Check-In: Four Seasons Resort – The Biltmore Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, California is one of our favorite Southern California destinations. Located roughly 90 minutes north of Los Angeles, the city lies on a south-facing section of the California coast situated between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
Santa Barbara is well known for its farm-to-table cuisine, boutique wineries, beaches, art galleries and boutique shopping on State Street, and its nearby charming small towns surrounded by vineyards, fields and ranches, and a rugged, remote coastline.
In our humble opinion, Santa Barbara is the perfect place for a luxury boomer getaway. We’re just home from such a getaway and we chose to begin our journey at the fabulous Four Seasons Resort – The Biltmore Santa Barbara.
For a luxury beachfront Santa Barbara Resort, the Four Seasons Resort – The Biltmore Santa Barbara is your best and only choice.
Locally known as simply “The Biltmore”, the luxury hotel opened in 1927 as part of the Biltmore Hotels chain. In 1987, Four Seasons Hotels bought the Santa Barbara Biltmore renaming the property the Four Seasons Resort Santa Barbara, and in 2000, Ty Warner (founder of the Beanie Baby) bought the hotel while keeping Four Seasons as the management company for the property. Today, the official name of the property is the Four Seasons Resort – The Biltmore Santa Barbara. Quite a mouthful, huh? 🙂
Besides the rich history of the resort, one of the great draws to the Four Seasons Resort – The Biltmore Santa Barbara is that it sits adjacent to Butterfly Beach. Besides enjoying romantic walks on the beach, if you’re so inclined, you can ride a paved bike path all the way to the Santa Barbara Pier.
Here’s a few photographs I captured while we strolled along Butterfly Beach…
Built in classic Spanish Colonial style and infused with modern amenities, accommodations at the oceanfront Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara include 207 luxury guest rooms and suites. Locations vary among the low-lying main buildings and a collection of 12 single-story cottages surrounded by lush greenery at the rear of the property. Situated along winding garden pathways, each cottage comprises three to five guest rooms with its own private entrance.
During our stay, we enjoyed one of their comfy Premier Rooms (pictured below). The room was roughly 500 sq. ft, and featured all of the amenities that luxury travelers have come to expect. We enjoyed a very large flat-screen TV, yummy L’Occitane bath and body amenities, a Spanish-tiled deep soaking tub, and a separate shower. Plus, there were ample oohs and aahs when we sank into the “Signature Sleep by Four Seasons” bed. VERY comfy indeed!
As you might expect, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara features a wonderful array of dining options certain to delight the palate of today’s most discriminating foodies. Specializing in innovative, locally sourced cuisine, the menus evolve regularly to feature the best seafood and products complimented by the region’s bounty of fresh, sustainable and organic produce. Plus, you’ll also enjoy a comprehensive wine list offering wines from Santa Barbara County as well as outstanding wines from around the world.
Bella Vista Restaurant
Bella vista is Italian for beautiful view, and we found this restaurant to be aptly named. Bella Vista is renowned as Santa Barbara’s most beautiful al fresco dining spot offering Italian inspired California cuisine, helmed by Executive Chef Alessandro Cartumini. The restaurant is known for the freshest seafood and pasta entrees, a Thursday night crudo bar with shucked oysters, shrimp and scallops at sunset and one of the most celebrated Sunday brunches in the United States.
The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We enjoyed a fabulous breakfast each morning at Bella Vista where we found dramatic ocean views, a fabulous breakfast buffet with fruits, cereals, sweets, fresh pressed juices, smoothies, and frittatas and omelets. Carol went for the buffet, while I enjoyed a Bella Vista specialty: Huevos Rajas. Yum, yum, yum!
Take a peek at my breakfast photographs…
As I mentioned above, in the evening, the Bella Vista Restaurant transforms into Santa Barbara’s most romantic dining spot. Here’s a peek from a Four Seasons photograph. Very romantic. Right?
Directly across the street, and right on the ocean, lies the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club (a private social membership club) also owned by Ty Warner.
Built in 1937, and given a $65 million face-lift by Ty Warner completed in 2008, this fabulous private club is open to Four Seasons Biltmore guests who possess a Coral Casino Passport (complimentary to guests who stay in a “premier” or above room). The Tydes Restaurant, located in the club, is also available by reservation to all Four Seasons guests.
Here’s a peek of the private pool w/ Cabanas that I shot on our way to lunch at the Club. This is open to Four Seasons guests w/ a Coral Casino Passport (see above).
And, here’s a shot of the Tydes Restaurant, again from our friends at Four Seasons…
Tydes is open for lunch and dinner for members and those who possess a Coral Casino Passport, and is also open for dinner to all Four Seasons guests. As you can see, Tydes is another fabulous evening dining option with Santa Barbara lights twinkling across the bay.
“Tydes takes a modern approach to California coastal cuisine, blending simple, well-sourced ingredients with creativity and trend forward techniques. Seasonally evolving menus emphasize seafood and incorporate the freshest catch from the Santa Barbara Channel whenever possible. Driven by the California terroir and rich bounty of local, sustainable produce and ingredients, dishes reflect a New American philosophy and commitment to supporting small local farms and fishermen. An extensive and thoughtful wine list showcases the most exquisite regional winemaking talent with predominantly Santa Barbara County and California labels.” (via Four Seasons website)
When you make your dinner reservations, be certain to arrive early to enjoy the Coral Reef Bar, California’s first Coral Reef Aquarium Bar. The freestanding, 275-gallon attraction weighs 675 pounds and is built to support 350 fish and a live coral environment encased in an acrylic bar top as the centerpiece of Tydes Restaurant. It’s kind of wild, the fish are swimming in an aquarium right under your elbows and evening cocktail. 😀
Before I get into photos and a discussion of our evening meal, let me share an evening photo of Tydes Restaurant with you from our friends at Four Seasons…
Can you hear the waves lapping on the beach below? What a setting!
Now, let us share with you our fabulous dining experience at Tydes Restaurant.
While beef, chicken, pork, and lobster are available on the menu, it seemed kind of silly not to enjoy a fish entree as we were sitting on the Pacific Ocean. Carol is not adventurous at all in her dinner selections, so she started out with a beautiful Beet Salad – Pickled Beet, Goat Cheese, Horseradish, Puffed Quinoa. However, I’m always willing to explore, and when I saw Grilled Octopus – Pineapple, Piquillo Pepper Puree, Lime Aioli, Grapefruit on the menu, it was a no-brainer for me. Our waiter said the flavors were delish, and that the plate resembled a Jackson Pollock painting. I photographed my “Jackson Pollack” octopus (pic #1 above), and enjoyed the dish immensely. I couldn’t get Carol to take a bite, however. 🙁
Fresh Alaskan Halibut is abundantly available on the West Coast, and therefore is a frequent choice of mine. In my second picture above, you can see the Alaska Halibut – Yellow Cauliflower, Almond Arugula Pesto , Brown Butter Curry that I photographed at our table. Looks beautiful, doesn’t it? And trust me, the taste was equally beautiful. Flaky and fully of flavor.
In my third photograph, you can see Carol’s Grilled Whole Branzino – Charred Shishito Peppers, Sea Beans, Panko Bread Crumbs, Brown Butter. You might notice that the fish is indeed grilled, but not whole. “Why”, you ask? Because my lovely wife doesn’t do eyeballs. She doesn’t want her dinner looking back at her while she’s eating. So, the kitchen graciously accommodated her phobia. Hah! 😀
Carol and I ended our wonderful dining experience sharing a Warm Chocolate Almond Cake – Caramelized White Chocolate Coulis, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and a piping hot double-decaf espresso. YUM! Of course!
You know, besides the fabulous meal and stunning location, because this was a private club, we also greatly enjoyed being away from the crowds. Only members and Four Seasons Biltmore guests are allowed. So, having an quiet, intimate dinner is easily accomplished. We greatly enjoyed ourselves, and highly recommend it!
I might also add, if you’re looking for very special dining experiences, Four Seasons Resort – The Biltmore Santa Barbara can also arrange a wonderful picnic basket for you to take on your journey, a farmers’ market-to-fork culinary adventure with the Chef, or even a private dining enclave at the exclusive Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club. If you can dream it, they’ll try to make it happen.
Now, I have a very sad tale to share with you. Just after we checked into our luxurious room, Carol zipped off to the spa for a massage while I worked in the room. Not fair, right? :O Actually, the resort offered me a spa treatment as well, but for some silly reason, I declined. Not very smart on my part.
Remember the rubber Gumby dolls we used to have as kids? When Carol came back from her 80-minute spa treatment, rather than being all stiff and rigid from our flight, she came back rubbery, relaxed, and had a look of bliss on her face. Kind of like a happy Gumby doll.
Carol shared that she experienced the resort’s signature Four Seasons In One spa ritual. Take a peek at what is included in this 80-minute experience:
- Winter – invigorating peppermint scrub on the back, hands and feet
- Spring – floral and citrus aromatic body wrap and facial pressure point massage
- Summer – a medley combining Thai massage, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi, reflexology and aromatherapy massage techniques
- Autumn – finish with a soothing ayurvedic scalp massage with a hint of clove
Ooh. As I sit here in my chair writing this, I could sure use this fabulous treatment. I wonder if Scotty could beam me back to the Biltmore so that I could enjoy one of these spa rituals for myself?
Well, after nearly 2,000 words, I hope I have convinced you that a luxury traveler’s trip to Santa Barbara must include a stay at Four Seasons Resort – The Biltmore Santa Barbara. And, for the luxury traveler looking for an oceanfront setting in Santa Barbara, this is your best and only choice.
We give our experience two enthusiastic thumbs-up, highly recommend it to you and our travel agency clients, and we’re looking forward to a return stay over the coming years as we journey back to one of our favorite U.S. destinations: Santa Barbara, California. :yes: :yes:
Plus, as a member of the $15 billion Virtuoso Travel Network, we have complimentary perks for you on top of the resort’s best available rates. To learn more about our complimentary VIP perks, click here.
Disclosure: our stay was provided by the kind folks at Four Seasons Resort – The Biltmore Santa Barbara. Thanks! We really enjoyed our visit!
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