Last week my family was invited to visit the Bacara Resort & Spa just north of beautiful Santa Barbara to share a firsthand Bacara review on its family-friendly offerings.
It’s a tough job. [Please don't hate me!]
Santa Barbara is one of my favorite places on Earth, and I had always wanted to stay at this luxury resort in Santa Barbara, but to be honest, I would have never thought of taking my kids there.
To me, it seemed like a high-end property geared more towards adults and couples. Which it is, don’t get me wrong, but what I learned from our stay is that Bacara is also a fabulous family resort in Southern California!
Situated on 78 acres on the beautiful Pacific coast, it is an easy drive for a getaway, but far enough away to make you feel like you are in a different world.
After a busy summer running around like crazy, we valeted the car upon arrival and didn’t leave. We didn’t have to, or want to. To spend two days relaxing was a much-needed family retreat.
Here is a view of the property from a nature walk we took. From where I am standing to take this photo, I am still on Bacara property.
The property is expansive with beautiful green lawns, cheery flowers and curvy walkways nestled between Spanish-style villas. I loved the European flair of the architecture. Each Santa Barbara hotel room at Bacara boasts its own private balcony or patio with views of the mountains, garden, or ocean.
We were placed in a Signature Suite - the ultimate accommodations for a family. This view off of our patio took my breath away when we walked in.
Our hotel suite consisted of two adjoining rooms, one king sized bed and bathroom on one side, pull out sleeper sofa with its own bathroom on the other side and a wrap around adjoining balcony. I love being able to put my kids to sleep in one room, and have another space to stay up later with my hubby.
This is a luxury resort in every sense of the word. Frette linens, robes, a Keurig coffee maker (my fave), DVD player for the kids (pack some DVDs or rent from the lobby), deep soaking tubs with separate showers. Everything designed with the guest’s comfort in mind.
If your kids are anything like mine, ALL they want to do when visiting a hotel is SWIM SWIM SWIM.
Bacara has three zero-edge heated saline swimming resort pools, one of which is an Adult Only Spa Pool (next trip), the other two were completely family-friendly and I was surprised at how many kids we saw swimming.
The upper level Cabana Pool is where we spent most of our time, as the Jacuzzi (or Shampoozi as my youngest calls it), was steps away from the big pool, so they spent lots of time going back and forth between the two.
The second day we had a poolside Cabana reserved for us, which was AWESOME. I wonder if my girls realize just how lucky they are!?
The Cabanas had cushy lounge chairs, a dining table, TV, fridge stocked with waters, sodas and fresh fruit, and electrical to charge your phone or iPad.
My girls would swim, then come take a 20 minute break in the shade, watch a show or read, then go back in again. It was wonderful having lunch at the table inside and a place for little one to chill out after exerting so much energy on her new swimming skills.
And talk about Bacara being family-friendly, the oceanview Resort Pool also had an adjoining sandbox area with sand toys for the kiddos to play in!
The Bacara Resort & Spa is the only true beachfront hotel in Santa Barbara with the beach and sand only steps away. My oldest daughter loves the beach. Watching her play in the waves is the cutest thing ever to me.
Both days we took an hour to go down to the beach to explore and let them run around. Bacara also has a beachfront snack bar called the Beach House as well as activities you can book through Bacara Adventures if you want to do any water sports, surfing, or kayaking along the Goleta coast.
To note: Santa Barbara is known to have natural tar on its beaches that will get on your feet. But not to fear, you can ask at the poolside restaurant for tar remover and it comes off easily.
DINING AT BACARA
Bacara has five different fine dining options on property. After a full day of swimming the first day, the girls were so wiped out, we called In-Room Dining and ordered room service for dinner.
Oscar set up a nice white linen table for us on our balcony. My husband and I opened the complimentary bottle of wine included in the resort fee and we had a comfy dinner at “home” in our jammies and robes.
Room service with a view…
We also ate lunch at the pool both days and had great food. A special shout out to Isaac who took great care of us all day at the pool – exemplary service.
The second night we dined at The Bistro, a casual Santa Barbara restaurant, which just opened after being closed for renovations. The Bistro has large outdoor patio dining with a beautiful view of the ocean.
The Bistro was fabulous. Completely family-friendly, including kid cups, crayons and activity books upon seating. Why doesn’t every restaurant do this?
We saw lots of other children dining at The Bistro, which made us feel right at home.
My husband and I started by sharing a fresh caprese salad, followed by their pappardelle alla bolognese pasta and halibut over pesto-creamed orzo which we both split again because we couldn’t decide.
Our food was excellent, as was the service.
If you go, this pasta dish is a must!
Bacara offers many fun activities including:
~ Star gazing every Thursday night during summer
~ Complimentary wine tasting in the lobby on Friday nights
~ Live music in the lobby on Friday and Saturday nights
~ S’more making on weekends in the summer
~ Complimentary weekend movies in their onsite movie theater with popcorn. Yes, an ONSITE movie theater. What!?
In addition, I don’t even have space to go into detail, but their 4-story Spa offers an array of complimentary fitness classes for adults, as well as full use of the facility without a treatment. Oh, Bacara Spa, I will be back to see you! I wish we could have met this trip, but I will think of you often until I return…
MONARCH KIDS’ CLUB
On weekends (and some weekdays based on prior reservations – call for details), their Monarch Kids’ Club for kids ages 5 – 12 offers kids the chance to play and explore Bacara while parents enjoy the spa or just a few hours to relax.
ENJOY THE NATURAL BEAUTY
Like I mentioned, Bacara sits on a vast area of land, once inhabited by a Native American tribe called the Chumash. Bacara is working on creating special self guided nature hikes, where you can walk and see markers of native plants and learn a little more about Chumash history.
My family took a nature walk on the last morning. One of the oceanfront trails goes up to a bluff where you can see the ocean and Bacara property. The old tree at the top of the bluff was so beautiful.
Our family absolutely loved the Bacara Resort & Spa. Granted, it is a splurge. A location and the amenities found at Bacara come with a price tag. But if you are wanting a luxurious getaway, and can save money by not flying, Bacara might be the perfect option for you.
Make sure to visit their website for Santa Barbara resort specials & promotions.
Thank you Bacara for hosting our family and for the priceless family memories we will take with us!
[Disclosure: We received a complimentary room, dinner at The Bistro, and Cabana rental provided by Bacara Resort & Spa. All opinions in this post are 100% my own. I appreciated the opportunity to experience this special resort more than words can express. Thank you!]