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writer JEN VERZOSA

 

Located at Fort Baker in Sausalito, Calif., the eco­friendly Cavallo Point resort is just north of the vermillion towers of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.  Upon entering the former U.S. Army post, I saw
several white houses ­ once military residences in the 1900s ­ surrounding a bucolic field of grass that
overlooked the San Francisco Bay’s azure waters.  I thought 29 years of living in the San Francisco
Bay Area had made me immune to the Golden Gate Bridge’s beauty.  But, on this particularly gorgeous
Sunday afternoon, the bridge was luminous, exuding a brilliance I had foolishly dismissed as
commonplace.

 

As I entered the lobby, the hotel’s valet service politely asked if I needed assistance with my luggage.  I
kindly declined their help as I had only brought one small overnight bag with me.  At check­in, I was
warmly greeted by a friendly hotel employee who quickly processed my reservation. It was 4PM, which
marked the beginning of the wine hour in the lobby. For two hours, Cavallo Point generously offers
complimentary wine to its guests with various cheeses and sourdough bread.  I didn’t indulge in the
wine, as I didn’t want to get full before dinner at Murray Circle, the resort’s acclaimed restaurant.  My
dinner reservation was for 7:30PM.

 

Across from the lobby was Mercantile, a quaint store offering men’s and women’s clothing made by
local designers, various snack foods and beverages perfect for picnics and hiking, lotions and soaps
infused with essential oils ­ among other practical items for the resort’s guests.  Cavallo Point welcomes
dogs, so there is a section solely devoted to dog items in the store, as well.

 

While I walked to my hotel suite, I passed lush fields of grass that were peppered with white lawn
chairs, which I later learned were made from recycled bottle caps, parallelling Cavallo Point’s
environmental sensitivity. As I opened the door to the guesthouse, I looked up and noticed the exquisite
white embossed tin ceilings that had been preserved and impeccably restored.

 

I climbed three carpeted­lined stairwells to get to my suite.  In it, I found a complimentary bottle of
wine, a tray of fruit, and an assortment of delicious chocolates on the living room’s coffee table.  I also
found an envelope with my name handwritten on it from the resort manager, welcoming me to Cavallo
Point.  Even the screen of the telephone in my suite read:  “Welcome, Jen Verzosa.”

 

The colonial revival furnishings of the living room were inviting:  a caramel­colored leather arm chair,
beige couch with several soft pillows, ottomans with throws.  The suite’s amenities included two large
LCD flat screen TVs (one in the living room, the other in the bedroom), a mini­refrigerator, Nsepresso
coffee maker, ice service.   From the cozy sitting area made of comfy cushions and velvety pillows
adjacent to the north­facing window, I could see the San Francisco’s skyline off in the distance.
In the spacious bedroom, a king­sized bed with organic linens awaited me.  With the turn of a switch, I
turned on the gas fireplace.  There was also a dresser containing two robes and his and hers pair of slippers ­ all made from organic cotton.  And, nearly half the size of the bedroom, the white­tiled
bathroom contained his and her sinks, a large shower with rain showerhead, and a large bathtub.

 

At 7:30PM, I headed to the Murray Circle Restaurant.  While it is in a historic building, Murray Circle
possessed a contemporary chic ambiance.  The juxtaposition of the large circular metal light fixtures and
the dark embossed tin ceiling made for dim lighting, perfect for a romantic dinner.  The host escorted me to a small circular table of dark wood adjacent to the fireplace.  After I was seated, the server provided
me with a clear jar of warm pistachios flavored with orange peel and rosemary in the center of my table,
which I munched on in between courses.  For my appetizer, I ordered a half dozen oysters on the half
shell, accompanied by three sauces: a jalapeno sauce, a traditional cocktail sauce, and a vinaigrette.
The oysters were small, but despite their size were very favorful.  For my salad course, I ordered a
salad of little gem lettuce, cucumber, olive crouton, and boquerones, refreshing and light.  For my main
entree, I had the grilled prime bavette steak with spring peas, warm marble potatoes, a soft cooked
quail egg, and sorrel, very rich and decadent.  And, for dessert, I had the apple and pecan
“upside­down cake” with sesame sabayon and bourbon caramel ice cream ­ a tremendously satisfying
ending to the prefect dinner.

 

The next morning before noon, check-out time, I requested a valet cart to drive me to the spa and healing arts center, which has received many prestigious spa awards. I found the scent of eucalyptus and pine relaxing, as I sat in the tranquility of the fireplace while sipping lemon and jasmine tea. On top of the tables throughout the room were photography books by Ansel Adams, paint and brushes (if you felt compelled to make art), and the newspaper. I changed into my bathing suit, put on a spa-issued organic cotton robe then, in flip-flops (also spa-issued), I walked to the meditation pool. At only three and a half feet deep, the heated meditation pool is intended for only muscle relaxation. I sat in it until my fingers got pruny. Soon, 12:00PM crept up on me. I took a deep breath. My overnight stay at Cavallo Point was lovely, but much too short!

photographer KODIAK GREENWOOD

EMBASSY SUITES

at KINGSTON PLANTATION

 

Kingston Plantation is one of the largest resort areas in Myrtle Beach, SC, nestled in over 145 acres of beach and close to many attractions. Embassy Suites is an oceanfront hotel on the property offering a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean coastline, its nine swimming pools, nine tennis courts and two oceanfront restaurants.  

 

The property features a guarded gate where I'm immediately greeted with a friendly smile, directions to my accomodations and a parking pass. Drive down the streets lined with palm trees, walking paths and bike trails. Pass the volleyball and tennis courts along with the indoor swimming pool lit beautifully at night.

 

I enter the Embassy Suites lobby for check-in and am welcomed by the sleek and modern design, seating areas adorned with leather high-back sofas and intimate areas to enjoy a fruity drink. The lobby also includes its very own Starbucks! How lucky can a girl be? 

 

I grab the next elevator and head to the 20th floor to my two-bedroom, oceanview room with a private balcony decorated with subtle shades of blue and brown. I step inside my home-away-from-home accomodations, open the balcony doors and take a deep breath of the ocean air. From my balcony, I get a glimpse of SPLASH! Caribbean Family Playground and Lazy River and outdoor Splash cafe. 

 

The suite features a small dining and wet bar area with coffee-maker, microwave and small refrigerator. A cozy fold-out sofa is available to curl up and watch the flat-screen TV. And, the double-vanity, tiled floor bathroom with Crabtree&Evelyn toiletries and the king-sized bed aligned with six fluffy pillows and down comforter are an added treat to enjoy after a long walk on the beach.

 

Reserve your next get-away at the Embassy Suites at Kingston Plantation. Enjoy the complimentary breakfast buffet with a full spread ranging from scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon to omelets, cereal and a variety of pastries. Attend an evening reception including light food and drinks and make a reservation at Vintage Twelve, where oceanfront dining and fresh local ingredients merge. 

BARNSLEY RESORT

 

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Barnsley Resort, located at Adairsville, GA, is just a short distance outside of Atlanta. But, you'd never know you were so close to a major metropolitan city. Once inhabited by Cherokee Indians, Barnsley Resort is situated on thousands of acres of preserved land, meticulously manicured and professionally landscaped. Originally called Woodlands, the estate was built by Godfrey Barnsley for the love of his life, his wife Julia. Godfrey moved from Liverpool England in 1824 and becamse one of the South's most affluent men through his shipping business and cotton trade. Many buildings, including the Rice House Restaurant, date back to the Civil War. 

 

During Barnsley's life, he became friends with an African-American man named Ned. Ned was a brilliant man and taught to read and write during a time when it was illegal. 

 

Fast forward to the 21st century and enter a resort full of billowing trees, a bamboo garden, 18-hole golf course, swimming pool, 5-star dining and spa services. And, you won't find a high-rise holtel on this property. Luxurious cottages are nestled within a European style village inspired by Andrew Jackson Downing, a pioneering landscape designer and propoent of gothic revival architecture. 

 

Step up to the private front porch covered with flowers and shaded by hundred year old trees. Enter the cottage through French doors as your feet hit the shiny hardwood floors. Fall into the plush bedding on the king size bed. Cuddle up to watch TV with a fresh brewed cup of coffee or get connected using the free WiFi service available in every cottage. 

 

Need adventure? Barnsley Resort offers a variety of activities including hunting, fishing, clay shooting, horseback riding and Frisbee golf. Or, take it down a notch and enjoy the Grecian-style swimming pool, guided property or museum tour, or lawn games like horseshoes. Visit the ruins of the Barnsley home damaged by a tornado in 1906. The remnants of this once magnificent place is now a garden fixture, roofless and adorned with greenery. 

 

Toasting s'mores is a great way to wind down the evening. Get comfortable in your own Adirondack chair at one of the many fire pits located throughout the property, relax from the hustle and bustle of the day, and enjoy!

 

 

KIAWAH ISLAND GOLF RESORT

 

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"Kiawah" (KEE-a-wah) is derived from the Indians who lived in the area during the 1600s, where they hunted and fished. Today, the heritage of the islands beginnings remain in what is a breathtaking, serene existence. As you enter the Kiawah Resort, you are greeted by an attendant who graciously directs you to your accomodations reanging from The Sanctuary hotel, to condos, villas, or private home rentals. 

 

As you travel down the palm tree line street toward The Sanctuary, you immediately feel the warm ocean breeze. Bellmen happily acknowledge your arrival, assist with baggage and direct you to check-in. First stop ... the junior suite adorned with a celadon and raspberry color palette next to mahogany wood accents. Step out onto the balcony to relax and enjoy the 10-mile panoramic view of the island.  

 

The transition from relaxation to renewal experience begins in the serene surroundings of the spa. The relaxing ritual of water, steam and rest prepare you for the pleasure of customized spa treatments provided by the skilled and caring team of therapists. After your treatment, enjoy the garden-inspired solariums. Dinner choices range from the lively atmosphere of a clubhouse grillroom or a casual seafood restaurant to a quiet, candlelit dining room. There is a dining experience to compliment every mood and moment. 

 

Book your next vacation at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, an immaculate, ocean beach, that is soothing by day and utterly romantic by night beneath its star-studded southern sky.