Beekeeper Roger Garrison at Clift Hotel San Francisco
Clift Hotel San Francisco welcomed the spring season with an open house that awakened all the senses. The luxury boutique hotel located downtown unveiled their new rooftop bee sanctuary and cocktail herb garden Monday, as well as some season-inspired items on their dinner and cocktail menus.
General manager Michael Pace, who has been actively involved in sustainability efforts for the past 15 years, led a tour through the venues, explaining that the inspiration behind the bee sanctuary was the need to find something that brought the hospitality community together for a good cause.
Ten hives–stacked at different heights to represent the city skyscrapers in the distance–house 10,000 honey bees and one queen each, totaling 100,000 honey bees. They travel up to three miles to collect pollen from nearby parks. The hotel expects to have 70-80,000 bees per hive in the summer seasons.
Each hive holds 10,000 bees and one queen
Bees have a massive effect on our ecosystem, and the colony collapse that started in 2007 is ongoing. Nearly 40 percent of colonies are dying each year due to a combination of parasites, pesticides and viruses.
The new menu items can truly be called garden-to-table, incorporating many key flavors freshly picked and extracted from the new herb garden and bee sanctuary. The 49er Tea Time, for example, is a black tea-infused whiskey with housemade honey syrup and lemon juice; and the Peerless Purple features housemade lavender-infused gin, with honey syrup, lemon juice and lavender bitters.
Pace says the mixologists employed at the Clift request different herbs based on their upcoming menus so that they can be grown in-house.
“We want visitors to come back because they feel this is a city with soul and feeling,” says Pace. “We’re leading by example. This [effort] shows camaraderie among hotels and it’s good for the environment. It shows the nature of who we are as a city.”
Petite jars of honey made perfect parting gifts
Like the cocktails, many of the new additions to the food menu incorporate homegrown herbs. Some of the offerings at the open house included watermelon salad with lavender-infused honey and Adobo-style ribs served with a red cabbage and lemongrass mango slaw.
Fresh, local cuisine isn’t a new initiative at the Clift. Executive Chef Thomas Weibull has partnered with local farmers and growers to produce menu items for Velvet Room (serving breakfast daily) that are locally grown in a sustainable and organic manner.
Each dish pays homage to a San Francisco neighborhood, explained the half-Swedish, half-Philippino chef. The grilled octopus salad nods to the Spanish communities in the city; the crispy popcorn chicken and salsa verde represent the mission district.
The honey bee sanctuary, herb garden and sustainable menu are just some of the socially responsible steps the Clift has taken to earn its green reputation. In addition to drastically improving their recycling diversion rate (70 percent in 2015), the hotel switched to environmentally safe cleaning products, reduced its paper use by 50 percent, and adopted the Linen Refusal program, which allows guests to opt out of housekeeping services to save water and energy.
Meet at the Clift
The tour began and ended in the famous and historic Redwood Room, which features redwood paneling and a giant etched-glass bar. The space is home to curated music provided by well-known native San Francisco DJs Thursday through Saturday nights.
Head mixologist Anthony Kim whips up a cocktail at the bar in the Redwood Room
The Clift offers many options for meeting and function space, each with its own unique décor and character. The greatest example of that is the Private Apartment, a beautifully furnished 1,100-square- foot apartment within the hotel that can be rented for private events and meetings.
The Spanish Suite
The Clift also offers two boardrooms (accommodating 8 and 12, conference-style), and the Spanish Suite, a 2,373-square-foot private function room that was once the home of original hotel owner Frederick Clift. The space offers two terraces overlooking the city and a wood-burning fireplace.
On the Mezzanine level are three exceptional meeting spaces. The Rita room offers 1,271 sq. ft. of space and can be combined with the Ava room for a total of 1,889 sq. ft. The third room is the Sophia, and offers 800 sq. ft.
The Velvet Room was designed to complement the Redwood Room, and is often the setting for unique corporate events. Lush velvet curtains, mahogany and leather banquettes and hand-blown Murano glass lamps create a dramatic setting for events.
The elegant details continue in The Living Room, an old English-style cozy space just off the lobby, that boasts velvet sofas and leather winged chairs.