While there’s no denying that jetting to Los Angeles for a weekend is glamorous, real enchantment lies in Santa Barbara, truly the jewel of the American Riviera. In just a few weeks, the “Best Coast” will get a whole lot better with the biggest hospitality event of the year: the eagerly anticipated re-opening of El Encanto, an iconic early 20th-century property by Orient-Express — one of my favorite hotel brands.
Nestled snugly into the hillside, surrounded by Californian wine country and peering out to the Pacific Ocean, El Encanto has it all: a storied past with a thoroughly modern outlook, including complimentary electric bike rentals for exploring the resort’s seven acres and an amazing hotel lobby art collection with names like Damien Hirst, Yoshitomo Saito and Charles Arnoldi, a leading California coastal artist; a relaxing spa featuring holistic treatments; and Californian cuisine so delicious that I’m considering forgoing my beloved bubbles in favor of a tall cold one: a glass of unpasteurized beer, the resort’s custom brew.
And have I mentioned the bungalows?
El Encanto’s bright and airy bungalows, 92 in total, are incredible: your own sun-drenched sanctuary, most featuring a private garden and glowing fireplace. And I’m told the resort’s fitness studio will offer fantastic Pilates classes, thankfully — otherwise, I’d never leave my room. I have my hand up for the Hummingbird Suite, outfitted with its own outdoor shower.
The atmosphere on-property is the stuff of dreams: authentic California-coastal with no-fuss elegance. I can’t wait to feast underneath the stars at the dining room; Chef Patrice Martineau’s organic cuisine, with its traces of Asian and French influence and ingredients sourced from the on-site herb garden, is as fresh as it gets.
A special mention goes out to El Encanto’s one-of-a-kind “amenity”: its resident cow, Ellie, whose milk will be used to make the property’s signature cheese.