This is a beautiful historic property built in the 1920s that was acquired by the Four Seasons and renovated. For that reason, it's worth a visit if you are traveling to California and really want to get a taste of Spanish colonial style architecture. The property has a lot of character and I applaud the Four Seasons for not trying to transform it into a nondescript modern-day resort property. However, for that reason, it also feels outdated; the floorboards creak, the walls are thin, there is a sense that the place has seen better days. You just can't win it all.
That being said, we thoroughly enjoyed our time there. The service was impeccable. There are little touches where the Four Seasons hospitality really shines through. For example, we arrived on my child's birthday; the front desk immediately arranged for a birthday cake and gift of fruits, snacks, and a Four Seasons beach mat to be delivered to the room. The bathroom has wipes to remove tar that you might step on at the beach. They put ear plugs in the closet in case the train bothers you. They had free coffee and tea in the morning, chilled waters in the gym, and bowls of apples scattered around the property. The hotel had light activities for the guests (e.g., margarita tasting one afternoon, games of croquet every afternoon, smores a few evenings for the kids, etc.). I recommend taking the garden tour as the grounds have a large variety of plants, old trees, and an organic herb garden which supplies herbs for the kitchen. Our guide, who has worked there a long time, knew about every plant there and what was easy to grow in the climate. The Coral Casino beach club across the street is a great place to hang out. There, you can swim in a large pool (laps if you're serious or a separate roped off section for kids), walk down to the beach, or just lounge in the sun with an oceanfront view. (By the way, you won't see the sun set over the water because the coast line faces south at that location). You can play foos-ball and ping pong there too. The locker room is gorgeous!
At the main resort, there is a small 24 hour gym with water in the fridge, gatorade, headphones, and apples; pool for the kids; and two hot tubs set at different temperatures.(warm for families, hot for adults only). There are tennis courts but I believe you have to pay court fees. There are nice walking trails all around the grounds and along the coast. Kid for All Seasons was closed during the time we were there which was too bad; we would have liked to go in just to play games or watch movies even if child care was not provided.
Re: food - It is really expensive to eat at the property. A short drive away will take you to a nearby street called Coast Village Road with great little restaurants including a breakfast/gourmet sandwich shop named Jeannines, and a Mexican place called Los Arroyos.
Room - we had an executive suite which was comfortable but the bed was a little on the soft side. If you are sensitive to noise, request a room that is away from the conference area. Usually the noise dies down after business hours, but I was awoken a few mornings at 7:30 because our room overlooked the courtyard by one of the conference rooms. Bathroom had radiant heated floors which was a nice touch, and a rather roomy bath tub with separate shower. It was outfitted in Spanish tile to match the character of the buildings.
All in all, Santa Barbara is a slow-paced, coastal city and we returned from our stay there feeling (and looking, or so we were told) completely relaxed and recharged. Because we weren't running around trying to do a lot of things, we spent a lot of time together as a family, and the large property was conducive to just hanging out with the kids. It is pricey and not a good "value" - but then again, if your objective is just relaxing and staying at a beautiful oceanfront place with excellent service, this would be a great place to stay.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located just steps from one of the most beautiful beaches in California, with private bungalows and terraces that overlook the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands. Set amongst 22-acres of lush jungle and tranquil gardens, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara defines luxury living and service on the American Riviera. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- 4 Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
- Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara Hotel Santa Barbara
- Four Seasons Santa Barbara
- Santa Barbara Four Seasons