I was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California. So was my father. When I was a young girl, he would take me with him on long Sunday afternoon drives across the purple-pink San Gabriel foothills. He loved the power of his ’72 Mercedes 350 Sl convertible and I loved the wind in my hair and spending one–on-one time with Dad. He would slow down and point out historical landmarks or places he rode his bike to as a boy, gliding up and down and round the soft curves of the freshly tarred roads of Montecito. Zooming through the dappled shadows of eucalyptus trees behind the Santa Barbara Mission. Surging into summer sunshine and bright heavy boughs of bouganvillea along the Riveria. It was here that the stately spanish style buildings would enchant me. So elegant. So mysterious. Long and narrow private driveways that disappeared under towering palm trees. Proud fat cats sunning and preening themselves for all to see as the cars passed by.
One of these stately structures was the El Encanto Hotel. A favorite of Hollywood celebs. The enchanted one. Recently purchased by the Orient Express and scheduled to close after 90 stunning years for renovation. A world class resort. Amazing views. Soft, natural, perfumed light. Romantic. Charming. Stylish. Until now I imagined I would hold my wedding reception here.
Instead I plan to stay at the El Encanto this summer and say a loving goodbye to a time and place in California and my personal history. Fingers crossed, I plan to drive from San Francisco to Santa Barbara in that same 1972 Mercedes 350 SL. Thanks Dad.