Enchanting Escape

Belmond El Encanto offers world-class luxury amidst a serene, stunning setting.

Need a rejuvenation vacation but can only spare a few days to unplug? Consider Belmond El Encanto, located an easy 70-mile drive north in Santa Barbara’s exclusive Riviera District—named for its likeness to the Mediterranean coast of France.

Leave the Valley by late afternoon, and by sunset, you’ll be sipping fine wine on a private bungalow terrace overlooking the ocean.

Rated five stars by Forbes in 2018 for the fifth consecutive year, the property offers world-class dining, unparalleled spa pampering and luxurious suites, nestled on seven acres of lush greenery, with sweeping views of the Santa Ynez Mountains and Pacific Ocean.

The landmark—celebrating its centennial anniversary this year—was originally built as faculty housing for the University of California at Santa Barbara. In 1918, it was transformed into one of California’s premier resorts, quickly establishing itself as a favorite getaway for artists of the Plein-Air School, as well as stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, such as Hedy Lamarr, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.

In 2006, the property underwent an expansive $134 million renovation that lovingly preserved its original charm, while adding modern, plush amenities, including an infinity-edge, saltwater swimming pool, state-of-the-art fitness studio and exclusive spa, sourced with local products.

Suites are furnished with king beds, and many boast private terraces and fireplaces.

Bathrooms are marble with exquisite fixtures and heated stone floors.

“Leave the Valley by late afternoon, and by sunset, you’ll be sipping fine wine on a private bungalow terrace overlooking the ocean.”

Start your day with a leisurely room service breakfast or an ambitious workout at the fitness center—perhaps a Belmont Burn or Encanto Flow class. Afterward, head to the pool, with temperatures maintained at a balmy 85°. Finish off by replenishing your senses at the spa. A Signature Scrub with citrus, basil and mint essential oils infused with an exclusive Himalayan salt blend, is an excellent option. Another must-try is the Signature Facial, which will leave your skin glowing, thanks to skin care products from sought-after Beverly Hill’s facialist Linda Ross.

For supper, reserve a table in the elegant dining room or under the stars on the terrace, with sweeping views of the Pacific. Helmed by Executive Chef Johan Denizot, the restaurant’s seasonally inspired menu features local seafood and farm-to-table produce. Don’t skip dessert; the decadent but light floating island has been a popular menu staple since 1929.

The extensive wine list includes a vast selection from Santa Barbara’s historic Sanford Winery. Belmond El Encanto also hosts a monthly, winemaker dinner series, featuring a multicourse tasting menu and wine pairings.

With so much to do and such delightful surroundings, it’s easy to stay put for an entire weekend. However if you do want a little adventure, there’s no need to hassle with driving or parking. Take one of the resort’s complimentary Faraday electric bicycles and cruise into town to explore the shops on State Street or go for a ride down the hill to the historic Santa Barbara Mission. The property also provides free transportation within a five-mile radius, via its Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

A scenic, 90-minute drive up the 101, Belmond El Encanto is just a hop, skip and a jump from the Valley. However as most guests agree, once firmly ensconced at this magical oasis, you’ll feel a million miles away.

For more on Belmond El Encanto in Santa Barbara, go to belmond.com.