Interview | with Four Seasons Santa Barbara

Ashleigh Gallego, Travel Industry Sales Manager for the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore in Santa Barbara, and one of our closest travel partners, was recently in our office and spoke to me about what’s happening at her beautiful Southern California beach resort.  This post is part of our series on various Four Seasons hotels and resorts along the West Coast. 

Josh: Ashleigh, tell me about the history of your iconic resort there on the beach. It’s far from cookie cutter, isn’t it? 

Ashleigh: Yes, far from cookie cutter is right! Before the resort was built in 1927 on Butterfly Beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the land was occupied by the estate of a wealthy copper baron. The Bowman Biltmore Corporation acquired the land along with plans for a spectacular hotel drawn by legendary architect Reginald Johnson in 1925 and the Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel opened in 1927. The hotel immediately became Santa Barbara’s preeminent luxury hotel and a favorite retreat for movie stars, presidents and royalty. 

In 1935 the Biltmore was purchased by Robert Odell. One of the improvements Odell made included the addition of the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club, originally called the “Biltmore Beach Club.” The club features a pool one foot larger than Olympic size; it was said to be California’s largest outdoor pool and was originally built with a 30’ high-dive and sand for decking. What is now the La Pacifica Ballroom originally featured an exhibition kitchen, dancing under the stars and a spectacular observation deck.  In December 2003, the Coral Casino was designated a registered historical landmark.

In 1987, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts took over management of the property. The most recent renovation took place in 2006-2008 and over $305 million was invested by owner Ty Warner. The restoration involved a thorough guestroom enhancement and complete resort restoration focused on bringing together the benefit of contemporary technology with the historical integrity of the property. 

The classic elegance of the Four Seasons Biltmore’s Spanish Colonial architecture is evident throughout the main buildings and garden cottages. With its red roof tiles, ivory adobe and graceful archways, the Resort provides visitors a luxurious and intimate retreat and boasts striking views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains. Lit by romantic gas lamps, brick walkways guide visitors through 20 acres of lush manicured tropical gardens surrounding the property.

Josh: I have a fair number of clients that might want to spend maybe around 3 nights at your resort – as a quick getaway from their homes in the West. What are some of the activities that would keep them busy?

Ashleigh: Nestled in between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara is known as “America’s Riviera” and offers a mild Mediterranean climate and over 300 days of sunshine per year. This fact lends to an abundance of activity options year-round. 

At the Resort, guests can enjoy Butterfly Beach at their doorstep, along with two pools, bicycle rentals, croquet court, 9-hole putting green, three lighted tennis courts, two fitness centers, and our complimentary Kids For All Seasons program. The Spa at the resort offers 11 treatment rooms including four deluxe suites with fireplaces and ocean view terraces, and a whole menu of signature rituals and treatments for rejuvenating and beautifying. 

Exploring the wine country is a must.  Santa Barbara County offers more than 100 wineries and vineyards where guests can enjoy tours and tasting. In addition, the city of Santa Barbara offers the “Urban Wine Trail” with 11 quaint tasting rooms located only five minutes from the resort. Guests can rent complimentary bicycles from the Spa at the resort and spend the day biking and tasting! 

The Santa Ynez Mountain range is only a quick 10-minute drive and offers hiking, biking, rock climbing, hang gliding and horseback riding. 

The Pacific Ocean is a virtual playground with opportunities for kayaking, harbor cruises, surfing, kite boarding, deep sea fishing, whale watching, scuba diving and sailing. 

Golf. Montecito Country Club – private club located less than a mile from the resort; Sandpiper Golf Club – seaside course located 15 minutes north. 

Lots of activities for families, including Santa Barbara Zoo, Ty Warner Sea Center and Stearn’s Wharf. 

Josh: How’s the dining and shopping in the area? I can imagine it’s quite a treat also to eat outdoors in the winter! 

Ashleigh: A question close to my own heart! I’ve lived in Santa Barbara now for almost 11 years and dining and shopping are two activities I enjoy almost daily! 

Santa Barbara offers a wide variety of dining and shopping options. Restaurants focus on local ingredients, from fresh seafood to farmer’s market fruits and veggies. Enjoy Italian, French, Greek, Cajun and more; casual to very fine dining. The resort features two main dining options: Tydes, located at Coral Casino, offers a Mediterranean-influenced menu with a focus on fresh seafood from the Channel Islands. Bella Vista Restaurant showcases organic Italian-inspired California coastal cuisine. Both restaurants offer outdoor dining with uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean and sunset and are conveniently located only steps from your guestroom. 

Downtown Santa Barbara offers dozens of name-brand retailers and boutiques on State Street or at Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center. Coast Village Road also offers many charming boutiques and shops and is located within walking distance of the resort. 

Josh: What type of promotions will we see for 2011? Also, Four Seasons and Casto Travel have a Preferred Partner relationship. What specific and exclusive benefits does that offer our clients in Santa Barbara? 

Ashleigh: We are offering our Stay Longer and Experience More promotions throughout the year. The Stay Longer package offers one complimentary night with two paid nights, all year except July and August. The Experience More promotion offers a $100 to $500 nightly resort credit, all year except July and August. 

By booking with Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara through Casto Travel, clients enjoy these Preferred Partner amenities (almost $400 in added value for a three-night stay): 

– Complimentary full breakfast for two daily
– Complimentary lunch for two once during stay (excluding alcohol & gratuity, an $85 value)
– Complimentary upgrade at check-in based on availability
– Complimentary welcome note and amenity in guestroom 

To contact Ashleigh with any questions or comments, please leave a comment by clicking the link above. 

Josh Friedmanis a travel agent specializing in luxury travel for small groups and individuals – particularly ultra-luxury cruises, customized vacations and food & wine inspired journeys.  Based in San Francisco, and with clients throughout the USA and abroad, his business is focused on 24/7 personalized service to the sophisticated leisure and business traveler. Business services include high-touch reservations, exclusive hotel and airline offers.  His relationships with the world’s top hotels, cruise lines and local agencies will ensure your successful business or leisure trip. 

For more information, to learn about our exclusive benefits, and to book, please contact Josh at 415.248.507, 800.553.4777 or by email. Associated with Casto, a member of the prestigious Virtuoso Travel network.  Be a big fish in our small pond.