the magic of Belmond

the view from El Encanto (c) 2018 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Every time I stay at a Belmond hotel or resort, I feel blessed to be at such a special place. My Belmond stays include Charleston PlaceBora Bora Lagoon (before its sad destruction in a cyclone), Maroma Resort on the Mexican Riviera Maya, Jimbaran Puri in Bali, the Cipriani in Venice, La Residencia in Mallorca, the Governor's Residence in Yangon, and now El Encanto in Santa Barbara. I've also seen La Residence d'Angkor in Siem Reap and Hotel Caruso in Ravello.

Belmond has an unique philosophy — it does not build hotels. Belmond purchases historical properties that reflect a very strong sense of place ... and restores those hotels to a state of five-star luxury wonderfulness. I recently enjoyed one day at the Belmond Governor's Residence in Yangon, and you can read and see about that visit in my Facebook post.

I've just finished a three-night stay at El Encanto. Unlike the other luxury options in Santa Barbara, this is definitely a boutique resort. The views are phenomenal. The weather has been perfect. I felt the water in the swimming pool — heated to 85ยบ year round — and although I didn't have time to get in, this is the perfect temperature for someone, like myself, who doesn't like the shock of cold water. I had a great spa treatment yesterday afternoon. I enjoyed a trolly tour of Santa Barbara, and our group enjoyed dining both at the resort and in two excellent Santa Barbara restaurants.

Santa Barbara is close to Central California's Wine Country. Yesterday morning, we visited the incredibly cute little town of Los Olivos, enjoyed an excellent lunch at the Wine Merchant Cafe, and spent an hour wine tasting and shopping.

There are three great resort options in Santa Barbara. If you want a full-featured luxury resort by the beach, you have the wonderful options of Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton. If you prefer a very personable, small boutique resort in the hills, I would not hesitate to recommend El Encanto ... and I just loved the Deluxe Premier bungalow in which I stayed (#1701), a freestanding adobe style bungalow with a large bedroom with fireplace and a perfect bathroom.

copyright  (c)  2018 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit our website.

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