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The Luxury Hotel Insider:Exclusive luxury hotel deals, features and special rates from the luxury hotel experts at Five Star Alliance.

Named one of Tripbase's Best Luxury Travel Blogs for 2011, below are Five Star Alliance's newest articles featuring exclusive information on luxury hotels worldwide including special offers and deals at the world's best hotels.


Featured Journeys: Luxury Road Trip Along California's Highway 1In this edition of Featured Journeys, we're going on a luxury road trip along California's iconic Highway One. Set along the coastline, and extending over 600 miles, this picturesque route is one of the most famous driving routes in the world. We recommend starting your journey in San Francisco then heading south to Monterey, Santa Barbara, and Laguna Beach. Please note: Due to winter storms, part of Highway One is closed. It is set to reopen mid-April, but please check on the status of road closures before planning your trip. 

San Francisco
Monterey
Santa Barbara
Laguna Beach

San Francisco

The journey begins in San Francisco. Offering an international airport with gateways around the world, begin your road trip here, spending a few days exploring what the city has to offer, then continue on down the coast. Known as the "City by the Bay" this iconic locale is home of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, Lombardi Street, and Alcatraz. Ride the cable cars, tour a Victorian mansion, take in the views at Golden Gate Park, and sample some authentic flavors in Chinatown. Editor's note: From April to September, the San Francisco Giants play in the heart of the city at AT&T Park, an ideal place to try some regional cuisine while taking in a ballgame with stellar views of the city. 

Here are a few of our top San Francisco hotels:

Fairmont San Francisco

Fairmont San Francisco Signature Golden Gate Suite

Set atop Nob Hill, the Fairmont San Francisco is a landmark hotel with an iconic setting, that sits at the only point in San Francisco where each of the city's cable car lines meet. Known for its grandeur and reputation for impeccable service, the grand property has a Penthouse Suite that spans the entire eight floor of the historic Main Building. Guest rooms blend historic charm with modern elegance, and there is the famous Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar, offering Pacific Rim Asian Cuisine and a Tiki-style setting where thunder and rain storms occur as part of the entertainment. Planning this trip with a family or group? The Fairmont offers a Double Queen with a pull-out sofa bed. 

Check rates at the Fairmont San Francisco

 

Palace Hotel

Palace Hotel San Francisco

Occupying an entire city block in downtown, the Palace Hotel was built in the Golden Age of Travel. The 1909 Beaux-Arts property greets guests with wrought iron filigree work, gold leaf embellishment, and angels over every doorway. Once inside, there are marble floors, coved ceilings, and soaring archways. Recently renovated guest rooms and suites feature historic details, mixed with modern amenities and furnishings in plum, charcoal, and dove grey. There are three famous restaurants: The Garden Court, GC Lounge, and the Pied Piper, plus an indoor sky-lit swimming pool, and 24-hour fitness center. 

Learn more about the Palace Hotel

 

Four Seasons San Francisco

Four Seasons San Francisco

Two blocks from Union Square's famed shopping district, the Four Seasons San Francisco offers a centralized SoMa location on Market Street across from Yerba Buena Gardens. Featuring modern decor with a neutral color palette, guest rooms have a residential feel with floor-to-ceiling windows providing city views, spacious marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, and glass-enclosed showers. There's an on-site spa, children's amenities, a 75-foot indoor lap pool for adults at the adjoining Equinox Sports Club, and the MKT Restaurant.

Check rates and availability at Four Seasons San Francisco

Explore more San Francisco luxury hotels

 

Monterey

About two hours south of downtown San Francisco, Monterey is a historic fishing town. Today, the famous Cannery Row is home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, art studios, boutiques, and restaurants. Close to Big Sur, Carmel-by-the Sea, and Pebble Beach, the picturesque area offers a variety of luxury lodging, as well as golf, upscale shopping, vineyards, and opportunities to see local wildlife including whales, sea otters, seals, and sea lions. Be sure to go along the 17-mile drive for some of the best scenery and to visit our first featured luxury hotel in the Monterey area. 

Here are a few of our top Monterey hotels:

The Lodge at Pebble Beach

The Lodge at Pebble Beach

Set at the 18th green of the Pebble Beach Golf Links, The Lodge at Pebble Beach provides an oceanside setting. Guest rooms feature views of golf course and sea, along with wood burning fireplaces, patios or balconies, and marble bathrooms. In addition to the Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Spa at Pebble Beach is a recipient of the Forbes Five-Star Award, there are multiple award-winning dining options, a retail arcade with a variety of shops, and guests have access to the Beach & Tennis Club--Monterey Peninsula's private club. 

Learn more about The Lodge at Pebble Beach

 

Post Ranch Inn 

Post Ranch Inn

Set along Highway One in Big Sur, the Post Ranch Inn is a modern retreat blending rustic elegance with luxury and comfort. Perched along the coastline (ideal for seasonal whale watching), the adults-only property is designed for guests to reconnect with nature and travel partners, so guest rooms do not have TVs or alarm clocks. There is a heated outdoor pool, fitness center, and two heated whirlpools overlooking the sea, plus the award-winning Sierra Mar restaurant. Amenities include daily gourmet breakfast, morning yoga, art walks, star gazing, edible tours of the chef's garden, and culinary walks. Please note: this property is currently closed until mid-April 2017, due to weather-related road repairs. 

Check rates and availability at the Post Ranch Inn

 

Ventana Inn & Spa

Ventana Inn & Spa

Perched along the Big Sur coastline amidst 243 acres of redwoods, meadows, and ridges, the Ventana Inn & Spa features a rustic, yet refined atmosphere with a spa, two outdoor swimming pools--including one clothing-optional pool, daily yoga classes, hour-long guided property walks, and afternoon wine and cheese receptions. The Restaurant at Ventana is set within an upscale environment with an eclectic menu featuring locally sourced ingredients, and a patio overlooking 50 miles of coastline. For creatives, the property offers "Art and Seekers" programs such as photography hikes, mandala coloring for couples, and block printing. Accommodation options include guest rooms, suites, the Cottage House, and new in 2017, the Redwood Retreats providing an upscale glamping experience. 

Learn more about the Ventana Inn & Spa

Explore more Monterey luxury hotels

 

Santa Barbara

Considered the American Riviera, Santa Barbara has a Mediterranean-like climate, along with cool ocean breezes and sandy beaches. Set between the Pacific Ocean and Santa Ynez Mountains, the city is known for stucco buildings with red-tile roofs, palm trees, boutiques along State Street, and waterfront dining. For families, there's the Santa Barbara Zoo, art enthusiasts can see works by Matisse and early 20th century French and American artists at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and the Santa Ynez Valley is known for pinot noir, chardonnay, and Syrah vintages. The Santa Barbara Harbor is ideal for kayaking, sailing, and boating, and Arroyo Burro Beach County Park offers waves ideal for surfing and bodysurfing. 

Here are a few of our top Santa Barbara hotels:

Bacara Resort & Spa

Bacara Resort & Spa Pools

Situated along 78 acres of oceanfront property in Santa Barbara, Bacara Resort & Spa offers 358 newly renovated guest rooms and suites. The full-service resort has an array of family-friendly amenities, including beach activities, infinity-edge pools, on-site hiking trails, and a seasonal kids' club. The Spa at Bacara is a 42,000-square-foot spa and wellness center with HydraFacial services, rooftop terrace, adults-only pool, wellness classes, redwood sauna, Jacuzzi, eucalyptus steam room, and fireside lounge areas. There's also the new Angel Oak oceanfront restaurant, lighted tennis courts, and the Sandpiper Golf Club is adjacent to the resort. 

Check rates and availability at Bacara Resort & Spa

 

Four Seasons Santa Barbara Biltmore

Four Seasons Santa Barbara Biltmore Resort

Nestled amongst 22 acres of lush gardens and foliage, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara is steps away from beaches with private bungalows and terraces overlooking the Channel Islands and Pacific Ocean. Featuring Spanish-inspired architecture and accenting the casually sophisticated California lifestyle, the property offers the exclusive Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club (for select room categories, award-winning spa designed by Peter Marino, Jose Eber salon, three tennis courts, and two outdoor swimming pools. Guests also receive access to the members only Montecito Country Club, and there are bicycle rentals, and Kids for All Seasons programs. 

Learn more about the Four Seasons Santa Barbara Biltmore

 

Belmond El Encanto 

Belmond El Encanto

An iconic landmark since the 1920s, Belmond El Encanto is set within California Craftsman and Spanish Revival bungalows. Perched above the city amongst hills and lush gardens with panoramic views of the town and ocean, the property has a zero-edge pool, seven-acre garden, and a spa. There's a fitness center and studio with a variety of clases, plus bicycles for use, and a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter to shuttle guests around the nearby area. 

Check rates and availability at Belmond El Encanto

Explore more Santa Barbara luxury hotels

 

Laguna Beach

Our luxury road trip ends in Laguna Beach. Situated in Orange County, about half way between Los Angeles and San Diego, this coastal city is known for its seven-mile stretch of sand with surfing, art boutiques, and basking on the beach. During the annual grey whale migration (March to May), Laguna Beach provides an ideal vantage point for watching these gentle giants. While art enthusiasts will find plenty to enjoy including the Laguna Art-A-Fair featuring local and national artists, open daily from June 30 to September 3, 2017, and art classes offered year-round at the Sawdust. 

Here are a few of our top Laguna Beach hotels:

Monarch Beach Resort 

Monarch Beach Resort

Perched on a hillside, the Monarch Beach Resort features a family-friendly beachside setting in Dana Point, Orange County. Following a two year, $40 million transformation, the resort exemplifies the California Coastal lifestyle with a Miraval Life in Balance Spa, five gourmet restaurants including Michael Mina's Stonehill Tavern, and a championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Accommodations feature ocean-inspired color palattes with a coastal feel, and there's an expansive multi-level pool complex which includes a Family Pool with splash zone, the adults-only Monarch Pool, and a second level dedicated to sunning and lounging with cabanas and firepits. There's also a private beach club with water-related activities, paddle boarding, trail hikes, and surf lessons led by the resort's Surf Host. 

Learn more about the Monarch Beach Resort

 

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

Set halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego along the coast of Dana Point, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel provides a luxurious surfside retreat. Perched atop a 150-foot bluff above Salt Creek Beach, the property offers cascading views of the Pacific Ocean. There's California Coastal cuisine, a spa focused on the essential elements from the ocean, and a variety of adventures including surfing experiences, basketball, Ping Pong, two tennis courts, and two swimming pools. There's also an Eco-Adventure Center with expert naturalist-led programs for adults, families, and children, along with the Ritz Kids programs with activities for young travelers.

Check rates and availability at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

 

Montage Resort and Spa

Montage Laguna Beach

Perched atop a coastal bluff, Montage Laguna Beach is a luxury resort featuring craftsman-style architecture and an idyllic SoCal setting. In the midst of the city's preeminent artist colony, the resort offers a collection of museum-quality works of art, plus two outdoor pools, and gourmet dining at Studio, The Loft, or Mosaic Bar and Grille. Situated within 30 acres of oceanfront property, there's a 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage with panoramic Pacific views, ocean air whirlpools, fireplace lounges, redwood saunas, lap pool, movement studio, and eucalyptus steam rooms. 

Learn more about Montage Resort and Spa

Explore more Laguna Beach luxury hotels

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This article originally appeared in our sister publication, Luxury Travel Advisor, and was written by Nanci McArdle.

Exterior of the Bacara Resort and Spa in Santa Barbara

Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara is one of our World's Best Destination Wedding Resorts for 2016. Find out why ...

Couples can celebrate their special day at the seaside sanctuary - Bacara Resort and Spa in Santa Barbara - that offers both romance and relaxation for newlyweds and their friends and families.

Bacara Resort & Spa is an ideal destination for couples that are California dreaming. The resort can accommodate wedding requests ranging from a private ceremony in one of the Mediterranean-style guestrooms to a ballroom wedding, hosting up to 1,250 guests and many options in-between.

The 11,300-square-foot Bacara Ballroom features 23-foot-high ceilings and six balconies and can be divided into three separate areas, each accommodating up to 350 wedding guests. The ballroom also has 8,700 square feet of additional event space, including a vaulted foyer with fireplace, an adjacent ocean-view terrace and an expansive lawn, where guests can enjoy cocktails and hors d'oeuvres prior to the ceremony.

The Ocean Lawn at Bacara Resort & Spa affords panoramic ocean views for a wedding ceremony and is surrounded by the resort's lush landscaping.

Pictured: The Ocean Lawn at Bacara Resort & Spa affords panoramic ocean views for a wedding ceremony and is surrounded by the resort's lush landscaping.

Other options include the Rotunda and Rotunda Terrace, a 1,734-square-foot circular area atop Bacara's main lobby offering views of the ocean, along with an outdoor area perfect for an al fresco celebration. For a more intimate wedding, Bacara's wine cellar features a display of 12,000 wines from around the world, along with a private dining room that can seat up to 40. Those looking to take in the natural beauty of the resort can choose from The Bluff, an expansive lawn area with ocean views that can accommodate up to 300 guests for a seaside wedding ceremony or reception; the Ocean Lawn, which affords panoramic ocean views; or the Residence Lawn, a more intimate, oceanside venue that can be reserved in conjunction with The Residence, Bacara's 3,700-square-foot retreat. This option can accommodate up to 120 guests for outdoor wedding receptions and includes a two-night stay in The Residence. Finally, the Oval Lawn offers couples a private and enclosed garden area, accommodating up to 300 guests.

After the tying the knot, newlyweds can retire to one of the rooms right on property. The Residence, which is the closest accommodation to the ocean on the bluff and includes ocean views, three wood-burning fireplaces, a patio for private dinners and its own workout area, is one of the top two options for honeymooners. The other is The Terrace Suite, which features ocean views, a master bedroom area with a fireplace, a wrap-around terrace overlooking the ocean and a relaxing soaking bathtub.

Outdoor Pool at Bacara Resort and Spa, Santa Barbara

When the new couple is ready to venture out, many options are right at their fingertips, including a visit to the 4,200-square-foot, 36-room spa that offers private treatments, or they can reserve the roof deck area, where they can host a group get-together with their wedding guests, enjoying treatments such as a private mud bar and private massages, overlooking the ocean. While it is recommended to make reservations as far in advance as possible, the spa will do its best to make last minute arrangements.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Bacara offers a variety of ocean sports, including surfing, body boarding, ocean kayaking and sailing. Also available is horseback riding, cycling, mountain biking and hiking. Those looking to hit the links are in luck. There are three nearby 18-hole championship golf courses: Sandpiper Golf Club, Glen Annie and Rancho San Marcos.

For those with kids, Monarch Kids' Club offers fun activities and exploration options for children ages five through 12. The program was designed especially to reflect Bacara's surroundings and rich Chumash history.

Click here to learn more and check availability at Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara, CA >>


For your next tennis vacation, Bacara Resort and Spa is simply the best choice. Bacara's tennis facility offers
four Har-Tru clay composition courts along with private and semi-private lessons with a resident pro, adult and junior clinics,
match arrangements, and equipment rentals.

Bacara Resort and Spa

Book a stay at Bacara Resort and Spa >>


Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort is nestled in the Santa Ynez Valley bound by a river on the northeast and a coastal mountain range on the southwest. The range barricades the coastal flow, producing warmer valley days and cooler valley nights. The adjacent river and seasonal streams that cross this land abound with annual runs of 10-pound steelhead trout. The rolling hills are dotted with valley oaks and coast live oaks, many of which will live up to 300 years. The verdant glens and riverbanks, shadowed by the mountain backdrop, support healthy groves of western sycamores. Deer graze cautiously, fearing mountain lions, bears, and coyotes. Original inhabitants used this land for hunting and for gathering acorns and, most recently, for raising livestock. 

Alisal Guest Ranch

Book a stay at Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort>>


One of the most iconic hotels in Santa Barbara, Belmond El Encanto sits high in the hills amid lush gardens with views across the town and ocean. A landmark since the 1920s, its original architectural features have been lovingly brought back to life, while modern additions include an expansive outdoor swimming pool and beautiful boutique spa. 


Gaze out across the Pacific while soaking up the sun in its lavish infinity-edge swimming pool. It's the perfect setting to unwind and acclimatize to Belmond El Encanto's easygoing lifestyle.

Book a stay at Belmond El Encanto>>


The Four Seasons Santa Barbara Biltmore is a one of a kind true gem in Santa Barbara’s history of lavish upscale resorts.  It was built in the 1920's as a retreat for movie stars and the rich and famous as a way to get away from the busy LA scene just 90 miles to the south.  The hotel and outdoor dining deck is strategically located right on the ocean and just minutes away from the many downtown Santa Barbara events and activities. Lunch or dine in the beautifully landscaped grounds filled with majestic palms, flower gardens, and cypress trees.

Four Seasons Santa Barbara Biltmore

Book a stay at Four Seasons Santa Barbara Biltmore >>


Guests at Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort choose from any of four restaurants for lunch.

During the summer season, guests are also treated to three weekly outdoor events: a Seafood Barbeque served at Alisal Lake on Monday nights, a Southwestern-style Barbecue served at the Rodeo Arena on Wednesday nights, and our traditional Western Barbecue served on the lawn adjacent to the pool on Saturday nights. The Monday and Wednesday affairs are optional, as the Ranch Dining Room is also open to guests on those evenings.

Book a stay at Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort>>


Suites at Belmond El Encanto feature a large separate living room with beautiful French doors, which lead into a grand private bedroom. Choose between a warming open-hearth fireplace or a patio with stunning garden or ocean views.

Belmond El Encanto

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In the 1930s, Hollywood actor Ronald Colman and hotelier and former Senator Alvin Carl Weingand acquired the San Ysidro Ranch and transformed it into a hospitality haven – known for its idyllic setting, service, and guarding of guest privacy – for celebrities. The famous guests over the years range from Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby and Groucho Marx to Winston Churchill, Somerset Maugham, and Sinclair Lewis. Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier were married at the Ranch, John and Jacqueline Kennedy honeymooned there and John Huston completed the script for African Queen during a three-month stay.

San Ysidro Ranch

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Bacara Resort and Spa offers four-fixture marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs and walnut bathroom vanities
with added storage. Hairdryer, bathrobes, and slippers are also provided.

Bacara Resort and Spa

Book a stay at Bacara Resort and Spa >>


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