Occupying 22 acres of lush landscaped grounds opposite Santa Barbara’s Butterfly Beach, the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore attracts a mix of wealthy locals, tourists on a splurge, and celebs seeking a hideaway from the hubbub of Los Angeles. Originally built in 1927, the historic property boasts striking Spanish colonial architecture, elements of which extend to the spa. Here, face, mind and body services are performed in 11 treatment rooms, including three couples’ suites with private patios offering Pacific Ocean views and a soundtrack of crashing waves.
Overnight guests are a key spa demographic, but staff also works hard to lure locals, who benefit from a 20 percent discount from Monday through Thursday. And spa director Jaana Roth doesn’t shy away from third-party promotions. “From time to time we partner with Travelzoo and other companies; spa events and trunk shows featuring vendors who ‘tell the story of Santa Barbara’ are popular as well,” she reports. Enhancement menus lovingly displayed with seashells on the treatment beds encourage spa guests to upgrade with add-ons. “It’s all about personalization,” emphasizes Roth. “Listen to your guests and customize the treatment based on their requirements.”
“The three main qualities I look for when hiring are a smile, eye contact and a welcoming personality,” shares Roth. “These character traits have to come naturally, as opposed to technical skills that can be taught or fine-tuned.” The seasoned spa pro likes to see her staff grow. “I support them if they’re interested in trying new skills, and I challenge them by giving them projects that may fall outside the scope of their normal responsibilities,” she explains. When it comes to retaining those valued employees, communication is key. “If people feel informed, it gives them a sense of security. We hold daily briefings, monthly meetings and send regular email announcements,” says Roth. The resort has incentive programs too: A staff member who has done something exceptional receives an “awesome card,” which they can redeem for prizes.
Popular offerings feature science-centric HydroPeptide and InSkin, and the more naturally inspired Tata Harper. In addition, Roth enjoys scouting indigenous products and ingredients, and planning the menu around them. Case in point: the oft-booked Grape de Vine (80 min./$255)—inspired by the region’s wine country—which incorporates a scrub by The Grapeseed Company. Guests also love the HydraFacial (50 min./$225), designed to help address issues such as wrinkles, acne and hyperpigmentation. CND’s Vinylux and Shellac polishes are used in nail suite services.
As well as skin care such as HydroPeptide, Tata Harper and Knesko, the spa boutique sells Mala and Mantra, Siena, La Costa Organic, Sundara Artisan and Greysen jewelry. In summer, shelves are stocked with COOLA sunscreen, Balenciaga sunglasses and Mystique slippers; come winter they make way for apparel by Maison de Papillon, plus socks and travel blankets.
–by Lesley McCave