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Cavallo Point in Sausalito, California

by Nora Zelevansky


Sausalito, California

Nestled at the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge in historic Fort Baker, within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Cavallo Point – the Lodge at the Golden Gate welcomes you to a luxurious hotel experience achieved with an underlying green and socially responsible ethos.

There’s a salty sea mist. The creak of a rocking chair. A clapboard backdrop. A cocktail in hand. A deep exhale.

It's a slice of Americana. Only, instead of looking out onto a mowed lawn or even a beach, the view is one of the country’s most iconic landmarks: the Golden Gate Bridge. Therein lies the magic of Cavallo Point, an upscale, meandering 142-room lodge—named for wild horses that once roamed free—at converted U.S. Army base, Fort Baker, on 75,000 acres of national parkland along the Pacific Ocean. It marries the muted and the bold, the natural and the industrial. There is juxtaposition in its DNA and subtly in how it wows. Opened as a hotel property in summer 2008, Cavallo is tucked between Sausalito and San Francisco—but feels entirely its own. The sense of absconding to a contained and wholesome place, of true escape to a world apart, is a rare thing in this frenetic time, especially so close to a major city. And yet this coastal enclave manages to feel both open and secluded, of today and yesterday, in all the best ways.

From the beginning, Cavallo prioritized sustainability, first by preserving and repurposing the existing fort buildings to maintain their architectural heritage. Since then, the property’s commitment to the local land and the planet has maintained. “We’ve implemented energy-efficient systems, water conservation measures, and the use of sustainable materials in renovations,” describes Martin Nicholson, Cavallo’s general manager.

The accommodations here honor the coastal California environment, as well. Historic Colonial Revival offerings, as well contemporary rooms and suites, are earth-toned and unobtrusive, complimenting the landscape and allowing the enormous bright red bridge, green lawns and sparkling ocean to pull focus. Inside, the spaces are minimal, yet warm, and luxuriate in oversized windows.

And, when the property set out to reconsider its restaurants, launching three new eateries last October, that dedication to its California roots only amplified. Not only is the design inspired by the fort’s original Endicott Period construction, but Executive Chef Michael Garcia grew up in San Francisco and spent 35 years cooking here. “The menus are a true nod to my life experiences, influenced by the various, unique neighborhoods of the Bay Area,” he explains. For Sula (fine dining), Sula Lounge (the cocktail spot) and Farley (the farm-to-fork bistro), ingredients are sourced at farms and vendors from Mendocino to Santa Cruz to Sonoma, in alignment with the property’s ethos of respect for the community. Even cocktails like the Jasper’s G+T incorporate a bounty of local herbs.

And, of course, with such close proximity to the ocean, seafood abounds with bites like Uni Butter Oysters at Sula Lounge and a new “Coastal Catch” theme at Farley, featuring the freshest, most sustainable fish of the moment from wild sockeye salmon to local black cod out of Bodega or halibut out of Monterey. “Being so close to the water, I feel the need to feature seafood, also since it is such a big part of San Francisco’s history,” Garcia says. “Diners get a feeling of serenity eating oysters while looking at the boats on the water or enjoying the Dungeness Crab Pappardelle while looking at the Golden Gate Bridge, knowing this crab is unique to the area.” (Do not miss the Sticky Toffee Pudding for dessert!) The Healing Arts Spa—a big draw for guests thanks to new facial rituals and an unmissable tea bar including adaptogenic Clevr Blends lattes—also gets in the sustainability game, drawing on local plants for its treatments and amenities. The custom line of massage oils is specially designed with the scents of local plants and trees, including eucalyptus, bay laurel, cedar and cypress—all botanicals guests encounter on hikes to beaches like Kirby Cove. “Head down though a grove of cypress, eucalyptus and pine to the beach,” suggests Heather Stewart, spa director. “At the cove, you will find a pristine wedge of course-sand beach with a fabulous view of the Golden Gate Bridge and northern San Francisco—and you might even spy a whale!” cavallopoint.com

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