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“Not worth it!”
Review of Belmond El Encanto

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Belmond El Encanto
Ranked #8 of 52 Hotels in Santa Barbara
New York City, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Not worth it!”
Reviewed March 22, 2014

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.
Best,
CS

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank C 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 4, 2014
Dear CS,

Thank you for taking time to write a very candid review of your stay at El Encanto.

I am very disappointed to see that we did not provide you with our usual Five Star service and that we let you down in several key areas. Please accept my sincere apologies that we failed to meet your expectations. It is certainly our goal to make every guest feel pampered, and to create a hassle free environment in which to get away from the day to day stress of everyday life.

I would value an opportunity to have you as a guest again in the future to experience our true El Encanto service. Please contact my office directly so we discuss in person.

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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Rating summary
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  • Value
  • Cleanliness
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socal
Level Contributor
41 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 76 helpful votes
Reviewed March 22, 2014 via mobile

I had the opportunity to spend one night at this newly renovated historic orient express managed property in late September. The weather is perfect this time of year.

To love:

Darling/unique cottages
Private with lush gardens
Sea views
Wood floor and fireplaces
Impeccable interior design
Gracious service

Ask for:

See your room first then ask for a Room upgrade - the front desk is pre-authorized to give a one category upgrade at no charge.

Be aware:

Prepare to spend $$$$
Hotel/dining pkgs are not flexible

Check and double check you final bill for hidden charges and errors

  • Stayed September 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank travelwriterwannab
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Redwood City, California
Level Contributor
22 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed March 19, 2014 via mobile

I visited with my wife, mother-in-law and 3 yr old daughter. We stayed in an amazing room close to the fish pond. The room was clean, spacious, and rivaled any upscale hotel I have stayed at. The room service and food was top notch. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the angel hair pasta was al dente and garlicy. The restaurant dinner was above average. My wife and I both had the risotto w tartufo and it was too heavy on the rosemary, drowning out the sought after mushroom flavor of the dish. Posh decor, great beers and an expansive wine offering made the restaurant a good choice for date night. The Sunday brunch is a must. Held on the large outdoor patio, the open air brunch started at 11 (make reservations). Bottomless champagne, mimosas and bellinis, the view and great people watching makes orchard to leave. (How they turn tables, I don't know.). I had the braised short rib and the wife had the salmon.
As we checked out and left they were attentive and helpful, even stocked out water bottle supply for the ride south. Of you can stay for even one night, it's worth the experience.

Stayed March 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank Circumnavigatio
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
16 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed March 16, 2014

I am not sure what more I can add that hasn't already been said by recent reviewers except to say that anyone working in the hospitality industry should pay a visit to this hotel to see how a first class operation is run and to learn from it. As I said in my heading I really did not want to leave the premises and would have extended my stay had I not already prepaid for hotel accommodations in Carmel. I only wish that Belmond had more locations in North American as I would make it my goal to visit them knowing that I would get the same wonderful experience that I had at the El Encanto.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Lloyd647
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed March 14, 2014

A classic, still.
After anxiously awaiting the re-opening of the El Encanto we were so pleased to see that the lush beauty, architectural style and spirit of the hotel has been maintained. Kudos to the hotel’s management for its hands-on and personal interest in guests. The entire staff was delightful, making us feel both at home and pampered. And we loved, loved the new saltwater infinity pool. Santa Barbara is our favorite get away destination from Los Angeles. And when we feel like treating ourselves its so nice to know that our once favorite hotel---- still is.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank gloria 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 review, March 17, 2014
Dear gloria h,

How lovely to hear that you found the renovation of El Encanto worth the wait! We are celebrating our one year re-opening this week and are so glad to hear that you returned after our beautiful restoration and saw the beauty and charm that has made this such a special property for 100 years. Our Five Star status and enchanting grounds certainly continue to make for wonderful memories.

We hope you will once again make El Encanto your favorite stop in Santa Barbara.

Best wishes,

Laura M
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Murrysville, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
11 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed March 10, 2014

We spent two nights in this fabulous hotel as we traveled through a ten night trip from Sonoma / Napa Valley to Santa Monica (with stops in Sonoma, Napa, San Francisco, Carmel, Santa Barbara, and Santa Monica) for a special birthday. This hotel was an outstanding luxurious choice!! The location is magnificent - the sunset views over the pool and restaurant are some of the best I have ever seen. The appointments in the bungalow style rooms exceed the adjectives in my vocabulary. We ate two breakfasts and a dinner in the hotel - each meal was exceptional (yes, even the white omlet with chives was a masterpiece). I loved the breakfast tea!
If I travel to CA again, this hotel will be the centerpiece of my trip!

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank AnnECR_12
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, March 17, 2014
Dear AnnECR_12,

Thank you for making El Encanto a stop on what sounds like an amazing birthday celebration journey! We hope you will find many more occasions to visit us in the future for more pampering.

Best wishes,

Laura M
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dallas, Texas
Level Contributor
148 reviews
78 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
Reviewed March 4, 2014

I spent three fabulous nights at this incredible hotel over an extended weekend. The cabin I stayed in was beautifully furnished with all the high-end modern conveniences along with a heated bathroom floor, glorious rain shower and lots of space. The quality of the finishes, the bedding and amenities are incredible. A personalized monogrammed head-pillow the most subtle of elegant touches. The setting is hard to beat and in the main building the atmosphere is warm and inviting. Each night I enjoyed the hospitality at the bar and fire-place and the piano player and singer were a real treat. Food was excellent. The service was outstanding and I will be back., Thank you.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled on business
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank seanmage
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, March 17, 2014
Dear seanmage,

We are thrilled to read of your wonderful five star experience at El Encanto! It sounds like you really made the most of your long weekend and we are so happy you spent it with us!

We look forward to welcoming you back in the near future!

Best wishes,

Laura M
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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