Bay Tours

Last week’s post on places to find a good hamburger in Redwood City really seems to have struck a chord with my readers. Not only did I get a number of helpful corrections—I missed one or two of the big-chain fast-food restaurants and mistakenly identified one as being on Veterans when it was in fact on Broadway—but other readers suggested a handful of places that I didn’t mention. This was either because I simply didn’t know about them or because I’ve dined at the reader’s suggested location but never actually ordered their burger. It just goes to show how many choices we have for a good burger here in Redwood City. And if we have that many good burgers, we likely also have a commensurate number of good pizza places, good Italian food restaurants, good Mexican food restaurants, etc… For those of us who occasionally eat out, this is a very good time to be living in or near Redwood City.

My August 4 post, Take a Walk on the Water Side, also received some good comments. Hopefully those comments indicate that several of you followed my suggestion to take a walk out on or near Bair Island, through Docktown, and around the Inner Harbor area. After posting that particular article on Friday, the next morning I received a call from some close friends asking if my wife and I would walk that area with them. We agreed, and thus on the morning after writing about the area I found myself once again walking through it, this time with my wife and another couple in tow.

We parked in the lot for the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Wildlife Refuge, and because it is close to Blu Harbor we elected to take a spin through that development. I was pleased to see that some more of the construction fences had been taken down, making the public path along the shoreline fully accessible. After looping around to Blu Harbor’s marina area (which for now remains devoid of boats) we decided to see if we could get a tour of the apartments themselves.

The leasing office for Blu Harbor is in the community clubhouse, which also boasts a community kitchen and lounge, a pool table, a small computer center, a “wellness center” (that includes fitness equipment, a yoga studio, and a spa), an outdoor “cucina” (with BBQ grills and a pizza oven), a salt-water pool, and various other amenities. We were greeted by Blu Harbor’s leasing agent, who was between appointments and thus agreed to give us an impromptu tour.

She began with the clubhouse, which certainly seems impressive. I’d be curious to know what it will be like when it is in use: given the number of apartments in the complex (just over 400) I hope it is large enough. Certainly the developer seems to have spared little expense in assembling the various amenities available to Blu Harbor’s residents. We were especially taken with the yoga studio’s “video-taught classes”: press a button and a screen drops down from the ceiling, upon which is projected a prerecorded Yoga instructor who will take you through a selected routine.

After touring the clubhouse, we were then taken to a nearby building in which there was a furnished one-bedroom model apartment. We were very impressed by the high-end finishes used throughout. Although I wasn’t taking pictures that day, Blu Harbor’s website has a bunch; here is one of their photos showing that first unit’s kitchen:

(photo courtesy of Blu Harbor)

The second unit was larger, with two bedrooms. It was on the third floor, with views from the living room facing into the marina, and views from the master bedroom looking out over Bair Island. Here what that unit’s living room looked like:

(photo courtesy of Blu Harbor)

Although the views aren’t quite evident in the above photos, in person they were quite spectacular. Hopefully these photos give you an idea of what the apartment interiors are like.

We found the Blu Harbor folks to be quite friendly; if you are intrigued, I recommend taking a tour. Although the majority of the development’s apartments are still under construction and thus not yet available for tours, the ones that are now leasing appear to be a representative sample.

Blu Harbor has units of different sizes, from studios on up to three-bedroom apartments. As for pricing, as you might expect given the location and the finishes, these don’t come cheap. Studio apartments (one bathroom, 500-600 square feet) start at $2,775 per month. Pricing on one-bedroom units varies depending upon size and whether or not the unit is paired with a private garage (all Bair Island units without a private garage have, I believe, a single parking space assigned to them, either in the seven-story parking garage or in one of the surface lots). Blu Harbor’s website currently shows prices on one-bedroom apartments ranging from $3,150 to $3,600. Two-bedroom units range from $3,800 (1,111 square feet, no private garage) to $5,025 (1,324 square feet, and a one-car private garage). The site lists a price of $5,350 per month for a three-bedroom apartment without a private garage; the other three-bedroom unit, which is a bit smaller but has an associated two-car private garage, currently has no price listed. And finally, there are the “penthouse” apartments. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, two private balconies, a private two-car garage, and a whopping 1,775 square feet: all for $9,125. Per month. And that is the cheapest of the available penthouse units: three others go for more, including apartment #1131 which currently is listed for $10,875 per month on a lease ranging from 12-18 months.

All of Blu Harbor’s apartments include a washer/dryer pair in the unit. An additional parking space can be had for an additional $75 per month. And there are storage units that can be leased for an additional fee. Boat owners can lease a slip in Blu Harbor’s marina—and you don’t have to be a resident to do so! Finally, in the marina there is a ramp for hand-launched boats (kayaks and the like) that is open to the public.

After our tour we walked out on Bair Island and enjoyed some of the peace and quiet that Blu Harbor residents will experience every day. Following that we walked through Docktown and the Inner Harbor, and then headed back. Since we were walking right by it, on our return we popped into the new Courtyard by Marriott hotel to check out its lobby. Here, too, the employees were happy to let us look around, even suggesting that we take the elevator to the third floor to see the hotel’s pool and fitness center.

(photo courtesy of Marriott International, Inc.)

Yes, the hotel’s pool is on the third floor. You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but the (roughly) triangular-shaped hotel is hollow inside from the third floor up. The building’s first floor is half lobby and dining area, and half parking, whereas the second floor is pretty much all parking. Floors three through five (the hotel is five stories in total) contain the hotel’s 177 guest rooms, all of which occupy the perimeter of the building. The center of these three floors, however, is a triangular space that is open to the sky. That open space on the third floor has the hotel’s pool and spa, along with a pool deck where guests can enjoy the sun in relative privacy. Of course, the fact that outsiders cannot see in also means that guests enjoying the pool cannot see any of their surroundings—only the open sky above. That’s a bit of a shame, but admittedly the only nice views would be to the south: west of the hotel is Highway 101, the Boardwalk Auto Dealerships are to the north, and the One Marina condominium complex is to the east. South of the hotel is (currently) Docktown Marina.

We didn’t see the hotel rooms, but the hotel’s website naturally has some pictures; here is one that presumes to show you what you might get:

(photo courtesy of Marriott International, Inc.)

We were there on a Saturday, and the hotel seemed fairly quiet. For one thing, there wasn’t a soul in the pool or on the pool deck. But this hotel appears to be aimed primarily at the business traveler, and the rates bear this out: during the week the rooms go for a lot more money than they do on weekends. That can be an opportunity, however. If you have friends or relatives needing a place to stay over a weekend in Redwood City, consider putting them up at our new Courtyard hotel. I did a bit of poking around on their website and was delighted to learn that you can get a room for as little as $105 on a Saturday night. The price depends upon the room configuration, location, and the night, of course, so don’t expect that you will always get that rate. But on a Friday or Saturday night, in particular, you may be able to get something in that ballpark.

As I mentioned, on a weeknight it is a whole ‘nother ballgame. The prices vary quite a bit, but I saw rates as high as $450 per night on a Tuesday. Wednesdays and Mondays were only somewhat cheaper.

The Courtyard by Marriott hotel has a small dining area in the lobby adjacent to a counter that serves food, drinks (there appears to be a full bar) and of course coffee. This likely isn’t fine dining, but for hotel guests needing something to eat, it will do. “The Bistro” appears to focus on breakfast and dinner; they may not even be open for lunch. In any case, I expect that many guests will eat lunch and/or dinner, at least, elsewhere—hopefully in one of Redwood City’s many fine restaurants. Which brings me to one of the principal drawbacks of both this hotel and Blu Harbor: the lack of amenities within walking distance.

Redwood City has a lot to offer, but not on the Bay side of Highway 101. The only way to get to and from this part of the city is via Whipple Avenue, by crossing over the highway (or by getting on it), which realistically requires a car. So whereas many of us who live or work on the west side of 101 can walk or bike to Redwood City’s many shops and restaurants, those living at Blu Harbor (or any of the other apartments and condos out there) have no choice but to get into a car in order to go get one of those great burgers I wrote about last week. The hotel doesn’t have a shuttle, and there are no public buses serving the area. And until the U.S. Highway 101 Pedestrian Undercrossing project is completed—which isn’t scheduled to be done until early 2019—there isn’t even a safe and easy way to walk or bike from, say, Blu Harbor to downtown. Which leaves Bair Island area residents and hotel guests somewhat isolated from the rest of the city. And that, as far as the four of us touring the area that day could tell, is probably the biggest drawback to living in or staying at some of Redwood City’s newest, and nicest, accommodations.

6 thoughts on “Bay Tours

  1. When I first moved to Redwood City in 2014, I leased in Villas at Bair Island. After a couple of months, the Whipple commute for literally anything got tiresome, and I negotiated an early lease break to start a new lease at the Franklin Street apartments, under the same management.

    As I had been in the outermost corner of the outermost building on the water, the views from my Villas apartment couldn’t be beat, but overall quality of life just felt more complete in downtown. And easy walking distance to Caltrain was the clincher.

  2. Random memory.. There is an unofficial pathway to get under 101 you could probably still take to the hotel from the Toys R Us parking lot. Back in the 90’s we’d ride our bikes under 101 to Century 12 via that route. If cleaned up, it could be useful for pedestrians on east side of 101 to access downtown without using Whipple. However a couple 4th of Julys ago, I tried to cut through that way but didn’t because it was very dark we noticed a lot of homeless people camping under there.. nonetheless if they can clean up that area and add some lighting it might make for a official pedestrian/bike route.

  3. Oops, make that: “I often _walk_ from and back to the Boardwalk dealership via Brewster and under 101 to the ‘Bridge to Nowhere'” (I cross under 101 along the south bank of Redwood Creek … I have yet to try the north bank.)

  4. When I drop my car for service, I often from and back to the Boardwalk dealership via Brewster and under 101 to the “Bridge to Nowhere” (and now, past the new Courtyard Hotel lobby). Far more pleasant and much shorter than doglegging over to the Whipple overpass. The last time (about a month or so ago), I was fully expecting to pass a few homeless encampments under the 101 bridge over Redwood Creek … but to my pleasant surprise, it was spotless! … there wasn’t even litter!

    • I just posted my comment before I read yours. I think we are talking about the same trail under 101 to avoid whipple. Would be nice if they invested in making that an official sage pedestrian underpass!

      • Indeed, that is exactly what the 101 Pedestrian Undercrossing project is. Click the link towards the end of my post to find out more. It will go under the freeway on the north side of the creek, where (up until recently, anyway) there was a homeless encampment. The city has allocated the money and the design appears to be done. I believe that they are currently in the permitting phase. The city hopes to have the project done by early 2019.

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