BELMOND EL ENCANTO – SPA FOR A FARM-TO-FORK FEAST
The holistic spa here has an almost monastic hush. Hummingbirds and dragonflies thrum and the cicadas sing as you’re pummelled into hopeless relaxation. Treatments are exotic and earthy, drawing from the surrounding landscape of vineyards, wild-flower meadows and ocean. There’s an emphasis on the seasons, with one-off specials such as the autumnal soothing sage body treatment that stimulates circulation and cell renewal; the Pinot and Cabernet Sugar Crush signature body-scrub treatment and the deep sea marine facial leave you buffed and beaming.
Take a dip in a soaking tub or repair to the spa terrace, sipping hand-pressed juices or calming organic teas. There’s also an infinity saltwater pool, a gleaming fitness studio with yoga and dance classes, and custom-made electric bikes on which to explore Santa Barbara’s wine country. It’s no surprise that this gorgeously secluded, recently restored hotel was once a bacchanalian escape for film stars.
It has everything a glamorous hideaway needs: a celebrity past, a glossy spa, fabulous food. The farm-to-table ethos, delivered with urban sophistication, makes the most of coastal classics: pan-seared lemon-herb scallops; artichoke and black cod with heirloom-tomato ratatouille and kale and pear salad. Many of the herbs and vegetables are from the kitchen garden and the fruit is picked every morning.
And then there’s the Holstein cow, Ellie, who provides fresh milk for the homemade cheeses, and two beagles who contribute to the laidback cosiness. The bungalows have hardwood floors, plantation-style shutters and private patios. The lily pond, wisteria arbour, flowering trees and climbing roses give the place a glorious Secret Garden feel, but if you crave some urban distractions, Santa Barbara’s downtown waterfront and the Art Deco Riviera Theater, a cinema showing first-run art films, are within walking distance. Back at the hotel, it’s the small but beautiful details – a well-stocked library, telescopes on each terrace for star-gazing, handmade chocolate truffles by your bed and Acqua di Parma bath products – that add the glitter to this old-style classic.