I chose El Encanto l because I wanted to treat my sister to two days of rest in a fine hotel after she ran the marathon. It was a big mistake. We were thoroughly dissatisfied with the food, service, and accommodations. We booked it under the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts program, which offers amenities like a suite upgrade, free breakfast, a spa and resort credit, etc.
The first sign of a problem was that we were not offered a suite upgrade at check-in, although the property was only 40 percent booked, according to the bell man. The next issue came at dinner. I ordered fish and it came with rice that was so chewy it felt like it had been scraped from the bottom of the pot. I complained to the waiter and he said, well, it's late.
The disappointment continued early the next morning when I was awakened by bright sunlight glaring in my face from the window above the patio doors. It was so bright I couldn't sleep. After calling the front desk, they sent a maintenance man to cover the window above the door with a dark blue towel. He used duct tape and it was very unsightly. After we awakened we asked them to remove it. They came back later that evening to cover it again with a towel and duct tape. Hard to believe no one else had complained before. Hard to believe this was the best solution. The hotel was only 40 percent occupied so they could have moved us to a different room.
Next came the spa. We both went for separate massages. My therapist had no clue how to give a deep-tissue massage. She used her elbow most of the time and appeared anemic. I couldn't wait for the 50 minutes to finish.
The final insult to injury was at check-out. The bill did not contain a credit for any of the amenities except for the resort credit. I asked the attendant why did we not receive the AmEx credits for breakfast and spa and he said they were already applied by the dining department for breakfasts and by the spa. I told him I had no one to know if they were and why were they not indicated on the bill. He assured me I had nothing to worry about, as this was the resort's practice.
When we got home, I was still suspicious and called El Encanto a week later seeking assurances that the credits were applied. The customer service attendant on the phone said in fact that one of the breakfast credits had not been applied. I asked her why? She said it sometimes happens that way. I told this was unfair to guests and that I would have been cheated out of my $45 breakfast credit if I had not persisted. She said that they were working on solving that problem.
"Working on solving that problem"? What an explanation!!
In the end, I suggest you steer clear of this property -- it's not worthy of being in the American Express program and certainly not worthy of your patronage. I am still suspicious of the spa credit and the breakfast credit. The Bacara and Four Seasons resorts are profoundly better in Santa Barbara.
- 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