Summer Getaways: 4 California Locales
This story first appeared in the July 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
El Encanto (800 Alvarado Place; doubles from $600), or "The Charm," has worked its charms on celebrities from Gable and Lombard to Baryshnikov and DiCaprio since its debut a century ago. After sliding into a faded-glamour period, it was revitalized by the Orient-Express with a $134 million redo that involved the careful oversight of the Santa Barbara Historic Landmarks Commission. Stylish bungalows come with private gardens, patios and telescopes for magnifying breathtaking ocean views; book the Hummingbird, with its private rain-forest shower. Resident cow Ellie provides fresh milk to make cheese for the eponymous restaurant, while a new spa features vinotherapies; works by California abstract artist Charles Arnoldi and Damien Hirst appear throughout. If you can tear yourself away from the grounds, Anchor Woodfire Kitchen (118 State St.) takes pizza to new heights and is a couple blocks from the water; try the meatball and crispy eggplant variation.
On the windswept Monterey Peninsula, in the crown-jewel town of Carmel, the Cypress Inn (Lincoln Street at Seventh Avenue; from $265) -- co-owned by reclusive legend Doris Day -- has just undergone an extensive revamp. A Moorish glamour now infuses the 1929 hotel's romantic Spanish Colonial style. Of the hotel's 44 rooms and suites, designed in a palette of spice tones with Moroccan lanterns, mosaic tiles, sunken tubs and fireplaces, the Queen Tower room is a favorite for its two-story space and ocean views. Because Day is an animal rights enthusiast, pets (from dogs and pigs to what have you) are allowed in all areas, including the restaurant, where they have their own menu. Ask the front desk for help with hiring a pet-sitter for Spot as you stroll over to the Mission Ranch Hotel (26270 Dolores St.), where owner Clint Eastwood has been known to tickle the ivories in the piano bar, or to Aubergine (Monte Verde Street at Seventh Avenue), the restaurant helmed by Food & Wine's 2013 Best Chef Justin Cogley. After hiking the peninsula, drop by Refuge spa (27300 Rancho San Carlos Road), to soak in one of its 10 alfresco mineral pools.
RANCHO SANTE FE
The draw for north San Diego County's Rancho Valencia (5921 Valencia Circle; doubles from $725) is its 4-to-1 staff-to-guest ratio, which has paid off with such top-drawer bookings as the Bills, both Clinton and Gates. After a $30 million makeover in 2012, titans are kicking back in the private hacienda guesthouse (from $5,000). The 45-acre resort flaunts tennis courts, a spa, a yoga pavilion that's 1,000 square feet (also the average room size) and the new Veladora -- with interiors by W San Diego's Mister Important Design -- and its Pony Room bar. Pair chef Eric Bauer's seasonal cuisine with one of more than 100 tequilas or wines offered on tap. For civilized sport, nothing matches the panoramic Croquet Lawn. And in July, Top Chef Brian Malarkey opens a Del Mar outpost (12995 El Camino Real) of his highly rated Searsucker.
Foodies are trekking to San Francisco to savor the new incarnation of two-star Michelin restaurant Saison (178 Townsend St.), which counts Twitter creator Jack Dorsey as an investor. The splashy south-of-Market location has soaring ceilings and no divide between the dining room and kitchen, where chef Joshua Skenes spins his magic from a custom-designed hearth. The draw is a $248, 18- to 20-course extravaganza of bites like Monterey Bay abalone with artichokes and cherry leaf-wrapped pigeon. To stay sated, hit two new spots on the Embarcadero: celeb chef Michael Chiarello's Spanish-inspired Coqueta (Pier 5) and Southern-themed Hard Water (Pier 3), part raw bar, part bourbon-driven lounge. Bed down at the 158-room Mandarin Oriental (222 Sansome St.; from $495), fresh off a face-lift that has added a travertine lobby and such haute-but-homey touches as plush blue couches, white-ash wooden desks and freestanding tubs.
Read about more summer getaways below: