Santa Barbara's El Encanto Re-Opening After Seven-Year Renovation

El Encanto Patio - H 2013
Courtesy of El Encanto

El Encanto Patio - H 2013

The storied, secluded retreat underwent a multimillion-dollar remodel.

Historic Santa Barbara retreat El Encanto will re-open its doors on March 18 after a seven-year, multimillion-dollar renovation. The expansive restoration features 70 rooms and 22 suites all designed as California-styled bungalows. Accommodations include a fireplace, private patio, garden space and interconnected bungalows for larger parties or families.

El Encanto was purchased by luxury lodging brand Orient-Express in 2004 and closed for renovations beginning in June 2006. Originally erected in 1918 – making it Santa Barbara’s oldest existing hotel – the retreat was a mainstay for celebrities such as Clark Gable and Carole Lombard during Hollywood's golden age. More recently, the resort has been a hideaway for Diane Lane, Barbra Streisand and Sharon Stone.

Bungalows are available starting at $525 per night. An 800-square-foot self-contained cottage with two patios called the Hummingbird Suite is designed for exclusive privacy and boasts its own al fresco shower.

An indoor/outdoor dining room hosts coastal cuisine with a French flair from chef Patrice Martineau. It includes a dedicated wine list and wine room along with a separate lounge and bar.

El Encanto’s cuisine is in part locally sourced -- beginning with its own cow, Ellie, from whom a special cheese, exclusive to the resort, will be produced. This can be complemented with an unpasteurized beer brewed nearby.

Meanwhile, a spa offers seven treatment rooms, including a relaxation lounge with a selection of detox teas, and a fitness center will include cardio equipment alongside a private studio for yoga and Pilates.

El Encanto marks Orient-Express’ first hotel on the West Coast. Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Italy, and Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro are among the company's other properties.