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Have you ever wanted to bike down a Mediterranean coast or visit a village on the French Riviera? The rugged mountains, rustic scenery, and pleasant climate are all too alluring and incite wanderlust in most of us. Did you know that you can get a taste of the Mediterranean without leaving the country?

Santa Barbara, California, offers a little slice of the Mediterranean on the west coast of the United States and serves as a perfect sales incentive trip destination for those who prefer to stay closer to home. After managing a successful program, we compiled the ultimate sales incentive trip guide to Santa Barbara, offering destination tips from hotels to activities and more.

Why Santa Barbara is an Ideal Destination

Nestled between the beautiful California coastline and the Santa Ynez mountains, Santa Barbara offers something for everyone. Recently named to the Conde Nast Traveler 2021 Hot List, Santa Barbara is fondly known as the American Riviera. Art, wine, and culinary delights can be found around every corner for sales incentive trip attendees. Downtown is pedestrian-friendly, and most incentive quality resorts are a short drive from the local Santa Barbara airport, which offers several daily direct flights.

Santa Barbara boasts warm, dry summer months and cool, wet winter months. The best time to visit is between May and September, with many wine harvest parties taking place from late September to early October.

Santa Barbara, Dusk, Rowing, Boats

Photo by OC Gonzalez (@OCVISUAL)

Santa Barbara Hotels – A Sales Incentive Trip Vetted List

1. The Ritz-Carlton, Bacara

Tucked into 78 acres overlooking the Pacific, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara combines the appeal of this coastal city with the beauty of its natural surroundings. Here, you can escape to the tranquility of a two-mile natural beach, three infinity-edge pools, and 42,000 square feet of serenity at the spa.

Photo by The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company

You don’t have to venture off property to take advantage of California’s year-round beautiful weather. The Ritz-Carlton, Bacara offers thrill-seekers the opportunity to mountain bike atop the Santa Barbara Bluffs, explore the Gaviota Coast by kayak, or explore wildlife on the on-property nature trail. If relaxation is what you desire, look no further than The Ritz-Carlton Spa. With a full selection of amenities and treatments, the spa pays tribute to the breathtaking California views and way of life.

With its 358 guest rooms, each with either a private patio or balcony overlooking the luscious garden or vast ocean, The Ritz-Carlton, Bacara is sure to provide a much-needed escape from reality.

Award’s Dinner @ Ballroom Terrace

2. El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel

Atop the rolling hills of Santa Barbara and spread across seven acres of perfectly manicured gardens, the El Encanto offers unmatched views of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean. Whether you want to relax by the zero-edge pool, try your hand in polo, or simply indulge in the local cuisine, there truly is something for everyone.

Photo by Belmond Management Company

Just 9-miles outside of the Santa Barbara airport, the El Encanto offers complimentary shuttle service to some of Santa Barbara’s must-see spots. If you prefer to soak in the beautiful weather, take one of the complimentary bicycles downhill to explore State Street and the waterfront. Prefer to stay on property? No problem. The property offers daily activities such as cave diving, winery tours, polo, and so much more. You can also escape to the luxurious Spa at El Encanto, where you will be whisked away to enjoy the relaxing route to wellness.

Photo by Belmond Management Company

3. Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel

Set along one of Southern California’s most exclusive coastlines, the Rosewood Miramar Beach offers an idyllic coastal retreat. Known for its estate-style architecture, remarkable location, and personalized approach to service, you are in for a treat during your stay at the Rosewood Miramar.

Photo by Rosewood Hotels and Resorts Company

The Rosewood Miramar Hotel promises the ultimate renewal for all who visit. Treat yourself to a gourmet meal at one of the six restaurants and bars on the property, relax by either the Cabana or Manor pools, and then stop by the Sense Spa to pamper yourself and unwind. Experience the coastal beaches, boutique shopping in Downtown Santa Barbara, or immerse yourself in the culture of Southern California.

Photo by Rosewood Hotels and Resorts Company

Santa Barbara Activities – Great President’s Club Trip Ideas

1. Winery Day Trips or the Urban Wine Trail

 Downtown Santa Barbara boasts the Urban Wine Trail, which includes over 20 tasting rooms located within a few blocks of each other. Provide a map of downtown to attendees and let them explore (and taste) at their leisure. A group dinner or dine-around could be the perfect addition to the end of the day.

If a day trip out of Santa Barbara is preferred, look no further than the wine-growing region 45-minutes outside of the city, situated throughout the Santa Ynez Mountains. The Santa Maria Valley, Ballard Canyon, or Happy Canyon all offer unique varietals that are sure to please any palate.

If the attendees prefer to stay on-property bring the wine tasting to them! Many of the local wineries will work directly with the resort to provide a private tasting experience. Pre-select local wine favorites, coupled with a charcuterie board, local sommelier, and great views from the property to create a recipe for success.

2. Whale Watching and Sailing

From late November through April, thousands of whales migrate through the Channel before traveling south. On their return in the spring, many mothers and calves once again pass by Santa Barbara as they head to their summer homes. Couple these majestic sightings with a relaxing sunset sail or an adventurous half-day cruise, and attendees are sure to have an experience they won’t soon forget. This activity is an excellent choice for a group of any age.

3. Beach Day

Santa Barbara is known for its sandy beaches and beautiful sunsets. Whether attendees are looking for action and adventure, or a relaxing walk along the shore, they can find it all here. Stearns Wharf is the oldest working pier in California, offering shopping, dining, and beautiful views of the Pacific. If surfing or boogie-boarding is more your style, Leadbetter Beach is a popular destination. A beach day is a great fit for attendees of all ages!

4. Channel Islands National Park

A day trip to Channel Islands National Park, a chain of five islands just off the coast of Santa Barbara, offers a unique opportunity to experience wildlife and plants in their natural habitat – some of which are only found in the National Park. Hiking paths are available on each island, with some popular places including Inspiration Point on Anacapa, Potato Harbor on Santa Cruz, or Torrey Pines Forest on Santa Rosa. Kayaking and snorkeling are also available to explore the islands by water. Tours are available to explore the kelp forests, view sea caves, and learn about the marine ecology. A day spent exploring Channel Islands is a perfect fit for those that love the outdoors.


Santa Barbara Restaurants – An Off-Property List

1. Jane

Dine like a local as you experience some of the freshest homemade food in the Santa Barbara Theater Art District. Jane, a locally owned restaurant named after the family’s matriarch Jane Huston, serves the authentic flavors of California Cuisine. Whether you are looking for an intimate balcony table overlooking the mountains of Santa Barbara or feasting around one of the large communal tables, there is something at Jane for everyone.

Photo by Jane Restaurant

2. Barbareño

Located in downtown Santa Barbara, Barbareño serves up local cuisine from the Central Coast of California. History and tradition inspire the chefs as they work alongside local partners to source products from the region. The chefs and staff pride themselves on creating unique experiences with creative menus and dishes. So, when looking for your next off-site dinner, look no further than Barbareño.

Photo by Barbareño Restaurant

3. The Hitching Post 2

Looking for something a bit more casual, check out The Hitching Post 2 for some of the best California BBQ. The Hitching Post 2 blends the traditional Santa Maria barbeque with eclectic local ingredients and award-winning wines for a taste all its own. Renowned not only for its mouthwatering food but also its world-class wines, The Hitching Post 2 is the place to be.

Photo by The Hitching Post 2 Restaurant

4. Bouchon

Indulge in wine country cuisine as you sit down for a meal at The Original California Bouchon. Bouchon is known for its fresh and local ingredients and its warm and inviting ambiance. Bouchon is the perfect place to host your next group dinner with both private dining and restaurant buyout options.

Photo by Bouchon Restaurant

Santa Barbara is a breathtaking sight to see. If you need incentive travel solutions performed by a sales incentive trip veteran, don’t hesitate to contact us at Brightspot. Our sales incentive trip experts plan the perfect trip, so you do not have to stress over the details. You will feel relaxed knowing your attendees will experience an American Riviera sunset that they will remember for a lifetime.

– Written by Hailey Jump & Carson Fitzgerald

Team Brightspot

Author Team Brightspot

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