Claremont Resort

The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa is a historic hotel at the foot of Claremont Canyon in the Berkeley Hills in Berkeley and Oakland, California, providing the resort with scenic views of San Francisco Bay. The main hotel building is entirely in Oakland. However, the southwestern corner of the property owned by the resort falls within the city limits of Berkeley. Part of this section has been leased to the Berkeley Tennis Club since 1917. The rest of it is part of the resort's gardens and parking area, and is used as the resort's mailing address (41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley CA 94705). The Claremont has 279 guest rooms, an award-winning 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m 2) spa, 10 tennis courts, and 22 acres (8.9 ha) of landscaped gardens. Romantic stories tell that it was once won in a checkers game. The Hotel was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2003, and is a designated California Historical Landmark. The Claremont Resort opened in 1915 as the Claremont Hotel, named for the Claremont district in which it was situated. It was constructed by a group of real estate developers associated with the Key System who had already opened up another large hotel in Oakland at Grand Avenue and Broadway called the Key Route Inn. The Key Route Inn, which suffered a serious fire in September 1930 and was demolished in April and May 1932, featured the convenience of a transbay electric rail line running through it. Similarly, a transbay line was run right to the doors of the Claremont Hotel (eventually designated the "E" line), approaching from between the tennis courts. The tracks were removed in 1958 when the Key System ended rail service, but the tennis courts survive, with a path between them where the tracks used to be. Thus, Claremont Hotel guests not only had a magnificent view of San Francisco, but they could also go there directly from the doorsteps of the lobby. The hotel was also convenient to automobile traffic as it was situated along the principal route leading over the Berkeley Hills via Claremont Canyon. In 1903, a small tunnel was excavated above the next canyon south of Claremont Canyon, accessible by a new road dubbed "Tunnel Road" which ran from the end of Ashby Avenue. The same route later led to a newer, larger tunnel called the Caldecott Tunnel which opened in 1937. The street address of the Claremont remains to this day, 41 Tunnel Road. Tunnel Road is a designated part of State Highway 13. After the repeal of Prohibition, the Claremont Hotel continued to suffer from a state law banning the sale of alcohol within one mile (1.6 km) of the University of California, Berkeley. In 1936, an enterprising student and her friends measured several of the possible routes, finding that the shortest distance from the school to the hotel's front steps was a few feet over a mile. The Claremont immediately opened a bar and awarded the student free drinks for life. The hotel had an unusual fire escape, a multi-story spiral slide for guests to make their escape. Many local teenagers were said to have taken the ride but the slide was eventually boarded up, and removed. The Claremont faced destruction in the 1991 Oakland firestorm, but the flames were stopped just short of the hotel. In 2007, the Claremont was acquired by Morgan Stanley. On February 1, 2011, the resort filed for bankruptcy due to losses attributed to the ongoing recession.

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