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Review: Ritz Carlton Bacara Santa Barbara

The Ritz Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara is a quintessential California coastal luxury resort located oceanfront in Goleta, California, near Santa Barbara.   

We last stayed at this resort for our daughter's birthday and would highly suggest considering this hotel if you're looking for luxury, great on-site amenities (pool, beach, dining) and still want to be close to Santa Barbara. 
 


For more on Santa Barbara, check out this family travel guide: Santa Barbara Family Travel Guide: What You Need to Know to Plan Your Next Trip Here!


Hotel Overview

Designed as a Spanish village with winding paths and white stucco walls capped with red tiled roofs, the Bacara evokes Santa Barbara’s Spanish heritage with all of the modern comforts.  



The resort is spread out over 78 beachfront acres, with low-rise villas with wrought-iron balconies set against a backdrop of the Pacific ocean on one side and the Santa Ynez mountains on the other.


Originally a Chumash Indian settlement called Hel’apunitse named for an ocean-dwelling ray, the hotel now is a pet-friendly property with 358 rooms and suites, five restaurants and one of the largest spas on California’s Central Coast.  

When first arriving, you're greeted by a stunning lobby, with recent renovations completed pre-Covid that enhanced not only the Lobby, but also the Bacara Bar, Ocean Terrace, Spa and Fitness Center.  


Amenities you'll enjoy on property during your stay here include:

  • 42,000-sq.-ft. spa and wellness center
    • The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara features a redwood sauna and eucalyptus steam room. Facials and body treatments, such as the Spirulina Wrap, include natural ingredients to revitalize skin.
  • Three zero-edge saline pools (two with ocean views) that are heated


  • A two-mile stretch natural beach
  • 70,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space
  • Wine-tasting room offer flights and culinary experiences
  • Activities including painting classes, horseback riding, hiking, surfing and sailing
  • Four tennis courts
  • Ritz Carlton Club Lounge
    • Available to guests booking into Club Rooms or sometimes available for an additional fee

One thing to note is that there is also a Resort Fee here of $50 per night that covers the following amenities/services:

  • Wireless, high-speed internet access in guest rooms and common areas
  • Daily one hour access to private, professional grade clay tennis courts, including rackets, tennis ball machine use, and 30 minute tennis clinic with pro for 2 people
  • Daily water aerobics classes for 2 people, including water aerobics equipment
  • Ambassadors of the Environment Guided Eco-Hike Tour for 2 people  
  • Electric bike rentals (waiver required)
  • Guided beach walk
  • Press Reader, an easy-to-use app offering unlimited access to your favorite newspapers and magazines
  • Daily one hour yoga class for 2 people, equipment provided

In addition to the nightly resort fee, there is also a parking fee, with the only option here for parking being  through valet, at $58 per night.

Accommodations

For our recent stay here, we were in a Deluxe Two 2 Queen Room, located near the Spa, with a garden/resort view.  The room offered plenty of space for a family of four and was centrally located, about halfway from the pools and the lobby.




The hotel features a mix of 358 rooms, suites and residences that are spacious and decorated in a Mediterranean-style decor, with a coastal flair and pop of color.  Most rooms feature furnished balconies, some with ocean views, but due to how the resort is laid out you'll likely end up with a garden/resort view.  

Some rooms feature outdoor fire pits and select room feature indoor fireplaces create a cozy ambiance on cool nights.  Select suites include a separate parlor, dining area, and kitchenette.

The bathroom offers a deep soaking tub and separate shower, with dual sinks on opposite ends of the bathroom.



Dining

The hotel features a mix of restaurants ranging from casual to fine dining, as well as a 12,000-bottle wine collection with highlights being:

  • Angel Oak: A modern steakhouse featuring an expansive wine cellar and panoramic views of the Pacific ocean.
  • The 'O' Bar and Kitchen: Located near the lobby, this bar and restaurant features California Central Coast cuisine with a Mediterranean flair
  • The Bistro: Offers alfresco dining, located near the resort pools.

Overall Impression

We enjoyed a long holiday weekend in Santa Barbara and the Ritz Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara was a nice location to celebrate a birthday trip for our family.  It is close enough to Santa Barbara to explore the city, but is still far enough away where the hotel feels very secluded and private.  If you're planning a family trip, I would recommend adding a stay here for only a few nights so you can enjoy everything the hotel has to offer.  For the price you're paying (if not using Marriott Bonvoy points), I would want to maximize utilization of the resort amenities like the pools, dining and beach access and not have to worry about wanting to leave the hotel to explore Santa Barbara.

The Ritz Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara is a great destination resort hotel and a great luxury hotel option to consider when visiting the greater Santa Barbara area.  Other similar luxury hotels in the area would include Hotel Californian, Rosewood Miramar Beach, El Encanto (Belmond Hotel) and San Ysidro Ranch.  

Personally, for future trips to Santa Barbara, I would stay closer to downtown so we'd be closer to area attractions and restaurants and then stay here for a couple of nights at the end of the trip to relax and enjoy the resort hotel amenities.