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“Family time in paradise”

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Santa Barbara Family Vacation Center
Certificate of Excellence
New York City, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Family time in paradise”
Reviewed July 21, 2013

We are looking forward to our third trip to the FVC. With a superb location on the ocean, we look forward to a healthy week of fun in the sun, lots of great activities and a perfect balance between enjoying special time with our child and great childcare that gives us a nice break. The accommodations are spacious suites in student dorms, which they are "bare bones" in terms of decor and amenities (realized we don't miss a TV quite quickly!), are quite comfortable and easy to navigate. The food in the dining commons is excellent (quite a surprise) with many healthy options at each meal. The FVC is staffed and operated by students and recent graduates who are highly professional and very outgoing...and are always striving to ensure maximum fun for all. We appreciate the special opportunity to stay here, and can easily understand how some families return year after year, and even generation after generation.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank sbl0cal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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168 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (34)
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
23 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed July 16, 2013

We just returned from a mini-week at the FVC and we loved it. We traveled with our 7 year old, a teen, a young adult and baby and every, single one of us had a blast. We were able to do things together when we wanted (like the continuous feeding schedule we were all on) or be independent. The kids activities are unsurpassed and we loved being on a college campus. This vacation experience also gave us the together-time we needed. The only time we left the property was on bicycles - and we had a bonding experience that will last a lifetime. Now that my daughter has started another day camp we realize how great the counselor-staff at FVC is. We are certain to return next year, for a full week.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank ShakaWahine
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Burlingame, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed July 10, 2013

We have 2 boys who are 3 and 5-years old and it has always been a challenge to find a vacation destination that is age appropriate.
My brother and his family have been going to the Family Vacation Center in Santa Barbara for the past few years and kept telling us how this is the perfect destination, and how much they think we would really enjoy ourselves. We finally joined them this past week and it was everything we were hoping for and more.

The one phrase I would use to describe the FVC staff and program is it's a "well oiled machine!"
From the second you pull into the parking lot on the UCSB campus you're being taken care of from a group of extremely enthusiastic, helpful, genuine, and friendly staffers. They swiftly empty your car while chatting up your kids, then run your luggage up to your room as you're quickly checked in. From that moment til checkout a week later, the FVC's commitment to our family having an awesome time never wavered.

You'll read comments from some of the other reviewers here about the hard beds, non-luxurious rooms and good, but monotonous cafeteria food - and all of that is accurate. But none of those realities were impactful enough to spoil our trip at all. Because we read those reviews, we went in with lowered expectations and were actually pleasantly surprised it wasn't as bad as we feared. If you're a foody and are looking for gourmet fare - or need the accommodations of a luxury resort, then of course this isn't for you. But if you're a parent of young children who realizes a gourmet restaurant and a luxory resort aren't realistic options that can be considered, FVC is a great vacation. (Although we did take advantage of some "parent's night out" opportunities and went into downtown Santa Barbara for some great food while the kids had a blast back at camp)

Our kids are still asking about their counselors and want to go back next year. We highly recommend!

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Robert K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Palo Alto, California
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed June 19, 2013

We are so very excited to return to UCSB Family Vacation Center for the third year in a row. This vacation has proven to be the most relaxing week we have experienced since becoming parents 8 years ago. Why do we love it so? Let me count the ways:

1) The counselors – they know how to pick um! The counselors are fun, energetic, caring, and really like our kids! Our kids REALLY like them too, which means we don’t feel guilty when the counselors take them for a fun field trip for the day or engage them in all the other fun programming they have for kids. Our kids told us last year that it would “break their hearts” if we didn’t return to family camp this year! Not that is an endorsement!
2) The location – you really can’t beat being on the ocean in Santa Barbara. This place just reeks of happiness/fun/sunshine.
3) The adult activities – they have a wide variety of fun things for adults, surfing, kayaking, hiking, biking, nights out on the town, fun evening activities like karaoke, trivia night, etc. We loved meeting other couples at the camp and felt like we made a whole bunch of new friends each year.
4) The food – yes, it is campus style, but the food is really good. The cafeteria offers a variety of food that satisfies even the pickiest of little eaters.
5) Balance – The program does an amazing job of balancing adult, kid and family time. They have really figured out the schedule so that you don’t feel torn between doing adult activities and caring for your kids. There is enough family time as well so that you definitely feel like you spent a lot of time with your kids during the week, but also a great amount of adult time as well.
6) Babysitting – If you need more adult time in the later evenings or even during the daytime, there are counselors happy to watch you kids. And the kids are so are happy when the counselors show up at your door, because they know them already!
7) Non-commercial – Unlike other vacations, you never feel nickel and dimed. There are very few things that you have to pay “extra” for. We love that! For instance, one of the counselors is the professional photographer all week. He goes around for the whole week, taking photos of everyone and everything and then downloads all the photos onto a CD that you can buy for $10. We have some of the best photos of our family on those CDs!


We can’t recommend this camp ENOUGH! If you need a great, relaxing week away when you don’t need to think about cooking or entertaining the kids, UCSB Family Vacation Camp is it!

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank WendieAlig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Concord, California
Level Contributor
2 reviews
Reviewed March 7, 2013

Summer of 2012 was our first Summer.. We did not know what to expect. So we decided to go half of a week instead of the full week and give it a try and see if we liked it. Big mistake, not going the full week. We had the best time and had so much fun that half a week flew by and didn't want to leave. We totally regretted not going the full week. We are totally going again this summer and making it a recurring event every year. If God permits of course.

If your looking for something for young kids and adult time, this is just what the doctor ordered. Not to mention, the nearby views of the Beautiful Santa Barbara ocean.

There's so much to do hear that I can mention. Visit their website with a full description and a video for you to watch. Oh, Did I mention its all you can eat, three meals a day!

Room Tip: Rooms in the (high) tower have access to elevators and it can be windy. The clusters have stairs and...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank Norma G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Carlsbad, CA
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed March 4, 2013

We have been to the Family Vacation Center (FVC) five times over 9 years. My kids and my husband and I all love it. Everyone is happy because all the activites are specific to that age. When my kids were in grade school, there were trips to the UCSB Marine Science building and on the walk back, they would stop at the campus candy store. When they were in high school, they would go for pizza in nearby Isla Vista, go rock climbing at the Rec Center, or rent surreys in downtown Santa Barbara. Then in the evenings, there's a pool table and ping pong in the tower recreation room that is open only to the middle and high schoolers.

For the adults, there is a wine tasting trip to the Santa Ynez Valley. I don't drink but I love to go and see the beautiful countryside and eat the delicious lunch. Every evening, there's something going on including the Dinner at the Faculty Club, Sunset Dinner Cruise, The Newlywed Game, Karaoke, and Bar Trivia.

Our favorite activites are when the whole camp gets together like for the Beach Barbecue. Everyone magically shows up at the beach (either by bike or taking a shuttle bus or walking) and there's a delicious lunch along with volleyball and swimming for the kids. There are also outstanding shows put on by the staff - the Thursday afternoon water show and the Friday Farewell Show.

We like to be busy and do as many activites as we can but vacationers can also choose to read or sit by the pool.

We look forward to the FVC. It is so much fun and has lifelong memories.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Palmtree345
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pasadena, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed January 28, 2013

We had a great time at FVC last summer. My husband and I were both very concerned about leaving our 1 year old at Small World, but he had a terrific time, LOVED his care giver (Christian), and was well taken care of. My husband and I were able to relax and enjoy some activities we would never have had the chance to do without child care (tennis, kayaking, hiking, yoga, shopping, dining out). Our 4 year old had a great time too! The rooms are less than luxurious, but certainly adequate. Overall, we were pleasantly surprised and will definitely be returning.

  • Stayed August 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank MetterFamily
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Santa Barbara Family Vacation Center

Property: Santa Barbara Family Vacation Center
Address: San Rafael Residence Hall, Ucsb, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-0001
Location: United States > California > Santa Barbara
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 16 Specialty Lodging in Santa Barbara
Number of rooms: 68
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Summer Camp for the whole family! The Family Vacation Center offers week-long Family Camp experiences on the beachside campus of the University of California Santa Barbara. This all-inclusive experience includes daily child care (kids camp), family activities like Smores on the Beach, Pool Parties and Family Carnivals as well as nightly adult only activities that include a hosted bar.This hassle free family vacation is perfect for the family who loves spending time together, and also enjoys the option of kids camp and "parents night out" time! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Santa Barbara Family Vacation Hotel Santa Barbara

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