We had a wonderful opportunity to spend some quality time this past weekend at our favorite L.A, “Get-a-Way” retreat, the gorgeous Bacara Resort & Spa, just north of Santa Barbara, perched atop a bluff along the rugged Gaviota coastline. The name “Bacara” is derived from the Chumash Native American Indians who flourished in the area for thousands of years. Their word this enchanted land was Anacapa, a common name around Santa Barbara, meaning “mirage.” The name Bacara intertwines Barbara (from Santa Barbara) and Anacapa. Santa Barbara got her name from a Spanish Carmelite friar escaping a storm in 1602. He named his refuge after the saint whose feast day it was. And what a discovery it was! Today Santa Barbara is considered the American Riviera, home to the rich, the famous and the notorious.
Bacara is one of those rare, magical places where it is impossible not to feel good. There’s just something so special about the atmosphere, the energy, the beauty, the staff. The scenic drive up to the main building gets you in the mood, setting the stage for what dreams may come. The main driveway courtyard features a luscious fountain, and the courtly ministrations of the excellent valet staff, dressed in their crisp “Bacara blue” slacks and polo shirts. (Service at every level throughout this Resort is Impeccable) Immediately to the right of the Valet area is Resort Shop, featuring everything from Bacara logo’d casual wear and white umbrellas, to gourmet products from The Ranch at Bacara. (Yes, lots of the organic food served in the restaurants is actually grown in the adjacent Bacara ranch.)
You could say the style of Bacara is like a warm, Spanish colonial mission. We also detected some Mediterranean lines, some architectural features what could have been inspired in Spain, Greece or even Marrakesh. The main lobby is sublime in its unstudied casual elegance. It's a great place for “people watching”, enjoying the rich ambiance and complimentary green apples. And why not strike up a conversation with your fellow guests? Notice the beautiful interplay of natural light that gives all the interiors of Bacara such luminosity. (Interiors were conceived by Hirsch Bender & Associates, design firm)
Interior to the main lobby lies Bacara’s Luxury Boutique, featuring fashionable apparel and accessories by such designers as: Prada, Rozae, Nichols, Diane von Furstenberg and the iconoclastic shirtmaker, Robert Graham. In the photo below, a basket of sandals by Mystique.
The opposite end of the lobby features the Bacara Bar, with Happy Hour between 4PM – 6PM. Above the main lobby, we loved “The Rotunda” fuction space, an intimate setting for a dinner accomodating up to 150. In the lower level, there is an elite and private theatre/ screening room. Charlize Theron Screened ‘Monster’ here. Also, the grand Ballroom, which can accomodate up to 850 guests, seated in round tables. Oprah Winfrey staged her “Legends” event at Bacara, and Kathy Ireland has had photo shoots there. Many celebrity and executive fantasies have been fulfilled at Bacara, as they are sort of in the business of “Wish fulfillment.”
LAFashionWeek.com’s Nestor Ruiz, and our charming Bacara tourguide, Natalie Halushka, VIP Assistant Manager, Bacara.
Next up on the tour, the stunning restaurant Miró, named for the famed Spanish artist Joan Miró. This colorful, artistic space features New Basque-Catalonian cuisine, under the direction of Chef David Garwacki. We did not eat at Miró this time, but it is absolutely essential next time! Many of the vegetables utilized by Chef David and team come right from Bacara’s own 1000 acre ranch. Below Miró, Bacara’s intimate wine cellar houses 12,000 bottles of world-class labels, from 13 of the best wine-producing countries in the world.
Our suite at Bacara was beyond spectacular! We were in building 30, room 304, with a stunning view of the mighty and beautiful Pacific Ocean. The bedding linens were absolutely top quality, I can only image what the thread counts were. The suite features a gas fireplace, display of white candles on a tray in front of the fireplace, plasma screen TV, sitting room with comfy furniture, dressing room, luxury bath and shower, elegant Spanish tiling on the floor, robes, slippers…total bliss.
The building next store was the SPA! Yumsy. The Spa at Bacara is a 42,000 square foot facility designed for utter pampering and indulgences. (or dancing, working out, yoga, pilates... if you are so inclined) Amenities include a massive, heated infinity saline swimming pool (this was a relief, as chorine is so toxic), heated to 82 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Also, sauna, heated saline hydro-therapy baths, relaxation libraries with fireplaces, a wide range of body treatments and massages, a beauty salon, Spa shop, and very private, European-style sunbathing. And when you get hungry, (Spa’ing is really hard work!) the adjacent Spa Cafe offers low-fat, delectable regional cuisine.
For the coroporate meeting planner, you won’t find a better locale to stage your meeting. There’s an Executive Conference and Technology Center, complete with General Assembly and Breakout rooms, for those high level strategy sessions which boost the bottom line. (not to mention team morale)
If you’re an attendee to a meeting at Bacara, bring the whole family! There’s a Kid’s Club, with all-day-long indoor and outdoor creative activities. And your recreation includes options such as sunning/ swimming in the three zero-edge saline swimming pools, enjoying life in private cabanas, a Championship golf course with unparalleled views of the ocean and the San Ynez mountains, and, and, tennis anyone? Bacara has real clay courts, a tennis pro named Otis, and a tennis pro shop, just in case you forget to bring your gear.
And, as if all this weren’t enough, the on-campus Haskell’s Beach, also open to the public, features a Bacara-built bathhouse, and a nice sandy beach to catch some rays and listen to the waves crashing in.
I guess you can kind of glean from this post that we really like Bacara. Alot!
This past July, the property was sold to Ohana real estate investors, for an undisclosed amount. Ohana also owns the Montage Laguna Beach, the Montage Beverly Hills and the Montage Deer Valley; however, Bacara will not be marketed as a “Montage” property.
The new ownership is supposedly going to be much more community-friendly, so look for special promotions inviting local Santa Barbarans to rediscover the magic in their own back yard.
And for the fashionable crowd in Los Angeles, our secret has been revealed. You won’t find a more peaceful, serene, lovely escape from city life than Bacara Resort & Spa.
--Photography by John Forrester Story by John Forrester and Nestor Ruiz