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Weekend Getaways Make Us Happy

El Encanto reopens in Santa Barbara

elencanto

Perched on a gardeny hilltop north of downtown Santa Barbara, the historic El Encanto resort was once a hideaway for the stars. But over the decades, the property fell into disrepair and current owners Orient-Express shuttered it for major renovations in 2006. Fast forward seven years, the property has reopened with 92 bungalow-style rooms featuring fireplaces and patios (some have ocean views too); a terrace restaurant serving coastal fare such as citrus cured hamachi (the chef last worked in Tokyo, so there's definitely some Asian influence); and brand new spa offerings like a cabernet crush scrub (interesting). Not to mention thoughtful amenities like telescopes in every room for stargazing, bikes for cruising around town, and a resident cow "Ellie," who provides milk for artisinal cheese. But for [exhausted] parents, it's really all about the peace and quiet. Serene spots like a lily pond, where you can quietly savor an excellent cup of espresso, go a long (long) way. And yes, the coffee is also grown and produced on-site. Best of all, it's just a quick (and lovely) 90-mile jaunt up the coast.

El Encanto
800 Alvarado Pl., Santa Barbara
805.845.5800; elencanto.com
Doubles from $525 per night