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Monday, November 21, 2011

A San Francisco Waterfront Wedding Venue

Did you know there's a Fairmont Hotel at Ghirardelli Square? I didn't until just recently when I was invited to attend an open house to view the property. What a gem! And it's located in the same historic building as the original, world famous Ghirardelli chocolate shop.

The Fairmont Heritage Place, a residential-style all suite hotel, is perched right above Ghirardelli Square and across the street from the San Francisco Bay, the Maritime Museum and Alcatraz Island.

Their outdoor terrace is named the Mustard Terrace and includes a pavilion, a fireplace, lounge area and panoramic Bay view.

It's perfect for smaller weddings, parties and corporate events of 100 guests or less. There are also four residential suites that run along the south side of the terrace that can be reserved for your event.

The terrace also includes this large, 450 square foot pavilion named the "Carillon." I had never heard the word carillon so I looked it up. It's a musical instrument that consists of at least 23 bells that play music and is most often housed in a bell tower. It was only then that I looked up and noticed there were indeed bells around the top of the interior of the carillon so really it's a carillon pavilion!

The pavilion can seat up to 40 guests for a seated dinner and up to 60 guests for a reception. It is available daytime or evening and can be paired with the Mustard Terrace residence suites to allow your guests indoor/outdoor access.

We were treated to a lavish, afternoon spread of charcuterie, anti pasta and a delectable cheese board.

Even the hummus with veggie spears looked like a dessert and there were plenty of chocolate covered strawberries to go around.

It seemed like every time I turned around there was another platter of cake pops, tiny burnt meringue cupcakes dusted with edible gold flakes and macaron cookies. It was a dessert lover's paradise!

Guests enjoyed Chateau St Jean's Pinot Noir as they ambled along the terrace and throughout the suite.

Before taking you on a tour of the suite allow me to introduce you to Mr. Jean-Francois Vary, the General Manager at Fairmont Heritage Place. Thanks Carl Mindling for snapping this picture of me with Mr. Vary and friend and Event Coordinator Jubilee Lau.

Here we gathered in the suite's living room and dining room areas for the formal welcome to the event.

The two doorways lead to three bedrooms and just to the right of where I was standing is a spacious kitchen.

This was everyone's favorite bedroom because of the glass encased bath tub on the other side of the bed.

So posh! In case you're so overworked, stressed or tired that you can't figure out how to enjoy a nice hot relaxing bath, the hotel has provided directions, Hansel and Gretel style, to help you find your way.

The second bedroom had more flower petals. But these were shaped into a beautiful rose petal heart.

And the third bedroom held a nice surprise for us! Little travel bottles of the hotel's own Apricot and Cream body lotion. It smells so good you almost want to eat it!

The suites are the perfect solution for a bride's changing area as displayed here with the bridal veil and bouquet set on the bathroom counter.

So I looked at it this way: The bride gets a room to prepare, the groom gets a room to prepare and the couple can use one of the rooms as their wedding night retreat!

Or, if you reserve all four of the residential suites, everyone gets their own suite: The bride, the groom, the families and the fourth can be used for your guests during the reception so they have an indoor area to retreat to as needed.

If it gets chilly, day or evening, guests can gather near the outdoor fireplace.

I'd have to say that if the large, grand, hotels in Union Square or atop Nob Hill aren't your style, the Fairmont Heritage Place may be just the place for you. It's more intimate, cozier and it really couldn't be more lovely.

Alcatraz Island at Sunset from the Mustard Terrace

These photos were taken from the Trolly stop just across the street.

And with Ghirardelli Square just below the hotel, a trolly car stop across the street and Pier 39 just around the corner, you can stay at the Fairmont and spend your days relaxing or sight seeing.

You'll have to visit Ghirardelli's Original Chocolate Shop! It's split into two areas, a retail section and a restaurant section. If you purchase something in the retail store you receive a discount coupon for the restaurant. I know this because once a year hubby and I head up to SF at holiday time so that he can get a container of chocolate covered almonds then enjoys a cafe mocha next door.

Over the years I've dined at all but one of the restaurants at Ghirardelli Square. . .

Lori's Diner is a fun, retro style diner with classic diner food and a Bay view. Before going vegetarian they were one of my favorite places to hit when I wanted great fish and chips.

McCormick and Kuleto's is more upscale for celebrating special occasions or just treating yourself to a really nice meal. There is a private banquet room here making it a perfect choice for a rehearsal dinner if you're having your wedding at the Fairmont.

Ana Mandera is located at street level across from the Maritime Museum. Executive Chef Khai Duong is a pioneer in the modern style of Vietnamese cuisine, a fusion of traditional Vietnamese combined with French techniques.

Dinner with Duncan Reyes and friends at Ana Mandara, Dec. 2009

I've only dined here once several years ago but the meal was memorable both because it was delicious and because the ambiance was so complete. Ana Mandara translates to "beautiful refuge" and I have to say that is exactly what it felt like as I stepped through their front door. The simple brick exterior hides the magnificence inside.

The Crown and Crumpet is the only restaurant I haven't had the pleasure of dining at yet. I did try to go one afternoon while in the city but the dining area had been reserved for a private party. Someday soon I'll have to go. The interior is so cute and they have a small gift shop adjacent to the tea room that I have shopped at more than once.

Each year there's a huge Christmas tree that goes up in the center of the square and hubby and I usually take pictures of each other beside it. Back in 2006 it was decorated with giant chocolate bars.

The Tree Lighting Ceremony will be Nov. 25th, 2011 at 5:30 PM

The first two pictures above are from Christmas 2009. Usually we don't see the tree go up but this year I noticed a big blue lift was parked, I'm assuming, to begin preparing for the arrival of the tree. It was kind of exciting and made me feel like it's time to start getting into the holiday spirit.

I've been to Ghirardelli square several times a year and have always wondered, aside from the chocolate shop, what the rest of the building was used for. I've always assumed it was office space accessible from the other side of the block on North Point Street. It never occurred to me that it had been a Fairmont Hotel since 2008!

My thanks to General Manager Jean-Francois Vary and his very talented and welcoming staff at the Fairmont Heritage Place for inviting me to such a lovely afternoon. I had a great time enjoying the view, meeting new wedding professionals and reuniting with some that I haven't seen all year!

Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square
900 North Point Street
San Francisco, CA


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