SF Business Times: Sausalito boutique hotel unveils $10,000-a-night suite

The Mansion at Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa
Mar 25, 2014, 11:43am PDT

Sausalito boutique hotel unveils $10,000-a-night suite

As Bay Area businesses race to cater to the region’s .1 percent set, one hotel in Sausalito is trying to pull ahead of the pack.

The operators of Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa in downtown Sausalito recently capped a $20 million renovation of the entire 64-room property with the pièce de résistance: a $10,000-a-night accommodation called the Alexandrite suite, housed in a historic mansion on the hillside.

The 5,000-square-foot suite offers views of Richardson Bay from its expansive entertaining area, including a deck that’s the size of a decent two-bedroom in San Francisco. The suite also features a private fitness center, hot tub and several flashy high-tech amenities, such as a secret LCD screen hidden within the master bathroom’s mirror.

Other optional services at a guest’s beck and call include private chef dinners, a Mercedes ML350 Bluetech with a driver and a “dedicated travel planner to arrange private yachting excursions,” according to marketing material. The mansion features a 1,700-square-foot meeting space for corporate events and a secret internal staircase revealed only by pushing a button hidden in a mirror. The entire mansion, which has 11 guest rooms including the two-bedroom suite, can be rented for $25,000 a night.

Casa Madrona General Manager Stefan Muhle said “everything inside the suite is obviously renovated to satisfy creature comforts of the 21st century,” but the goal was to retain historic details — such as moldings, tile work and fireplaces — of the 1885 mansion that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“I compare it to a butterfly in a cocoon trying to get out. It’s a transformation and metamorphosis of this historic property,” said Muhle. “There is nothing quite like it in the Bay Area.”

Rick Swig of RSBA & Associates, a hotel consultant, agreed. Though the San Francisco Fairmont’s 6,000-square-foot penthouse suite and the Ritz-Carlton‘s 2,000-square-foot presidential suite command extremely high prices and target the uber wealthy, both are urban experiences, said Swig. Casa Madrona provides a quieter, more village-like setting, he added.

“This really helps Casa Madrona differentiate itself and creates a reason why a super-luxury customer would want to choose downtown Sausalito vs. other destinations, including Cavallo Point under the Golden Gate Bridge,” said Swig.

Casa Madrona is owned and managed by MetWest Terra Hospitality, a Los Angeles-based hospitality owner-operator which also runs the Hotel Abri in San Francisco and the Toll House in Los Gatos. The company also picked up the Lodge at Tiburon, which reopened in 2012 after a top-to-bottom renovation of the Craftsman-style property. Muhle said MetWest Terra plans to renovate the Toll House and spruce up Abri in the near future.

MetWest Terra spent spent the past four years renovating the entire Casa Madrona property in phases. The opening of the historic mansion and seven hillside cottages this week marks the end of the repositioning, said Muhle. MetWest picked up Casa Madrona as a distressed property on the courthouse steps, he said, and the ownership was serious about investing in it.

Part of that strategy includes targeting corporate groups. Muhle said the ownership hopes to capture company retreats as well as weddings and that close to $500,000 was spent on AV equipment for the hillside part of the property to serve that market.

“I can tell you that many groups looking for something different for conference or meeting hotels will be interested, including those in high tech, biotech, everything that you find in our backyard here,” said Muhle.

The project joins other investments in Bay Area hotel properties that also may capitalize on the booming tech sector. San Francisco’s Hotel Zetta, which finished its renovation in 2013, has become a darling of the tech scene in Mid-Market. Hotel G, also near Mid-Market, is being revamped and is set to reopen this year, as is the Renoir Hotel on Market Street. Muhle thinks the timing is right for his property to join the tech-serving crowd.

“We’ve been able to ride the wave in terms of high occupancy and rising room rates,” said Muhle. “The most encouraging part is we can attract more business now (because of the renovation), and this is good news for everyone else in the little town of Sausalito: merchants, restaurants, store owners.”


Emily Fancher is a senior editor at the San Francisco Business Times.