First impressions are so important, don’t you think?
My senses were in a flutter on October 25th as I traipsed into the dramatic lobby of Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore in Santa Barbara, California, after a tedious drive during Friday’s rush hour from the airport in Los Angeles. The intriguing history of this timeless property, built in 1927, coupled with its rich and cozy Spanish Colonial style aesthetic, were just too much for me to resist. The result was instant enchantment, followed by a happy dance in my head and a silly grin on my face.
Food and beverage services topped our expectations at every turn. Our first evening started off in a brilliant way with drinks at Ty Lounge, located just off the lobby. The lounge’s gorgeous bar and living room area had a crackling fire, heated outdoor terrace and sunset views. California regional wines on tap are showcased here in a most impressive fashion and change every season, along with classic handcrafted cocktails, including the signature drink, Biltmore Raspberry Smash (see below), and a Spanish tapas menu. Here’s a sampling of wines on tap being offered in the lounge:
Chardonnay, Summerland, Santa Barbara County
Sauvignon Blanc, Simi Winery, Sonoma County
Cabernet Sauvignon, Simi Winery, Alexander Valley
Pinot Noir, Francis Coppola, Director’s Cut, Sonoma County
Dinner followed at Bella Vista, certainly a fitting name for this restaurant, as views across the lawn to the ocean were, once again, stunning. Here we discovered an exciting array of organic and locally sourced California-Italian cuisine. There was more Chardonnay on tap, thank you, along with a divine organic greens salad featuring Warren pears, Point Reyes Blue Cheese and caramelized walnuts; then beef carpaccio with wild arugula and pecorino. House-made pasta primavera was perfectly light with a sumptuous sampling of fresh veggies. I certainly could get used to all this healthy eating out here on the “left coast.”
Sunday Brunch was also enjoyable at the lovely Bella Vista. Sitting outdoors next to an inviting fire pit kept us warm on a brisk morning, and there was no shortage of Bloody Marys, Mimosas, or hot tea. An eye-popping spread of the most amazing salads, seafood, sushi, caviar station, omelets, meats and dazzling desserts was presented, making for an extraordinary experience. It will be hard to surpass the Sunday brunch at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. If only I could simply blink my eyes and be present every Sunday for this spectacular indulgence.
Yet another impressive offering can be found across the street from the hotel, at the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club, which is private yet accessible to Four Seasons guests. Tydes Restaurant is bustling with activity and showcases seafood delicacies, a spectacular wine list and a welcoming wait staff. Our favorites here were calamari and rock shrimp, and the fried Brussels sprouts with sweet potato cubes, hazelnuts and maple syrup — so fitting for the upcoming holiday season. Several glasses of one of my personal favorites, Far Niente Chardonnay, fit the bill seamlessly.
This California coastal gem, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore in Santa Barbara, often referred to as the American Riviera, offers much for leisure and business travelers alike to enjoy. What a special combination it is to have a truly famous property with beautiful architecture in a striking, garden-like setting, where warm, friendly service is the order of the day, and all food and beverage venues raise the bar to new heights.
All of these components somehow magically click together to make up a most exquisite experience. I’ve got a passion for this place and can’t wait to return. The magic is in the details and they mean so much.
As director of Food & Beverage, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, Bixente Pery is responsible for managing the AAA Five Diamond resort’s Food & Beverage operations. Since 2011, Bixente has overseen the operations of its five dining outlets — Bella Vista, Ty Lounge, Tydes Restaurant & Bar, Coral Cafe and Fins — as well as in-room dining, banquets and pool service.
Bixente has more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Originally from France, he comes to Four Seasons Santa Barbara by way of Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Atlanta. Most recently, Bixente was director of Food & Beverage of Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo. Prior to taking on that position, Bixente spent 15 years on the culinary side as executive chef. During that time, he prepared meals for a diverse group of world leaders including President George H. W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Governor John Kerry, the Crown Prince of Arabia, Queen Sofia of Spain and presidents of China, Nicaragua, Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Santo Domingo Republic and Egypt. Bixente began his career as a chef in 1988 with Le Kaiku in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France.