While Brad is busy filming at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (he plays Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane in the upcoming film, “Moneyball”), Angelina and the kids are enjoying the amenities of the Claremont Resort Club and Spa in Berkeley.
They’re not the first stars to enjoy this Berkeley landmark with the spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Frank Lloyd Wright (one of Brad’s heroes) said its “warmth, character and charm” made it one of the world’s best hotels.
Spread over 22 acres, this sprawling hotel that looks more like a castle than a hotel was built in 1915 to replace an actual castle built on the property by a Kansas farmer who struck it big in the Gold Rush. His wife had always dreamed of living in an English castle and since there weren’t many in Claremont Canyon, he built the castle along with stables for pedigreed horses and pens for the English foxes he used for hunting parties.
Unfortunately, the original castle burnt down and the property fell into the hands of the famous miner “Borax” Smith who eventually lost it in a checkers game to Frank Havens who, along with some partners, built what at that time was the largest resort on the Pacific Coast.
After Prohibition, when liquor began to flow again, the hotel suffered a blow when a California state law dictated that alcohol could not be sold within a mile radius of any university. Because the Claremont straddles the border between Oakland and Berkeley (home of the University of California), the Claremont was the only hotel in the area without a bar.
In 1936, an enterprising U.C. Berkeley coed decided to measure and found that, even using the shortest route, the front steps of the Claremont were a good three feet longer than a mile from campus. She was awarded free drinks for life.
Today, the Claremont has 279 rooms, no two alike, an award-winning 20,000-square-foot spa and gorgeously-coiffed grounds including a smells-yummy rose garden and lots of palm trees.
Although the Claremont staff is used to catering to presidents and Hollywood gliterrai, they compared preparations for the Pitt-Jolie entourage to a military operation. They installed what they called “anti-paparazzi” reflective material on windows of their wing on the sixth floor to deter unwanted cameras. They cleared out all celebrity magazines from the lobby’s newsstand and reserved the whole spa on certain nights for special Brad and Angelina date nights. Signs declaring the swimming pool “Under repair” just meant the couple’s five kids were splashing around.
While Brad is on set, Angie spends time at the University of California-Berkeley library (a short one mile, three feet away) doing research for a book about the international refugee crisis.
Find out more at www.claremontresort.com.