Just returned from a weekend stay at the Bacara Resort just north of Santa Barbara. This was my first visit to the Central Coast and the Bacara is a beautiful place to visit. The resort is separated and feels a bit isolated (in a good way) from the rest of the world - they have an absolutely beautiful piece of land right on the ocean.
This is NOT an inexpensive place to stay so I had high expectations and I'm reviewing it that way.
In my view, the Bacara is managed to cater to the many groups visiting the resort. When you looked around, the vast majority of staff members were focused on working in the areas related to the events happening - which meant that other details around the resort seemed to be forgotten.
The Resort - The buildings are well kept and beautiful. The grounds and pool are excellent. There are some (relatively short) hiking and jogging trails, tennis courts and a beach area. The beach was covered in insects (not the fault of the resort) but the pool was perfect and picturesque.
Bistro Restaurant - this is the mid-level restaurant, but for us, it was actually the best part of the weekend. The dishes are inventive the service impeccable. The view over the ocean (you MUST sit outside if you eat here) is spectacular. The deconstructed ceviche dish along with the goat cheese stuffed figs were terrific -ooh and the monkfish.. Really, each dish was a surprise - in a very delicious way.
Spa + Fitness - Excellent gym with great equipment. One detail missed in the fitness center, the staff hadn't paid attention to the towels which were all used up by other guests when we visited.
Room Service - we used it for breakfast each morning and it was excellent and relatively prompt. A detail missed was housekeeping forgot to leave a breakfast card the first day so we just called.
(One note to the hotel is that the breakfast card is incomplete - there should be more choices listed other than just continental type items.)
Crowded, Large Resort Feel: In many ways the Bacara feels large (well it IS a large resort) but the marketing for the place made me think it would feel more zen-like. Some examples:
Walkways - It seemed EVERY time you walk on the beautifully landscaped walkways you have to GET OUT OF THE WAY from the staff members on Golf/service carts. It started to bug me after then 10th, 15th and 20th time. The pathways were too narrow in many places for both pedestrians and service vehicles. I'm not sure how they could fix this other than build some separate service vehicle lanes.
Entry Court: The valets were excellent but there just weren't nearly enough to keep up with the mass of vehicles pouring into the small entrance court. It felt chaotic each time entering and leaving the property. We didn't really wait excessively - but it was more like entering a theme park hotel.
Lobby: Staff members were excellent but there just weren't enough of them. Each time we visited it was a bit chaotic (I noticed at least one angry customer complaining asking for a manager). It just felt a little too busy - it seemed there may be 50 people in the small lobby area but then only 2-3 staff members in sight who were busy giving excellent service to one or two guests. A detail missed in the lobby was that they had spa-style pitchers of tea and flavored water out for guests. The resort even went so far as to put out sliced sugar cane for the drinks, but they neglected to put out enough cups to actually enjoy the cold beverages.
Bathroom - Big detail missed here - I don't know why a hotel designer would ever think its a good idea to NOT soundproof the bathrooms. The doors separating the bathroom from the rest of the resort room, are louvered and pretty much open to the rest of the room. In other words, every noise made in the bathroom echoes throughout the entire rest of the room! Really these should be replaced with solid core doors for both the water closet and bathing areas.
- Rooms - Except for the issue with the bathroom, our room was very nice. I wasn't a huge fan of the finishes (mexican tile, etc.) but it was nice and clean. Keep in mind that looking at the buildings MOST rooms do not have sprawling ocean views - most look at the beautifully maintained grounds. We had a peek of the ocean but I didn't mind our view of the courtyard for our building.
- Maid Service - was good, we expected turn down the first day but no big deal and no breakfast card for the following morning. Another detail missed here was that there wasn't enough soap for the room (sinks, shower and tub). For $400-500/night There really should be 3 bars set up - one for shower, tub and sink area.
Overall, the Bacara is a beautiful resort that feels a little crowded and seems focused on the many groups that visit. It wasn't quite the romantic five star experience I had expected (and they charge for). To summarize, if you were getting married you would want to have your wedding here - but maybe not your honeymoon.
Not many have an actual ocean view but it's ok. This place is more about the grounds which are...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thank you for your review of your recent stay at Bacara. I would be hard pressed to think of any critiques that have been offered with you level of objectivity. Not only was your underlying attitude one of fairness, you actually provided me with the kind of helpful information that I can use in enhancing and affirming the level of service to which we aspire.
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We hope you will consider a return visit. The fall and winter season is much less chaotic and the crowds are less.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.