San Francisco is busy year-round, with tourists and business, and luxury hotels’ owners and operators must surely be happy. There are also such mega events as the forthcoming Salesforce meeting, September 25-28, 2018, convened by the world’s #1 customer relationship management (CRM) platform, based in town – CEO Marc Benioff, 54, seems to have invited 64,000 of his closest professional friends to come to San Francisco then (Marc Benioff, by the way, is the Salesforce visionary, said by Forbes to be worth $6.7 billion, who on September 17th, 2018, with his wife, former publicist Lynne Benioff, paid $190 million in cash for Time Magazine). The gal, fortunately, merely coincided with a thousand or so climate change activists, and yes, some world leaders, no names mentioned, were also staying in the lovely and unforgettable Four Seasons San Francisco. The memories start right on arrival – see the welcome card, a reminder of which city you are in.
I had arrived early evening and the ever-thoughtful team, under GM Joerg Rodig, realised that after a long flight, and almost at the end of what would have been a 24-hour day, I would be hungry. The elegant board of cassecroute cold cuts was, in the old phrase, just what the doctor ordered, especially with a glass of Row Eleven Russian River Pinot Noir 2016. Welcome to California! Welcome to the State of superb foods and wines, and great fitness and wellness – yes, of course I headed the following morning to the integral Equinox gym, a two-floor giant of a place.
Five minutes after Equinox’s 5.30 a.m. opening, several dozen daily regulars, presumably all local tycoons and aspirants, were already stretching and twisting under the watchful eyes of personal trainers. Partly thanks to the skilful attention of the hotel owner’s representative Pamela Malkani, the entire hotel has, incidentally, been magnificently updated since my last visit two years ago. Meyer Davis’ new interiors are stunning – sleek teal and stone. Suite 1603 has well-chosen art, sculpture and reading material. See, above, how a book on Georgia O’Keeffe (Living Modern, by Wanda Corn, published by the Brooklyn Museum, 2018) is held between two natural-wood bookends. There are also elements of fun, things that made me smile – see the room key, on the left. In fact the entire hotel has lots of fun pointers. You can now sit up, at communal tables, or sit down, in comfy chairs, in the lobby, which has a working fire. And everywhere, it seems, there are electric sockets.
The bar is brought especially to life on alternate Thursday evenings, when it hosts The Den, a pop-uppeakeasy during cocktail hour. Food in the adjacent MKT restaurant is much more California-wellness aware than before. I was only able to try breakfast, where the alternatives included a green dream smoothie, with kale, lime, mango, ginger and maple syrup – add whey or soy, if you want. The set healthy breakfast, by the way, includes the only full-fat, that is to say ‘real’, local yoghurt I have found in California, from Straus Family Creamery in Petaluma. I was breakfasting with Joerg Rodig, who has only been here a few weeks. Honestly, the only thing wrong with San Francisco is the cost of housing, he says (perhaps, from the travellers’ viewpoint, the only challenge is finding an empty room in a luxury hotel…). NOW SEE SUITE 1603