Four Seasons Silicon Valley at East Palo Alto:
Idyllic urban getaway for locals
By Kathy Chin Leong

My husband Frank and I work hard. Real hard. He, an Internet business consultant, and myself, a freelance journalist and writing coach, each run businesses from our home in Sunnyvale, Calif. We get so immersed in our jobs we only leave Command Central when absolutely necessary. Oh yes, we also attempt to parent two teenagers… ‘nuf said?

This weekend, after we cinched a few deals, we decided we had to celebrate and fled the Rat Race in exchange for the good R&R at Four Seasons Silicon Valley at East Palo Alto.  Only 30 minutes away, it was an ideal urban oasis for our bleary-eyed souls.

Unlike the other sister properties, this 10-story, 200-room hotel one is smack above Highway 101 which brings us to the issue of noise.  Architects designed the hotel with triple-paned windows, so we were delighted to look outside to see five-o’clock congestion while hearing only silence.  It was as if we were sealed off from the cloying responsibilities of daily life.

The decor of the hotel is distinctly California casual with limestone walls in the entryway, handsome woods throughout the hotel, an outdoor dining patio with a fireplace and large fountain, simple furnishings with earthtone hues throughout. Our rooms dressed in white bed linens with a moss green throw, elegant and generous desk area with a chaise reminded me of a retro styling with a hint of Asian elegance.


Since nearly everyone living here is an electronics connoisseur, the Four Seasons Silicon Valley did its homework well when it created this place as an icon for high-tech luxury.  For starters, wireless connectivity at a whopping 10 megabytes per second is 6 times the Internet speed at most hotels. That was much more horsepower than I needed to check my email, but I was glad it was on and ready. I was relieved to know that the downstairs receptionists have a High-Tech Emergency kit that keeps spare rechargers, power cords, and styluses for gadgets of every ilk. 

Tension fell from our shoulders like cement blocks after we entered the room. Management had thoughtfully placed a glass platter of sliced fruits, nuts and cheeses next to bread sticks and bottles of sparkling water. While I ate, my audiophile husband tinkered with the Bose wave radio, and the quality of the sound was so crisp that I thought a four-string quartet was hidden in my bathtub.  Lying on the bed with a giddy smile of contentment, Frank was dancing in Pachelbel heaven.

More relaxation was in store as we flicked on the plasma TV.  At home, we have little time for such indulgences. Lying on the sumptuous bed and watching Keanu Reeves outrun the bad guys in The Matrix was pure decadence. The desk staff gave us our pick of as many DVDs as we wanted.


Peeling away for dinner downstairs at Quattro for nuevo-Italian fare, we promised we wouldn’t talk about the kids orcustomers. Frank and I filled our bellies with only the best. Of note was the awesome appetizer - not just any warmup act. Called Crudo Four Ways, the ocean foursome of ahi tuna, salmon, kona kampachi, and oysters was so fresh they melted on our tongues.

The hotel restaurant’s signature dessert, warm homemade donuts served with separate coconut and peanut butter sauces in tiny cups, were so ravishing we almost started World War III over who would have the last bite.


The next day, more fun was in store. Not trying the new spa with 7 treatment rooms would run counter to the cardinal rule of relaxing. Frank opted for a one-hour massage. Not a spa adventurer, he admitted he felt much more limber after he told his masseuse John that he was weak in flexilibity.

As for myself, the Four Seasons Escape helped me drift away, and that 1 hour, 50 minute smorgasboard treatment of a body exfoliation, wrap, and massage was unforgettable. Erika, my therapist, understood my need to feel energized, not limp like a boneless chicken.

Afterwards, I went to the women’s lounge for hot tea and dried apricots before exiting into my reality of vanpools, deadlines, and got-to-have-it-yesterday clients. And I promised myself I’d return for a girlfriend getaway once I saw the tempting pedicure and manicure lounge, and the rooftop private pool cabanas that feature adjustable plasma TVs, teak floors, and of course, wireless Internet.

This summer, the hotel is emphasizing its poolside retreat with attendants who will be on hand refreshing guests with chilled towels, fruit skewers, and Evian water.


For those who are art aficionados, the wonderful pieces at the Four Seasons Silicon Valley mirrors the region that gave birth to the silicon chip embedded in everything from iPods to refrigerators. With over 968 exquisite items in the hotel, the $2 million collection intersects cutting edge sensibilities with whimsy and youth, says curator Elizabeth Weiner.

Featured artists include Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso.  Other international inspirations include Korea’s Yong Deok Lee who has created four life-sized white statues each dressed in seasonal clothing, aptly representing the Four Seasons. Asian faces of the male and female sculptures seem to follow as spectators move their heads.
Another up for coffee time discussionis an untitled oil painting of agitated squiggly lines in black, brick red, yellow, forest green. The artist? Purvis Young, a self-taught African-American painter who launched his career while incarcerated at Florida State Penitentiary in the 1960s.

Says Weiner, “A guest can pass by a painting and not pay attention to it, but in the morning when he looks at it again, then again, and again with new eyeballs, it carries different meaning. I love selecting art for hotels because people react to it several times during their stay.”

For parents and workaholics who need a quick weekend fix, the Four Seasons Silicon Valley delivers the quintessential escape that’s only one freeway away.

Rates: $200 and up.

Four Seasons Silicon Valley at East Palo Alto
2050 University Avenue
East Palo Alto

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