by Lissa Poirot
One of the most luxurious resorts on the coast of California can be found just minutes outside of Santa Barbara. Bacara Resort & Spa is a destination resort in which families could spend all of their hours enjoying the spoils of the resort without ever needing to explore or sightsee; it’s so relaxing and pampering, you may not want to ever leave.
Set on 78 acres of beachfront, the resort’s more than 350 spacious guestrooms and suites received full renovations in 2015. The resort’s terra cotta roofs and whitewashed buildings with lush landscapes, infinity-edge pools and courtyard fountains emulate a sense of the Mediterranean coastline, yet guests are only about an hour from Los Angeles. Accommodations are housed in separate buildings sprawling on the hillside location with paths connecting all areas of the resort to a cliff walk and beach access overlooking the Channel Islands. Five onsite dining options, nature paths, tennis, neighboring golf, an award-winning spa and a kids’ program complete the resort, which will truly leave you feeling as if you have vacationed abroad.
Our Editor Loves
- Oceanview pool
- Luxurious suites
- Private beach access
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
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Bacara's rooms and suites received a full renovation in the spring of 2015, combining Spanish Mediterranean architecture with designer-styled accommodations. Interiors feature two poster beds with Frette lines, Oriental-inspired rugs on terra cotta tile floors, deep soaking tubs with walnut bathroom vanities, and balconies and decks overlooking the Santa Ynez Mountains, the resort's gardens or the ocean. Tip: Ask for accommodations in buildings 2, 4, 6, 8, 9 and 10 for the best ocean views.
Rooms and suites are outfitted with 48-inch LED TVs, DVD players, mini-bars, coffeemakers, free Wi-Fi, iPad tablets for restaurant room service, valet and lighting and climate control, and a charging station for mobile devices. Suites include gas fireplaces. Specific accommodations are also pet friendly. Connecting rooms and rollaway beds are available, the latter for a fee of $50 per night.
The smallest of the accommodations, standard guest rooms are 450 feet in size and offer village, partial-ocean or ocean views. Rooms are outfitted with one king or two double beds.
Larger than standard rooms, junior suites are 545 feet in size and provide two double beds along with a living area.
More than 800 feet in size, these suites provide a separate living and sleeping area. The private bathroom is outfitted with one king bed, while the living area includes a sofa bed for young children. A dining table for four is also in the living space.
Terrace suites are 850 square feet and provide a separate sleeping and living area. The living room features a sofa bed, wet bar and desk area, while the bedroom features one king bed and a sitting area with a fireplace. Both the living and sleeping areas provide walkout balconies, and kids will love the video entertainment system in the living room.
The largest of Bacara's accommodations, signature suites are more than 900 square feet and provide a large parlor with a sofa bed, chairs, desk area and wet bar, connected to a large king bedroom with a sitting area. Both the parlor and bedroom feature gas fireplaces, and the suite features two large bathrooms, one with a deep soaking tub and one with a shower.
Ritz Carlton standards in name only
We were let down! We are attending a conference here which means ,the property has had advance notice to plan for the amount of additional guest they would be accommodating during this weekend.
Having said that, Restaurant Bistro staff seemed overwhelmed . They were not able to handle the simple task of Refilling a water glass. The majority of the guest are taking advantage of the buffet ,so even less pressure is on the staff. Pancakes ,bacon and French toast were all cold . $40 for a cold buffet.
I think management needs to take a more proactive role in advising their guest (S) to keep their pets on their leashes. Even in the pool area, These were not service animals.
The air-conditioning ventilation service is nothing less than a swamp cooler, it would be exaggerated to call it adequate. When we left for dinner at five, the thermostat indicated 77°. We brought this to maintenance attention and they told it was blowing at 67. When a guest is uncomfortable and not feeling cold air ,I think it brings into question the validity of the maintenance statement. We did call the front desk ,however I would gather if this was an isolated event they would suggest a room change immediately. Especially when you walk in the lobby and conference area and feel the cold ventilation.
They need a greater renovation on this property. The pools are well appointed. If we were to return to Santa Barbara , we would do research on other resorts
Spent an early 10 year anniversary weekend here. The grounds are well manicured and the resort is good size. Our room was standard Ritz size of 450sf. We had a balcony overlooking the garden area. When at a Ritz, you expect the service and hospitality in every aspect to be top notch. My wife and I thought just that of Zach for the golf cart rides, Heidi in the bar and the bartender at the pool bar were all exceptional. Some other staffers though seemed like they were not working at a 5 star resort, but were not rude, just not as engaged as the other three mentioned. It may have been because there were 2 weddings that were going on that weekend as well as the hotel seemed to be overrun by Los Angeles socialites travelling north for a get away. Overall, we enjoyed our stay but other Ritz experiences have warranted the 5 stars. That would not prevent me though from going back, especially with a great golf store right down the road!
The resort features three zero-edge infinity pools. One is for guests ages 16 and older near the spa, but the other two offer beach and ocean views. Known as the Resort Pool and the Cabana Pool, the two saline pools are where families spend their time when not down on the beach. The Cabana Pool earned its name for its 26 specialty designed private cabanas. Available by reservation for a fee, the cabanas offer Wi-Fi, bottled water, fresh fruit and dedicated waiter service. The Pool Bar also services the two pools, with snacks and drinks on offer daily.
The resort sits along a 2-mile stretch of beach. Open seasonally, the resort's Beach House is located along the sand and provides complimentary chairs, umbrellas and towels to make a day at the beach a breeze. The Beach House also provides light bites and picnic tables for dining. Guests may also rent water sports onsite, year-round.
Monarch Kids' Club
Named for the butterflies that make their way to the coastline every year, the seasonal kids' club provides full- and half-day supervised kids' programing and care. Available for children ages 5 to 12, kids enjoy structured play, arts and crafts and play areas. When not open fulltime, the club is offered on weekends during peak family visits. A special Saturday Night session is offered to allow mom and dad to enjoy a date night while kids dine and play with their friends. A 20-percent discount is offered for more than one child. Rates start from $85 per child for half-day sessions that also include lunch.
The resort rests along a Cliff Walk and a number of looping trails for mild to moderate hikes. Trail maps are available at check-in and are well marked along paths. Guided bicycle tours may also be arranged.
The resort's four Har-Tru tennis courts are available at no additional charge. Lessons are available and equipment may be rented.
Although Bacara does not operate the neighboring golf course, guests can enjoy the two 18-hole courses overlooking the ocean. Sandpiper Golf Course is adjacent to the resort and has hosted PGA Tour events.
Throughout the year, the resort hosts a number of daily and weekly activities that appeal to parents, families and children. From yoga and tennis to dance lessons and movie nights held in the resort's 211-seat Screening Room, guests will find a wide array of options; weekly activities are listed in a resort calendar. Some activities may charge an additional fee, while many are included with your stay.
Formerly known as Miro, the Bistro restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating and fabulous views of the ocean. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and a Champagne Sunday brunch, your family will call the Bistro home when it comes to dining. The Bistro is open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Poolside menus provide all-day service to those in cabanas and pool chairs, serving menu items from the Bistro's lunch menu. You'll find salads, burgers and kids' meals for everyone to enjoy.
For small bites, sushi and cocktails, the Bacara Bar, in the main lobby, is a lively nightspot. During the day, appetizers and sushi are available, and in the evenings, the bar offers full dinner entrees. Live music is offered on weekend evenings. Bacara Bar is open Monday through Thursday, beginning at 4 p.m., and at noon Friday through Sunday. Closing time is subject to change.
The resort's spa offers a healthy breakfast and lunch menu at its adult-only spa cafÃ©. The cafÃ© serves organic and local foods to help guests detoxify and refresh. The Spa CafÃ© is open from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Friday through Sunday. On select evenings, the Spa CafÃ© offers evening hours, as well.
This coffee shop located in the resort's lobby is a blend of Italian and French coffees and teas. The shop is open daily from early morning to early evening, and guests can grab breakfast pastries, paninis and more to enjoy at the cafÃ©, its outdoor terrace or in their room.
Open seasonably, the Beach House is located right on the beach and provides beachside dining at picnic tables.
Room service from the Bistro is offered 24 hours a day, to enjoy meals in your room or on your private patios (especially nice at breakfast time).
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Bacara charges a $25 per day resort fee that covers the welcome bottle of wine waiting in each room per stay, two bottles of water, Wi-Fi access, in-room coffee and use of the resort's fitness and spa center. Guests of the resort may use the spa, spa pool and services without spa appointments.
Dogs are invited to stay at the Bacara, for an additional $150 fee per pet, per room. Dogs receive beds, food bowls, water bowls and clean-up bags, and are allowed to dine with owners at the Bistro and Spa CafÃ© on the outdoor terrace. All dogs must remain on a leash at all times during their stay, and the leash may not exceed a range of 6 feet.
Check-in is at 4 p.m. and check-out is at noon. Late check-out is available by request for an additional fee.
The Art of Smart Timing
Santa Barbara is considered the American Riviera for its views and ideal weather, with average temperatures ranging between 60 and 80 degrees year-round. With such perfect weather, the resort is a year-round destination, but peaks in the summer and holiday periods.
Bacara Resort is just 10 minutes from the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, and 90 minutes from Los Angeles International Airport. Parking is valet only.
You will not need a car during your stay on the resort, unless, of course, you choose to leave and explore wine country, Santa Barbara and the surrounding areas.
For Mom and Dad
Parents should take advantage of the Monarch Kids' Program's Saturday night hours for a little alone time. The Spa at Bacara is certainly a sanctuary where adults can relax and rejuvenate. The 36-room facility offers 60 treatments, from massages to body scrubs to facials to hydrotherapy. A private, heated saltwater pool is available for adult guests, as well as a private outdoor rooftop lounge area with views of the ocean.
Parents should also make time to visit the Foley Wine Tasting Room, located off of the arrival courtyard. Here, the Foley Food & Wine Society presents wine flights and tastings. The resort's Cellar also houses around 12,000 bottles of wines from 13 countries. The cellar can be reserved for private events and dinners, set in stone with rustic dÃ©cor.