Belmond El Encanto originally opened in 1918 and quickly became established as the top getaway for celebrities and fashion designers from both the East and West Coasts. Now fast forward to fall/winter 2017 where once again the El Encanto is known as the playground for the Hollywood elite. Beautiful Santa Barbara embodies the Californian dream, with its bucolic valleys swathed in surf mist, pristine ranches and manicured lawns. While the Spanish Old Mission at the top of the town sets the tone with its swaying palms and pink-domed bell towers, Belmond El Encanto increases the allure of a true luxury getaway destination.
Offering a timeless sense of tranquillity from its vantage point high in the hills, the resort features 92 luxuriously designed bungalows and suites set in seven acres of lush historic gardens with sweeping views over Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean beyond. It features two distinct styles of early Santa Barbara architecture – California Craftsman and Spanish Colonial Revival — their interiors decorated with works of art carefully curated to reflect the Santa Barbara landscape. British artist Damien Hirst’s butterfly-inspired Psalm print hangs over the concierge desk, a nod to the hotel’s location on a butterfly migration path, while renowned Californian abstract artist Charles Arnoldi’s bold, bright painting, Future, makes a dramatic entrance to The Dining Room. It is here, in The Dining Room & Terrace, where Executive Chef Johan Denizot offers guests an elegant take on Californian coastal cuisine, served at tables that boast the best views in town. The French-born chef is most proud of the area’s local produce, which includes highlights such as buttery, briny sea urchin, which is unique to Santa Barbara, plus hotel-grown delights such as cheese made from milk produced by Ellie, Belmond El Encanto’s very own Holstein cow. Signature dishes include Santa Barbara spotted prawns crudo with Ojai Pixie segments, local halibut with coastal freckle lettuce and Fresno chillies, and Denizot’s popular halibut sashimi. To match? There are 600 different wines on the well-thought-out wine list, looked after by enthusiastic head sommelier Jeremy Sewell, who offers a number from California’s thrilling Central Coast by the glass. The enchanted setting makes Belmond El Encanto the perfect spot for any special gatherings, most notably weddings. From the wisteria-lined Arbor and Lily Pond, to the elegant ballroom with its exclusive patio, guests can select from the resort’s range of signature venues.
Belmond El Encanto also offers a beautiful spa, which draws from the surrounding landscape to create soothing, signature treatments. There are ocean-inspired therapies infused with calming sea elements, such as seaweed. Guests can also enjoy a range of activities including classes and workshops taught by renowned fitness trainer Nora Tobin and her skilled team, and venture into the nearby town on the resort’s complimentary electric bikes. Music and comedy loving guests should make tracks to the nearby Santa Barbara Bowl, one of the leading entertainment venues on California’s coast. The massive outdoor amphitheatre was built in 1936 and now hosts some of the biggest names in the business. But most guests choose to take their time—simply strolling through the resort’s breathtaking gardens or lounging by the zero-edge saline pool, with its complimentary sunglass cleaning and Evian cooling mist service, before hanging out on their very own porch – glass of Californian wine in hand, watching the sun dip below the horizon is a treat and the best way of ending a day of just chilling out.
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