Bacara Resort and Spa
Santa Barbara, California
Reviewed by Bruce Murray on Travel
October 16th 2000 - Had the opportunity to visit the new Bacara Resort & Spa today for only a day visit. We were unable to book a room on one of the 3 nights we wanted for our visit so we opted for the classic Biltmore, but visited Bacara so my Wife could try the Spa.
Our visit was unannounced and was paid for out-of-pocket, I contacted the resorts staff only after dining and taking some notes about the property.
NOTE.... Bacara Resort is NOT really "in" the town of Santa Barbara. The lovely little town of SB is still as wonderful as ever, but it is 10-15 minutes South of this resort. It may be considered in Santa Barbara by those who draw the lines on maps, but don't expect quick access to the areas well known shopping and restaurants.
This is a lovely destination resort. During my visit the resort was undergoing a "soft" open, slowly opening as room are completed and ready for occupancy. The the main building sits high on a coastal knoll that sloops gently to the 2 miles of beach front. The accommodations are located in smaller buildings that lead down to the ocean.
I viewed two rooms while visiting. A high end suite and an ocean view room. The new rooms are well appointed but small, even the suite. They included all the amenities that one would expect from a high-end luxury resort. But unlike the resort were we were staying, the Four Season Biltmore Santa Barbara, the rooms were on the smaller size.
We enjoyed two meals. As those of you who have read my other resort reviews know I'm not a qualified judge of fine food. My Wife is a bit more high end, but I'm a main stream kinda guy. The spa cuisine was excellent at the informal Spa Cafe. The Wife enjoyed her perfectly prepared Halibut as part of her Spa day package. The Bistro offers a "fusion of all the varieties of Mediterranean cuisine". I went for the Burger and Fries, a masterpiece of BBQ sauce and fine/crispy onions. Miro is the Bacara Resort's fine dining offering for dinner only.
I would recommend this resort as a great luxury destination oceanfront beach resort. Suggest you visit only during the warmer months from April to October. Golf is nearby at the Sandpiper Golf Course.
I'm going to do what I have done in past resort reviews. Expect a baseline level of service and I'll make comments from that point. You should expect all the default / expected luxury resort facilities, service and services from Bacara. From here on I will comment on issues that exceed or do not meet the expectations of a Luxury resort.
Due to the hillside Santa Barbara location of this property the vast majority of the guest rooms are located downhill from the main building, and uphill from the public pools. Walking from one end of the property to the other can be a bit of a hike for seniors. The resort does have several golf carts that circulate offering rides to guests.
Guest rooms are located in small buildings that are disconnected from each other. During the beautiful California Summer months this is no problem, but during the winter season this causes guests to brave the weather to reach the main building, restaurants and spa. And the oceanfront winds won't help with this problem. I live overlooking the ocean just 100 south of Bacara Resort and from November to April the beachfront weather can be a bit harsh.
The level and quality of staffing was very high for the number of guests who were on the property the day I visited. My hope would be that during the Fall/Winter 2000/2001 period they will train and establish an attentive and professional staff. Most of the employees seem to be local college students.
Bacara has 3 pools one is dedicated to the Spa, the other larger public pools are situated at the base of the resort near the ocean. These lovely pools are surrounded by 33 private cabanas available by reservation. These areas are very beautiful.
Doesn't seem like a very good vacation location for kids, but then again with the beach so convenient it may be perfect. I'm told by staff that a children's menu is available in the restaurants, and that daily activities are provided. A outdoor play area was planned, but not yet constructed when I visited.
My Wife enjoyed her stay at the Spa facility. She has experienced spa services at resorts around the world and She ranks the Bacara Spa services as average to above average. She was a bit disappointed in her facial.
View PROPERTY MAP. Visit the Official BACARA WEBSITE.
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