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“Didn't meet our expectations” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of Belmond El Encanto

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Belmond El Encanto
Ranked #8 of 51 Hotels in Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara
Level Contributor
18 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Didn't meet our expectations”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 4, 2013

As Santa Barbara residents we were looking forward to celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the day we met by having a wonderful lunch at the El Encanto. My husband surprised me by making reservations and after reading a recent article in the LA Times I was ready to enjoy a fabulous experience. Unfortunately we would rate our meal and experience as "good +". We were greeted at the hostess stand by two young women who didn't welcome us or seem pleased to accommodate our request for a table in the dining room. We had made reservations for the terrace but the day was overcast and cool so we decided that the dining room was a better choice. The room itself is absolutely beautiful with a stunning chandelier as the main attraction. The upholstered furniture is beautiful and the large windows overlooking Santa Barbara are perfect in this setting. Unfortunately the acoustics in the room could be much improved; the room was noisy during our meal despite the fact that only 5 other tables were occupied. We had hoped for a quiet, romantic respite from a busy week.

My husband ordered salmon which he enjoyed although the serving was rather small. I ordered the cobb salad which was disappointing. The balsamic dressing had little flavor and the salad itself was uninteresting. We each ordered a glass of wine with lunch. Our waiter, David, was attentive, pleasant and well trained. Others who waited on the table seemed tentative and unfamiliar with working in a fine dining environment.

Although my husband mentioned that we were celebrating our anniversary nothing was done to recognize this. It has been our experience that better restaurants will celebrate a special occasion with a small dessert but nothing was offered.

All in all, we feel that the cost of the lunch ($82.00 plus tip) was exorbitant in terms of the service and the food. The staff needs additional training and we were surprised that in a hotel/restaurant of this caliber that the obvious gaffs were so frequent. Hopefully they will improve over time.

Dooley
Santa Barbara

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
6 Thank DooleySantaBarbara
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, May 12, 2013
Dear DooleySantaBarbara,

Thank you for your very constructive review. I do apologize for missing an opportunity to wow you, especially on such a special occasion! Your feedback is very valuable in helping us to make adjustments where necessary and we certainly appreciate it. I do hope you will join us another time and hope to give you a more positive impression.

Best wishes,

Laura M
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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954 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Gig Harbor, Washington, United States
Level Contributor
154 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 3, 2013

We had a perfect dinner on the terrace. Jenny, our waitress, couldn't have been more friendly or attentive. The food was delicious and the view just spectacular! After dinner we sat in the lounge and listened to nice piano music complete with singer. We then walked the beautiful grounds and decided this would be a great place to stay for an upcoming anniversary. Everything here is pricey but it's the best so, for us, it was worth it.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Pamela D
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, May 4, 2013
Dear Pamela D.,

So glad to hear you loved your dinner with us! We are so proud of Jenny and the rest of our team and are really happy when our guests recognize them too! We look forward to seeing you back for your anniversary!

Best wishes,

Laura M.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Palos Verdes Estates, California
Level Contributor
120 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 140 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 30, 2013

This property recently re-opened after a seven (I believe) re-doing. The property itself is spectacular - beautifully done inside and out. The developers have done a great job of bringing this historical masterpiece back to life. Everything is in excellent taste and done with quality materials. The restaurant in particular, especially the terrace with its sweeping views of Santa Barbara and the ocean, is wonderful.

We ate at the restaurant four times in our four day stay - twice for dinner and twice for breakfast. All the meals were first class - well presented and the best meals we've had in Santa Barbara since Citronelle closed many years ago.. Dinner on the terrace is a special treat with the sparkling lights below.

So why then the 4 instead of a 5 rating. Because until they get the services bugs worked out it really is not a 5-star property. Please do not misunderstand, everyone we encountered is anxious to do a good job. Everyone has just the right service attitude. They just are all quite green and the mistakes are continuous. Most are, I believe, training issues that will resolve themselves with time and experience as all the intentions are good.

So, my advice - wait 3 - 6 months before you visit this gem of a place. Give them some time to work out the service bugs as well as some of the little things they still need to address to finish up the restoration and remodeling project. After that it will likely be one of the very best, if not the very best, places to stay in Santa Barbara.

We had a very good price for our rooms because it was part of a group buy for a business event. Had we paid full price at this time I would think it not very good value - will be but as discussed, while the prices are 5 star, the property is not quite there yet.

If you plan on eating at the restuarant for dinner, reservations are suggested. The place was full and mostly with non-hotel guests.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank noclvrname
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, May 4, 2013
Dear noclvrname,

Thank you for your review. We appreciate your positive remarks and do acknowledge that we are growing better every day. We do hope you will continue to visit us and see little changes and improvements along the way. It is always very exciting and challenging to start a new venture and we are glad you were here with us in the beginning!

Best wishes,

Laura M.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Woodland Hills, CA
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 27, 2013

Our anniversary coincided with the re-opening of this wonderful resort and we were fortunate to be able to take advantage of this "golden" opportunity. From the moment we drove in we were treated to the excellent service by the valet, and this level of service continued throughout our stay. The "meet" and "greet" at the check-in desk , where the General Manager was on hand to personally welcome us, was an additional highlight. We had a delightful lunch and anniversary dinner at the hotel dining room, which was again, perfect moments as part of our stay. When we entered the room there was an anniversary cake to welcome us.The bungalow with its terrace and view added to the ambience. In fact, we did not leave the property in our entire stay. The grounds were beautifully landscaped and just walking through the gardens at was a delight. Upon our checkout they even included two bottles of water for our journey home. This resort certainly earns its five star rating.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Stanley D
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, May 4, 2013
Dear Stanley D.,

We were honored to have you with us to celebrate such a wonderful milestone! It means so much to us that the experience was "Perfect" and hope to see you on many more occasions in the future!

Congratulations on 50 years!

Laura M.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brentwood, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 26, 2013

We recently found a treasure in Santa Barbara, named El Encanto. My fiancé and I recently visited and stayed at the lovely El Encanto and I could not have asked for a more charming and romantic place. From the spectacular views, whimsical gardens, well decorated lobby and comfortable rooms, cozy patios, and bright bathrooms made for relaxation; it felt like our own private chateau. Being a perfectionist I was most impressed with their attention to details when it came to service and amenities, from staff being most accommodating, to exquisite food and cocktails, to ambiance, to music, to tabletop fruits/fruit bowls, to desktop clocks, candles, and etc. So, we will definitely be back soon specially since I want to try out the spa this time around. Anyhow, bravo for all your efforts to assure brilliance.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Javaherabi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 24, 2013

My parents + golden retriever and I stayed at the beautiful and newly renovated (as in completed March 2013) El Encanto resort in April 2013 for 4 days of relaxation, wine tasting and gourmet eating. We could not have been more impressed with the attentive, courteous and kind staff as well as the accommodations and grounds.

We stayed in a deluxe bungalow overlooking the pool area and, if clear enough, the stunning view of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean. Mind you, this resort is in the hills amongst beautiful homes with glorious views, but be prepared to drive up some windy, narrow roads to get there and know that it is 100% worth it. We considered Bacara (parents stayed at before and enjoyed) and the Biltmore Four Seasons but after reading mostly negative TripAdvisor reviews were inclined to try somewhere else. We learned of El Encanto through the Visa Signature and Amex Platinum booking websites and although there were only a handful of TripAdvisor reviews they were all 100% positive and we decided it was worth trying over the other 2 hotels. That was the best decision of the weekend and was made all the more fun by being allowed to include our dog who was extremely welcomed on the property and even became "known" by the valet guys and some of the other staff.

The bungalow was beautiful, new, high-tech and extremely clean. The details are what make an experience and El Encanto has them down pat all the way to the monogrammed throw pillows ("D" for our last name, "Deuster") on the beds. The linens are absolutely magnificent - comfortable, soft, clean, very high-quality; the bathroom, complete with heated floors that work perfectly, was wonderful - the bathtub and bath salts are so relaxing as is the gorgeous shower and overall spacious feel - 3 of us sharing definitely had plenty of room. We loved the robes and slippers as well. I will say that we aren't sure whether the quality is so top-notch because everything is new, but my recommendation to El Encanto is never lose the attention to detail and luxurious and clean amenities, they are well worth every penny and we will be back many times because of how pleasant our experience was. The fireplace is also wonderful - turns on at the flick of a switch (remote control) and radiates a lot of heat - it was so comforting and we turned it on almost the entire time we were in the bungalow. The other detail we loved was after the turn-down service (which we only received 1 of the 3 nights we stayed for some reason?) we received THE BEST caramels in the whole world - El Encanto, if you read this will you tell me where they are from? We were so excited to eat them again our last night after dinner and were sad not to see them lying on our pillows (but also didn't have the guts to call and ask for them haha). So good, I hope you don't stop surprising guests with treats like those!

We did not have time to try the spa unfortunately but will definitely be back again to do so. We enjoyed drinks/appetizers on the veranda and breakfasts + dinner at the restaurant and all were wonderful. The food, wine, cocktails and especially service are exquisite; I noticed a few negative reviews of the restaurant and so initially we made reservations to eat elsewhere (Bouchon in SB was one of them, wonderful as well) but after falling in love with El Encanto and seeing the views firsthand we knew we had to try dinner there and it was the best way to conclude our final night in SB. Avery was our waiter was one of the best we have ever met: he is gregarious, conscientious, funny, extremely informative and knowledgeable about the food, drinks, wine at the restaurant but also in the area. You know a fantastic waiter when the recommendations make sense and complement one another (vs. feeling like someone only refers you to the most expensive item).

We loved our entrees, cocktails, wine and at the end of the meal were debating the chocolate tart with burnt caramel ice cream and Avery convinced us it is the best dessert on the menu but also mandated we enjoy it with a splash of Super Tuscan wine to "enhance" the experience. We consider ourselves fairly versed foodies and winos and honestly it was one of the best food-wine pairings we had ever experienced. We never felt pressured to spend money (and like any hotel restaurant, it IS expensive but WELL worth it) and every staff member was gracious, down to the lovely lady who poured water and asked us about Cooper (dog) who she had seen walking around and he apparently reminded her of her own dog. Tangent, but my point is you will pay to stay here but you will leave feeling like 1) your money was so well spent and 2) you need to book your next stay asap.

Additionally we used the pool area one day and it was very relaxing with stunning views, unfortunately the weather wasn't warm enough to sit out the other days. If you decide to bring your dog there are plenty of trails and parks surrounding the resort to walk him/her but the grounds themselves are very accommodating for dogs of all sizes to stretch and be outdoors. The bungalow is also great for a dog as it is spacious and opens up to a patio that can be blockaded with the patio furniture so your dog can move in and out freely.

One small, very minute suggestion is that my dad and I noticed coffee and tea are served in the lobby complimentary early in the morning (7-8am?) but by 8:30/9am the table is put away entirely. I'm sure it has everything to do with serving breakfast and wanting customers to buy coffee and tea but I would think it would be a great addition to leave it out so that guests can help themselves throughout the morning. We loved grabbing a coffee on our way to take Cooper out but were surprised it was put away by the time we returned. On the breakfast menu it's pretty expensive and again, I know that is usually the case with hotel restaurants, but it just seems like if you are going to offer it for part of the morning you would offer it for the entire time. Plus guests will likely still order juices, mimosas and even coffee/tea from the breakfast menu. Like I said, tiny detail but I am mentioning it because I do believe the El Encanto is 100% about customer satisfaction and while they may not change this specific aspect I know they actually listen to and care about feedback.

Otherwise cannot say enough fantastic things about the hotel and overall experience - it is a stone's throw (literally, minutes) from SB town and Montecito and a pleasant 1-hour drive to Paso Robles (shorter distance if you want other wine regions i.e. Los Olivos). If you are looking for a relaxing getaway this is your place and for those of us who love our dogs dearly and prefer to keep them with us it is perfect (not to mention we took Cooper with us wine tasting and the majority of wineries are dog-friendly and even encourage them to come into the tasting room for dog treats).

Another detail is we booked through Amex Platinum and I believe you get 2 breakfasts included each day (or $45 credits toward breakfast?) and while we did not book through Visa Signature the benefits looked very similar. If you do not have one of these 2 cards already I highly suggest you obtain 1 or both - they seem to have the best of the best hotels and resorts worldwide based on our experiences and the perks you receive are well worth any sort of annual fee.

Thank you again, El Encanto, we will be back soon!
-Betsy Deuster

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Betsy D
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, April 25, 2013
Dear Betsy D.,

Wow, wow, wow! Thank you so much for the amazing review and so many great pictures! I love seeing your family and Cooper enjoying the grounds, your room, the pool side lawn.

As you can imagine the caramels have been very popular, so it seems on your last night we had run out! These wonderful treats come from Twist Caramels and are handmade! You can find them on line at www.twistcaramels.com. We think they are pretty great! (Don't worry a larger order has already come in.)

We look forward to seeing all of you again very soon! Give Cooper a scratch behind the ears for us!

Best wishes, Laura
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santa Monica, California
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 22, 2013

My girlfriend and I just spent a glorious few days at El Encanto. Love the look and vibe of the place. The staff was amazing, very attentive. They seem to anticipate our needs before we voiced them. The hotel setting is impeccable, astonishing views of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean from anywhere in the hotel. We were upgraded to a bungalow, very charming and romantic. Between the setting and the service this place is a gem. It far outstrips any hotel in the area. Both my girlfriend and I, hit the spa hard. The massages were amazing, and my girlfriend said the facial treatments were among the best she ever had. We’ll definitely return.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Andrew S
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, April 24, 2013
Dear Andrew S.,

Thank you so much for sharing your romantic stay with other travelers! Creating a special oasis to get away from it all is exactly what we strive for...glad you were able to find that here! I look forward to seeing you again soon!

Best wishes, Laura
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Belmond El Encanto

Property: Belmond El Encanto
Address: 800 Alvarado Place, Santa Barbara, CA 93103-2176
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 Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Business Hotel in Santa Barbara
#4 Romantic Hotel in Santa Barbara
#4 Spa Hotel in Santa Barbara
#6 Luxury Hotel in Santa Barbara
#7 Family Hotel in Santa Barbara
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Belmond El Encanto 5*
Number of rooms: 92
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Belmond El Encanto, a Forbes Five-Star luxury hotel, has been meticulously restored to capture all the romance and glamour that endeared it to both the local Santa Barbara community and visitors alike. As part of Belmond, this is the company's first excursion to the American west coast.

Ninety-two quintessential, California-styled suites and bungalows dot the lush, terraced grounds featuring seven-acres of gloriously landscaped gardens with sweeping views of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean.

Original architectural features have been lovingly restored, including the historic, trellis-lined Arbor and Lily Pond. Modern additions to the expansive outdoor zero-edge pool and a new beautifully appointed boutique spa enhance the journey for today's luxury-seeking guest.
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Also Known As:
El Encanto Hotel And Garden Villas

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