The Ritz-Carlton Bacara

On the water, sprawling resort, corporate

8301 Hollister Avenue., Santa Barbara 93117


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At a Glance

Located on a bluff overlooking a two-mile stretch of beach, the Ritz-Carlton Bacara’s many Spanish Mission-style buildings comprise a large resort, spa and conference hotel.

Indagare Loves

  • Plethora of activities to do on property including two outstanding 18-hole golf courses
  • Fantastic ocean-front location and beach access
  • Family-friendliness of the resort


In 1968, New York entrepreneur Alvin Dworman bought seventy-eight oceanfront acres just north of Santa Barbara. He spent 32 years and $240 million, all the while withstanding scores of public hearings, multiple lawsuits, environmentalists’ lobbies and the threat of angry Native American spirits (nearby burial grounds) to build his dream hotel, which finally opened in 2000 and was taken over by the Ritz-Carlton brand in 2017. Located on a bluff overlooking a two-mile stretch of beach, the two dozen Spanish Mission-style buildings comprise 360 guest rooms, three restaurants, a 42,000-square-foot spa and several meeting rooms. At the center of the village-like layout is an enormous infinity-edged pool surrounded by blue-and-white-striped cabanas. Since it opened, Bacara has managed a delicate balancing act of hosting convention business and drawing A-list stars. That said, the staff is so smooth, they make you feel like a star; the ocean views are so heartbreakingly beautiful, the memories of the lost summers they inspire will feel almost within reach; and even when the resort is full, it doesn’t feel crowded. Besides, if it did, you could pull a Greta Garbo and hide out in your room, which has all the standard five-star-hotel amenities.

Bacara’s main attraction, though, is its location. Just ten minutes from the Santa Barbara airport and a ninety-minute drive from Los Angeles, the resort is easily accessible, and it offers sunny days year-round. Guests have access to two eighteen-hole golf courses, the oceanside Sandpiper and the mountainside Glen Annie. Spa concierges will create customized nutrition, fitness and beauty programs for you. A thousand-acre ranch at the foot of the Santa Ynez Mountains offers horseback riding and mountain biking. Santa Barbara and Montecito are only a short drive away, as are the vineyards of the Santa Ynez Valley, which is being touted as the next Napa. Tennis, croquet, hiking and water sports are also available. But my favorite things to do there surprised me: lingering over breakfast at the spa café, where the chef serves grilled white peaches and oatmeal-cinnamon brûlée; taking a trail ride over the dunes and galloping along a beach, deserted except for a few surfers and sandpipers; and at night, sitting by one of the outdoor fireplaces and watching the stars blink onto the evening sky.

Who Should Stay

A good option for families or groups seeking time in a warm place where they can be guaranteed good food, spa treatments, golf and access to Santa Barbara – but at a slight remove.

Written by Melissa Biggs Bradley

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Indagare employees walking up stiars

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