, the Claremont Resort & Spa is a lovely, grand hotel in a safe neighborhood that your family will remember fondly. Don’t just take my word for it. My eight-year-old daughter said this about the Claremont: "I thought Claremont was really fun. I liked going to San Francisco and going over the Golden Gate Bridge. I loved the pool too. It had fountains. The rooms have the view to see the Golden Gate Bridge."

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.

Spa:

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.

Dining:

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.

Baby/Child Friendliness:

  • A tennis club specifically for youngsters is available.
  • A children's activity club is also provided.
  • Cribs are available. Housekeeping made a special effort to accommodate my needs with the sheets for the two cribs left in our suite. Many resorts only offer loosely fitting sheets, not safe for babies. When I called housekeeping, they arranged not only that the closely fitting crib sheets be brought up, but they put them on for us. Many hotels leave them in the crib for parents to deal with themselves.
  • A children's menu is available through room service.
  • In-room refrigerators for storing formula, juice and snacks for children are provided.
  • The gift shop contains children's clothes. Mandalin still wears her "Claremont Resort and Spa" tee-shirt we bought for her.
  • Large, expansive hallways are found throughout the resort. My toddler kicked her ball up and down the fourth floor with my husband. Traffic on our floor was very low, creating a playing paradise for toddlers.

Romance:

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.





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