Bacara Resort & Spa, Santa Barbara, California $$$$
Concierge.com's insider take:
Just a few miles up the coast from Santa Barbara, on 78 beachfront acres, the whitewashed collection of buildings known as the Bacara Resort & Spathink ritzy Spanish Colonialis the kind of status-y getaway that attracts new money, old money, wannabe money, and everyone in between. Room rates aren't cheap ($550 is the starting rate in high season), but the doting service makes it worth every penny. All the rooms are designed with a clean and comfortable beach-chic vibe, but the ocean-view suites hold the key to Bacara's secret weapon: dramatic sea cliff vistas that open onto a wild stretch of beach. With three swimming pools, a 220-seat screening room, the nearby Sandpiper golf course, and hiking trails galore in the nearby Santa Ynez Mountains, it's tempting to stay put rather than head into town. Good thing, then, that the campus dining options run the gamut from top-notch Basque-Catalonian cuisine at Miró to calorie-conscious fare at the Spa Café. However, even dinner at the resort's more casual option, The Bistro, will run you around $70 a head. At 42,000 square feet, the spa and exercise center is impressive in size but can feel somewhat factorylike, and the massages (the treatment of choice for most guests) are nothing to write home about.