The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara Beckons

With wanderlust at perhaps an all-time high, but with worldwide travel still on pause, there is no better time to hit the open road for a California car trip. For those in the Bay Area, Santa Barbara, at about a five-hour drive, proves the perfect destination, and The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara is the ideal spot at which to reacquaint oneself with the pampering and relaxation so sorely missed during this past year.

Having established itself as a desired Southern California oceanfront destination since its 2000 opening, the Mediterranean influenced resort, with its 358 guest rooms and suites of varying sizes and views, situated amongst 19 ‘villas,’ continues to offer the ultimate in casual, beachfront luxury. Cloaked for the past three years in The Ritz-Carlton’s aura of understated elegance, Bacara takes full advantage of its stunning natural setting while offering impeccable hospitality and innumerable activities.

The Ritz-Carlton Suite Terrace

Located on 78 acres of California coastline, the resort is one of very few in the area that offer direct access to the beach. This stretch of sand changes with every low and high tide; no two days are the same as waves deliver driftwood and rock to the shoreline, based on the moon’s attraction to the sun. The sand hides a bit in winter weather but reveals itself in all of its SoCal glory during summer.

Be it winter or summer, the coastal views and the melodic sound of crashing waves permeate the bucolic Bacara property where three swimming pools, a sumptuous spa, and varied dining options serve to create a world unto itself. Guests may be tempted to explore the surrounding area – the resort is minutes from downtown Santa Barbara, the hillside Riviera, and notable wineries. But with so many on-site options, Bacara is itself the destination.

Relax poolside at one of Bacara’s three zero-edge, salt-water swimming pools. Rent a decked-out upper or lower cabana overlooking the Cabana Pool with television, refrigerator, dining table, and fresh fruit and water service. Recline at the larger Resort Pool with the ocean as your backdrop, or luxuriate at the adults-only Spa Pool, adjacent to the 42,000 square foot Spa where a number of soothing treatments are offered, such as the Bacara Signature Massage with its use of hot stones and heated herbal compresses to restore and regenerate muscles and joints. Cap-off whichever spa indulgence you’ve chosen with a glass of bubbly high atop the Spa’s rooftop terrace.

Spa Entrance
Spa Pool

Shop for the latest SoCal fashions in the lobby boutique. Taste local wines on-site at the Foley Food & Wine Society Tasting Room. Hike the on-property nature trail. Enjoy sunrise yoga on the bluff. Receive one-on-one instruction from the resident tennis pro. Check-out the full range of group and private exercise classes at the fitness center. And join the nightly toast to yet another brilliant sunset with a complimentary glass of signature sangria created by Bacara’s sommelier in honor of the resort’s Spanish heritage and wine region locale. Tote your glass to the bluff for the ultimate vantage point.

Additional programming includes the new Ambassadors of the Environment program, which invites guests and locals to explore the diverse ecosystems and cultural traditions native to Santa Barbara. In partnership with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, the resort is just the fourth Ritz-Carlton property to offer this exclusive, award-winning program. Designed to inspire children, young adults, and families, the program reveals the natural wonders of the resort’s prime location on the Gaviota Coast via immersive and educational programming led by Cousteau-trained naturalists.

When on-site activities have been exhausted, consider a private luxury yacht voyage with Santa Barbara Sailing Center along the Gaviota Coast with dolphins, whales, sea lions, and the Channel Islands in your midst. Take a ‘Meet Your Maker’ wine tour through nearby Santa Ynez Valley with Coastal Concierge, and barrel taste at some of the region’s most popular wineries. Mountain bike from peak to sea, kayak in the open ocean, hike to Instagram-worthy destinations, all with Santa Barbara Adventure Company. Your Bacara concierge can make any and all of it happen.

Angel Oak Entrance
Angel Oak Terrace

When hunger calls, Barbara answers with a variety of dining options. The lobby’s circular ‘O’ Bar and Kitchen is a convivial gathering spot serving wine, craft cocktails, and shareable plates including flatbreads and sliders. The Bistro offers a casually elegant patio option serving local produce, sustainable seafood, and brick-oven pizza. The resort’s elegant signature restaurant Angel Oak, with views of the Channel Islands, is a destination unto itself, featuring the culinary artistry of Charlie Palmer-trained chef de cuisine Alex Bollinger who executes refined classics alongside a rotating seasonal menu of ingredients like A5 Japanese Wagyu, local abalone, and bone marrow. Start your meal with a craft cocktail before making your wine selection from their more than 12,000 labels.

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara has long held the rating as parent company Marriott’s number one resort in North America. To stay here is to fully understand and appreciate this remarkable distinction.

Fran Miller

Fran Endicott Miller is an experienced travel, wine, and general feature writer for a variety of luxury lifestyle publications and websites. Prior to her journalism career she established and managed the Golden State Warriors' first official community relations department and efforts. Principled and genuine, she’s known for thoughtfully eloquent writing. When not traveling, she can be found walking her Northern California neighborhood with her beloved golden retriever Nate.