I want to TALK about a one day get-away close to home, to escape the heat, the phone, the computer, etc. “Family-friendly” is not neces-sarily a description one would expect for a top-of-the-line resort with luxurious landscaping looking like a meticulous Maui.
Four Seasons Resort, The Biltmore
One might think, since the above resort has recently under-gone a multi-million dollar renova-tion, that doggies and small children with inquiring fingers might not be totally welcome in an atmosphere that is pristine and filled with antique art. Not so when the subject is the extraordinary Four Seasons Resort, The Biltmore in Santa Barbara, a Spanish Colonial gem dating from 1927 and renovated by owner Ty Warner.
“Welcome pets,” lured us new dog-havers. We toodled off with our new family member, Skye, for the beautiful and swift 90 minute drive. Upon arrival we were greeted by the lush, tropical greenery, brilliant floral colors and the welcoming valet. The vast and lovely lobby is adjacent to the newly expanded bar and dining room.
Our residence, for a day, was one of the resort’s 13 cottages (there are also 207 rooms and suites), reached by way of Spanish arches, past a vast green lawn set up for croquet, which we played while Skye watched. The cottage is the size of a small house (with its own relaxing patio). We arrived to surprises that proved their family-friendly motto. On the floor, a bone-shaped doggy mat with dishes for dog food. Skye was gifted with dog bones and Evian (and a selection of poopy-pick-up bags), plus a lounge. For us, a large dish of fresh, perfectly ripe fruit.
The elegant/cozy room offered a supremely comfortable bed. And laze arounds built into the multiple windows, with large white shutters overlooking the gardens, for relaxing reading. The ceiling fan was circulating (though air conditioning is at hand) and a working fireplace further made the huge room so comfy. The striking bath, all blue and white Spanish tiles, had twin sinks, a massive bath tub (with a fountain-like water fixture) and a huge walk-in shower with overhead rain fixture, contemporary to contrast with the main room’s relaxing décor. It was so good that we spent a lot of our day and night enjoying the cottage.
When we ventured out to wander the many trails of great greenery, the working staff always offered a cheerful greeting, a culture of the Four Seasons. And the historic resort is so spread out, one rarely sees a child or dog, but it’s nice when we do.
We crossed the road to the Four Seasons’ other treasure, the Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club, beautifully restored and open only to members and to guests of the Four Seasons Biltmore (luckily, us for a day!) Making its debut at the Club is The Biltmore’s new signature restaurant, Tydes, gracefully overlooking Butterfly Beach. Critically acclaimed Chef Pilar Sanchez has crafted a tour de force seasonal menu that is authentically Mediterranean, creatively combining French, Italian, Spanish and Moroccan influences to create a harmony with the “Riviera” feel of Tydes’ natural surroundings. Designer Peter Marino paid reverence to the club’s early days with 1930’s art deco motifs and detailing and custom recreated teak furniture. It’s the only ocean front hotel in the area!
Oh, for more of all this! (They have intriguing promotions, check their website.) We loved long walks on the beach with Skye (on his leash). His intro to the ocean and waves delighted us all. Great fun! The main property’s Spa and Fitness Center, pool with glamo-rous whirlpools, and a bit of croquet readied us for the hotel’s Bella Vista Restaurant (a very bella vista) overlooking the ocean with an automatic opening glass ceiling revealing the bluest of skies), and a delicious dinner thanks to Biltmore’s excellent Executive Chef, Martin Frost. Imprint on your memory, Banana Brownie Sundae with banana rum ice cream and caramel sauce.