When a well-known resort just north of Los Angeles changed from being independently operated to the Ritz-Carlton brand, one wondered what the discernible changes might be.  Happily speculation is no longer needed after a recent visit.
Floral perfection greets guests in the lobby.
The raison d’etre for this particular weekend was attending a beloved tradition of the Organization of Women Executives. Our “Spa Weekend” (now “Annual Retreat”) convenes at some of Southern California’s most desirable destinations: Terranea, Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel and Park Hyatt Aviara (at the time a Four Seasons) along with many previous to Bacara. Our event chair works hard keeping us all happy, which is not an easy task.
The ocean is visible from nearly every part of Bacara.  The view is from the main building.


Concerns about the location were first raised with the dreadful fires that hit the Santa Barbara area especially hard.  At the time we were still six weeks out, plus Bacara is at the north end of Santa Barbara, a considerable distance from the fires.  And then the rains came.  And then mudslides closed Highway 101, the main thoroughfare.  Were we just thinking of ourselves when considering this was not the year to go to this particular spot??
The blessed alert came with two weeks to spare:  The 101 was back in business.  Our collective cheer was both for the residents and what they’ve gone through plus some for our group.  All was well.
Room service on the patio.  A electronic tablet is in every room where you can request just about anything at the resort (assuming one can figure out how to use it!) This order was placed the night before and arrived on time and correct in every detail.

Bestie/roomie/carpool mate Nancy McGinnis is responsible for the lady on the right.  Stay tuned.  She just might make regular blog appearances.  What should I name her???
As for the resort changes, not much is different about the physical property.  Staff is friendly, attentive, and “at your service.”  There were some glitches with changeover in personnel assigned to our group of 54 in terms of the catering.  Some of us noticed (I did), but most thought the entire stay grand.  The food was terrific and it’s pretty tough to beat that view.
The main pool above
Photo credit above & below: Bacara
On the way home, we detoured to get a real look at the mudslide damage.  Wow.  Say what you will about the ultra-rich celebrity enclave of Montecito, but Mother Nature doesn’t give a hoot about net worth. She is an equal-opportunity devastator when it comes down to it.  Wide swaths of property damage were visible particularly north of Highway 101 on the main roads — Sheffield Drive, San Ysidro Road and especially East Valley Road that connects the two.  Others were not yet accessible.  The shots below tell the unfortunate tale.

But then there were signs like the one below seen over and over again from grateful residents …

I‘ll end on a lighter note.  Not 5 seconds after pulling over to get the shot below, Nancy & I heard:  “MOVE THE CAR OUT OF THE DRIVEWAY!”  Oprah’s security doesn’t mess around….


                  On East Valley Road