It might seem ironic to promote some of Santa Barbara’s best hotel pools when the Pacific Ocean is literally at your feet on California’s Central Coast, but while the beach is glorious to look at — shimmering cobalt blue stretched out before you in uncompromising serenity — there is a serious lack of hospitality with it. What, no delivered cocktails? These hotel pools not only offer service, views and comfort, but they are all nestled in their own private oasis in the confines of tony Santa Barbara.
Belmond El Encanto
Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Belmond El Encanto offers a swimming pool like no other in this area. Tucked into the hillsides of a residential neighborhood called the Riviera, the hotel is off the beaten path, and that is why many people come here — to get even further away from it all.
The outdoor zero-edge salinity pool, framed by mature eucalyptus trees, affords views straight out to the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands. The pool is kept between 80 and 86 degrees (based on the weather). You’ll also find poolside service with a special menu and cocktails, complimentary sunglasses cleaning and a cooling Evian spray.
The openness of the pool and its unfettered views both out and up to the skies is one of the remarkable charms of Belmond El Encanto.
Four Seasons Resort, The Biltmore Santa Barbara
Though Four-Star Four Seasons Resort, The Biltmore Santa Barbara faces Montecito’s Butterfly Beach and is just steps from the ocean, its three outdoor pools are tucked behind the hotel amidst 2,000 different species of plants. Flanked by lush Australian tree ferns and Kentia palm trees, the landscape makes you feel as if you’re in a tropical paradise.
The hand-tiled main pool is heated to 86 degrees and is outfitted with an underwater sound system. There are also two smaller pools: one is filled with mineral water drawn from the property itself and is heated to 94 degrees (ideal for kids); the other small pool uses non-well water and is heated to 104 degrees.
During the summer months there is poolside service, including treats from Santa Barbara’s oldest ice cream shop, McConnell’s. You’ll find complimentary perks such as sunscreen, aloe, sunglasses cleaning and access to children’s toys, too.
Canary Santa Barbara
Kimpton-operated Canary Santa Barbara is located in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara with walking access to State Street, shopping and restaurants. The Canary offers the only rooftop pool in all of Santa Barbara County. The pool is heated to 82 degrees and includes underwater lighting and Mediterranean-inspired tile. You have views to the Channel Islands and as far south as Ventura, not to mention Santa Barbara’s red-tiled roofs and Los Padres Mountains.
The pool’s Wellness Station features chilled towels with fresh local lavender, local farmers-market fruits, Fiji water, and a variety of complimentary sunscreen and aloe. The pool bar features signature cocktails from the in-house restaurant Finch & Fork, and poolside yoga is offered Saturday mornings.
It’s not easy getting into a private club, especially one owned by Beanie Baby king Ty Warner that fronts a beach in Montecito. The pool is open only to members or to guests who stay at the Four Seasons Biltmore across the street. Originally built in 1937, Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club presents an Olympic-size heated pool literally a stone’s throw from the ocean’s edge. With over 200 chaise lounges, each with an ocean view, and with four lap lanes and a diving board, this pool is the ideal Santa Barbara repose.
Poolside amenities include a variety of sunscreens, complimentary fruit skewers, watermelon and orange slices, lemongrass-scented towels, and Evian facial spray. The cherry on top is the poolside service: Pool attendants pass around fruit smoothies and chilled cucumbers for your eyes.