Santa Barbara is a southern California cozy beach town just far enough from Los Angeles to provide the escape of the city (with your tennis racquets!). This slice of paradise off the Pacific Ocean, offered us tennis opportunities along with another fabulous resort to visit.
The news that the Bacara Resort had become a Ritz-Carlton property, put the resort on our travel map. Our biggest concern was when could we make it happen? The perfect time materialized during this past long Memorial Day weekend. That holiday weekend coincided with my husband’s birthday (Tip: when booking a stay at a Ritz-Carlton property, you will always be asked if you are celebrating a special occasion. Let them know and the resort will always try make your day special)!
Our plan ended up flying into LAX and driving to Santa Barbara. There are flights directly into Santa Barbara’s airport on United, however since we were flying from the East Coast, there are no direct flights. We desired to have a car so that we could see the area and thus LAX ended up being attractive to us. The two hour drive from the Los Angeles Airport winds along the ocean as you get closer and was a beautiful drive. Magically, the sunset happened for us along the way.
The check in process was handled gracefully. This Villa style resort had recently began the transition to Ritz-Carlton and the check in and level of service was already in place. To check into the resort you must first drive into the courtyard, where you are surrounded by the resort entrance, and then across the way a coffee shop and a wine tasting room. (Tip: With our Marriott status, we were nicely surprised to have been upgraded.) We checked into our room and found a lovely birthday surprise waiting. It was the perfect end to a special day. We enjoyed strawberries with chilled champagne out on our balcony, listening to the ocean waves! It was simply fabulous!
We love the Ritz-Carlton properties because we always receive a high level of service, the location, and the overall high wow factor of the resort. When we vacation we want to let our hair down, enjoy our tennis game, pamper ourselves and enjoy the resort property. The Ritz-Carlton makes it easy because you can be assured of the very best resort locations, with the best views, which takes the guess work out of choosing where to stay. The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara’s location was stunning.
Our plan was three days of tennis coupled with a lot of relaxation in and out of the sun. We chose to play the first day off property, so we could also drive around town. Truthfully, once you are on a Ritz-Carlton property, it is very hard to leave (tip: prior to your stay, a concierge will reach out to assist with your planning for your stay. I’ve always been given wonderful information and choices; whether it’s tennis facilities, hikes, restaurants or other excursions)!
We drove the ten minute scenic ride to Elings Park, in Santa Barbara! As a non-member, we paid $8.00 each, for walk on tennis. Our first taste of tennis in Santa Barbara was fantastic. We played on the center court, which was lined with the beautiful pergolas covered with beautiful red flowers. It was gorgeous. We loved the sign up for courts system, white boards. By the way, there was a court with a tennis wall for warming up or practicing, they also have a tennis ball machine, or we could have pre-arranged a tennis drill with one of the facility’s tennis professionals. They have a very active tennis community with tennis going on around us from tennis drills with the tennis professionals and the doubles matches on the court next to us. “Club” tennis at it’s best! So, you don’t necessarily have to stay at a resort to play tennis.
We would have been content to play on the courts at Elings Park each day, during our stay, but then it just made sense to play on the tennis courts at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara’s har-tru courts on property. As much as we enjoyed our time at Elings Park Tennis Courts, we absolutely loved playing tennis at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara. The tennis courts, adjacent to the golf course and ocean (hiking trail was between both sets of courts) were full of happy tennis players ranging from guests of the resort, along with local membership. When visiting California, it was rare to find har-tru tennis courts. Most of the time they are hard court tennis surfaces. When we arrived at the courts, Peter (one of the teaching tennis professionals) rolled out the red carpet, provided us with everything we needed (even gave William a vibration dampener) before we resumed our ongoing tennis match!
After our morning tennis, we decided to take a drive and hike to Knapp’s castle. We drove up the San Marcos Pass Road, the 154, about 25 minutes from Santa Barbara. We walked up the short trail hike, off the road, to the ruins of a castle on a hill. We loved the view from above the coast, the perfect spot for any castle and a nice way to cool down from a heated tennis match.
After our short excursion, we settled into our resort experience at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara. The resort was set up with a number of small buildings, surrounding the resort pool area, on a cliff, overlooking the ocean. We spent time at the main pool and the spa pool (adults only!). The cool Santa Barbara mornings and evenings made the fire pits very enticing. It was not only warm, but romantic to enjoy the warmth of the fire pit, under the sky, on the club lounge deck, together. Per the club manager’s suggestion, we participated in the unique ritual of a Sangria toast to the day, at sunset, along with the other resort guests. We felt that resort provided us with everything we needed, that we didn’t have to leave, nor did we want to leave!
Santa Barbara, a lovely coastal town, was a pleasant surprise. Not only do we travel to find fabulous places to visit with tennis, but we are on a constant quest to find that special location to live (not that we are close to retirement!). Santa Barbara, California may have hit that mark. Our stay at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, was a balanced vacation with great tennis, hiking trails, the beach, the pool, the spa services, and of course the exceptional resort hospitality. We look forward to another opportunity to visit Santa Barbara, California!