Saturday, November 1, 2014

Escape to Santa Barbara

Looking for an escape that fosters privacy and a touch of pampering? Need a break in the action to completely unwind? Consider the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore - Santa Barbara, California  as a possibility. Bordered by the blue Pacific Ocean and surrounded by bountiful hills, this property offers a spectacular sea view combined with a variety of lush gardens to set the tone for an inspiring getaway.

The resort was originally built in 1927, but has undergone a $305 million restoration. Actually located in Montecito, part of its charm is the Spanish Colonial architectural influence. It qualifies as a lovely, romantic stop along the California coast with its top notch spa and luxurious pool.
With reasonably close proximity to a celebrated wine region, hiking, surfing and challenging golf courses, the visitor can do as much or as little as desired.

Because my visit was affiliated with a conference, our group was offered a choice of private tours and activities. Always easily convinced to shop (even if I don’t actually purchase anything), I experienced a lovely excursion to downtown Santa Barbara. Wandering with a fellow explorer, Ellen Smith, we sought out the pint-sized boutiques rather than the typical national chain stores.  Our knowledgeable, affable guide, Jennifer Miller, alerted us to a great find--Lovebird Boutique and Jewelry Bar (
At this small specialty shop, Cali and Marisa were eager to assist us with our selections, bestowing upon us a successful, delightful shopping experience. Now that I have returned to the coast of South Carolina, any time I wear one of the items purchased at Lovebird, I receive an enthusiastic compliment because these items are attractive and unique. Of course, in downtown Santa Barbara there were many other adorable boutiques, but I felt a genuine affinity with this particular store.

Curious about its origin, I contacted store owner, Jennifer Scarbrough, and discovered that she is actually a jewelry designer and has owned a jewelry company for several years. Her first Lovebird location at 7 East De Le Guerra was opened six years ago and the second store at 535 State Street one year later. Jennifer said that she wanted to provide an affordable, “feel good” shopping experience. Recently sharing her thoughts with me, she said, “I wanted it to be an inclusive boutique in the sense that it would be very warm and welcoming. We have a wonderful customer base, and I look for small, affordable lines that are very Santa Barbara. Most of the jewelry is designed by me, but I carry as much merchandise by local artists as I am able to. I enjoy business and people and LOVE downtown Santa Barbara.”

You can visit Lovebird on Facebook at and on Instagram, and I can only tell you that I can barely wait for their website to offer online shopping. I am hopelessly hooked!

Moving along to investigating additional Santa Barbara treasures, we once again followed the advice of tour guide, Jennifer Miller. She had indicated that a “must” was a stop at the top of the Santa Barbara Courthouse. While that might seem an odd choice, it provided a view that we could not have otherwise seen.  The Spanish style rooftops and architecture were plentiful, presenting a canvas of scenery that was characteristic of a charming Santa Barbara post card.

The strangest aspects of a location seem to reach out and grab my attention, and I was completely impressed with the extensive display of tile work that one encounters in Santa Barbara. A seating area in the Courthouse was entirely decorated in vibrant tiles. Additionally, the signs designating the particular courtrooms and names of judges are colorfully hand painted--no institutional look here! This was a fascinating stop, and I was delighted that we took the time to locate the elevator and ascend to the building’s rooftop, as well as roam around indoors.

We were operating on a tight deadline, so we ordered California Chipped Cobb Salads from California Pasta on State Street and were transported back to the Four Seasons for a relaxing afternoon. I wandered into the gardens to find a quiet location for writing and was not disappointed.  The Landscape Manager, Zeke, has groomed the property for over thirty years. He and his team of thirteen full-time gardeners keep the grounds as close to perfect as possible.

As I settled into a quiet section of the grounds to work on my novel, I contemplated what a perfect writer’s retreat this is. Unfortunately, my stay was far too short to devote a large block of time to writing, but I’ll keep the Four Seasons on my Bucket List as a dream location to hide away and concentrate on my projects.

In my next post, I will take you along on our hike up a nearby Santa Barbara mountain trail--definitely not your average climb!
See you again soon...

Mary Anne Benedetto

Author of Eyelash, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, Never Say Perfect, From Italy with Love & Limoncello and Write Your Pet's Life Story in 7 Easy Steps!


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