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“Quiet, relaxing bliss after L.A.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Belmond El Encanto

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Belmond El Encanto
5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   800 Alvarado Place, Santa Barbara, CA 93101   |  
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Ranked #3 of 60 hotels in Santa Barbara
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Quiet, relaxing bliss after L.A.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 20, 2014

Me and my husband, arrived at El Encanto after LA. and wow was it a relief! It is a oasis of tranqulity set amongst the beautiful foothills of Santa Barbara. The service was great, on check in we were shown to our room, which we did not like as the balcony/terrace was overlooked just slightly by the room above us. This complaint was immediately resolved and we were transferred to another room slightly higher up.
The staff were very helpful throughout the entire stay, booking taxis, organising wine trips and recommending some of SB's delicious food offerings.
We are planning a trip to the U.S. again this year and El Encanto will be on our itineray for the west coast!

Room Tip: Ask for a room higher up for more privacy.
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  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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305 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (62)
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English first
Valley Village, Ca
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 18, 2014

So much to say but will try to keep it simple.
Firstly, I tried to book through luxury link since it said a great package was available for the month of June. I repeatedly tried to book and guest services denied every date I offered. Finally I said ANY DAY in june you tell me and they still denied me. WHY offer a package if you won't accept reservations for it? I ended up booking directly through the hotel and of course it was pretty empty while we were there.
Room was nice, sink kept backing up and housekeeping was failed to replenish everything after our first day. We had to call and have coffee pods, mugs, large towels, and wine glasses sent after we used them and she removed them the first day. NOT okay for a 5 star hotel.
This hotel lacked the personalized service you receive at a Montage or Ritz property. Not one person referred to us as "mrs and Mrs" when greeting us. Considering there were very few couples around, I did expect to be treated a little more individualized. Pool service was great. Drinks were fabulous. The pool is small and nothing special but its actually perfect for the space.
Breakfast was terrible. Service nonexistent. Food served luke warm. Pretty much every yelp review mentions this so Im shocked management hasn't fixed the service issue. Dinner however was fantastic. The food, drinks, service, view... all worth every penny.
I would consider staying here again if management addresses these issues.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Laura M, General Manager at Belmond El Encanto, responded to this review, June 27, 2014
Dear RachelleB,

Thank you for taking time to write a review regarding your recent experience at El Encanto.

I do apologize that you had a difficult time booking a package through Luxury Link. There were quite a few dates the first half of June that were exceptionally high occupancy. I am glad you were finally able to find dates and were able to stay at our beautiful property. I am surprised to hear your feedback regarding the use of your name and personalized service as this is certainly something we pride ourselves on and strive to make each guest feel special.

I do hope you will return in the very near future and see a marked difference in the areas you felt were lacking.

Best wishes,

Laura M
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London
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 17, 2014

Lovely surroundings, very friendly staff, excellent food and comfortable bed! I would certainly recommend and return to the hotel.
There are a though a couple of things we did not like.
The cupboard/storage space is tiny, also the wardrobe is in the bathroom, which makes it difficult to use the bathroom, if the other person wants to get dressed.
Parking is very expensive, especially if you stay for a few nights. Being valet parking only, tips go on top the already inflated fee!

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Beverly Hills
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2014

I recently was at El Encanto (memorial day). The hotel is gorgeous, that's the main reason I'm giving them SOME stars, but the service was far from the standard of a 5-star hotel. I have many unfortunate situations that happened to me during my stay.

- Concierge was helpless - In one instance, I asked for dinner recommendations, he gave me 2 or 3 choices but no additional information on those places (i.e. chef, special dishes, typical cuisine, etc). He never asked me if I made my mind, leave alone offer help to make a reservation for me. In another instance I asked for things to do in SB, to which I only got a "there is an art walk" response. I'm pretty sure there is more to see in SB than an art walk. Anyway, I ended up resourcing to online sites and apps.

- Some valet guys were rude - In one instance, I came back late; there was one person by the valet stand but didn't approach to take my keys; I finally went to him and got a "yeah, I'll take care of it" but without even acknowledging my presence, he seemed he was looking for something. Then, on another night, as I was leaving the hotel, a valet guy abruptly stopped me and asked me if I was "Mr X", to which I responded "yes" twice, I offered to show him my ID if he was so unsure about my identity.

- Bathtub was a complete nightmare. We stayed at a California bungalow; we liked the decor, pretty rustic. Except, the bathroom had one major design flaw, the shower/ bathtub had a crystal wall that only covered ~1/8th of it, which made our bathroom floor become a water pond in a matter of ponds. When I complained about it, instead of getting a different type of room I got a "wall of towels" to absorb the mess. It was a complete disaster.

- One night I needed to get the password for the WIFI, no answer from front desk in 3 attempts in 30 min. Walked there, but no one was at front desk (it was between 10 and 11 pm), I waited for 30 min without success, so I gave up on them.

Honestly, I regret paying what I paid for my experience. If you're going to charge $700 to 900 a night you better offer out of this world service, and amenities that are unique and beautiful. I'm not coming back.

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Laura M, General Manager at Belmond El Encanto, responded to this review, June 18, 2014
Dear Cesar N.,

Please accept my most sincere apologies for failing to live up to our reputation for service excellence. I am quite disappointed to see that you experienced so many regrettable issues during your visit, and am truly sorry that I was not aware of your displeasure during your stay.

I, and the rest of our management team, are always pleased to hear from our guests during a stay if there are any problems so that we can take immediate action.

Be assured that we strive each and every day to create the perfect experience for each of our guests and we take it very seriously when we hear that this has not been achieved.

I do hope you will reconsider staying with us again, as I am sure you will see what many others have seen in our Five Star property.

Best wishes,

Laura M
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Aspen, Colorado
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2014

The El Encanto sits on a hillside facing the ocean and offers lovely views. The rooms are cottages, mostly without ocean views, but most are well situated in the lovely gardens of the resort and feel very private. The pool beautifully looks out to the ocean, as does the restaurant. The rooms are clean, updated, and comfortable. Really, it is a lovely place. The only thing that it could improve upon is the service. It's just not what one expects of an Orient Express/Belmond resort. It feels like the staff is in training for a fine resort, but is not quite there and may be lacking expert management with experience to to get it there. Everyone is friendly, but there is not an above and beyond attitude, and no more than what a basic hotel may offer. Of course, if you can overlook that and do not expect the service of the Biltmore or such, it is a lovely property. That being said, we would return with the hope that it will only improve.

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Laura M, General Manager at Belmond El Encanto, responded to this review, June 18, 2014
Dear BDPN,

Thank you for taking time to write a review to share your recent experience at El Encanto with the Trip Advisor community.

I am sorry to hear that you did not feel that our service levels were up to par with other Belmond properties you may have stayed at in the past. As a large collection of beautiful and diverse properties around the world we certainly pride ourselves on providing exceptional experiences to every one of our guests.

If you would like to contact me directly to share any specific instances I would be very happy to speak with you.

Best wishes,

Laura M
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Santa Barbara
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2014

I have been to many beautiful hotels in California, but none have the view of El Encanto. No other hotel property in Santa Barbara has this $1,000,000 view. Last night while eating a spectacular meal, listing to live jazz music (playing near the dining area) and the view was an evening I will not forget. Looking at the full moon with it's reflection bouncing off the ocean and the city lights overlooking the American Rivera was truly a special evening. Many guests dining got up from eating to take pictures. The service was also 5 star! This property is a perfect getaway from Los Angeles. It's a beautiful drive up the cost with paradise waiting for you when you arrive....

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Spokane, Washington
Top Contributor
71 reviews 71 reviews
54 hotel reviews
Reviews in 51 cities Reviews in 51 cities
130 helpful votes 130 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 8, 2014

My wife and I got married at the El Encanto's pond area in 1989. Our return in May, to celebrate our 25th anniversary, was perfect. From the minute we were greeted by the friendly valets, to the moment we drove away two days later, time absolutely stood still in the El Encanto's refurbished oasis. We had been back several times in the 1990's but because the hotel had been closed for many years by an extensive remodeling project and several ownership changes, we didn't know quite what to expect upon return. We should have known that the result would be perfection. The "old" El Encanto indeed had a certain sense of charm, but it was beginning to fray around the edges. The "new" and rebuilt El Encanto captures the spirit of its former self, but boasts of a modern elegance that few destination luxury hotels can match. The grounds were postcard perfect and invited strolling. The lobby/bar/terrace/dining areas invited relaxing. The new-and-improved pool area was a real treat. (Wish we had time to experience the spa.) But the real reason we came back to this hotel was to rewind and unwind and enjoy the Wishing Well Cottage, although the El Encanto refers to it as a Luxury Suite. And luxurious it was! The bedroom, huge and plush. The living room, totally comfortable. If a bathroom can be described as "incredible", this one is. World class shower that made you feel like you were standing in a Rain Forest. The kitchen had everything you needed, including an exotic but extremely tempermental coffee maker. Ah, but the patio...a beautiful place to sit, relax, and be serenaded by the birds who seemed to know exactly when room service breakfast was being delivered. (Loved the Huevos Rancheros!) The army of a staff was attentive, but in tune to people's moods. I really appreciated that. Lunch on the terrace was a delight and the highly-trained service staff was super efficient. It's a real pleasure to enjoy a meal where all of the waiters--including a few who have returned from before the remodeling---were totally at ease and completely professional. If I could change one thing about the dining room, it would be the location of the tables (they seemed oddly situated in a way that didn't take advantage of the window views) and a few of the lower tables towards the center of the dining room featured low "couches" that were frankly uncomfortable. (We asked to be moved.) But that was a small issue. This is a local jewel that has been brought back to life and now shines brightly with a luster that few places can match. Really. No matter how good your camera is, the pictures you will take here only capture a fragment of the beauty and elegance of this wonderful place. Welcome back, El Encanto. It was worth the wait.

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Belmond El Encanto

Address: 800 Alvarado Place, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Phone Number:
Location: United States > California > Santa Barbara
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Spa Hotel in Santa Barbara
#2 Romantic Hotel in Santa Barbara
#2 Family Hotel in Santa Barbara
#3 Luxury Hotel in Santa Barbara
#7 Business Hotel in Santa Barbara
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Belmond El Encanto 5*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
This iconic hotel has been meticulously restored to capture all the romance and glamour that has spanned nearly 100 years. 92 California-styled bungalows dot the lush grounds which feature seven-acres of landscaped gardens with sweeping views of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean. Modern additions like the expansive outdoor swimming pool and a boutique spa will enhance the El Encanto journey for today’s luxury-seeking guest. El Encanto’s charming setting atop a commanding hilltop perch offers the ultimate secluded retreat, creating an eclectic and authentic ambiance for romance and rediscovery. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
El Encanto Hotel And Garden Villas

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