From mosaics to garden paths to local cuisine, there’s no better way to experience SoCal than at these exclusive resorts. On your next trip to the Golden State, expect these spots to deliver on service, scenery, and everything in between.
Fairmont Grand Del Mar, San Diego
The Fairmont Grand Del Mar (pictured above), a 249-room luxury resort nestled in the heart of Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, was recently named TripAdvisor’s number one luxury hotel in the U.S. I was duly impressed with the resort’s multiple pools, pro-style tennis courts, 18-hole championship golf course, 37 miles of canyon preserve hiking trails, full-service spa, and large, well-appointed rooms. However, the overall feeling of quality, aesthetic beauty, and five-star service made the most lasting impression on me. But since I never got a chance to dine at Addison, the resort’s award-winning restaurant, led by Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef William Bradley, and with a wine list featuring nearly 3,500 bottles, I’ll have to go back to see how the food measures up.
Montage Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach
Perched on a bluff above the Pacific, Montage Laguna Beach is an ultra-luxe resort in the heart of one of Southern California’s hippest towns with a thriving art scene. With well over 200 guestrooms—all featuring ocean views—and a long list of activities that includes touring the art galleries in town, relaxing by one of several pools, and truly unwinding in the spa, the Montage has something for everyone. Multiple dining options are available in The Studio, The Loft, or Mosaic Bar and Grille. Meanwhile, the Homes at Montage Laguna Beach offer the comfort and intimacy of owning a residence coupled with the resort’s stunning setting and amenities.
Four Seasons Biltmore, Santa Barbara
The Four Seasons Resort Biltmore Santa Barbara is a classic Spanish Colonial estate that first opened in 1927, and it’s been known as a true luxury hotel ever since. As I learned on a recent visit, the resort’s 207 hotel accommodations are set amidst 22 acres of lush gardens, mature trees, and soothing pathways. Most guest rooms and suites are located in the main buildings. Ocean-view rooms speak for themselves while jungle and garden rooms feature furnished outdoor terraces, colorful mosaic antiques, and upholstered headboards with handwoven Otomi fabrics. The resort’s 12 freestanding bungalows promise peace, quiet, and total privacy for getting away from it all. Nearly every room includes complementary access to the private-membership Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club adjacent to the beach and the resort.
Belmond El Encanto, Santa Barbara
The preserved original features of the Belmond El Encanto, almost 100 years old, along with numerous modern additions like an outdoor pool and boutique spa, make it one of Southern California’s premier spots for relaxing and recharging. Its guests get more than just another hotel room when they arrive-—the El Encanto’s California Craftsman and Spanish Revival bungalows and large suites provide the perfect escape from the everyday. And while lots of hotels preach “laidback luxury,” the Belmond El Encanto delivers.
Bacara Resort and Spa, Goleta
Located along a spectacular stretch of sand just north of Santa Barbara, the Bacara Resort and Spa seems to have everything a luxury resort needs. With 78 acres of oceanfront property, easy access to two miles of natural beach, and one of the largest spas in the area, who could want anything more? During my recent visit, I found the Bacara’s rooms, suites and villas to be excellent. And the way the resort is connected by graceful garden paths and infused with modern amenities and current technology is sure to please the most traveled traveler.