San Francisco’s Bay Area Beauties for Group Events
As attractions and activities go, the San Francisco Bay Area can claim an embarrassment of riches. World-famous sights, Michelin-starred restaurants, stunning nature, beautiful architecture, year-round mild climate, endless cultural and outdoor pursuits, and, well, there’s little wonder it’s one of the most popular meetings destinations in the country. You’ll also find an array of venues that more than live up to the region’s all-star status. Whether you’re looking for a city experience, a seaside getaway or a wine country retreat, the Bay Area abounds with options to please any type of group.
Pier 2620 Hotel
Foghorns, barking seals, the aroma of steamed crab, and an exquisite view of Alcatraz Island are all part of the classic San Francisco experience at Fisherman’s Wharf. Set apart from the bustle of downtown (yet a cable car ride away), the area offers a refuge in one of the city’s most iconic neighborhoods. The newest addition to the block is the hip Pier 2620 Hotel, which took over the Hilton San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf and recently opened after a $17-million renovation. With its 233 guest rooms sporting brushed concrete walls and Edison bulbs hanging from the ceiling (think warehouse loft chic), the hotel’s decidedly sleek, industrial design is a big, exciting departure from the city’s many traditional venues. Your group is also a short walk from the new and improved Ghirardelli Square, which now features two winery tasting rooms and a pop-up craft beer garden from Lagunitas Brewery.
How do you gain access to San Francisco’s hottest private social club? Book a meeting or event, of course, or any of the 14 guest rooms. A stay also gives guests temporary membership, which includes four bars, a high-end restaurant, wine cellar, library, gym, spa, outdoor garden and views of the Transamerica Pyramid and Bay Bridge. And at five levels and 58,000 square feet, there’s plenty of meeting space options available. The urban-chic design of The Battery brings out the original building’s character, a turn-of-the-century marble factory on the edge of the financial district, and is reminiscent of a Standard Hotel in its quirky trendiness. It’s also close to the city’s main hotels and Moscone convention center, for an easy change-of-pace offsite meeting or reception.
Sitting in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most magical venues you’ll find in the Bay Area. Cavallo Point, the upscale rustic lodge on the shores of San Francisco Bay in Sausalito, is housed in the former Fort Baker on land owned by the National Park Service, with nearby hiking trails to boot. Surrounded by hills and trees and connected by a windy road several miles from town, its nature-retreat setting belies the sweeping views of San Francisco just across the bay, so close you can practically hear the clang of the cable cars. Besides the 142 guest rooms, the meeting space in the wood-framed, century-old buildings is anything but stuffy, while the food & beverage offerings are far from rustic – an award-winning wine list complements a local, seasonal food program. The venue’s dedication to creative, sustainable cuisine is also the cornerstone of their on-site cooking school, a popular team-building option for groups. Another favorite activity: sitting around the fire pit with colleagues watching the fog roll in.
Claremont Club & Spa
Shining like a luminous white palace in the Berkeley hills, the Claremont Club & Spa is the grande dame of Bay Area venues. And with its lush 22-acre garden dotted with palm trees, you won’t be the first visitor who mistook it for the French Riviera. The 102-year old hotel is now a Fairmont property (since 2014), with all the added benefits of the distinguished brand. Besides some modern amenities added over the years, the Claremont remains largely unchanged since the day it opened. Soaring spaces, coffered ceilings and elegant chandeliers greet attendees as they step inside the 279-room hotel (Frank Lloyd Wright was a frequent guest and loved the property). Any meeting or event comes with a healthy dollop of class, whether held in the classic ballroom or the intimate lanai, where groups are treated to one of the most stunning views in the Bay Area, of San Francisco and the bay. (Pro tip: don’t miss sunset, and bring your camera.)
Castello di Amorosa
Sure, you can hold your event in any one of the fabulous venues scattered throughout the Bay Area’s fabled wine country. But why not dial it up a notch and take your group to the most fanciful venue you’ll find in these parts, or anywhere for that matter. Castello di Amorosa is a replica of a 15th century Tuscan castle, lovingly recreated down to its last rampart amidst the rolling vineyards just south of Calistoga in Napa Valley. An event here is sure to put a whimsical smile on the face of any attendee as they cross the drawbridge (over a moat) and into a Great Hall adorned with two-story-tall Italian frescoes. Just like castles of old, the venue includes courtyards, loggias, a church, stables, and even a dungeon and torture chamber. But this is also a working winery (it’s owned by Dario Sattui of V. Sattui Winery), producing an acclaimed array of mostly Italian varietals, and a reminder of why wine lovers the world over flock to the region. If that’s still not enough, enjoy team-building options such as grape stomping, blending seminars and scavenger hunts.
Photos: Courtesy Cavallo Point; Courtesy Castello di Amorosa/Jim Sullivan; Courtesy of Fairmont.