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Reviewed May 4, 2009

Wow. This was the best vacation of my adult life. I mean, I love the outdoors but what makes Montecito truly special in my eyes is how my children were engaged, entertained and cared for while I got to experience this stunning National Park at my own pace.

Wasn't sure what to expect. I had never been to anything called a Family Camp. We took our girls (8 & 12) for a weeklong stay. Basically the kids go off in age bracketed groups to experience you name it: -horseback riding-archery-sailing-rockclimbing-pottery-nature walks-water skiing-stone carving-tons of stuff. while you get to go off like you did before you kids were born and do whatever; take long hikes or hard core mountain biking. You see the kids at meals and there are many opportunities to participate in parent/child activities.

Aside from this wonderful structure, the lodge has Starbucks on tap. What more do you need? Good Food! A trip is nothing without good food of course. I'd say the daily offerings were better than good. It's a buffet style so we are not in the excellent category right off the bat although the prime rib was excellent. Buffets are buffets in my book but you can see Montecito makes the effort as is required to keep the parents coming back. Kids could not care less.

What didn't you like? I didn't enjoy the watercolor painting activity. The instructor plays the artist and wants you to play grateful student. I was looking to mess around with watercolors and just kind of come up with something. This appeared to upset the instructor who seemed to want everbody to paint just like her sample.

All the other instructors struck me as laid back people who were happy to be around, doing what they were doing.

Another thing that struck me was how talented and funny the councelors were. These people have high energy and were very entertaining.

So yeah. Thanks for the great time Montecito. I wrote this for you. Nobody reads these things do they? See you next Year! The Sullivans from Evanston IL.

Date of stay: April 2009
  • Trip type: Traveled with family
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3  Thank Mike S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 4, 2009

Speaking from a teen's perspective, I absolutely loved staying at Montecito! Overall- it's a fantastic place, the location is breathtaking, the staff is incredibly friendly, and there's always so much to do- I'm never bored while I explore and try new activities (and make lots of friends along the way!) I've been going there for the past two summers with my mother and 13-year-old brother. I remember the first time we headed up there- as we drove up a winding mountain path I was in awe at the natural beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Sequoia National Forest- coming from New England it was pretty much like nothing I've ever seen before! Right away I was whisked away into a group of kids my age and I immediately bonded with them through the fun group activities that our counselors led. One of my fondest memories was a camp out with my group- we played capture the flag in the forest and it was very fun and intense! Then we had a campfire and made s'mores and exchanged stories and sang songs while the counselor played the guitar. I have so many great memories- I'd probably run out of space writing about them all. So I'll just conclude this review by saying that I highly highly recommend Montecito- I can tell that everyone who works there tries their hardest to make sure the guests are having an enjoyable time. People of all ages will fall in love with Montecito- it really is one of my favorite places in the world!

Date of stay: August 2008
  • Trip type: Traveled with family
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1  Thank KTH116
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 4, 2009

I'd only recently heard of family camps -- vacations where kids participate in camp activities, under the guidance of counselors, while parents can enjoy activities knowing the kids are well looked after -- when one of my siblings suggested a family vacation at Montecito. We spent a week there, 10 months ago, and my 6 year old daughter is still talking about it and asking to return (which we absolutely will). My nieces and nephews (ranging in age from 2 to 11) also had a great time. The array of activities for both children and adults astonished me, and -- even with four activity periods each day -- I was unable to try everything that I would have liked! The camp philosophy is all about challenging yourself and exploring things that you've never attempted before, in a safe and supportive atmosphere. It's a wonderful life lesson for kids (and adults!). However, if you'd prefer to hang by the mountaintop pool or the fantastic outdoor hot tub, that's OK too. The staff are well-trained in both safety and child-management, and I had no compunction in turning over my 6 year old each morning to her counselors. Both my daughter and I initially suffered from altitude sickness, and the on-site doctor was attentive and sought us out frequently to follow up and to make sure that we were taking advantage of the beverages and fruit that were available round the clock. The food was terrific -- far better than I'd expected, given the rustic atmosphere -- and the chefs were very responsive to special requests (when my daughter was sick, she was able to keep down only white rice, so the chefs made a special serving for her for three meals in a row, until she recovered!) The only negative about our stay was the new dust-settler that had been sprayed just prior to our arrival -- it actually turned all of the dirt pathways to mud, which was carried into all of the buildings (thus my less than maximal rating on cleanliness -- everything else was fine). Despite the management doubling or possibly tripling the cleaning schedule, the mud did put a bit of a damper on things -- but I was told that this dust-settler would NOT be used in future. And I appreciated their responsiveness in trying to keep up with the mud. All in all, we had a fantastic time, delicious food, exciting activities, and comfortable accommodations -- all for a great price -- and we will absolutely be returning to Montecito.

Date of stay: July 2008
  • Trip type: Traveled with family
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1  Thank kmsg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 4, 2009

Our trip was amazing! The staff was so friendly and outgoing. They made us feel like we were truly special. The counselors were great with the kids. I enjoyed yoga every morning outdoors with the majestic scenery as a backdrop. My kids call it the best vacation they've ever had. We'll definitely be back.

Date of stay: June 2008
  • Trip type: Traveled with family
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Thank reluctanttraveler9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 4, 2009

we visited the lodge which is set between 2 nat'l parks, kings canyon and sequoia last July. we took only part of a day to visit the parks because there was so much to do at the camp! it is semi-rustic along with updated amenities. you have a choice according to your budget. even the more rustic rooms had updated bathrooms and were clean. we were a large group of 16 so i got to see a variety of lodging. we stayed in a renovated condo like suite that when we were inside we forgot we were at a camp. it was like a luxury suite! beautiful tile, comfortable cushy beds with quality bedding and very clean. this camp was like a paradise for us, as parents of 3 young children. they have wonderful counselors, who helped my needy and shy children transition into their groups. thye have activity periods for all ages of children and you get a schedule so all day you kow where your kids are. you can also sed them for partial periods and then take 1 of your kids for a special date with mom or dad to do craft or sailig, canoing, archery, rock clinbing. this i loved because i have 3 kids so it allowed for me to have one on one time while the others were being cared for and having fun!! and they always found me if necessary. my son got ill on the mountain and they quickly sent the bandi (on site medic) who treated him and stayed in touch to track his health. that was a comfort to me as we were in unfamiliar territory. every night they have a family theme. my favorite was the variety show. i laughed so much and enjoyed some good old fashioned family fun! being away from the tv, although they did have wireless access because we cant be totally disconnected, was so rewarding and forced the kids (and my hubby) to come out and they were so glad they did. we had an awesome fourth of July celebration where each family created a boat out of bark and candles to float out on the lake after dark. we all added stuff for our family boats and worked as a family team. i met many families that return every year and thye got all into those activites that are repeated like the boats and the variety show, which was open for anyone to perform. we did get closer as a family and as husband and wife and the conveniences of this camp fostered that. did i mention the food? you won't believe the dining! there is a chef, not a cook but a chef. you can meet him! he made things like herb crusted rosemary lamb chops! no, im not kidding! the food was fantastic and there is 24 hour stuff available too. starbucks coffee 24/7. milk- juice, cereal, pb and j, bagels and bread all available 24/7. and when we were doing all day hikes you just order a sandwich and they packed us a lunch. there was so much to write about! on wed, midway thru the camp they will take your dirty laundry and wash it. this was great and worth the small fee, but i did wish they had coin machines because you get dirty and i wanted to wash my stufff before i packed it up again. not much of a complaint but that was something i submitted on my comment card. we were asked about our opinions on the camp and the staff seemed interested to be improving and expanding according to feedback. all in all, we LOVED this camp. this is a camp designed around good old fashioned fun! i would highly recommend this for a family, even your family reunion! we will be return visitors!

Date of stay: July 2008
  • Trip type: Traveled with family
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1  Thank dac3plus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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