City Snapshot

Santa Barbara, CA

Each month we pick one of our favorite #DynamoDestinations that should be on your map for hosting conferences, meetings & events. Plus, we’ll reveal our top venue picks in the same 5 corporate event categories for each destination so that when you’re in a pinch and need to find the very best picks right now in a given city, you’ve got the Dynamo-approved go-to’s.

Photo By Blake Bronstad, Courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, CA – Our April 2020 Feature

Best known for its broad, sandy beaches, perfect waves, and sunsets, our second city feature is none other than stunning Santa Barabara, California.

Sure, our first city feature (Los Angeles) was also in California, but we just couldn’t resist showcasing Santa Barabara’s charming Mediterranean-esque climate and big-city-like amenities! Perfectly nestled between the impressive Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, it’s often revered as America’s Riviera. And it just so happens, that when it comes to meetings and event destinations, this city checks all of our boxes! Here are a few reasons why:

It’s Super Accessible

With unbeatable airlift and short drives to San Francisco or LA, this destination is perfect for West Coast-based companies. The city’s airport offers multiple non-stop flights on a daily basis to 6 major hubs, and getting into town on arrival is a breeze.

Because of its smaller size and easy-to-navigate streets, the city itself is incredibly pedestrian-friendly. That means you can expect visitors to bike, walk, or even water taxi (yes, you read that correctly) to their next destination!

It’s Got Entertainment Down Pat

While surrounded by natural parks and beaches, the vibrant downtown area is packed with fine restaurants, great shopping, theaters, and phenomenal nightlife. Offering your guests a relaxing morning or an upbeat afternoon is seamless – the best of both worlds if you ask us.

In recent years, the Funk Zone has risen to the top of our list when it comes to entertainment in the area. With converted warehouses and buildings decorated with graffiti murals and contemporary art pieces, this eclectic district boasts tasting rooms, cafes, galleries, and shops. The best part? Whether you’re new or returning for what feels like the millionth time, this ever-evolving neighborhood is a Santa Barbara spot you’ll want to keep re-visiting!

All that to say, if Santa Barbara somehow missed your event-worthy radar, you’re going to want to add it ASAP. To help you figure out some of the best spots, here’s our list of venue go-to’s in our Top 5 corporate event categories:

User Conference

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara

Chain: Marriott
Brand: Ritz-Carlton
Total meeting space: 70,000 sq ft indoor + 9,000 sq ft outdoor
Guest rooms: 358
Nearest airport: Santa Barbara, SBA (10-15 minutes depending on the time of day)

Why we love it:

With five-star amenities, scenic ocean views, and easy access to the region’s vineyards, restaurants, and entertainment, the Ritz-Carlton Bacara is our go-to venue for user conferences in Santa Barbara.

Although there’s a lot to love here, we absolutely adore their locally sourced cuisine, boastful 12,000-bottle wine collection, huge spa and wellness center, and seamless access to two natural beaches.

For event planners, we recommend starting with a Welcome Reception on the Ocean Terrace and hosting General Sessions in the Bacara Ballroom (it can hold up to 1,050 attendees). When it comes to meals, gather on the hotel’s beautiful Terrace or Lawns.

Sales Kickoff

Hilton Santa Barbara

Chain: Hilton
Brand: Hilton Beach Resort
Total meeting space: 25,000 + sq ft total event space
Guest rooms: 360
Nearest airport: Santa Barbara, SBA (10-15 minutes depending on the time of day). Complimentary shuttle service or 90-120 minutes to Los Angeles, LAX

Why we love it:

The Hilton Santa Barbara’s ocean-front stay and location make it the perfect space for your next Sales Kickoff. This venue is literally across the street from Santa Barbara’s East Beach, one short mile away from the Funk Zone district, and an eight-minute drive (or thirteen-minute bike ride) to the Downtown core.

Their event spaces include the open-air Plaza Del Sol with 180-degree views of the ocean and a connecting rotunda, ballrooms with natural daylight, and a collection of smaller meeting rooms. They offer A/V support, help with planning, and a free airport shuttle for guests. The hotel’s concierge is also great for setting up activities for your group, like kayaking, coastal cruises, and golfing.

We recommend starting with a General Session in the Reagan room to soak up the natural daylight this space has to offer. For your meals, try planning them in the Plaza Del Sol, with its high ceilings and ocean views, it’s absolutely beautiful! And when it comes to breakouts, refer to the hotel’s 29 meeting rooms – they come in various sizes, several of which are perfect for intimate breakouts.

Executive Summit

Four Seasons Santa Barbara

Chain: Four Seasons
Brand: Four Seasons Hotels Limited
Total meeting space: 18,000 sq ft indoor + 9,000 sq ft outdoor
Guest rooms: 207
Nearest airport: ‎Santa Barbara, SBA (15-20 minutes depending on the time of day) or 90-120 minutes to Los Angeles, LAX

Why we love it:

Just a little farther than the Hilton, the Four Seasons Santa Barbara sits on 22 lush acres of secluded courtyards, fountains, and sun-dappled, red-brick pathways lit up by gas lanterns. When they’re not meeting, your attendees can stroll along Butterfly Beach, lounge poolside, or pay a relaxing visit to the hotel’s award-winning Spa. This place is genuinely the perfect venue for any serious Executive Summit.

Choose from elegant indoor spaces, or gather in the gardens or lawn for a refreshing outdoor event. The hotel’s lush grounds capture Spanish Colonial history beautifully and provide an engaging atmosphere for group activities. The golden hillsides, wine country, beaches and panoramic view of the Santa Barbara coastline, will fuel an exciting atmosphere for your guests all week long.

We guarantee you’ll find your attendees grabbing drinks with their new connections at the Ty Lounge where they can take in the fireplace ambiance and hand-carved wine wall at Bella Vista.

Road Show

Hotel Californian

Chain: Preferred Hotels
Brand: Hotel Californian
Total meeting space: 7,350 sq ft indoor +3,670 sq ft outdoor
Guest rooms: 121
Nearest airport: Santa Barbara, SBA (10-15 minutes depending on the time of day) Complimentary shuttle service

Why we love it:

If you’re looking for a venue that’s right in the center of the Santa Barbara action, you’ll want to check out the newly refurbished Hotel Californian. With its Spanish Colonial architecture, Moroccan and Moorish designs, and graphic wallpapers, this place is a work of art! We love it so much, we are featuring it as our Venue Spotlight next week – be on the lookout!

But beyond its stunning design, Hotel Californian has three separate buildings to offer you and your guests the perfect private accommodations. We recommend hosting intimate meetings in one of the hotel’s five flexible meeting rooms. They all have private patios and are perfect for corporate meetings or exclusive retreats. When your meetings are done, host a reception on the Mirador Rooftop Deck, and soak in the panoramic views of the iconic Santa Barbara beachfront and the towering Santa Ynez mountains. It’s the perfect location to host your event; guests will have a cocktail in-hand and views of the setting sunset over the ocean – what more can you ask for?


Rosewood Miramar

Chain: Rosewood
Brand: Rosewood Hotels & Resorts
Total meeting space: 27,000ft + of indoor and outdoor
Guest rooms: 161
Nearest airport: Santa Barbara, SBA (15-20 minutes depending on the time of day) or about 90- 115 minutes Los Angeles, LAX

Why we love it:

Nuzzled on an exclusive stretch of Miramar Beach and only 80 miles northwest from Los Angeles, the Rosewood Miramar hotel is perfect for meetings, events, and completely awe-ing your incentive winner attendees.

Its location is perfect for taking advantage of all that Montecito and Santa Barbara have to offer. Not to mention, there’s no shortage of things to do in Miramar Beach. Guests can head to numerous art museums, hike various trails or gardens, and check out the variety of theaters.

Guests don’t even need to leave property for great shopping – the exclusive goop Sundries shop is a beauty and wellness lover’s dream, while The Gatehouse, a new concept store by James Perse, features a highly curated collection of clothing, home goods, and one-of-a-kind artisanal pieces. Some top notch options for your incentive winners to drop some of those commission earnings, right?

We recommend enjoying some of their memorable group experiences, such as their decadent Champagne & Caviar reception or their Bar Keeper’s Series craft cocktail workshop.

Plus, be on the lookout for stars here – on our last site visit we saw Jimmy Kimmel and his wife casually enjoying lunch at Malibu Farm on property. If it’s good enough for the stars, it’s good enough for your incentive winners!

Which city would you like us to cover next? Send us a message to let us know!

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