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A new spot for taking it all in

Times Staff Writer

Seven years in the making, Hotel Vitale, the latest elixir in San Francisco's revival of its once-dingy Embarcadero district, was scheduled to open its doors last week.

The newly built, eight-story structure at 8 Mission St., with 199 rooms and wide-angle views of the San Francisco Bay and Bay Bridge, is a $53-million project of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, which runs more than 20 quirky hotels themed on magazines. Hotel Vitale's theme is "Real Simple magazine meets Dwell," said Chip Conley, founder and chief executive of the San Francisco-based company, with themes such as "urbane" and "nurturing."

In a telephone interview, Conley described target customers as "bourgeois bohemians," ages 35 to 55, who might have been hippies in the '60s but now have children and bigger incomes. "The kind of people who love farmers markets," he said.

In fact the hotel is across the street from such a market at the Ferry Building, the century-old transit hub that was reborn in 2003 as a fine food emporium.

The hotel's 125-seat Americano restaurant, scheduled to open Monday, will serve Northern California cuisine with an Italian twist. Its glass-enclosed Lido Lounge will offer bay views. The hotel also has the rooftop Spa Vitale, where patrons can soak outdoors in warm aromatherapy baths in a bamboo forest ($40 for the bath alone, $120 for bath and massage). Given San Francisco's often chilly temperatures, alfresco bathing is "probably more seasonal," Conley said. "It's not for everybody."

Couples can escape into treatment rooms offering massages for two, with views of the Bay Bridge. The spa is for hotel guests only. "We wanted to keep it very exclusive," Conley explained. Guests also can take free morning yoga and exercise classes.

Two-thirds of the guestrooms have bay views; the rest face the city or an interior courtyard. Under an introductory special, good through April, rates start at $139 per night on weekends and $159 weekdays. Regular rates, Conley said, will start at $269.

Among its fancier rooms are a one-bedroom, two-bath penthouse suite, with an 800-square-foot private terrace ($899 published rate) and seven "circular suites" with floor-to-ceiling windows and bathtubs with bay views (rates starting at $529).

Beginning in May, the hotel plans to offer "vitality weekends" starting at $299 a night per couple, with a two-night minimum. The packages will include such activities as kayaking, yoga lessons, walking tours and cooking demonstrations.

For information, call (415) 278-3700 or see www.hotelvitale.com.

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