Just Back From: The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

Our close friend and preferred partner, Jeremy Mcclellan,  who represents Marriott International Luxury Brands, recently returned from a visit to Santa Barbara, where he had the pleasure of staying at The Ritz-Carlton Bacarat.

Today, Santa Barbara is back and better than ever and the community looks forward to welcoming guests during the season.  The Ladies and Gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara have truly come into their own and are dedicated and focused on providing the best in anticipatory service creating memories to last a lifetime.

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Santa Barbara as a Destination:

  • Located an hour and a half north of Los Angeles and with a Mediterranean climate - Santa Barbara is often referred to as The American Riviera.
  • The destination has several seasons to be aware of:
    • High Season includes Spring Break and then from Memorial Day until mid-September
    • Low Season is December to February which is generally when the area receives the majority of their rainfall
    • Shoulder Season is April/May and then October/November and often times has great weather and great rates
  • Key Events and festivals include the following:
    • March:  Santa Barbara International Orchid Festival
    • April:  Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend, Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival
    • May: I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival
    • June: Summer Solstice Celebration
    • July:  Santa Barbara French Festival
    • August:  Old Spanish Days Fiesta

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara:

  • This gorgeous resort is located on 78 acres in beautiful Goleta in southern Santa Barbara County, California overlooking the Pacific Ocean on a stunning natural beach.
  • Offering 358 guest rooms and suites, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara features the aesthetic of a Mediterranean Village connected by courtyards, gardens and paths that meander through haciendas of white wash and red tiles complimented by lush green foliage, ocean blue and the sounds of the surf. 
    • The room and suites mostly feature a view of  our beautiful manicured courtyards and gardens however there are a limited number of partial ocean and full ocean view rooms and suites.  A pro tip - book early! There are a limited number and they go fast, especially in season!
    • Family Tip:  The hotel features a 2 floor residence suite with stunning ocean views and an outdoor terrace of your dreams!  Perfect for large family’s traveling together, this suite features two master bedrooms and on the ground floor of the building, adjacent to the suite are four additional kind size rooms available for additional guests.
  • A primary differentiator is the 42,000-square-foot spa and fitness center featuring an adults-only pool, redwood sauna, eucalyptus steam room, fireside lounges a rooftop terrace and a private adults only pool.    Along with the spa adults only pool, there are two main pools and all three are saline and heated to 82 degrees year round.
  • Complimenting the pool experience are 25 cabanas with varying degrees of service and it is highly recommended that you reserve in advance of high season.
  • Gorgeous dining and wine tasting in Angel Oak a steakhouse with a modern twist and over 12,000 bottles of wine.  Compliment your steak selection with a taste of the sea and try the Blue Crab and Pork Dumplings….simply amazing!
  • The resort offers preferred tee times at Sandpiper Golf Club located adjacent to The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara.  Beyond Sandpiper, there are two additional golf courses in the area to challenge the most avid golfer
  • Tennis enthusiast will love the four Har-Tru clay composition courts and several pros that can provide challenging competition for any skill level
  • Coming in 2018 – a purpose built Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge with indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the spa pool.  Until then, the resort offers a temporary Club Lounge that has been receiving rave reviews and offers the personal service and food and presentations.
  • Coming in 2nd Half of 2018 – The Ritz Kids featuring the Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment program.  Members of the Cousteau family live nearby and will be actively involved in the program personally.

Personal Insights:

  • Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as boutique lots of unique wines like Albariño, Tocai Friulano, Mourvedre, Grenache Blanc are all grown in the micro-climates of Santa Barbara.  Begin your wine tasting adventure on-property at the Foley Food & Wine Society (FFWS) Wine Tasting Room where guests in-residence can sample local wines daily
  • Visit the Funk Zone which is this eclectic and very cool area packed with galleries, microbreweries, hip restaurants, and cool shops
  • Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show – Every Sunday over 200 local artisans display their creations on Cabrillo Boulevard.  From talking with artists to watching them in action, this is the perfect open air gift shop for great souvenirs.
  • Get out on the Water:  Charter a sailboat or explore the world-famous Channel Islands National Park from the comfort of a private vessel. Spot local marine life including California gray whales migrating between mid-February and mid-May.
  • Enjoy a night at the movies!  The resort has their own move theatre on-property and during peak season we offer complimentary family movie screenings complete with popcorn and snacks.  Private screenings are also available starting from $250 per showing complete with all the goodies like popcorn, sodas and snacks

Just Back From: Shanghai

Our close friend, John Ladd, founder of Vitae Collection, recently returned from a visit to Shanghai. John was kind enough to share his feedback with TWIL.

I am excited to share my recent experience visiting the new Capella Shanghai which officially opened in September 2017.

Located in the chic and historic tree-lined streets neighborhood of the French Concession (Xuhui District), Capella Shanghai is a spectacular oasis from the hustle and bustle of the popular tourist areas of the city.  This ultra-luxury urban retreat is perfectly suited for travelers interested in more than just another hotel room in Shanghai… but instead an authentic and exclusive Shanghainese residence living experience.

Capella Shanghai, featuring 55 one, two and three bedroom shikumen (stone-gate) villas ranging from 1400 sq. ft – 2300 sqft. also includes the award-winning Auriga Spa, le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire restaurant and “The Gallery” including la Boulangerie pastry shop and a variety of other boutiques and restaurants facing West Jianguo Road.

Just Back From: Japan

Our close friend, Jessica Rosen,  who represents Destination Asia, recently returned from a visit to Japan. Jessica was kind enough to share her feedback with TWIL.

I was extremely excited to visit Japan when the opportunity came up. Japan is a top destination – with almost 30 million people visiting each year – and I was dying to find out why for myself. I had very high expectations. Now that I’ve been there, I can tell you that it met and exceeded all my expectations!

As soon as the plane landed, I knew that this trip would be spectacular. It started with the Japanese people. Each person I met, including my fantastic guides, were amazingly kind and courteous. Strangers on the street would assist with directions and would go as far as walking me to the locations I needed to get to. The hotel bellman would block the top of the car to make sure I never hit my head entering or exiting a taxi. Even the customs agents apologized for keeping me waiting - this just proves how nice and warm the people of Japan are. I felt safe, humbled and grateful for meeting new people.

I was struck by the Japanese attention to detail, in every walk of life. They treat their food like works of art with the exact placements, and up to 16 different courses at the ryokans! The public transportation, whether it be cars, buses, city trains, or the bullet trains, is clean, sleek, and, most importantly, never late. On the rare occasion when it is late, riders are given certificates to bring to their employers.

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During my 10-day trip I visited Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, and the Setouchi region. I absolutely LOVED Tokyo. Tokyo is the ultimate big city with tons of quirks. I spent an afternoon in Harajuko mesmerized by the different cafes, large cotton candies and the oh so fabulous Harajuko girls with their pink hair and eccentric clothing. That night I had dinner at the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku. This was the ultimate night out - think bright lights, robots, and a silly but interesting plot line! I was smiling for 2 hours straight at the outrageousness of the Robot Show.

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From Tokyo I moved onto Kyoto where I had perfect weather (in February!!). Kyoto truly combines the old with the new - the Golden Pavilion, or Kinkaku-ji, was a stunning work of art dating back to 1397, and the Fushimi Inari Shrine was overwhelmingly intricate (and gorgeous!) with its 10,000 tori gates!

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From Kyoto I took a day trip to Nara. I felt like a true Disney Princess being in Nara. I was surrounded by hundreds of deer (I believe the park has an estimated 1,200) roaming around. Not only does Nara have deer but it is home to the massive UNESCO World Heritage Site, Todaiji Temple. I found a day trip to Nara to be essential when visiting Kyoto and well worth the 35 Minute Shinkansen train ride from Kyoto Station.

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Most of my trip was spent it Setouchi, and wow, it was well worth it! I fell in love with this hidden gem in the western-southern part of Japan that is off of the Seto Inland Sea. The Setouchi area consists of 3,000 different islands (Japan has 6,900 total) and it is one of the world’s largest archipelagos.

The first stop in Setouchi was Kobe! I took a 27-minute Shinkasen ride from Kyoto Station to arrive in Kobe. I stayed at the Kobe Merikien Park Hotel which had a wonderful view of the port with the best ferris wheel show I have ever seen

Kobe is known for two famous things – (1) Kobe Beef and (2) Sake! I had the pleasure of going to a group dinner where we all dined on melt-in-your-mouth Kobe beef. The following morning, we visited a Sake Brewery where we learned about the processes of making sake and thankfully got to taste a few different kinds. Just like the rest of Japan, the details and manual labor going into the art of making sake is very intricate. Viewing the processes made me value drinking sake so much more.

Upon leaving Kobe, we headed to the Okayama Prefecture. Our first stop was at the Bizen Osafune Sword Museum. While there, we got to witness a sword master creating a sword by heating metal and hitting it with a hammer. This technique requires three people and over a month of work! I had the pleasure of contributing to this creation.

Next stop, Hotel Ofutei, located in the Hiroshima Prefecture, where I experienced my first ryokan! One of the biggest questions people ask, “Should I stay in a ryokan?” My colleague, Andrew, did an excellent job of answering that, and I agree with his sentiment, Yes, stay in a ryokan!


Hotel Ofutei had breathtaking views, an indoor and an outdoor onsen (hot spring with a bath) that was so remote you got to feel the nature. It was located in Fukyama, also known as the place where they shot The Wolverine movie. Our wonderful guides were very proud of the fact that Hugh Jackman stayed in this area.


Setouchi literally means Inland Sea. Because Setouchi is made of so many islands, the scenery is breathtaking regardless of where you end up. It is a wonderful place to visit and experience nature in Japan. Being in Setouchi and on the Seto Inland Sea, taking a boat ride (or 3!!!) is a must

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One of the biggest draws in Setouchi is Naoshima Island,an island in the Hiroshima Prefecture that is an art haven. First, you have the ever luxurious Benesse House Hotel with sleek minimalist rooms. Connected to the hotel is the Benesse House Museum with today’s modern art. The most highly regarded museum on Naoshima Island is the Chichu Art Museum which has artwork by many famous artists,including Claude Monet and James Turrell. For all of your clients who seek out art, Setouchi offers an art show every two years called the Setouchi Triennale. The next one will be in 2019. The Setouchi Triennale was first held in 2010 and it is intended to create Setouchi to be a leading destination for contemporary art. Clients who are passionate about art will be impressed by Setouchi and Naoshima Island.

Visiting Setouchi was a breath of fresh air after spending a few days in the big cities. It is a great addition to any trip to Japan. Whether you just wish to add 2 or 3 days onto your itinerary to see a different side of Japan or if you are returning for a second or third time, and would like to spend a week in Setouchi, you will not be disappointed. Setouchi provides an opportunity for people to experience a more unique and authentic part of Japan. It is a perfect destination for travelers who would like to get off the beaten path.

Based on my brief but jam-packed trip, no matter where you end up going in Japan, you will find kind people, beautiful surroundings, delicious food, and have a great time.

My friend jokingly said Japan is a Utopia, and all joke aside, it just might be.

Just Back From: Petit St. Vincent

We recently had a client return from a fabulous stay at one of our favorite hidden gems, Petit St. Vincent. Her review of the property and overall experience was so spot on, we just had to share it:

We had an absolutely lovely time at PSV - beyond our expectations! The journey there was long but well worth the effort - even the landing onto Union Island was an experience as you come over the backyards and a mountain:) From the moment that we stepped onto the boat launch to PSV until we left, the staff could not have been more incredible and this is really what I think is the ‘gem’ of this property. Matt (the GM) met us as we arrived, gave us a little tour and then to our ‘hideaway’ on the Bluff with your lovely note to welcome us and a bottle of champagne and chocolates. We were left to be as private as we wished or participate in evening activities - dinners on the Beach or in the Main House or in our cottage - we could choose how to spend our day without feeling pressured to ‘go somewhere’ or ‘do something’ and this suited us perfectly. We do tend to be less outgoing when we travel and we like to be on our own agenda as opposed to someone else’s. 

The Island is definitely quiet but we loved this - we walked every day, went to the West Beach several times to spend hours, did yoga, took a snorkelling trip on the ‘Beauty’ to the Tobago Cays, met friends for lunch one day as they were sailing by on a Catamaran cruise and read more books on our ‘to do’ list. We met other couples who have been to PSV 18 times and 11 times - and we can definitely understand their desire to continually return. There is something very special about the peacefulness and serenity - the beauty of the island, the colours of the water, the views, the night sky…….exceptionally unique. 

We loved our cottage and the location on the bluff gave us great views and privacy. The flag system works! So fun to use and never any waiting for service! The food was good - the dinner menu changed every evening so, even though we were there for 10 days, we did not have the same meal twice. As we settled into the Island life, we felt like part of a secret family of people - the staff are so amazing and Matt and Ani have created an exceptional team of people who really made us feel comfortable. Meeting their children, their teacher, the dive team, the boat captains - all gives a perspective of how much work it takes to keep this property exclusive but not pretentious. 

I can’t say that there was anything to be critical of - we felt that 10 days was long enough but we were rested and ready to return to our lives (though not the cold!) The weather was beautiful - a bit of rain each evening and the last days were overcast and windy but that all adds to the atmosphere. There was more boat traffic in the area as the Caribbean was recovering from their hurricane damage, but that was interesting too. 

In our North American expectations, we were a bit unsure of the ‘no Boarding passes’ etc for Grenadine Airways but all was in order and there were no difficulties at any point. 

Thank you, Ilana, for the perfect recommendation - many have asked us how we ‘discovered’ PSV and we can only give you the credit! 

It is definitely a place that we will return and remains a special memory for us. 

**All photos are compliments of Petit St. Vincent**

Just Back From: BodyHoliday Resort, St. Lucia

One of our fabulous clients just returned from a trip to Body Holiday with her two adult children and had some incredible feedback to share:

Rooms:

The oceanfront junior suite was a great choice as it was on the third floor with an amazing view. We were lucky enough to have no one above us. The room was definitely renovated and was significantly nicer than the regular oceanfront rooms. Our children were in the ocean view rooms and they were perfect for them. There room was close to ours as it is not a huge resort.

Sports:

Body Holiday has a stellar fitness and gym program. We were able to take advantage of the yoga and spinning classes offered. Classes were all very busy, not in a bad way, just seemed like everyone was there for fitness.

Water Sports & Beach:

It was fantastic to have paddleboards, kayaks, sailboats and waterskiing all included. We arranged snorkeling and scuba days through the hotel and both were excellent. The beach is beautiful and completely private. There are cliffs at both ends which ensured that no one is walking from other resorts or soliciting.  

Spa:

The spa was really fantastic. We did included service every day, there was no need to pay for the premium services. We would suggest booking them prior to arrival as it does get very busy.

Food:

The food was one part than just didn’t quiet hit the mark. It was adequate but not stellar. Wine and drinks were great. House wines were totally fine and everyone drank them instead of ordering premium bottles.

Entertainment:

There was really good live music, local and otherwise, every night. Both Christmas and new years was memorable. There were huge fireworks the on New Years Eve.