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
Rooms & Rates
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.
This is a beautiful property. The rooms are lovely, the setting is gorgeous and the staff is so attentive. The only downside is its name. The resort is not in Santa Barbara. It is over 10 miles away. However, this is a perfect resort to go to and stay there for multiple days. We did travel into Santa Barbara/Montecito and the area but our happiest days were at the resort. The rooms surround gorgeous vegetation and beautiful pools. The beach is not so great here but don't let that deter you from visiting. We will return soon.
The Ritz Carlton Bacara is a delightful sprawling oasis situated in Santa Barbara county (Goleta). The resort in my opinion, is quintessential southern California style. From the moment we drove up the winding driveway to the moment we set foot in the gorgeous, floral adorned lobby, we were pleased. The person who checked us in was gracious, friendly, and very personable. If you enjoy walking, this is the place for you. The resort is massive and filled with gorgeous villas and guesthouses, lined with blooming bird-of-paradise, Mediterranean plants, and native California plants. At times, the walk is steep and mountainous. I did see many folks being driven around by resort staff. During one of our walks, a friendly staff member stopped his vehicle and asked if we would like a lift. There is also ocean/beach access on the property.
We loved everything about our suite (located in villa 11). Extremely spacious, with 2 balconies and a fireplace in the living area. Nice wet-bar area with Nespresso machine and all amenities. 2 spotless bathrooms, with a gorgeous soaker tub in one. The main bathroom opened up into the bedroom area via shutters. Digital safe in room, along with all the other basics. Housekeeping did a wonderful job.
The Club Lounge was awesome. It’s a quaint and cozy spot to hang out in, either inside or outside on the patio. It’s fairly new, given that the Ritz Carlton took over this property less than a year ago. And given the minor challenges that we encountered, the staff worked hard to make things right and comfortable for all the Club Lounge guests. Emily, the Club Lounge Manager is an absolute doll. Professional, friendly, and always one step ahead. She is genuine, helpful, and made our stay so much more enjoyable. Todd is also a great asset at the Bacara. He possesses a keen sense of service and is consistent in his friendly demeanour. A great guy who really helped me out when I needed it! The food presentations were overall great. Excellent job on catering to the gluten-free people. Tons of options. We met the Chef one afternoon. Super nice chap who accommodated us perfectly.
There are two pools on property. One is a quiet, adults only pool and the other pool is open to all guests. The pools are well heated, which was highly appreciated and warranted. Pool staff were very attentive and friendly. There are also a few restaurants on property, including a steak house. We had dinner at the casual Bistro and it was good enough. Not stellar, but pleasant enough.
If you love nature, the beach, walking/hiking, and a relaxed California vibe, this is the place for you. You could never leave the property and still find yourself fulfilled on many levels.
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.