You have a myriad of hotel choices when visiting Santa Barbara, California. I narrowed it down to three choices before finally booking a suite at Bacara Resort and Spa last month. One of the deciding factors was really their reputation for providing a wonderful spa and 3,500 square foot fitness facility. I had a wonderful 80-minute massage in one of their 36 treatment rooms and took advantage of their jacuzzi, sauna and eucalyptus steam room. I even brought home some of this eucalyptus shower spray to recreate my experience at home. I like the spray so much I even plan to purchase the lavender and lemongrass mists also. But the spa has so much more to offer. Let’s take a look, shall we?

This is the walk up to the spa (shown in the background) and the adjacent spa cafe. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to take advantage of the spa cuisine served at the cafe. spa-at-bacara-resort-via-reviving-charm-1

The entrance to the spa building and spa cafe overlook an adults-only heated salt water

As you walk into the spa building you immediately notice the sheer volume of the space and the magnificent wooden beam rotunda. A circular staircase will take you to a large roof top terrace. We’ll visit that area in just a bit.bacara-spa-via-reviving-charm

There are several very comfortably appointed lounge rooms including those designated only for women, men, and a co-ed lounge space. Here is the woman’s lounge area. bacara-spa-via-reviving-charm-1bacara-spa-via-reviving-charm-2

The woman’s lounge has floor to ceiling windows that overlook the spa pool. spa-at-bacara-resort-pool-via-reviving-charm

A look at another lounge area.bacara-spa-via-reviving-charm-3bacara-spa-via-reviving-charm-4

Once you reach the top of the circular staircase you enter this transition space on the rooftop. The rooftop terrace is comprised of several outdoor rooms for lounging or outdoor massages.

I only had one negative experience while at the spa. While in the jacuzzi I was joined by a group of three women who were talking really loud. There is something to be said about spa etiquette and keeping your voice to a whisper to allow others to relax in a calming environment. I had no shame in asking them to (kindly) pipe down. They immediately obliged.

Nevertheless, the Spa at the Bacara is a great destination for a girls getaway or romantic couples trip. I definitely plan on going back. Only next time I hope to spend more time at the spa to take advantage of all it has to offer.

All images via iPhone.


Toward the end of last year, I started thinking about a long weekend vacation. I booked a suite at Bacara Resort and Spa as a surprise for Mr. B. I hid my surprise for a couple of weeks and when the time came we jumped in our car and off we went…despite the notorious California traffic on a long holiday weekend. reviving-charm-on-the-road

On the upside…the sunset was beautiful and I am sure glad I was able to capture this picture from the car. santa-barbara-sunset-via-reviving-charm

I previously posted bits about our trip here and here and have been meaning to write about the resort itself since a few people have asked me questions about the property. I decided to break up my experience at the resort into a 3 part series. Today I’ll provide you with a general look around the resort. Stay tuned for future posts about the spa and our suite. The goal of this series is to provide information that will hopefully be helpful in planning your own stay at Bacara Resort and Spa someday.

Although the resort is touted as being located in Santa Barbara, it is technically located in the town of Goleta, a quick 15-20 minute drive north of Santa Barbara, California. I know that Goleta doesn’t sound as “sexy” as Santa Barbara but it does have views of the Pacific Ocean that are equally as breathtaking. Keep reading…I’ll share those with you in a bit.

Let me first provide you with the lay of the land. The resort is sprawled over 78 acres of prime oceanfront property with direct access to the beach. The resort boasts 358 guest rooms and they are situated among 18 villas throughout the property. We were located in Villa 8 which overlooks the pool and is denoted with the yellow star on the map. The main lobby is situated at the top of a hill (shown far left on the map). If you have a hard time getting around, don’t worry. The hotel offers golf cart service to transport you anywhere you need to go on the property. We didn’t use this service so I can’t comment on it. There is also a nice walking trail adjacent to the resort (shown far right of the map).


When we pulled off the street and into the Bacara’s motor court, I immediately knew that this vacation would be all that I had hoped for. I was wanting a nice, relaxing vcation and realized that I couldn’t have picked a better place. The motor court is surrounded by Spanish/Mediterranean style architecture and beautiful drought tolerant and California native plantings. Bacara made a very good first impression! bacara-motor-court-via-reviving-charm-1I have the need for speed and can appreciate a fine automobile. At Bacara, there was definitely no shortage of luxury cars sightings. cool-cars-by-reviving-charm-2

As we walked into the lobby we were greeted with the most stunning floral arrangement made up of fresh white daisies. Beauty in simplicity.

The lobby is a grand, spacious area with several separate sitting areas. There is also a strategically placed console table that holds a beautiful display of orchids, succulents and candles. It also acts as a refreshment center during certain times of the day. When we arrived in the evening it was used as a bar area as the the hotel was offering a complimentary wine tasting. This provided hotel guests with a wonderful an opportunity to mingle. What a wonderful welcome. The following evening complimentary s’mores were served on the lobby terrace.


The seating area by the lobby fireplace is not surprisingly one of the most popular spots for guests to gather. Even Mr. B and I shared a couple of wonderful fireside chats.bacara-lobby-fireplace-via-reviving-charm

There are beautiful details throughout the hotel. This grand fireplace is situated along the corridor of the hotel where banquet facilities are located.

Angel Oak Restaurant is known for their steak and seafood and is only open for dinner. We made a reservation for our first night at the resort which worked out beautifully. Being able to enjoy a meal on the property after a long drive made things easy and convenient for us. If you love wine, you’ll be happy to know they also have an extensive wine list. bacara-angel-oak-restaurant-via-revivingcharmHere is Villa 10, one of the many villas situated on the property. bacara-resort-via-reviving-charm-2

The sweeping staircase is beautifully designed with decorative tile work.
bacara-resort-stair-tile-via-reviving-charmbacara-landscape-via-reviving-charmbacara-resort-and-spa-via-revivingcharm-5bacara-resort-and-spa-via-revivingcharmThere is a total of three outdoor saltwater pools located on the property. Two of them are situated overlooking the Pacific Ocean (shown below). The other is situated next to the spa building.
bacara-resort-pool-via-revivingcharmPrivate poolside cabanas are available for rental. cabanas-at-bacara-resort-via-reviving-charmbacara-beach-shower-via-revivingcharmThere is a pathway from the resort that leads you directly to the sand. I took this walk each morning. I can’t think of a better way to start the day.

So there you have it…a  brief tour of the grounds of Bacara Resort and Spa. Stay tuned for more about the spa and a look at our suite.

Interview with Artist Andrew Morrow

Mr. B and I have traveled to San Francisco so often that several people who work in various restaurants in the City think we actually live there!  Over time you establish relationships with people as a result of frequenting a place over and over again.

One of the places we always seem to frequent is the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco.  A huge part of my fascination with the hotel has always been the artwork.  The focal point of the lobby lounge includes two large scale paintings by Canadian artist Andrew Morrow.  The paintings, entitled “Love” and “War“, each measure 8 feet tall by 16 feet wide and are always a topic of conversation between Mr. B and I.   For example, (and I’m embarrassed to say) I thought there was a headless horseman in the “War” painting only to realize after many months that the rider is not headless but is instead looking down. It’s funny how each time I look at the paintings I see something new.

Several years ago Andrew Morrow was gracious enough to answer a few questions for me about his artwork.  I am thrilled to share the interview with you.  And by the way, he was quite amused about my  “headless horseman” reference.
Andrew Morrow in his Ottawa, Canada studio.

What inspires you as an artist?  Most of my inspiration comes from the art world or contemporary image culture. Painters are always in dialogue with their medium, but as a representational artist (someone who paints things that look like things), I’m also very interested in the images of our time. At the moment, I’m spending a lot time looking at pastoral ideals and sexually charged imagery. There is also a completely unforeseeable component to inspiration, this is the cliché of the lightning bolt striking from any place, at any time. This is a very real thing.

What was your inspiration for the “Love” and “War” paintings displayed in the lobby of the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco?  At the time, I’d been working on what I had called “War Paintings”. These were large-scale, apocalyptic battle scenes. I knew that James Robertson, the art consultant in charge of the hotel’s collection, wanted my work, but with a little less confrontation. James had decided the scale, 8’x16′, and the number of paintings, 2, but mostly, the rest was up to me. I came up with the idea of two paintings that could work in opposition with another, and thus “Love” and “War”. However, I’m not generally comfortable with binarisms as my universe is filled with grays, so conceptually, the paintings parallel, and overlap one another. “War”, presents one side of a battle, but with humour and beauty. “Love” depicts a swirling, Baroque, bacchanal, with small moments of conflict emerging from time to time. The paintings, exhibited across from one another, present compositional mirror images of one another. Because of the scale and prominence of the works and the targeted audience of the hotel, there was an exhaustive editorial process, leading to the paintings as they are today. I remember sending an initial sketch in, and getting notes back saying that there shouldn’t be any “rats”, or “dogs” in the work. The rat was actually a mongoose. The dog, was, well, a dog.

“Love” by Andrew Morrow in the lobby of the St. Regis Hotel, San Francisco. A detailed view is below.

What can we expect next from Andrew Morrow? Can you talk about any upcoming projects?  I’m currently working on a massive painting to be exhibited in a museum show here in my hometown of Ottawa. I’m also creating works for the upcoming Art Fair in Toronto. After this, I travel to Europe for 5 weeks on a research scholarship. Following that, I’m back home, working on a video project which will be screened in March of 2010. I’ve got more demand for my work that I can possibly keep up with these days. It would be nice to have a clone or two in the studio. Or at least an army of talented monkeys.

What are 5 things you couldn’t live without?  What can’t I live without? The logistician in me would say air, water, food, etc., but this doesn’t really say much does it? Family for sure, I’d be lost without my family. I also really like my bike. And art. I need my time alone too, this makes life bearable. Let’s lump in all those life-sustaining elements, like food and air in the fifth spot. I need these too.

You can also check out his website here.

Lobby lounge photos by me.  All other images courtesy of Andrew Morrow.