Last year I spent my birthday in beautiful Santa Barbara, California doing all the things I loved — eating, horseback riding, walking around in the sunshine and getting some quality time in at the spa. I wanted to treat myself by going to the nicest spa in Santa Barbara, preferably one with an ocean view, and a quick search suggested that the Four Seasons Resort Biltmore would be where I wanted to go. The Spa at the Biltmore is widely considered to be the finest, most luxurious hotel spa in Santa Barbara. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands and set between the rose garden and the jungle pool, the spa is tastefully contemporary with Spanish colonial touches. It also feels very classic though, without feeling old or out-of-date.
At 12,000 sq.ft., the spacious spa features a co-ed upper level relaxation space, that I was able to enjoy with my honey. It wasn’t busy on the day we were there, so we sat together by ourselves and drank our tea while gazing at the ocean after our treatments. There are large locker rooms, each with a sauna and steam room, but no hot tubs. While the spa sits next to the pool, it is only for hotel guests so you can’t get in there without a room key. There are only two negatives for this spa: there is no pool or hot tubs within the spacious facilities for spa-goers to enjoy, and no outdoor space where we can relax. A luxury spa of this caliber and size should at least have hot tubs and access to the pool that sits beside it. The lack of outdoor spa space seems like such a shame given the size of the hotel, the beautiful grounds and the ocean views.
Next to the spa there’s a glamorous hair salon by José Eber, as well as a fitness center that offers programs crafted by celebrity trainer/health-fitness consultant Nora Tobin. You can also take part in mind-body activities like yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates in the fitness center.
The spa describes their treatment rooms as “lavish” but personally I think they are more quietly elegant than lavish. The one I had my treatment in was quite large, and also looked out onto the garden and at the ocean. It also had a full bathroom in it. Treatment rooms include an ocean view Palm Suite for manicure and pedicure services, two private rooms dedicated to signature facial treatments, and three ocean view massage suites including a luxurious VIP Suite for couples with its own oceanfront private terrace. All of the Biltmore’s Spa Suites offer sensorial steam showers with hydrotherapy and in room bubbly soaking tubs.
I booked the Raindrop Essential Oil Massage (80 minutes, $250) for my birthday treatment. This massage uses Vita Flex Massage, a specialized form of reflexive massage that uses rolling and releasing motions to activate reflex points in various areas throughout the body. The therapist described the entire treatment to me beforehand, explaining that he would be dropping nine different essential oils along my spine, feet and neck, and with each oil, he’d use light feather strokes to help my skin to absorb the oil, in order to bring “structural and electrical alignment.” The spa’s brochure claims that this treatment is good for boosting the immune system, releasing muscle spasms and inflammation, and they highly recommended it for for jet lag.
My therapist was very good. He was strong but used his strength very carefully during this massage because only light to medium pressure was required, given that we were using detoxifying essential oils. He was great at sussing out my trouble spots, and only used more pressure after asking if his touch was alright.
The therapist used oregano, basil and rosemary, which are all anti-inflammatory or anti-bacterial/anti-microbial. He also used wintergreen and peppermint which are uplifting yet soothing. One of the key oils used was Majoram, which apparently was the center of this Raindrop technique because it’s good for releasing muscle spasms and inflammation, and it is also calming.
The massage was very relaxing. There wasn’t much that was very different about this treatment other than the use of the oils and the feather strokes.
Most times when I have male therapists, they have a nice gentle energy about them and are considerate and nurturing. This therapist was no exception, making sure that I was looked after when I found a cut on my finger, and performing the whole treatment in a very considerate and caring way.
Everyone I encountered working at the Biltmore spa was really friendly, efficient and competent — I imagine you’d have to be all three to be working at the Four Seasons, and especially in the super wealthy locale of Santa Barbara.
I really appreciated the kind service I received from my massage therapist, who went above and beyond to make sure I was looked after.
The spa at the Four Seasons Biltmore is definitely a splurge, and is worth it for those special occasions when you are able to treat yourself or someone else. It’s a great spa to enjoy as a couple, and their unique, nature-inspired, holistic treatments are so refreshing. If you are fortunate enough to be able to visit the spa at the Four Seasons Biltmore, treat yourself and be thankful!
- Co-ed relaxation lounge
- Steam Room
- Fitness Center
- Hair Salon
- Nail Services and Suite
- VIP couples’ suite
- Spa suites with “sensorial” steam showers and soaking tubs
- Spa lunch menu
- In-Room treatments
$$$$ – Luxury
The spa is located inside Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara.
1260 Channel Drive
Santa Barbara, California 93108
HOURS OF OPERATION
The spa is open daily from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm. The last 50-minute treatment is at 7:00 pm and the last 80-minute treatment is at 6:30 pm.
HOW TO BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
You can book your appointment by calling the spa directly at +1 (805) 565-8250 or by requesting services online.