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“Wonderful retreat!”
Review of Belmond El Encanto

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Belmond El Encanto
Ranked #8 of 52 Hotels in Santa Barbara
Reviewed July 5, 2013

We escaped to this beautiful place after a sub-par experience by the beach.......they let us in early -- place is beautiful. Rooms are impeccable -- wonderful bedding, clean, quiet.......Am thankful we could get in on a busy holiday last minute.

I think the staff was overwhelmed with holiday --- housekeeping was behind in picking up dishes, honor bar not restocked -- not something you would expect from a 5 star resort. Also prices of meals were crazy -- $70 for a child at the 4th of July celebration seemed exorbitant to me. (Adults were $75) $100+ for breakfast (3 entrees, juice and fruit plate) -- great service but hard to rationalize when paying these fees (even with $45 breakfast AMEX credit)

That said, the staff was exceptional -- very nice, welcoming, warm and accommodating. Grounds are gorgeous.

I agree with other reviewers -- something is missing -- and I wouldn't want to be in villas near where cars are parked, etc. We had last minute room so didn't have patio, etc. I'd definitely recommend to come back with a partner/spouse and stay closer to pool/lobby -- there were kids here, but I feel more of a couples/adult resort.

Room Tip: Close to lobby/pool/spa
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  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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Thank kewb1
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 reviewResponded July 12, 2013

Dear KBidwell,

We were so glad to be able to accommodate you at the last minute over the very exciting and active holiday weekend! I am happy you found a respite here, and were able to partake of our offerings at the pool and for our 4th of July BBQ on the Terrace. I did take an opportunity to make sure you were not overcharged for the kids...we did charge $35 per child for a total of $70 so I hope there was not a confusion there...we really do try to be fair in our menu pricing.

Do feel free to contact me directly if you still have any questions on that. We hope to see you very soon!

Best wishes,

Laura M

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Reviewed July 4, 2013

Located on the hillside overlooking the harbor, the hotel rests in a beautiful setting with top flight facilities, a beautiful pool, quaint airy bungalows, a well trained attentive staff, a gourmet restaurant, easy access to Santa Barbara, Montecito and the adjacent wine country and elegantly appointed rooms. All of this is done in a low key, relaxed informal style that gives credit to the property’s unique history.
Of course you often get what you pay for and as a premium hotel the prices are high if not close to staggering. At $700/night for a deluxe bungalow (one level up from the lowest price) much should be expected but not all was up to standard.
The housekeeping didn’t measure up. We had to wait until 4pm for the rooms to be made up; the porch was dirty, we had to ask for ice and clean towels. I have no problem with that at the Holiday Inn but I expect a great deal more attention to detail at a facility that aspires to rank as top notch.
Nevertheless the experience was sublime especially lounging all afternoon at the pool in 80 degree water. My wife and I enjoyed ourselves immensely and we would readily go back for another visit on a special occasion.

Room Tip: There are no bad rooms.
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  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank richard H
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 reviewResponded July 12, 2013

Dear richardH,

What a beautiful description of our American Riviera setting! I love that you found it sublime!

I do appreciate your comments regarding Housekeeping and am so sorry that we missed the mark for you there! We will certainly use your comments to help with our ongoing commitment to service perfection.

Please visit us again soon!

Best wishes,

Laura M

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Reviewed July 3, 2013

After 7 years of painstaking restoration and modernization, and beucoup bucks, El Encanto has, like a butterfly, re-emerged, as it must have been in its enchanting heyday.

Orient Express has the reputation for taking great old buildings like the Splendido, Cipriani and Villa San Michele and turning them into modern facilities with good food and great service. They did so here.

Like the aforementioned, do not expect ultra luxurious accommodations, but faithfully and comfortably adopted great old places.

Perched in the hills of the Santa Barbara “Riviera” above the picturesque town with a view of the Pacific, if the fog permits, with a view of the Channel Islands in the distance it is the quiet eerie imagined in 1918 when it was first built.

The makeover cost the property its tennis courts but gained it a great gym and spa and all the modern conveniences of a luxury retreat.

The units are well equipped and have gas fires, which are welcoming when returning to the room on a cool night. The beds are very comfortable.

The dining terrace is beautiful and romantic they have done a great job ascertaining that the coastal weather does not impede with a great experience.

We stayed long enough to taste most dishes and one was better than the next. Then there is what has been their signature desert for decades: “Floating Island”. There are few places this side of Paris which make oeufs a la neige. Theirs is great.

Try and get a room with a private balcony so you do not have to share your quiet time with guests passing by. Also, this undoubtly will become the new go-to wedding spot so make certain no big nuptial is planned so you do not have to share the peace with revelers.

For those of us who also think relaxing means an absence of kids screaming, running and splashing appears that El Encanto will not try and lure these enemies of peace and quiet to their aerie.

Orient Express has lived up to their reputation of meticulously and imaginatively restoring great old properties and running them well. This is certainly another gem in their crown

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank venamo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 3, 2013

I'm not really sure how to rate this lovely hotel. You can't beat the location as far as a nice drop off view of Santa Barbara. I remember the old El Encanto and Orient Express did a great job keeping the integrity of the old hotel. The bed was very comfortable and the linens are plush.

There is something missing though. I think it is coziness. Whilst the rooms are comfortable, they are not homey and cozy. I would call them functional. Also, I'm not sure the architect did hid level best as I feel he could have optimized on the views. Being surrounded by large Spanish style buildings with minimal views just didn't cut it for me.

There was little phone and wi fi connection. We also felt extremely guilty with the amount of water that poured through the rain-like shower head knowing the severe drought SB is in.

The chef needs to work on the menu a bit more. Some of the dishes just did not work like the large French fry dipped in tempura batter and fried (overkill); but was still raw in the middle.

Other than that the grounds are lovely and the staff is extremely nice and helpful.

Room Tip: Many of the rooms do not have a view. Pity.
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  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with friends
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4  Thank irishsalsa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 24, 2013

The El Encanto, a Santa Barbara icon, has just been re-opened after a development period that put the property out of business for years. Arguably the most spectacularly situated hotel in the city, set upon the Santa Barbara Riviera with panoramic views of the Pacific, the new El Encanto by Orient Express is the pinnacle of casual luxury. The entire property has been transformed without losing any of the old world Spanish-Moorish ambiance. The grounds are incredibly peaceful. Its only counterpart in Santa Barbara is the legendary San Ysidro Ranch but the Ranch is geographically and socially remote, located as it is in depths of Montecito with a reputation for sequestered exclusivity, whereas the El Encanto has the feel of informal, very chic elegance from the breathtaking views from the infinity pool to the art gracing the public areas. Dining at the El Encanto is a rich culinary experience. The outdoor dining area is unsurpassed and the food is spectacular. The swordfish was a joy, the halibut was delicious, the soups and salads wonderful and, to quote one of my dining companions, the deserts were off the charts. If you visit Santa Barbara splurge for a bungalow at the El Encanto. You won't regret it.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled with family
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1  Thank Michael 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 reviewResponded June 29, 2013

Dear Michael S.,

What a wonderful review of El Encanto! You have truly captured the essence of our gem in the hills of Santa Barbara! We hope your travels bring you back to our part of the world soon!

Best wishes,

Laura M

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Reviewed June 23, 2013

I recently spent three nights for a business trip. The place is spectacular... I love that it is a short drive from town so that you feel like you are at a retreat. The room was very spacious, comfortable and beautifully furnished with dreamy linens. I ate at the restaurant several times. The menu was reflective of the farm to table and quality ingredients that you expect from the finest restaurants in SF or LA. The staff was as good as I have experienced anywhere: from valet and reception to wait staff and housekeeping - first rate. For business or romance - this place is a must stay.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled on business
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Thank M T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 23, 2013 via mobile

Recently re-opened, this property had it all (almost). Facilities, rooms, service were all excellent. The spa was wonderful

The only thing missing are fire pits for enjoying the beautiful Santa Barbara evenings

  • Stayed: June 2013
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Thank Blipsin
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 reviewResponded June 29, 2013

Dear Blipsin,

I am delighted that your visit was wonderful! Love your suggestion about the fire pits...always something to consider adding...we do love that many of our rooms have cozy fireplaces to snuggle in front of but a bit of outdoor ambiance may be in order!

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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Additional Information about 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 Spa Hotel in Santa Barbara
#4 Romantic Hotel in Santa Barbara
#6 Luxury Hotel in Santa Barbara
Price Range: $479 - $970 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
El Encanto Hotel And Garden Villas

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