On Location: Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

From Chinatown to Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco is known for its rather unique neighborhoods. But Fisherman’s Wharf stands out as one of the most distinctive. With its colorful past and lively present, the neighborhood offers an ideal setting for groups who prefer a maritime theme to their meetings, as well as some relative peace to the hubbub of downtown’s urban hotel district.It’s also the location of one of the top group hotels in the city: the 313-room Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf, offering a spectacular central location, creative F&B venues and 19,000 sf of meeting space. On first glance, the property’s brick-clad exterior, reminiscent of the century-old warehouses once found here, puts one in mind of other staid and historical hotels in the city. But step inside and you’re squarely in the now, with a sleek, modern lobby of white marble, designer lighting fixtures and contemporary artworks more common to a downtown gallery.

“We’re the number two performer in the entire Hyatt chain, and cater to all types of groups—corporate, association and incentive,” says Marianne Milton, director of sales/marketing at the hotel. “A good fit is a group of around 200. They can have all the meeting space to themselves and take over the hotel.”

With a brand new renovation of the meeting space completed in January, the meeting area now blends with the contemporary feel of the rest of the property.

“The new design is inspired by elements of Fisherman’s Wharf, without going overboard,” says Milton. “It’s both earthy and chic, with blues and purples, and very modern fireplaces.”

What hasn’t changed is the natural light streaming through skylights in the Presidio Ballroom, a feature unique to meeting space in San Francisco. The large prefunction area also features a skylight, this one a stained-glass centerpiece located above a grand Italianate fountain, where groups gather for receptions and meals. While just off the lobby is the hip wine lounge Enoteca Musto, featuring the best of California wines for groups up to 40.

Guestrooms are shades of stately gray for a cool contemporary feel, many offering splendid views from any direction, whether of iconic Coit Tower to the east, the famous Transamerica Pyramid to the south, or Alcatraz Island just offshore to the north.


Another advantage for the hotel is the famous Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood, well designed for interactive group experiences.

“Being here at Fisherman’s Wharf makes us an easy fit for groups,” says Milton, “because once the meetings are over at the end of the day, there’s plenty for attendees to do on their own.”

For many, that starts with food, whether as a group or individually. From sidewalk crab stands and the original sourdough bread of Boudin Bakery, to numerous quayside seafood eateries and caviar and lobster at the 5-star Restaurant Gary Danko, Fisherman’s Wharf is a feast for all tastes and budgets.

Of course, with the hotel two blocks from water’s edge, many groups opt for surf over turf. For a wet and wild tour of San Francisco Bay, tour company Bay Voyager jets small groups around on fast rigid inflatable boats (RIBs), the same type used by Navy Seals. Other options for groups up to 400 include the 2-hour sunset cruise on the Red and White Fleet’s Royal Prince, which includes live music, drinks and buffet, as well as up-close and spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito at dusk.

Back on land, you can stroll past the hundred or so sea lions who’ve taken up residence in the marina, or enjoy the many bars, restaurants and shops of Pier 39. Better yet, sign up for the official Barbary Coast Trail tour that delves into the rich history of Fisherman’s Wharf, from San Francisco’s gold rush days and 19th century shanghaiing dens to the largest collection of historic ships in the U.S.